Online course details

Study options

Part-time: 3 years

UK/EU fee


International fee


Course level




Start dates

September, May



Online course description

This course was the first online Ergonomics MSc to be launched in Europe. As a current or aspiring ergonomist, or a human factors professional, it would give you a significant advantage in your field.

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

Accredited by your professional body, the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), it meets their high standards and gives you the opportunity of graduate membership which is your first step to registered status as an ergonomist.

Ergonomics promotes a holistic human-centred approach. This theme naturally links the modules within the programme. There are modules designed to cover physical and psychological characteristics, Ergonomics methods and wider systems issues. You will be able to complete one of three pathways in Ergonomics (Human Factors), Health Ergonomics, and Ergonomics and Organisational Behaviour, which are all accredited by CIEHF and offer you the opportunity to tailor your studies to meet your own career interests.

Our tutors have many years of experience in Ergonomics and they understand the pressures of balancing study around work and family commitments.

New, from 2020

From 2020, our MSc Ergonomics is being redeveloped. If you want to join the current online Ergonomics MSc in September 2019, you will be able to transfer your credits from the current programme on to the new Ergonomics and Human Factors MSc or one of the pathways in 2020, subject to the new Ergonomics and Human Factors MSc being successfully validated. 

Flexible enough to fit around you

You can complete this part-time masters course in three years. It’s really down to you to set the pace and, because it’s online, you have complete control over when and where you study. Studying online gives you the flexibility to study at the most convenient time and place for you. Course modules still operate within a fixed trimester but you can choose to study during the day, in the evenings or at the weekend rather than having to attend fixed lectures.

An introduction to the course

Our short introductory video gives you a snapshot of what you will learn on our online Ergonomics MSc degree course.

introduction to our online Ergonomics MSc course

View the introduction to our online Ergonomics MSc video transcript

What you will study

We will advise you of your study plan - the running order and availability of the modules - when you are invited to enrol. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered. In addition, where demand is high, some modules may be subject to a cap.

This course is made up of six 20-credit modules and one 60-credit module (Independent Scholarship). These will be a mixture of core and optional modules.

You will need to complete all of the core modules and then select the optional module relevant to your preferred specialist pathway:

The online MSc Ergonomics course comprises three progressive stages: postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and MSc.

We would encourage you to complete the full MSc but, if you aren’t able to, you can still gain an exit award at each stage: a PG Cert or a PG Dip.


Code: 7PS503

Investigation and Analysis

This module covers research design; ethical practice in research and qualitative and quantitative approaches to research. Students will develop the ability to perform appropriate statistical analyses to address research questions about human behaviour. In addition, students will demonstrate an ability to design, conduct and report an ethically sound quantitative research study exploring human behaviour. Students will also demonstrate their 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, students 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: 7PS511

Approaches in Ergonomics

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 to gather data about people, their work and workplace. Students will get an overview of the tools available in a range of domains, begin to understand their strengths and weaknesses and have the chance to practice with a range of them. This module will help students understand what makes a good method; support them in choosing amongst the myriad of methods available; support students in deciding what level of confidence they can and should have in various methods and when that is and is not sufficient. Students will also consider the scope of ergonomics, its aims and the ergonomics approach.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the scope and aims of ergonomics
  • Demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of the range and characteristics of ergonomics methods and techniques available
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct and critically evaluate studies employing ergonomics methods and measurement techniques

Module content

  • The ‘Ergonomics Approach’
  • The goals of ergonomics
  • Fundamentals of methods selection
  • Analysing the individual
  • Evaluation of mental workload
  • Evaluation of physical work activities
  • Task analysis
  • Environmental assessment
  • Systems level analysis
  • Design and selection of work equipment
  • The business case for ergonomics interventions
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS515

Human Physical Characteristics and Ergonomics

The International Ergonomics Association defines the physical domain of ergonomics as: “Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. The relevant topics include working postures, materials handling, repetitive movements, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, workplace layout, safety and health.” This module critically analyses these issues and the evidence-base for their impact in typical workplace performance, comfort and health problems. A central tent 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.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate deep understanding of the underlying anatomical, physiological and biomechanical issues necessary to operate in the field of ‘physical ergonomics’
  2. Critically analyse the evidence base for the impact of physical factors on work system performance
  3. Appreciate the interaction between physical issues and other factors within the workplace

