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PS4048: HUMAN FACTORS (2020-2021)

Last modified: 05 Aug 2021 13:04

Course Overview

The science of Human Factors brings together multiple disciplines, including Biology, Psychology and Engineering to understand and support worker performance and wellbeing.

This course takes an Applied Psychology approach to Human Factors with a focus on understanding human behaviour and the issues that can lead to accidents and errors. Through the course you will learn more about the impact of design on safety and how people work together through interactive lectures and real life case studies.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Amy L Irwin

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • PS4548 Human Factors (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

In 1989 a British Midland Flight crashed into the M1 motorway near Kegworth. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing eleven men and causing a massive environmental disaster. At the core of both disasters were Human Factors such as failures in communication, faulty decision-making and poor safety culture. The aim of this course is to explore Human Factors from an Applied Psychology perspective, using Psychological knowledge to understand how people interact with the world around them, what leads to errors and accidents, and how we can work to prevent catastrophes such as Deepwater Horizon from happening again.

The course will cover the following topics:

  • Product design (including usability and individual factors that might influence the user – product interaction)
  • Workplace design (including consideration of human cognition requirements and the design of alarm systems)
  • Workplace environment (noise, heat, light)
  • Safety critical skills (the development of crew resource management, non-technical skills, situation awareness)
  • Human performance limitations (the impact of conflict, stress and fatigue)
  • Positive human factors (resilience, foresight, cognitive readiness)

The course will feature an introduction to Human Factors techniques, including methods of incident assessment. This will be facilitated by the discussion and investigation of real-life critical incidents across a range of high-risk industries (such as the Kegworth disaster, the Tenerife disaster and the Apollo 13 space mission).

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Four Discussion Boards = 20%

Task Analysis (approximate due date week 5 of term) = 30%

One Essay (approximate due date week 11 of term) = 50%

Alternative Resit Arrangements for students taking course in Academic Year 2020/21

100% Coursework

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualEvaluateCritically evaluate case studies of adverse events to determine the primary causal factors.
FactualUnderstandUnderstand the key Human Factors that can influence safety at work, and how to minimise or mitigate those factors.
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand human behaviour at work and the factors that might influence team-based interactions.

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