Triangle

Course overview

Our MSc in Human Factors and Ergonomics aims to equip you with the knowledge and skills required to design products, jobs / tasks and environments from the human perspective. If you are interested in people, technology and design, then this could be the course for you.

In this course you will learn about a range of human characteristics (physical, cognitive, social and emotional) as they relate to our interactions with jobs, environments, products, services and other people. You will graduate with a postgraduate qualification that is increasingly desirable in industry and provides the necessary knowledge and skills to address human factors issues for the 21st century.

  • This is a Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors Qualifying Course
  • There are many opportunities to continue your studies within the department through an extensive PhD programme within the Human Factors research group
  • More than 98% of engineering research ranked of international quality
  • Graduates of the Human Factors and Ergonomics MSc can get full membership with the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) after completing four years’ work experience

Why choose this course?

3rd

in the UK for research power

REF 2014

Top 20

UK university

QS World Rankings and the THE World University Rankings, 2022

A top 20 department

This course is offered within a UK top 20 department

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2021

Course content

The MSc offers a range of modules designed specifically to provide fundamental knowledge and practical skills in human factors and ergonomics.

Modules

Physical Ergonomics (autumn) 10 credits

A thorough understanding of human factors/ergonomics is critical to the successful design and implementation of products, workplaces, jobs and systems.

This module focuses on the physical characteristics of people (eg body size, strength, flexibility, vision and hearing abilities) and considers how to account for an individual's fundamental needs, capabilities and limitations.

Ultimately, such an understanding will lead to products, workplaces, jobs and systems which promote productivity, health, safety, comfort, etc.

This module covers:

  • structure and functioning of the human body
  • anthropometry (human body dimensions) and product/workplace design
  • biomechanics (loadings on the human body)
  • work-related upper-limb disorders
  • manual materials handling
  • risk assessment for work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • designing and assessing environments to account for visual, acoustic, thermal and vibration factor
Cognitive Ergonomics in Design (autumn) 10 credits

This module covers the following topics:                                                                                       

  • cognitive psychology and ergonomics
  • the human as an information processor: memory and attention, mental models
  • human workload
  • displays, controls, consoles and control rooms
  • decision making, automation
  • situation awareness
  • problem-solving and artificial intelligence
  • decision support systems, decision-making biases
  • situated cognition and joint cognitive systems

Method and Frequency of Class: two hours of lectures per week in 11 weeks, two of these lectures are practical classes. 

Method of Assessment: one 2-hour examination ( 100%).

Studying Human Performance (autumn) 20 credits

This module aims to give a broad review of the measurement techniques which can be used in ergonomic analysis and evaluation of systems or products, together with an understanding of the need for experimental design and control in order to obtain valid and meaningful results. It also provides a theoretical basis for techniques which may be practised during laboratory work and exercises in other human factors modules.

The module covers:

  • Introduction to experimental design; experimental controls; selection and recruitment of subjects; user trials; ethical considerations
  • Observational methods: direct and indirect observation; recording techniques; measurement of behaviour; activity sampling
  • Subjective measurements: ranking methods, rating scales, application in interviews and questionnaires
  • Task analysis: task description; tabular and hierarchical task analysis; applications
  • Introduction to SPSS
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Statistical analysis: Types of data; Normal distribution; Non-parametric tests; Parametric 2 samples tests, Correlation and regression, Chi Square, ANOVA
Simulation, Virtual Reality and Advanced Human-Machine Interface (autumn) 10 credits

For human factors/ergonomics work, simulation tools can enable designers, managers and end-users to experience products and systems in realistic, interactive environments. Such advancements have significant cost implications, enabling designs and their implications to be visualised early in the development life cycle. In addition, virtual/augmented reality and other advanced human-machine interfaces (HMIs) are being developed in many different industries to support different user needs.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to understand and utilise computers as human factors tools for understanding peoples’ interactions with new technology. Moreover, the module will consider HMIs that are increasingly common in modern life and frequently designed and evaluated using simulation techniques.

The module is a mix of practical and research-oriented content, and you will make extensive use of the simulation facilities and on-going research projects within the Human Factors Research Group and elsewhere in the University.

