Human Factors & System Safety

Faculty of Engineering, LTH

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Programme curriculum


Programme name: Master programme in Human Factors and System Safety—one year
Swedish name: Magisterprogram (ett år) i mänskliga faktorer och systemsäkerhet.
Major: Human Factors and System Safety
Scope of program: 60 (ECTS)
Level: Masters level
Program code (LADOK): XMFSM

Programme description

This programme is intended for practitioners (for example pilots, air traffic controllers, engineers, physicians, nurse practitioners, managers, safety & quality personnel, investigators, CRM instructors), who have a prior Bachelors Degree and want to expand their knowledge and practical skills for taking on the safety challenges of the 21st century. Adding the Master of Science degree allows practitioners not only to update their knowledge and insights. Past experience has shown that it can also be a critical component in career progression or alternative employment. Some practitioners have chosen to continue with Ph.D. studies in human factors and system safety (typically at universities abroad) after the completion of their Degree.

Each of the courses will be taught every Academic year, and students can take up to two years to complete the program. The program is therefore offered as a part-time or full-time program.
Relation to research
The literature for the program reflects this commitment to the current research base, deferring to a few classic works where necessary, but focusing on the latest work as well, something that can be seen in various course books having been written by the program’s faculty.

The programme also offers interaction between students coming from practical domains outside the university and graduate students at LU. This interaction ties those who are working fulltime on the latest research base on human factors and safety with those who are confronted by practical demands on safety and performance in real work settings. The interaction occurs inside of the courses, facilitated by group work and other assignments, but to a great degree also in extracurricular activities such as joint dinners after class.
Career opportunities
The Master of Science is a specialized programme whose major is human factors and system safety. This programme is designed to meet academic rigors for full preparation for doctoral- level studies, while at the same time preparing the students for immediate employment in real-world, cost-sensitive, and operationally driven environments. Graduates of our Master programme have previously been found qualified to work (among other things) as directors of safety for airlines, hospitals, and regulators; as operational and maintenance safety personnel; as aviation industry ground and industrial safety personnel; as flight safety personnel; as incident and accident investigators; as designers; and as advisers or consultants to manufacturers, regulators, operators and other parties within safety-critical industries.

Learning outcomes

All four courses in the programme aim to deepen students’ understanding, skills and knowledge so as to meet the exam’s goals (as stated elsewhere in this document). The thesis work intends to help students integrate the understanding, skills and knowledge acquired during preceding courses and apply these to a practical problem (preferably at their own workplaces).

Learning outcomes:
 Knowledge and understanding: After completing the programme, the student will:
 - Acquire knowledge and understanding of relevant theories of organizational accidents and their progression over the past decades, as well as their interrelationships, commonalities, oppositions and some idea of their heritage.
 - Gain a specific and deeper understanding of phenomena that contribute to the risk of organizational accidents (such as normalization of deviance, drift into failure) and that mark their aftermath (such as different calls for accountability and learning or system change).
 - Attain profound insight into the latest developments in theories of human factors and system safety—particularly organizational, psychological and sociological—and their practical application to risk management and safety problems in organizations.
 - Appreciate the deep complexity associated with attempts to make progress on safety using any of the ideas learned in the program.
 - Know better where to turn for future competence development and education in the area of this program, by having been attuned to the various theoretical and philosophical positions and their practical implications for making progress on safety.
 Skills and abilities: After course completion, the student shall have:
 - Attained the ability and vocabulary to apply the new view of human factors and system safety in the analysis of complex safety problems, as well as in post-hoc examinations of system failure, even under conditions of incomplete information and residual uncertainty about what happened.
 - Become able to select and integrate applicable aspects of relevant human factors and system safety theory to the exploration of safety problems.
 - Developed skills in forensic analysis of human factors issues in accident investigation and in the consideration of possibilities for system change to prevent recurrence.
 - Developed their ability to work both independently and in interdisciplinary teams, particularly when it comes to constructive dialogue about safety problems with different stakeholders, as well as offering well-argued written opinions about diagnosis or proposed change.
 - Become able to help develop mechanisms for organizational learning, ranging from setting up viable event reporting systems to balancing pressures for accountability and retribution in the wake of failure.
 - Become able to help organizational decision makers balance both acute and lasting pressures of production against decreased safety and increased risk.
 Ethics and making judgements: After course completion, the student shall be able to:
 - Avoid judgmental language and jumping to conclusions in understanding past action.
 - Apply the ethical standards of scientific research methods (including how to deal with data) on upcoming thesis work and other future academic endeavors.
 - Understand the ethical implications and know the applicable ethical rules for doing research with people, should this be applicable to the student’s thesis.
 - Ethically regard the need for courage in organizational sacrificing decisions.
 - Learn to balance pressures for learning from failure with calls for holding those involved accountable and recognize the consequences of illegitimate calls for accountability.
 - Show a deep appreciation of the social context (and skills and vocabulary necessary to navigate it) in which organizational learning from failure takes place.
 - See both the social and scientific possibilities for, and limits on, making progress on safety in particular safety-critical domains, given its opportunities and constraints.
 - Be scientifically sensitive to the limitations of each model or explanation offered, and that the applicability of models can only really be gauged if their limits are known.
 - Understand the scientific importance of correctly referring to and referencing other people’s contributions both in scientific work and their own organization.


