Postgraduate study
This part time course is designed to give you human factors and ergonomics experience required in a range of industries.
MSc Applied Ergonomics and Human Factors (Distance Learning)
Part-time only
Entry requirements
2:2 (Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£9,450 - Terms apply
International fees
£11,475 - Terms apply
University Park Campus



The programme is designed to give you the human factors or ergonomics experience required in a wide range of manufacturing, service and process industries, enforcement agencies such as Local Authorities and the health service, as well as a grounding for a career in research.

You will be taught by a team who are part of the internationally recognised Human Factors Research group and work as researchers and consultants in ergonomics and can share their experiences of applying ergonomics in the real world.

Key facts

  • You can work at times that suit you and your employer and can carry out projects that are closely linked to the needs of your employer.
  • There are no geographical limits to this course, it can be studied from any country, all elements are through distance learning
  • On completion of the course you will have received the formal education needed to work as an ergonomist and will be eligible to join The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors as a graduate member.
  • After completing the MSc Applied Ergonomics and Human Factors (Distance Learning), you will find that there are opportunities to continue your research within the school through an extensive PhD programme.

Full course details

The terms ergonomics and human factors are used interchangeably to describe the theory and practice of learning about human characteristics and capabilities, and then using that understanding to improve people's interaction with the things they use and with the environments in which they do so.

Ergonomics involves applying scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environments for human use. It aims to design objects, systems and tasks in such a way as to improve human safety, health, comfort and performance.

This course has been designed by leading researchers in the field of ergonomics and will give you the skills and experience to apply ergonomics in real world settings. Students receive high levels of support from tutors throughout the course, and distance learning means that students have the flexibility to study when and where it suits them.

Course content

The modules on this course are designed to lead from the theoretical basis of each topic to the practical application of that knowledge.

The final module involves you undertaking an individual project, which is intended to help you integrate your knowledge, methodology, and practical skills in an area that reflects your interests. You are actively encouraged to carry out this project within your own working environment wherever possible.

If your project is successful in advancing knowledge in your chosen area, you will be encouraged to present your findings as conference papers or journal articles.

This is a distance learning course which means you study on your own, at home or whenever suits you. You read, listen to and watch course materials, work on activities and write assignments.

Distance learning allows you to:

  • proceed at your own pace, studying at any time of the day, 24/7 that suits you
  • benefit from online tutor support if you need help, advice or encouragement
  • take part in online self-managed learning groups and work in collaboration with fellow course participants
  • access to online information system at The University of Nottingham

Hear from Dr Paul Bowie, a graduate of this course who is now Programme Director (Safety and Improvement) for NHS Education Scotland.

Academic English preparation and support

If you need additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

A specialist engineering course is available and you could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.




The course is taught through modules on Moodle and uses virtual discussion groups and tutorials, self directed study, self managed learning groups tasks and coursework.

Moodle is a virtual  learning environment - an online electronic course management system that supports and extends communication between students and staff. It is accessed through the University website.

There are six modules in the course, two of which are research based. Each module has a value of 30 credits and represents 300 hours of study, including formal teaching, independent study, and the preparation of assessments.

The modules are:

Ergonomics Applications in the Workplace

This module is specially designed to be undertaken by employees in any organisation who can apply ergonomics in their work. It has been produced to define the background to the subject and also enough operational detail to allow candidates to apply the knowledge gained at their work, whether during the module or subsequently in real situations. The distance learning format means that most of the material and specified reading can be undertaken by the student in their own time, but with defined (if limited) access to and support from the university staff.
The module topics include: introduction to ergonomics; the body at work; anthropometry; simple biomechanics; workplace design; work seating; work related upper limb disorders; manual handling; display screen equipment; effects of environmental factors; influence of work organisation. 

Ergonomics Methods

The syllabus covers survey design, interviewing and questionnaire design; experimental design; selection & recruitment of participants; ethical issues; participatory ergonomics; task and function analysis; observational methods; design decision groups; qualitative methods; computer simulation & modelling; psychophysics and ergonomics project management. Statistical techniques covered include ANOVA; non-parametric tests; parametric tests; multiple regression; multidimensional scaling; paired comparison; verbal protocol analysis; descriptive statistics; ranking & rating scales; factor analysis; power analysis and reliability analysis. Students are also introduced to methods within the professional practice of ergonomics including problem identification, cost benefit analysis and developing and assessing safety management systems.

