Online course details

Study options

Part-time: 2 - 3 years

UK fee

£9,090 (2020/21)

International fee

£9,090 (2020/21)

Course level




Start date




Online course description

Ergonomics and Human Factors is a dynamic and evolving profession gaining greater attention as we see more and more emphasis being placed on a holistic human-centred approach to design.

Organisations are increasingly seeing the value of human factors in product and service design to optimise usability and user experience. It is not unusual now for Human Factors specialists or Ergonomists to be a key stakeholder in design processes as they bring an understanding of the human-technology-systems interactions and lead a systems approach to design.

This new and contemporary Ergonomics and Human Factors Masters course is suited to practitioners from around the world and from a wide range of disciplines such as design, health and safety, healthcare, computing, engineering, architecture and more.

The course has been developed by subject matter experts and qualified Ergonomists and Human Factors specialists, in close alignment with the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) curriculum, to prepare you for the demands of the human factors profession today and tomorrow.

The University of Derby has been delivering postgraduate courses in the area of Ergonomics for a number of years, introducing the first accredited online programme of its kind back in 2004. The academic team continue to practice in industry as Chartered Practitioners; they are passionate about the Human Factors profession and advocates of the quality and productivity benefits that the approach brings.

Goldstandard teaching**Teaching Excellence Framework

CIEHF Qualifying Course, a gateway to Graduate Membership

Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) Qualifying Course logo

Accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), this Masters degree is a CIEHF Qualifying Course for graduate membership. Graduates of the MSc Ergonomics and Human Factors award will be eligible to apply for Graduate Membership of the CIEHF, a significant step towards becoming a Registered Member with Chartered status, where you will be able to use the post-nominal CErgHF.

Whilst studying this programme, you will be able to register with the CIEHF as a Student Member* giving you access to their membership events and resources, as well as valuable networking opportunities, which will add real value to your studies as well as to your professional development.

*Please see CIEHF website for membership fees and details.

Specialist pathway awards

This Masters in Ergonomics and Human Factors is designed to give you flexibility to tailor your programme of study to suit your personal preferences and professional goals.

The optional module selected during the MSc will lead to one of the following named awards:

Modules can be studied individually for your CPD

We’ve designed our modules, all at level 7, to be studied as part of this Masters award, or they can be completed as a short standalone course. Delivered over a 10-week term, you’ll study with the full course cohort and achieve a Certificate of Credit on successful completion of the module. So, if you are looking to build your CPD and are not yet ready to commit to a full Masters course, then a 20 credit module is an ideal alternative to support your professional development.

Philippa Tredget at her graduation reception

How Ergonomics is helping Philippa save lives

Philippa balanced studying for our accredited online Ergonomics MSc while working for a defence contractor. Her job involves a lot of working with the end user, the soldiers.

Read Philippa's storyRead Philippa's story

What you will study

The online Ergonomics & Human Factors programme comprises three progressive stages; Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert), Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) and Master of Science (MSc). If you are not ready to apply for the full Masters straightaway, you can apply to study for the PG Cert or PG Dip and then continue on to the next stage at that point should you wish to do so.

The Masters (MSc) in Ergonomics and Human Factors is achieved by completing six 20 credit modules (five core and one optional module). In addition there is the final research project which is a triple module, worth 60 credits, during which you will undertake an in-depth independent study.

There are 3 optional modules to choose from. The table below explains which optional module determines the named pathway award:

Optional moduleModule codeNamed Pathway award
Contemporary Issues in Ergonomics and Human Factors 7PS564 MSc Ergonomics and Human Factors
Ergonomics and Human Factors (Healthcare) 7PS566 MSc Ergonomics and Human Factors (Healthcare)
Ergonomics and Human Factors (Behaviour Change) 7PS565 MSc Ergonomics and Human Factors (Behaviour Change)

We will advise you of your study plan - the running order and availability of the modules - when you are invited to enrol.

We would encourage you to complete the full MSc, but if you prefer, you can apply for either the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma, or for one of the modules as an individual 10-week course to achieve a Certificate of Credit.


Code: 7PS503

Investigation and Analysis

This module covers research design; ethical practice in research and qualitative and quantitative approaches to research. You will develop the ability to perform appropriate statistical analyses to address research questions about human behaviour. In addition, you will demonstrate an ability to design, conduct and report an ethically sound quantitative research study exploring human behaviour. You will also demonstrate your critical understanding by evaluating qualitative research designs and findings. The content of this module is essential preparation for the Independent Study empirical MSc/PGDip Research Project that is required to complete the Masters level 7 programme.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Develop an ethically and methodologically sound empirical research study exploring a pertinent psychological theory
  2. Analyse, interpret, and critically evaluate the findings of the study to form coherent conclusions about the research question(s)
  3. Critically appraise a contemporary qualitative research paper using selected criteria

Module content

The indicative content for this module may include:

  • Philosophical background to empirical research and investigation
  • Generating and exploring hypotheses and empirical research questions
  • Qualitative Approaches
    • assumptions and basics, epistemology eg Phenomenological and Positivist
    • differences between methods and methodology eg IPA, TA, interviews, focus groups
    • approaches to qualitative methods, validity and reliability
  • Quantitative Approaches
    • Assumptions and basics, descriptive tests, exploring data, parametric and non-parametric inferential analyses, testing for differences eg t-tests, ANOVAs, Kruskal -Wallis
    • testing for relationships (correlations, regressions, Chi Squares), effect sizes, power analysis
  • Planning and Designing Your Study: Experimental design, questionnaire studies, online surveys, ethical considerations
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS567

Cognitive Ergonomics and Psychology

This module will begin with a holistic view of ergonomics/human factors, to show how the module fits with the course, and subject as a whole.

The module will cover what is sometimes referred to as ‘Cognitive Ergonomics’ but goes beyond this to consider how an understanding of psychology impacts upon ergonomics/human factors in its broadest sense. Human performance is informed by psychology, as it is necessary to understand the psychological processes that allow people to perform tasks and understand how people behave in certain situations. This module presents a framework of key cognitive factors, psychosocial factors, and individual differences, and goes on to consider how psychological influences can affect human performance, health and wellbeing.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS568

Fundamentals of Ergonomics and Human Factors

This module will begin with a holistic view of ergonomics and human factors, where you will consider the fundamental areas of ergonomics and human factors such as safety, comfort, performance, health, and wellbeing.

The module will introduce design and the design process, user needs, usability and UX (user experience), to encourage you to consider the needs and desires of different user groups.

In ergonomics, when first being introduced to a system or problem we need to evaluate, its current status using both objective and subjective means. Therefore, this module covers a range of methods used as part of the design process to gather data about how people interact with products, their work, workplace, leisure, and daily activities. This module will help you understand what makes a good method, and to choose the most appropriate method.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS569

Physical Ergonomics

This module will begin with a holistic view of ergonomics/human factors, to show how the module fits with the course, and subject as a whole.

This module will help you to understand the physical domain in ergonomics/human factors including anatomy, physiology, anthropometry, and biomechanics.

The module will cover the impact of the physical environment (noise, vibration, vision, and thermal environments), work-related musculoskeletal disorders, workplace layout, safety and health. You will also explore emerging issues in physical and mental health: the ageing population, obesity, sedentary lifestyles. This module critically analyses these issues and the evidence-base for their impact in typical workplace performance, comfort and health problems. A central tenet of the module is the idea of optimisation of the work situation and with this the strengths and weaknesses of ‘physical ergonomics’ as an approach are discussed.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS570

Systems Ergonomics

This module is designed to ensure that you are able to take a ‘bigger picture’ view of ergonomics/human factors issues, building upon the foundations of previous modules.

It covers the fundamentals of systems thinking in terms of ergonomics/human factors and highlights the potential for knock-on effects (side-effects) in response to any system change.

The module considers macro-ergonomics and the organisational context of any situation whilst also considering how individual performance and competence can be assured with appropriate selection and development of staff. ‘Multi-user’ situations are considered with a particular emphasis on understanding crowd behaviour. Systems impacts upon performance, health and wellbeing are also considered.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS989

Research Project in Ergonomics and Human Factors

This Independent Scholarship module will give you the opportunity to investigate in detail, an ergonomics issue relevant to their specific pathway, and employment, or interests.

This will require you to submit a substantial research proposal for approval that considers ethical issues, aims and objectives, resources, and risk assessment. A literature review and project plan (including a Gantt chart) will be submitted after the first term and will provide helpful feedback to focus on during the research project.

The project itself will involve a review of existing literature on the topic, an investigation using appropriate ergonomics methodologies, analyses, interpretation of data and a report. You are expected to present evidence of your capacity to execute a substantial piece of independent research that builds clearly upon their prior learning and which draws upon appropriate methodologies.

More information
60 Credits

Code: 7PS564

Contemporary Issues in Ergonomics and Human Factors

This module aims to provide you with an overview of a broad range of contemporary issues in which ergonomics/human factors perspectives can have an impact.

It will critically evaluate both the theoretical basis for including Ergonomics/Human Factors approaches and the emerging evidence-base around the efficacy of such approaches in practice.

Selecting this optional module will lead to the MSc / PG Dip Ergonomics and Human Factors award.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS565

Ergonomics and Human Factors (Behaviour Change)

This module critically examines the major models, theories and approaches to behaviour and behaviour change pertinent to ergonomics, safety in the workplace; and health and wellbeing.

The module will consider how factors such as intentions, attitudes, values and norms shape behaviour and behaviour change.

