Postgraduate study
This course looks at knowledge and skills needed to design products and environments from a human perspective.
MSc Human Factors and Ergonomics
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
A high 2:2 or 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
£7,785 - Terms apply
International fees
£22,815 - Terms apply
University Park Campus



This MSc in Human Factors and Ergonomics aims to equip students 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.

Key facts

  • Many of our graduates have gone on to work in consultancies and high profile companies such as WS Atkins, Network Rail, Jaguar LandRover, BAE systems, Rolls Royce etc.
  • There are many opportunities to continue your studies within the department through an extensive PhD programme within the Human Factors research group.
  • The Faculty of Engineering is ranked 3rd in the UK for research power under REF 2014, the British Government’s Research Excellence Framework. More than 98% of engineering research ranked of international quality, with 85% graded as world leading or internationally excellent.
  • 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.

Full course details


As technology becomes ever more complex and pervasive within our society, it is the ‘human factors’ in engineering design that often dictate success or failure.

The diversity in humans - in abilities, limitations, experiences, expectations, behaviours, and so forth - creates many challenges for researchers and practitioners in industry. By adopting a ‘human-centred’ approach, there may be many benefits for customers and/or employees, such as better usability for products, more efficient work processes, safer environments, more engaging product experiences, and so on.

By neglecting human factors and ergonomics issues, companies are likely to encounter major reliability failures, accidents, labour relations problems and unsuccessful introductions of products and technology.

In the video below, Course Director Dr Glyn Lawson introduces the MSc in Human Factors and Ergonomics:

For more information please contact the Course Director, Dr Glyn Lawson by email on or call 0115 95 14003.

Course content

This 12 month MSc course requires 180 credits of material, of which 120 are taken as taught modules in the autumn and spring semesters. These modules provide a theoretical basis on specific topics concerning human factors and ergonomics and then progress to allow you develop practical skills in the application of knowledge. Your learning will typically be structured around lectures, seminars, workshop, laboratory sessions and group work.

Over the summer period you will undertake a 60-credit individual research project, which is intended to help you integrate your knowledge, methodology and practical skills in an area that reflects your interests. Many of our students conduct these projects in collaboration with an industrial company, based on our many research links within the Human Factors Research Group.

Part-time option and accreditation

It is possible to take the course part-time over two to three years and several students successfully follow this route each year. In this case, you can choose the modules that suit your individual circumstances for each semester according to the University timetable. Typically, a part-time student will need to be present at the University for two days/week during term time.

The course is accredited as the educational qualification for The Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.

Hear from our students

In the videos below Human Factors and Ergonomics students talk about their experience of the course and life at Nottingham:

You can keep up to date with what's happening with Human Factors and Ergonomics at Nottingham, on the course Facebook Page:

UoN Human Factors and Ergonomics


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

Core modules

Physical Ergonomics (autumn): 10 credits
Summary Of Content: 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 (e.g. 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.

The syllabus 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 factors.

Method and Frequency of Class: two hours of lecture per week in 11 weeks.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 25.00 Report (approx. 2000 words) on product/workplace evaluation
Exam 1 75.00 2 hour exam
Cognitive Ergonomics (autumn): 10 credits
Summary Of Content:
  • Cognitive psychology and ergonomics
  • The human as 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%).

Human-Computer Systems (spring): 10 credits
Summary Of Content: Introduction to Human Computer Interaction, User interface design, Evaluation of computer interfaces, HCI design and requirements elicitation, Multimodal interfaces, mobile computing, Virtual Reality, Computers in context, Computers and collaboration, Accessibility, HCI in practice, advanced display systems.

Method and Frequency of Class: two hours lectures per week in 12 weeks
Activities may take place every teaching week of the Semester or only in specified weeks. It is usually specified above if an activity only takes place in some weeks of a Semester

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 60.00 Group coursework - developing a user requirements specification for a novel user-interface - 80% of mark
Coursework 2 40.00 Individual Coursework 20%
Contemporary Issues in Human Factors and Interactive Systems (spring): 10 credits

Summary of content: This module develops an understanding of human factors and interactive systems design through student led seminars and an individual literature review that each student conducts on a contemporary topic area. The seminar will cover aspects such as: defining human factors and interactive systems, approaches (experimental, ethnographic, analytical, etc) and the design of systems, case studies illustrating the need for socio-technical perspectives, and issues in user-centred design for products, processes and interfaces.

The literature review will equip each student with essential skills in the searching, critical analysis and synthesis of relevant literature (which may come from a variety of scientific journals, books, industrial/business/professional publications across a range of disciplines). Each student will develop their knowledge and understanding of a specific area in human factors/interactive systems. The information collected will be critically analysed to produce an extended essay/review.