Module content

  • Understanding anatomy and physiology as it relates to human performance
  • Human responses to the physical environment
  • Biomechanics and the efficiency of human movement
  • Posture and its impact upon health and performance
  • Anthropometry: the impact of body shape and size
  • Vision & lighting
  • Contribution of physical factors to common workplace problems
  • Limitations of the ‘man as machine’ analogy and it’s impact on the practice of ergonomics
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS516

Systems and Ergonomics

This module considers the impact of ergonomics activities (specific interventions and ongoing programmes) within the realities of organisational settings. No ergonomics, health, safety or performance intervention can be introduced without ramifications for the organisational system. This module deals with the real-world application of ergonomics/occupational health methods to address user, task, environmental or cultural problems within the workplace. Within the context of basic systems theory, the module explores the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved in a response to perceived ‘ergonomics problems’. The module describes the role of the Ergonomists within a multi-disciplinary team. The consequences of ‘system-level’ failures are analysed using case studies.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a deep understanding of the fundamental theoretical aspects of systems thinking as applied to ergonomics
  2. Critically analyse systems to identify where ergonomics interventions may benefit overall system functioning and appreciate the impact any ergonomics interventions may have upon wider system functioning
  3. Utilise ergonomics in a considered, professional manner and recognise the need to consider ergonomics techniques as part of a multi-disciplinary team

Module content

  • Basic systems theory with particular emphasis on the role of the Ergonomist
  • Ergonomics as “systems thinking”
  • Macroergonomics – understanding the organisational environment
  • Ergonomics and competent behaviour
  • Ergonomics and individual development
  • Systems failures – major disasters to product (usability) failures – case studies
  • Legislation and Litigation – the legal context of work systems
  • Professional issues – the realities of being a competent Ergonomist
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS526

Psychology and Human Performance

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 and psychosocial factors and goes on to consider how psychological constraints can affect human performance in its broadest sense.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Critically discuss and integrate knowledge across several areas of cognitive psychology
  2. Demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of empirical research in relation to human performance
  3. Position the performance of a task in a psychological context and critically evaluate the main psychological factors and their possible inter-relations

Module content

Indicative Content: 

  • Attention
  • Visual information processing
  • Memory
  • Thinking, reasoning and decision making
  • Skilled performance
  • Human error
  • History, development and applications of cognitive psychology
  • Psychosocial factors of performance eg otivation & lifestyle
  • Individual differences and performance eg personality, stress, arousal and mood
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS994

Independent Scholarship

The Independent Scholarship module will give the student the opportunity to investigate in detail, an ergonomics issue relevant to their employment or interests. This will require students to submit a substantial research proposal for approval that considers ethical issues, aims and projected outcomes, resources, risk assessment and project plan. 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. Students are expected to present evidence of their capacity to execute a substantial piece of independent research that builds clearly upon their prior learning and which draws upon appropriate methodologies.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Consider relevant theory and research to produce an ethically and methodologically sound research proposal that considers resources, project planning, aims and projected outcomes
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify the main ergonomics issues, use appropriate methodologies and data-analysis to investigate and infer coherent conclusions
  • Produce a professional report that demonstrates an ability to critically review the relevant literature, integrate taught parts of the programme and understand the strengths and limitations of the work undertaken

Module content

The subject of the research will be formulated by the student following the advice of a nominated tutor and the requirements of the students chosen pathway.

More information
60 Credits

Code: 7PS512

Ergonomics and Design

This module considers ergonomics as a fundamental element of good design, but also enables students to appreciate the perspective (‘weltanschauung’) of the designer. Students will apply ergonomics principles and their understanding of human characteristics and behaviours to design issues. The characteristics and needs of the user are placed at the centre of the design process. Applications beyond traditional product/equipment design and the concept of usability and its evaluation will be studied. Professional issues during the design process will also be considered.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Apply appropriate ergonomics methods in order to critically evaluate and inform design
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of user populations and their respective needs and behaviours
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the role of ergonomics in the design life cycle in order to provide effective design solutions

Module content

  • Concept of user centred design
  • Design thinking and behaviour
  • The design process
  • Professional issues
  • Hedonomics and principles of pleasure
  • Legislation, standards and accessibility
  • Defining users and their needs
  • Usability and its evaluation
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS513

