The descriptions are for modules currently being taught. They should be viewed as an example of the modules we provide. All modules are subject to change for later academic years.

Foundations of System Safety (FSE) 2009/0

Workload - Private Study - Assessment - Description - Learning Outcomes - Content - Teaching Materials - Recommended Books

Module Code 0640504
Lecturers David Pumfrey, John McDermid, Mark Nicholson, Tim Kelly
Number of Credits 10
Part A
Teaching Aut/1
Closed Assessments [100%] TBA
[100%] TBA

Module Prerequisites

Prerequisite knowledge

A basic understanding of safety principles would be good but not essential. Please check with the module owner if you are unsure of your experience.


  • Lectures: 35 x 1hr
  • Private Study: 30hrs
  • Assessment: 35hrs

The teaching for this module combines traditional lectures with a number of exercises and case studies which will be tackled in small groups.

Private Study

Students are expected to read around the subject. Background information relating to examples which will be studied on the module may be posted on the course web page; students will be expected to have read this material. Many of the exercises and case studies contain more material than can be completed in the group sessions, and students are expected to continue working on these in private study time.


Closed Assessments

  • , hours
  • , hours

Formative Feedback

Individual written feedback is provided via the online feedback system.


This module is an introduction to the principles of system safety, including risk, basic terminology, and the main types of hazard and safety assessment techniques. It also provides a brief overview of material which will be covered in greater depth in later modules, such as legal issues, management of safety critical projects, and human factors.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand risk, and the factors influencing perception and acceptability of risk;
  • Be able to give definitions of safety-related terminology, and discuss how the use of terminology varies between countries and industrial sectors;
  • Have an understanding of typical safety-critical systems lifecycles, and the roles of the major groups of techniques within the lifecycle.


  • Introduction to accidents, hazards and risk;
  • Formal definitions of terminology;
  • Individual and group exercises in accident and incident analysis, and perception and comparison of risks;
  • Legal and moral context;
  • System lifecycles;
  • Overview of analysis techniques;
  • Piper Alpha accident case study.

Teaching Materials

Copies of all lecture slides, case studies and exercises will be provided.

Recommended Books

Rating Author Title Publisher Year
** Leveson, N.G. Safeware: System Safety and Computers Addison Wesley 1995
* Perrow, C. Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies Princeton University Press 1999
* Roland, H.E. and Moriarty, B. System Safety Engineering and Management (2nd ed) Wiley 1990
+++ Storey, N. Safety Critical Computer Systems Addison Wesley 1996
+++ Lancaster, J. Engineering Catastrophes (2nd Ed) CRC / Abington 2000
+++ Kritzinger, D. Aircraft System Safety CRC / Woodhead 2006
++ Bahr, N.J. System Safety Engineering and Risk Assessment: A Practical Approach Taylor & Francis 1997
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Last updated: 26th May 2011