Method and frequency of class: two hours of lecture each week in 12 weeks.

Activities may take place every teaching week of the Semester or only in specified weeks. It is usually specified above if an activity only takes place in some weeks of a Semester.

Method of assessment:

Studying Human Performance (autumn): 20 credits

Summary of content: The 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 syllabus 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

Method and frequency of class:

ActivityNumber of weeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Computing 10 weeks 1 week 1 hour
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 1 hour
Workshop 10 weeks 1 week 1 hour

Up to 4 hours per week to include lectures, examples classes and computer laboratory classes.

Method of assessment:

Assessment typeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 25.00 Developing and pilot testing a short questionnaire, supported by a 2-page report
Coursework 2 25.00 Experimental Study report - 2,500 words
Exam 1 50.00 One 2 hour exam
Advanced Methods in Human Factors (spring): 10 credits
Summary Of Content: This module develops analysis and evaluation skills from the earlier grounding in MM4SHP, introducing further methods and analysis techniques.

The syllabus covers:

  • Predictive evaluation techniques (e.g. GOMs, Fitts Law)
  • Psychophysical methods: paired comparison, method of limits, threshold measurements
  • Verbal protocol analysis
  • Video analysis of observation data
  • Ergonomics project management
  • Qualitative approaches and methodologies
  • Eye tracking methodologies
  • Ethic considerations in Human Factors research

Method and Frequency of Class: 2 hours of lecture per week in 12 weeks. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 25.00 Ethics application for a Human Factors research study
Exam 1 75.00 one 2 hour exam
Simulation and Digital Human Modelling (autumn): 10 credits
Course summary

For Human Factors/Ergonomics work, computers can render digital representations of people with varying characteristics performing a multitude of tasks within simulated environments. Moreover, 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 lifecycle. 

This module will provide students with the knowledge and skills required to understand and utilise computers as Human Factors tools for modelling people and systems (tasks, interfaces, environments). The module is largely practically-oriented and students will make extensive use of digital human modelling software (e.g. Jack) and the simulation facilities (e.g. car, motorcycle and train simulators) available within the Human Factors Research Group.

The syllabus covers: Algorithms and use of avatars for modelling human physical characteristics (e.g. body dimensions, static and dynamic postures); Modelling of perceptual and cognitive variability (e.g. sensory abilities, emotive responses); Virtual reality technologies/environments; Validity of simulators; Presence factors for simulation; Understanding and minimising simulator sickness; Case studies in the use of digital human modelling and simulators as Human Factors tools.

Taught semesters

Autumn UK


ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Practicum 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours

Assessment method

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 50.00 Report (approx. 3000 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 digital human modelling within a specific design context
Risk and Safety Science for Engineers (spring): 10 credits

Summary of content: The module aims to give an understanding of risk, primarily in the context of safe systems but also in relation to major projects, investments and public and social systems. 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: 2 hours lecture per week in 12 weeks. 

Activities may take place every teaching week of the Semester or only in specified weeks. It is usually specified above if an activity only takes place in some weeks of a Semester.

Method of assessment:

Assessment typeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 20.00 Accident analysis
Exam 1 80.00 2 hour examination.

Systems Engineering and Human Factors (autumn): 10 credits

Summary Of Content: The module fills a current gap in Engineering teaching by addressing systems analysis and development across a range of applications. 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. 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 organizational elements at some point and time). Examples will be drawn from the practical applied work in a range of sectors of the module conveners and their colleagues.

Method and Frequency of Class: two hours of lectures per week in 11 weeks. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Assignment 20.00 Individual systems analysis
Exam 1 80.00 2 hour examination (3 out of 5 questions)
Postgraduate Project (summer): 60 credits
Summary Of Content: 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.

For the Manufacturing Technology Engineering Doctorate the research project will form part of the research portfolio for the candidate.

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 TypeWeightRequirements
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)

Previous projects have included:

  • CCTV and eye witness testimony
  • Implementing ergonomics in engineering design
  • Sub-sea engineering supervision
  • Manual handling on construction sites
  • What makes a Virtual Environment usable?
  • Assembly ergonomics for automotive design engineers
  • Data visualisation and 3D displays
  • Situational awareness measurement in rail traffic control
  • Distance judgement in vehicle navigation systems
  • Digital human modelling

20 credits of optional modules are taken from the group below in the spring semester.