Topics include:

  • virtual reality technologies/environments/interfaces
  • augmented reality; fidelity and validity of simulators
  • presence factors for simulation
  • understanding and minimising simulator sickness
  • multimodal interfaces including the use of natural language and gesture interfaces, computers and collaborative/social interfaces, accessibility, in-car interfaces 

Delivery

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Practicum 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours

Assessment method

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 50.00 Report (approx. 3,000 words) on the use of simulation to aid in the design/evaluation of specific products
Coursework 2 50.00 Presentation arguing for the use of advanced Human-Machine Interface solutions in a specific design context
Advanced Engineering Research Project Organisation and Design (spring) 10 credits

A project-oriented module involving a review of publications and views on a topic allied to the chosen specialist subject. The module will also involve organisation and design of the main project. Skills will be acquired through workshops and seminars that will include:

  • Further programming in MATLAB and /or MSExcel Macros
  • Project planning and use of Microsoft Project
  • Measurement and error analysis
  • Development of laboratory skills including safety and risk assessment

Students will select a further set of specialist seminars from, e.g.:

  • Meshing for computational engineering applications
  • Modelling using CAE packages
  • Use of CES Selector software
  • Specific laboratory familiarisation
  • Use of MSVisio software for process flow
  • Use of HYSYS process modelling software
  • Use of PSpice to simulate analogue and digital circuits

The specialist seminars will be organised within the individual MSc courses.

Delivery

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Seminar 12 weeks 1 week 3 hours

Assessment method

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 40.00 Project planning
Coursework 2 20.00 Literature review
Coursework 3 20.00 Experimental Design
In-Class Test 20.00 Stats test
Health and Safety test   Pass required.
Work Systems and Safety (spring) 20 credits

This modules aims to give an understanding of systems approaches to the design and analysis of effective and safe work, primarily in the context of industrial systems but also in relation to major projects, public and social systems and digital systems.

It is vital that students learn that technical, human, organizational and economic factors must be addressed when understanding the operation and potential failure in existing systems, and in developing requirements, implementation and evaluation approaches for social and socio-technical systems, and for systems of systems.

In this module, particular attention will be paid to distributed (in time and space) systems and ones with elements of automated processes (all of which will have to interact with human and organisational elements at some point and time). The potential causes of accidents and of human error are explained, and an introduction given to methods of reporting and investigating accidents and techniques for analysing accidents and systems reliability which will lead to the design of safer organisations and work systems.

Topics covered include:

  • risk and risk perception
  • risk assessment and management
  • accident models and accident causation
  • causes of human error
  • epidemiology, accident reporting and analysis
  • accident prevention
  • human reliability assessment
  • safety climate and culture
  • safety systems management

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 2 week 2 hours


Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 30.00  
Exam 1 70.00  
Human-Computer Systems (spring) 10 credits

This module takes a human factors design perspective on HCI considering the overall human-computer system. A highly practical stance is taken and the module will follow a typical user-centred design process, commencing with lectures and accompanying method-focussed sessions on understanding user requirements, progressing to design work and finally objective and subjective interface testing approaches. These sessions will align closely with the coursework application areas.

Topics include:

  • introduction to HCI
  • usability and user experience
  • understanding user requirements
  • context of use analysis
  • design guidelines and principles
  • designing for user acceptance
  • lo and hi-fidelity prototyping
  • user and non-user-based approaches to interface testing 

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 1 week 2 hours

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 80.00

Group coursework (moderated by peer assessment), designing/evaluating a novel user-interface 

Coursework 2 20.00 Individual reflective report on experience as an interface designer
Advanced Methods in Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction (spring) 10 credits

Topics include:

  • working as a human factors engineer/HCI professional
  • predictive evaluation techniques (eg GOMs, Fitts Law)
  • psychophysical methods
  • verbal protocol analysis
  • qualitative approaches and methodologies
  • eye-tracking methodologies
  • ethical considerations in human factors research
  • capturing and analysing human physiological data
Individual Postgraduate Project (summer) 60 credits

This project involves students undertaking an original, independent, research study into an engineering or industrial topic appropriate to their specific MSc programme. The project should be carried out in a professional manner and may be undertaken on any topic which is relevant to the MSc programme, as agreed by the relevant Course Director and module convenor.

