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Foundations of System Safety Engineering (FSSE)

Course details

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This course aims to introduce you to the principles of system safety, including risk, basic terminology, and the main types of hazard and safety assessment techniques.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • 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.

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for:

  • practitioners across all domains including aerospace, military, railway, automotive, civil nuclear, civil maritime, medical devices, healthcare, and so on;
  • developers of equipment safety cases during design for software, hardware, procedures, systems and/or platforms;
  • developers of safety cases for operational safety and disposal;
  • reviewers of safety cases within an organisation or as an independent activity;
  • developers and reviewers of changes to existing safety-critical / safety-related equipment and operations;
  • project managers where development of a safety case is a significant element of projects they manage;
  • regulators of safety critical domains.


A basic understanding of system safety terminology and lifecycle via prior learning or industrial experience. If you are unsure about your previous experience, please email us with your details so we can assess your suitability for taking this course.

How is the course taught?

We are hoping to be back on campus for some element of face-to-face teaching in the 2021/22 academic year but the University will only be able to make a final decision on this based on official advice closer to the time.

As a general guide we would advise you to bear in mind that some preparatory work or reading will need to be completed before the start of the teaching week. 
During the teaching week there will be a combination of lecture materials and case studies to explore. The case studies give you the chance to work through an example to reinforce your learning from the lectures. We expect you to put in around 30 hours of study.
Students will have full access to the benefits of the York approach: experienced, knowledgeable lecturing staff present in the groups and accessible for comment, as well as the opportunity to gain insights from the experience of industry peers attending as delegates.
The module ends with an assessed exercise, which you have the option of completing. It takes approximately 35 hours in addition to the scheduled teaching time and can be completed on or off site. All assessed exercises are open (so you won't take an exam in supervised conditions), and comprise a report, case study, or documented piece of software.
If you choose to take and pass your assessment, your results can count towards the completion of the MSc in Safety Critical Systems Engineering. Our MSc in Safety Critical Systems Engineering is an accredited course, recognised by both the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for the purposes of partial fulfilment of the educational requirement for CEng registration. 

Recommended reading

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
Perrow, C. The Next Catastrophe Princeton University Press 2007
Lancaster, J. Engineering Catastrophes (2nd Ed) CRC / Abington 2000
Kritzinger, D. Aircraft System Safety CRC / Woodhead 2006
Vaughan, D. The Challenger Launch Decision University of Chicago Press 1996



Key dates & Book your place

Key Dates

The next instance of FSSE will take place in the 2021/22 academic year, the teaching week for the module is planned for w/c 27/09/2021.

Book your place

Before booking, please read our Booking Conditions (PDF , 104kb).

To book your place, please complete the booking form and payment form below and return to our Admissions Team at Payment can be made online via credit/debit card

CPD Booking Form 2020/21 (MS Word , 70kb)

CPD Payment Form 2020-21 (MS Word , 66kb)

If you have any queries, please contact contact our Admissions Team at

Image of FSSE Teaching

A very good course, delivered well.  The case studies were very good and gave us the opportunity to see how various safety methods/analysis are used in various situations.