Postgraduate study

Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors (Online Learning) MSc, PgCert, PgDip

Awards: MSc, PgCert, PgDip

Study modes: Part-time

Online learning

Funding opportunities

Who is this programme for?

This three year, part-time online MSc programme in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors aims to support any graduate health care professionals - ranging from nurses to surgeons and anaesthetists - in using evidence-based tools and techniques to improve the reliability and safety of everyday health care systems and processes.

As an applicant of this degree, you will be looking to distinguish yourself as being experienced in patient safety and looking to move towards specialising or taking a management lead in this field. The programme will draw on teaching materials from a global network of enthusiasts.

Due to the unique, completely online nature of the teaching, the programme is an attractive option if you are a professional wishing to secure academic credit or a higher degree in patient safety and are unable to commit to attend on-campus teaching.

Year 1

Year 1 will cover:

  • a broad introduction into the current state of safety in health care
  • how harm comes to patients
  • a detailed understanding of clinical human factors and ergonomics

Year 2

Year 2 will follow on from the state of healthcare to look at how we can improve safety in healthcare.

This involves examining how good teamwork influences patient outcomes, as well as improving healthcare and medicine management.

You will also focus on quality improvement research and methodologies.

Year 3

Year 3 will follow the highly successful iterative module used by the Masters in Surgical Sciences, involving:

  • submission of a project outline
  • abstract submission with poster preparation
  • completion of a dissertation

The programme is delivered by recognised experts in the various subject areas and will draw upon the extensive staff expertise at the University of Edinburgh and at other Institutions internationally.

In addition to the core learning in Patient Safety and Clinical human Factors, the programme will allow you to enhance your skills in:

  • interpersonal
  • self-management
  • IT
  • team working
  • project management

Online learning environment

The programme is delivered in an online environment that provides a dynamic and collaborative learning experience. You will become part of an online community bringing together students and tutors from all over the world.

A blend of online learning methods are utilised, such as discussion forums and live tutorials, to create a dynamic and collaborative learning experience.

Expert tutors will support you through every stage of the programme and you can engage with fellow students in supportive and constructive online networks.

The flexible learning environment means you learn at the times and locations that suit you best, making this programme suitable for high calibre, busy professionals who want to update and extend their knowledge.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment of progress is achieved by:

  • group work
  • essays
  • critical incident reporting
  • scientific posters
  • group wiki events

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

The programme has two elements: the taught element and the dissertation element (in Year 3).

The taught element of the programme is divided into six 20 credit courses; three are needed to complete the Certificate, six needed to complete Diploma.

Each academic year consists of three teaching blocks, each running over a period of 11 weeks.

During the dissertation element of the programme, you will have the opportunity to further develop your skills and design and conduct your own quality improvement project in your workplace.

This dissertation year consists of a phased assessment.

Year 1

60 credits = PgCert

Courses include:

  • Introduction to healthcare delivery and what leads to harm (20 credits)
  • Clinical Human Factors and ergonomics in Healthcare (20 credits)
  • Individual and team skills (20 credits)

Year 2

120 credits = PgDip

Courses include:

  • Learning from current practice and governance (20 credits)
  • Training for safety (20 credits)
  • Quality improvement for safer practice (20 credits)

Year 3

180 credits = MSc

  • Dissertation and independent improvement project (60 credits)

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
PgCert1 YearPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
PgDip2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

The programme's learning outcomes have been mapped onto the SCQF level 11 characteristics.

On graduating from this programme, you will demonstrate an extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of the current background and principal theories regarding the extent of and causes of harm in healthcare, reliability, patient safety and human factors.

You will be able to put into practice the applied knowledge, skills and understanding by planning and executing a significant project of research, investigation or development.

You will have developed the necessary cognitive skills to deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in situations in the absence of complete or consistent data/information.

You will be able to recognise contributory factors towards adverse events and use this knowledge to inform improvement plans and learning at a local and organisational level. This includes audit/M&M meetings and duty of candour, as well as ethics.

You will have highly developed communication skills, and be communicate, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.

You will gain a wide range of routine skills and a range of advanced and specialised skills as appropriate to Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors.

You will be able to exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in professional and equivalent activities. You will demonstrate leadership and initiative and make an identifiable contribution to change and development and/or new thinking.

You will demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the chosen research topic, You will identify, conceptualise and offer original and creative insights into novel information and/or recently published data.

You will also produce a written critique of a defined piece of research, as well as demonstrate originality and creativity in the development and application of new knowledge, understanding and practices.

As a graduate of this programme, you may be looking to develop specific skills in this area within your current position. You may also be looking to secure an appointment as a patient safety officer, a position that is increasingly promoted and advertised in the UK.

We anticipate that this qualification would not necessarily result in a change in career for graduate health care professionals so much as develop your current role.

The demand for individuals with knowledge and skills in teaching and assessing patient safety and quality improvement is growing rapidly. Both NHS England and Scotland are driving initiatives in this area and this is being observed globally.

As a graduating student, you will have a significant advantage in signalling not only your commitment to patient safety and quality improvement, but you will have also demonstrated the skills needed in identifying and measuring patient safety risks from a Human Factors science perspective.

You will also gain the ability to apply quality improvement methodology to make effective changes to improve safety. These skills are highly sought after particularly within the NHS and other developed health care systems.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in any healthcare-related subject, including but not limited to medicine, biomedical science, veterinary science, pharmacology/pharmacy, nursing, or psychology. Candidates currently working in healthcare-related industries with degrees in life sciences, social sciences, economics, management, or other related disciplines are also encouraged to apply.

We may also consider your application if you have relevant work experience in a related scientific area, for example hospital or primary care for 3 or more years. Experience in patient safety or quality improvement would be advantageous. Please contact the programme team to check before you apply.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PgCert1 YearPart-timeTuition fees
PgDip2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Administrator, Patrycja Mitrut
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 6248
  • Contact: chm.info@ed.ac.uk
  • Academic Facilitator, Domenica Coxon
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 4935
  • Contact: chm.info@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh Surgery Online, Room G10/11
  • Simon Laurie House
  • 196 Canongate
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 27 August 2021

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Administrator, Patrycja Mitrut
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 6248
  • Contact: chm.info@ed.ac.uk
  • Academic Facilitator, Domenica Coxon
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 4935
  • Contact: chm.info@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh Surgery Online, Room G10/11
  • Simon Laurie House
  • 196 Canongate
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