Human Behaviour and Health

This module aims to provide students with an overview of the relationship between human behaviour and patterns of health, morbidity and mortality. In particular, the module will adopt a bio-psychosocial perspective and will examine a range of behavioural factors which influence health-related outcomes. The module will also explore and critically evaluate the role of health promotion in maintaining health and prevention of disease or ill health.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Critically evaluate the extent to which psychological theory aids our understanding of the relationship between human behaviour and health
  2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the extent to which health psychology can be applied to key occupational health and safety concerns

Module content

  • Concepts of health and illness
  • Measuring health and illness
  • Understanding health behaviour: social cognition models
  • Illness representations
  • Coping with ill-health: pain & chronic conditions
  • Health promotion: theories, models and values
  • Workplace health promotion
More information
20 Credits

Code: 7PS514

Organisational Psychology

In this module students will gain grounding in the importance of psychological theory to understanding organisations and how organisational behaviour, structure and systems can influence the individuals working within them. This will ensure that relevant psychological knowledge can inform student’s future practises within organisations. To ensure they can understand the practical implications of their knowledge the course will be partially assessed via case studies of ‘real life’ organisational issues.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a deep understanding of how psychological theory has informed our understanding of organisations and the effect they have on those working within them
  2. Demonstrate a deep understanding of how human behaviour is influenced by organisations, their behaviour, their systems and their structure
  3. Critically evaluate how components of organisational behaviour impact on well-being and performance

Module content

  • The history, development and practice of psychology within an organisational setting
  • Motivation at work and the concept of job satisfaction
  • Leadership and ‘management style’
  • Attitudes and commitment to work
  • Organisational structure and working groups
  • The assessment of work performance
  • Staff recruitment/selection and the design of jobs
  • Social identity, socialisation and the meaning of work
  • Health and wellbeing with particular emphasis on ‘occupational stress’
  • Organisational change
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

Pace of study

We recommend about 20 hours of study per week to complete one 20-credit module over a 10-week trimester. If you aim to study two modules in one trimester, we recommend 40 hours of study per week.

Assessment method

This course is assessed through 100% coursework with a range of methods, such as essays, research reports, presentations, group work and practical reports.

Student wearing headphones at a laptop participating in an online webinar

Discovering Online Learning Webinar, October

Thursday, 17 October 2019 14.30 - 15.30

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. The webinar includes a 20 minute presentation and an opportunity to take in a Q&A.

Book your webinarBook your webinar

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have a minimum of a lower second class (2.2) honours degree or equivalent professional qualification in a relevant discipline. However, if you have key practical experience and work-based training, you may also apply.

International students require equivalent qualifications and may be asked to supply references to support your application.

English language qualifications

If English is not your first language you will need an English language qualification.  For this course you will need at least one of the following:

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.

Fees and funding

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £980 7 (six 20-credit modules and one 60-credit module) £8,820

† Prices correct for 2019/20 new students. Subject to potential annual increase in September 2020.

Flexible payment plans available

Choose from three 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


During this course, you will develop excellent skills to help you evaluate and design tasks, jobs, products, environments and systems that are compatible with the needs and limitations of people. Employment prospects for ergonomists can be diverse as demand for these specialist skills can be found in a range of fields from healthcare to aviation, nuclear safety to product design. Further career information is available on the CIEHF website

Graduate membership

Our MSc Ergonomics is accredited by CIEHF as a qualifying course for graduate membership. This is the first step in developing a career as an ergonomist and brings you a whole range of benefits, including:

Once you have obtained your MSc Ergonomics, you can apply to CIEHF to be a graduate member. As a graduate member, you can begin to build your expertise under the guidance of a mentor, building a portfolio of work. After three years, you can be considered by the professional body in order for you to be recognised as a registered member and allowed to use the letters MIEHF after your name. Registered ergonomists can also apply for chartership by returning an acceptable continuing professional development (CPD) submission.

Dr Victoria Filingeri
Programme leader

Academic Lead in Ergonomics, Dr Victoria Filingeri, completed her BSc Psychology with Ergonomics, MSc Health Psychology, PhD and postdoctoral research at Loughborough University, looking into crowd behaviour, rail safety (funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board), teenagers trespassing (funded by Network Rail), and the ageing population.

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Contact us

Contact the University of Derby Online Learning:

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† Additional information about your studies

Prices correct for 2019/20 new students. Subject to potential annual increase in September 2020.

Download programme specification