Human Factors in Interactive Systems

This module covers the following topics: introduction to HCI; computers in education; user interface design guidelines; evaluation of interactive systems; use needs methods and models; human factors of geographical information systems; human factors of visualisation technologies; joint cognitive systems; computers and collaboration; HCI case studies; human information processing including perception and cognition; memory and attention; mental models; human workload; situation awareness; automation; designs for the WWW & accessibility; human error; displays and controls; decision making and decision support; situated cognition; product design and development.

Ergonomics in Work Organisations

The topics covered by the module include: the work people do, worker-centred ergonomics, work as a sociotechnical system, physical environment (visual, auditory, thermal and vibration), psychosocial environment (motivation, stress and shiftwork pattern), job design and local control, selection and training, performance and appraisal, participatory ergonomics, team work, effects on performance and health, health and safety requirements and legislation, epidemiology, causes of accidents, reactive and proactive approaches to prevention, measuring and evaluating human reliability, management of change, management of risks in manual materials handling, management of risks of work-related upper limb disorders. Throughout the module these topics are considered in a number of case studies, including work conducted at Nottingham and published case examples.

Human Factors in Context

This module covers the following topics: Responding to an Invitation to Tender; codes of practice within organisations; ethical issues; legislation, standards and competencies when applying ergonomics; presentation skills; practical ergonomics tasks within organisations.

Practical Ergonomics Investigation (by distance learning)

A practical ergonomics investigation is undertaken towards the end of the course.This is intended to integrate knowledge, methodology and practical skills. 

Many students take the opportunity to conduct their project in an area related to their place of work, although this is not a specific requirement.

Previous projects have included:

  • Measurement of mental workload in transport systems
  • Qualitative evaluation of activity in chronic pain sufferers after orthopaedic trauma
  • Cultural dimensions in design of Health and Fitness Smartphone Apps 
  • Development of a VR game for Mental Arithmetic Training 
  • A participatory approach to infection prevention and control in a neonatal intensive care unit
  • Evaluation of an online patient monitoring system 
  • Effectiveness of participatory ergonomics program in health organisations
  • Psychosocial factors affecting radiology trainees
  • An investigation into the usability of a cycling computer under riding conditions
  • Shiftworkers’ experiences of their work environment and workplace support
  • Assessing team performance

Students should have access to a context in which to undertake the practical study. The aims of the individual project are broadly to enhance understanding in an area of relevance to the course, and to develop skills applicable in a wide range of circumstances.

The student is expected to develop skills in research, investigation, planning, scheduling, evaluation and written communication. The project may be undertaken on any topic which is relevant to ergonomics and human factors that is agreed by the Course Director. Collaboration with business, industry, and other outside bodies is actively encouraged. 

This module is designed to be undertaken by employees in any organisation who can apply ergonomics in their work. The candidates will apply the material and ideas from previous ergonomics studies to a real ergonomics investigation of value to their organisation.

Each module is offered over a 26-week span, normally once a year, with module start times in September and March.

Usually you will study two modules in one 12 month period. The average student will therefore gain their MSc qualification in three years. In special circumstances it may be possible to study either one module at a given time or two modules concurrently.

UK students will need to attend the University during your first year of study for one exam. Overseas students can make arrangements to take the exam in their home country.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide.

Please visit the faculty website for information on any scholarships currently available through the faculty.

Faculty of Engineering Scholarships

UK/EU Students

Funding information can be found on the Graduate School website.

Please visit the faculty website for information on any scholarships currently available through the faculty.

Government loans for masters courses

Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Careers and professional development

Our graduating MSc students are very much in demand with employers. A number of technology-driven companies (eg Jaguar LandRover, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, AWE) are in regular contact with staff in the department seeking highly qualified and capable individuals. 

Our graduating postgraduate students are very much in demand with employers. This course can enable you to:

  • Demonstrate to an employer that you are a forward thinking individual, who cares about your own professional development
  • Achieve a qualification equivalent to that of a face-to-face postgraduate certificate
  • Advance your career prospects
Average starting salary and career progression

In 2017, 92.3% of postgraduates in the department who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £28,000 with the highest being £32,000.

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

* The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research 


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham
Human Factors and Ergonomics - Associate Professor Dr Gary Burnett in the virtual reality lab (15187)
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