You can also select optional modules in Psychology, Engineering, Management, IT, Health Sciences, or another discipline in a relevant subject, subject to the approval of the course director.

Optional modules

Advanced Methods in Psychology (spring): 20 credits

Summary Of Content: The module provides an insight into some more advanced or specialised techniques of data collection, organisation and analysis in psychological research (e.g., eye-tracking, EEG, fMRI, TMS, computational modeling, diary methodologies and Workshops Lectures will include implementation of analytical procedures in for example specialised data management and statistical packages and on specialised data gathering equipment and software. 

Method and Frequency of Class:

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Workshop 10 weeks 1 week 3 hours

Contact time: 24 hours; self-managed learning groups: 20  personal study: 156

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 100.00 2 x 2500 word practical reports based on two of the advanced techniques that the students studied.
Biomechanics (spring): 10 credits
Course summary
  • This module considers aspects of experimental and theoretical biomechanics including:
  • Mechanical properties of biological tissues:
  • Hard tissues including bone;
  • Soft tissues including cartilage, tendon, disc and blood vessels;
  • Time dependent behaviour;
  • Experimental techniques
  • Impact mechanics
  • Modelling
  • Custom implants

Taught semesters

Spring UK


ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 10 weeks 2 week 1 hour

Assessment method

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Exam 1 100.00 2-hour written exam
Applied Psychology: Road User Behaviour (spring): 10 credits
Summary Of Content: The course will cover road user behaviour from a number of psychological perspectives. Topics will include a critical review of brain scanning studies of driving, the visual skills required for driving, the effects of aging and experience, distraction (from in-car devices such as mobile phones, and from out-of-car objects such as road-side advertisements), and the skill of hazard perception (and whether this can be adequately measured as part of the licensing procedure). The course will also cover memory for driving events (from everyday driving to road traffic accidents), influences of emotion on driving (e.g. does the aggression-frustration hypothesis explain road rage?), and social and individual differences related to crash risk (e.g. sensation-seeking and risk propensity).

Method and Frequency of Class: 2 hours of lecture per week in 10 weeks.

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

Fundamentals of Information Visualisation (spring): 10 credits

Summary Of Content: Information Visualisation is the process of extracting knowledge from complex data, and presenting it to a user in a manner that this appropriate to their needs. This module provides a foundational understanding of some important issues in information visualisation design. You will learn about the differences between scientific and creative approaches to constructing visualisations, and consider some important challenges such as the representation of ambiguous or time-based data. You will also learn about psychological theories that help explain how humans process information, and consider their relevance to the design of effective visualisations.
If you want to learn how to design and implement your own interactive information visualisation, you should also take the linked module G53IVP (Information Visualisation Project). Together, these two modules form an integrated 20 credit programme of study.

Method and Frequency of Class:

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 8 weeks 2 week 1 hour

Lectures will be accompanied by reading material and worked examples designed to develop your understanding of the topic. Engagement with this material is considered to be an essential part of taking this module.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 25.00 Practical assignment with a written report. Students will be expected to program/implement an information visualisation and then write a report (3000 words (max 10 pages)) about their developed systems.
Exam 1 75.00 2 hour Written examination
Information Visualisation Project (spring): 10 credits

Summary Of Content: This module provides an opportunity to put into practice knowledge and understanding that you have developed through the linked module G53FIV. You will gain practical experience of how to design and evaluate a distinctive interactive visualisation which presents information gathered from a complex and interesting data source.

Your project will be supported by tutorials that introduce practical topics that are essential to effective visualisation design, and which have not been considered in G53FIV, including specific algorithms for extracting information from data, structured processes for designing visualisations and selected elements of design aesthetics (such as colour choice and typography). You will gain experience in web-based technologies that enable the implementation of multi-layered and interactive information visualisations, supported through lab work that introduces specific features of these technologies.

This module will require some challenging programming work, and assumes some basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript. Introductory tutorials will be provided to those without this prior knowledge.

Method and Frequency of Class: Specific Activities are not yet listed.

Activities will mainly take place at the beginning of the semester, to cover practicalities, and towards the end of the semester for the presentation.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Presentation 1 20.00 A demonstration session, where the candidate presents their work.
Coursework 1 80.00 Structured portfolio of documents and code repositories demonstrating the candidate’s ability to conceptualise, design, implement and evaluate an information visualisation to a specified brief.

Please note that all module details are subject to change.

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

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international 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 your course application is submitted in good 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.

As well as offering you the chance to pursue a fulfilling career within industry and related areas, this MSc course provides an excellent foundation for further research and a significant number of our students continue their studies to PhD level and beyond.

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.

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