MSc Safety, Risk and Reliability Engineering

Heriot-Watt University, The School Of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure And Society (EGIS)

Course Award: MSc

Entry Date: September, January, May


Risk has become a key concept in modern society. Growing concern about the environment and a number of disasters have served to focus attention on the hazards and risks involved in a wide range of activities from offshore oil production to rail and air transport; from the design of football stadia to the operation of chemical plants and environmental protection.

Today there is a wide range of techniques available to assess risk and reliability, both in relation to safety and in the wider sense. These techniques now underpin new legislation on safety and have relevance over a broad spectrum of activities, including environmental and other systems, where risk and reliability are key concerns.

The MSc/PG Diploma course in Safety, Risk and Reliability Engineering is designed to give a thorough understanding of these techniques and experience of their application to a variety of real-world problems. It aims to provide students with an understanding of safety, risk and reliability engineering in both a qualitative and quantitative manner, and to develop the skills to apply this understanding. The course will also introduce students to recent developments in analytical techniques, e.g. computer modelling of risk, reliability and safety problems.

If you are interested in our courses you can join our Linked In group Safety Courses at Heriot-Watt where you can link up with other applicants, current and previous students and potential employers. Applying to join needs approval from the group owner which may take a week or two.

Programme Duration

Online Learning: 2½ – 8 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via Online Learning within 2-3 years.

Programme Outline

The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Safety, Risk and Reliability Engineering, led by Professor Guy Walker, is only available by attendance-free distance learning.

The programme comprises eight taught courses. Heriot-Watt Online students must first take exams in two courses of the programme, Human Factors Methods and Learning from Disasters. Based on the results from these courses students continue on the programme at MSc or at PG Diploma level.

All courses have written examinations and some have compulsory coursework elements. MSc students are also required to complete a Masters dissertation.

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3
Human Factors Methods* Human Factors Methods* Human Factors Methods*
Learning from Disasters* Learning from Disasters* Learning from Disasters*
Data Analysis and Simulation Environmental Impact Assessment Data Analysis and Simulation
Risk Assessment and Safety Management Fire Safety, Explosions and Process Safety Risk Assessment and Safety Management
Systems Reliability Safety, Risk and Reliability Safety, Risk and Reliability
Systems Reliability

*Human Factors Methods and Learning from Disasters are the online entry courses for this Programme. Online students must successfully complete these two courses before continuing with the remaining six taught courses.

Programme Fees

Tuition fees for 2021 entry
Status Per course Dissertation
UK / EU / Overseas £1,440 £1,850

Additional fees information

Students pay £1440 per course and £1850 for the Dissertation. This programme consists of 8 courses (modules). MSc students are also required to submit a Masters dissertation.

Entry Requirements

Applicants to the MSc programme will normally: 

  • have a good undergraduate degree (minimum 2:2 honours or equivalent) in engineering or a relevant science discipline, or
  • demonstrate equivalent academic ability based on industrial experience or membership of a professional institution.

Heriot-Watt Online students must first take exams in two courses of the programme, Human Factors Methods  and Learning from Disasters. Based on the results for these entry courses students will continue on the programme at MSc or at PG Diploma level.

Student Support

The programme is based on eight fully written courses, which are either self-contained, or are based on structured study from a text book (a required text for the module). At masters level students are expected to take a large degree of responsibility for their own studies. Students rely on a practical study guide, detailed course texts (or a required text book), fully worked solutions, email, discussion groups, as well as discussion with staff, other students and more experienced work colleagues in most cases. Courses usually include objectives, theory, applications in the real world, worked examples, exercises, and review questions that usually form part of the formative assessment and feedback for the course. Some courses have a coursework component to address a deeper level of understanding of more complex and lengthy problems or where practical software applications are required.

Exam Structure

The programme uses a range of assessment types.
Coursework is used to develop problem solving skills, to demonstrate mastery of techniques taught as part of the course that would be too lengthy to undertake as exam questions or where software applications are required. Coursework also helps develop professional report writing skills with emphasis on correct report structure, writing style, resume, and referencing. All courses have some form of formative assessment that provide self, peer or staff feedback as required.
Examinations make up the majority of summative assessment as these are the best way to be certain of testing the capabilities of the individual student against the course aims

The final MSc dissertation allows students to demonstrate good research skills and a deeper level of critical thinking and analysis than can be assessed by exam.

Exam Diet

Exam Results

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