Course information

Programme structure

The programme aims to deepen students’ knowledge, skills and understanding of human factors and system safety. All courses focus students on engaging, contrasting and comparing advanced literature in the field, so as to augment their understanding both of substantive problems and methodologies for approaching them. A more profound understanding of both quantitative and qualitative methods for investigating safety issues is sewn into all three courses, closely anchored to the course topic.
The deepening of student knowledge and understanding in this Master’s program builds on their previous education and in many cases on their professional experience with issues of human factors, safety and risk at their workplaces. The program aims to give students a more profound appreciation, a more extensive language, and a greater suite of methods to handle the types of safety problems that they encounter in professional life.
The programme consists of four obligatory second-cycle courses (there are no electives because of the specialized nature of the program) and a thesis:
 FLMU11 The new view of human factors & system safety, 10 credits
 FLMU12 The sociology of safety and accidents , 10 credits
 FLMU13 Accountability and learning from failure, 10 credits
 FLMU14 Methods in safety science, 15 credits
 FLMU16 Thesis, 15 credits
 FLMU15 Project work, 15 credits

The first course lays the foundation for students’ subsequent development of ideas on human factors and safety by staking out the multiple philosophical positions. This allows them to extensively appraise the value and interrelationships of the various theories that are discussed in the second course. The third course will then directly address a central issue that is inevitably raised by the first two: what about accountability when progress on safety is about systems, not individuals? The final course transitions students’ deepened knowledge and understanding into more practical considerations about the investigating and changing of systems.
Each of the courses is taught every academic year, but students will be recommended to take no more than two years to complete the programme and to follow the order of courses as closely as possible. In order to complete each course the student needs to contribute to class- and online work, and pass a series of take-home examinations consisting of essay questions based on the course literature.
All four courses aim to deepen students’ understanding, skills and knowledge so as to meet the exam’s goals (as stated elsewhere in this document). The thesis work intends to help students integrate the understanding, skills and knowledge acquired during preceding courses and apply these to a practical problem (preferably at their own workplaces).


Upon completion of the program a degree of Master of Science (One Year), major Human Factors and System Safety (Filosofie magisterexamen, huvudområde: mänskliga faktorer och systemsäkerhet) will be awarded in compliance with the National Higher Education Ordinance (SFS 2006:1053).

Admission requirements and selection criteria

The general admission requirements are as follows:

 a) A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts Degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to the Master program in human factors and system safety.

b) A good command of English language both spoken and written. For applicants who have completed higher secondary education in a Nordic country, or are native English speakers this could be verified by higher secondary education diploma/certificate (including English). For all other applicants a certificate of proficiency, such as IELTS or an equivalent, is desired but not required. For example,
 • an IELTS score of 6.0 (no less than 5.0 in any component) taken after January, 2000.
 • a Cambridge/Oxford Certificate in Advanced English, or Certificate of Proficiency.
 • O level/GCSE in English (minimum grade C).
 • a TOEFL test result of at least 550 points (213 computer based; 79 Internet based).
 The regulations in the general requirements concerning knowledge of the Swedish language are not applicable.
 Selection criteria
 Selection will be based on academic merits from university studies (100%). This implies that an assessment will be made of the grades for previous studies at the undergraduate level.

Additional information

Disciplinary actions against plagiarism

 The University views plagiarism very seriously, and will take disciplinary actions against students for any kind of attempted malpractice in examinations and assessments. The penalty that may be imposed for this, and other unfair practice in examinations or assessments, includes suspension from the University.
 Decision about grading in accordance with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)
 Courses at Lund University School of Aviation are graded according to the following principal grades:
 • Pass (godkänd, G)
 • Fail (underkänd, U)
 The Board of the School has decided the following translation into ECTS:
 Pass (G) translates into ECTS as A-E
 Fail (U) translates into ECTS as F
 The Board has also decided to pursue the internationally recognized steps in applying the ECTS scale:
 100-85 -- A
 84-75 -- B
 74-65 -- C
 64-55 -- D
 54-50 -- E
 49-0 -- F

 We look forward to working with you on one of the most exciting intellectual journeys of your life. Please do not hesitate to contact the programme manager Johan Bergström at