The project has several aims, beyond reinforcing information and methodology presented in the taught modules; the student is expected to develop skills in research, investigation, planning, evaluation and oral and written communication.

Final reporting will take the form of a written account including a literature review and an account of the student's contribution. A presentation will be made to academic staff towards the end of the project.

Method and Frequency of Class:

There will be a one hour introductory session/session via Moodle . All other activities are arranged on an individual basis between the student and the project supervisor.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Interim Report (Marked by project supervisor)
Coursework 2 15.00 Supervisor assessment of student input and professionalism (marked by project supervisor)
Coursework 3 10.00 15 minute oral presentation (peer marked and with 1 staff)
Coursework 4 65.00 Dissertation (10,000 word limit)

The project area is flexible and will be supervised by an academic member of staff

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 28 October 2021.

Students have to select 20 credits from these optional modules.

Programming 20 credits

This module will give you a comprehensive overview of the principles of programming, including procedural logic, variables, flow control, input and output and the analysis and design of programs. Instruction will be provided in an object-oriented programming language.

Medical Device Design and Regulation (year long) 20 credits

This module covers the design and manufacture of medical devices and the regulations covering marketing sale and use of medical devices within the UK and the European Union.

There are three key themes to the module:

  1. Selection of appropriate materials for medical devices, taking into account clinical use, performance in vivo, and design for manufacture.
  2. The design of medical devices, taking into account the clinical need, functional requirements, relevant national and international standards, and regulations regarding design and construction.
  3. The manufacture and marketing of medical devices, including processing, sterilisation, marketing, and after-market surveillance of medical devices. This will include aspects of risk management, quality control, remuneration, and after-market surveillance.

The module will include project-based learning, where students are tasked with designing a medical device and presenting their embodiment designs to an assessor in a preliminary design review meeting.

Delivery

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 16 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Tutorial 8 weeks 1 week 2 hours

 

Assessment method

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 30.00  
Exam 1 70.00  
Biomechanical Analysis of Human Motion - full year 20 credits
Advanced Methods in Psychology (spring) 20 credits

This module provides an insight into some more advanced or specialised techniques of data collection, organisation and analysis in psychological research (eg eye-tracking, EEG, fMRI, TMS, computational modelling and diary methodologies).

Workshops and lectures will include implementation of analytical procedures in, for example, specialised data management and statistical packages, and on specialised data-gathering equipment and software.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 28 October 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Practical classes

How you will be assessed

  • Coursework
  • In-class test
  • Examinations

Contact time and study hours

As a guide, one credit is equal to approximately 10 hours of work; the MSc course is 180 credits. 

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1. Will accept qualifications in Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Product/Industrial Design, Management/Business, Psychology, Human Sciences, Health Sciences, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Computer Science, Safety Science. Also, of course, Human Factors or Ergonomics. The Course Director will consider other interested applicants, including those with only professional qualifications and those with other subjects.

Applying

Please feel free to contact the course director, Dr Glyn Lawson to discuss your interest in the course.

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

All listed fees are per year of study.

UK fees are set in line with the national UKRI maximum fee limit. We expect fees for 2022 entry to be confirmed in August 2021.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

As a student on this course, there are no additional costs for your budget, apart from your tuition fees and living expenses. Lab and safety equipment is provided for free by the Department.

You should be able to access all of the books you’ll need through our libraries and it is not usual for students to buy their own copies. Any field trips are also funded by the Department. Please note that these figures are approximate and subject to change.

Funding

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Our graduates go on to a wide range of careers in consultancy, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), public organisations and research institutions. Many choose to undertake PhD research, often within the Human Factors Research Group at the University of Nottingham.

Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors

This is a Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors Qualifying Course.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
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Human Factors and Ergonomics MSc student James Khan

Human Factors and Ergonomics Masters student James Khan talks about his experiences at Nottingham, in the comfort of the vehicle simulation lab.

Related courses

This content was last updated on Thursday 28 October 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.