The distinction between models of behaviour and theories of change will be highlighted, as well as the different uses and limitations of such models and theories to understand behaviour. Factors influencing behaviour at a range of levels will be considered including aspects of the individual and the related social and physical environments in which key behaviours occur. The module will ensure that you can define a ‘problem’ in behavioural terms and take a theory driven approach to behaviour change incorporating defined intervention functions and appropriate behaviour change techniques.

Selecting this optional module will lead to the MSc / PG Dip Ergonomics and Human Factors (Behaviour Change) award.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS566

Ergonomics and Human Factors (Healthcare)

This module aims to provide you with an overview of a broad range of issues in which ergonomics/human factors perspectives can have an impact upon healthcare.

It deals with the importance of illness cognitions and health behaviours whilst recognising the key role of health promotion and the successful management of long-term conditions. The module will consider medical device usability, medical errors, and the communication of information within healthcare. You will consider the potential impact of ‘the internet of medical things’ on changes to the way we monitor individuals and provide appropriate care. It will also cover the issue of adherence to clinical regimes and the importance of patient-professional communication in developing effective partnerships. Overarching the module will be a recognition of the need to move away from biomedical approaches and adopt biopsychosocial views on health and well-being.

Selecting this optional module will lead to the MSc / PG Dip Ergonomics and Human Factors (Healthcare) award.

More information
20 Credits

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

This course introduces key Ergonomics and Human Factors theory and debates and it is designed to transition you between the theoretical knowledge, research evidence and application in practice. With a mix of group work and independent study, the course entails a wide range of study materials, interactive activities, reading, reflection and assessments.

During your studies, you will be encouraged to consider the knowledge gained throughout the modules in the context of your own workplace and demonstrate your understanding back through the online discussion boards as well as your assessments.

Pace of study

The academic year is made up of three 10-week terms, known as trimesters. We recommend around 20 hours of study per week to complete one 20-credit module over a 10-week trimester for the standard study plan. If you opt to undertake the accelerated study plan whereby you will study two modules in one trimester, we recommend 40 hours of study per week.

Assessment method

This course is assessed entirely through coursework. You will undertake formative and summative assessments to demonstrate that you have met the module and programme learning outcomes.

Typically, assessments require you to integrate and critically evaluate the knowledge and skills covered in the modules with your own research and wide reading. Assessments will take the form of academic reports and case studies, online oral presentations and poster presentations through to developing or critiquing research proposals and conducting your own independent study.

Who will teach you

Melinda standing and smiling in front of a book case

Dr Melinda Lyons
Programme leader

As Academic Lead in Human Factors/Ergonomics, Dr Melinda Lyons is responsible for supporting the MSc Ergonomics and Human Factors students throughout their studies. 

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Student wearing headphones at a laptop participating in an online webinar

Discovering Online Learning Webinar

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 16.00 - 17.00

During this hour-long webinar, we’ll take you through the basic principles of how online learning works and what you can expect as an online learner with the University of Derby Online Learning.

Book your webinarBook your webinar

Entry requirements

You should possess one of the following:

We will also consider applications which demonstrate evidence of relevant key practical experience and work-based training.

English language qualifications

If English is not your first language, or you have not successfully completed your highest level of qualification in English, you will need an English language qualification. For this course you will need at least one of the following:

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees for new entrants

Starting between September 2020 and August 2021.

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £1,010 7 (six 20-credit modules and one 60-credit module) £9,090

2021/22 Fees for new entrants

Starting between September 2021 and August 2022.

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £1,010 7 (six 20-credit modules and one 60-credit module) £9,090

About your fees

This figure would be the total cost of this course in the current academic year. However, please note that fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase if your course lasts longer than one year.

However, please also note that you can receive a 5% discount if you either:

Flexible payment plans available

Choose from three payment plan options:

Masters funding options

Depending on where you are from in the UK or EU, and on your pace of study, you may be eligible for a postgraduate student loan. Accessible through Student Finance, this is a non-income based loan to help with living costs and tuition fees whilst studying your masters programme.

How to apply

Students should apply directly to the University.

Apply now

Documents to support your application

You'll need to provide:

*Documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation by a professional translator/translation company. Each translation must contain:

A list of approved translators can be found on the UK Government website.

Application deadlines

All of our online courses have set start dates throughout the year. We require time to review your application and get back to you with a response before your course starts. Take a look at information regarding applying for an online course to see full details of deadlines and term dates.


The Ergonomics and Human Factors Masters programme is designed to support your career development within the profession, however you may wish to progress onto further qualifications such as a PhD.

As a qualifying course for graduate membership with the CIEHF, you will be eligible to apply for Graduate membership of the CIEHF upon completing this Masters award. This will provide a strong platform for you to continue and pursue your aspirations of becoming a Registered Member with Chartered Status.

The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors is an excellent resource for employment opportunities and for information about gaining experience in ergonomics.

The programme also provides a suitable qualification for those working in allied professions to broaden your skills and enhance their service offering, to build on your professional development or to create new career openings.

Contact us

Contact the University of Derby Online Learning:

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