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Foundations of System Safety Engineering (FSSE)


This course aims to:

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.

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

  • Identify safety risks and challenges from a wide range of sources associated with complex systems and services.
  • Communicate consistently and clearly about safety engineering and management issues in a manner appropriate for different industrial domains.
  • Demonstrate how legal and ethical issues applicable to real-world safety engineering problems can be addressed.
  • Describe how to design, execute and monitor an organisations safety management processes to address relevant regulations, legislation and operational context.
  • Explain the scope and nature of systems engineering in the context of high safety risk industries.

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 and healthcare;
  • 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 the MSc SCSE and Short Courses Team at so that we can assess your suitability for this course.

How is the course taught?

During your course, you will have full access to the benefits of the York approach, with experienced and knowledgeable lecturing staff on hand throughout the week, as well as the opportunity to gain insights from your industry peers.
During the 2024/25 academic year courses will be taught in a blended format. There will be three days of face-to-face teaching in York, taking place on Tuesday to Thursday of the teaching week. In addition students will be provided with self-study materials totaling some 10 - 15 hours of study time. These will be split between work to be completed before the in-York sessions and materials to be studied afterwards. 

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.
Each course ends with an optional assessed exercise that is undertaken away from the University over 5 weeks following the taught element of the module. Each assessment takes approximately 65 hours in addition to the scheduled teaching time, of which we estimate students spend 30 hours undertaking private study plus 35 hours writing up the assessment. 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 the assessment and you pass, your results can count towards the completion of one of our postgraduate awards: 

You should apply for your Masters, Diploma or Certificate award after taking no more than 40 credits of modules. All components of your chosen postgraduate award, including modules taken as SCSE short courses, must be taken within a five year time period.

When will this course be taught?

The key dates for this course in the 2024/25 academic year are as follows:

Registration closes: Friday 30/08/2024

Preparatory materials released: Friday 13/09/2024

Face-to-face teaching: Tuesday 24/09/2024 - Thursday 26/09/2024

Recommended reading

  • 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
  • Leveson, N.G., Engineering a Safer World, MIT Press, 2011
  • Leveson, N.G., Safeware: System Safety and Computers, Addison Wesley, 1995
  • 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

Booking conditions

Booking Conditions

  • Acceptance onto a short course is at the agreement of the course leader. They will want to assure themselves that you have the relevant level of background knowledge. You may therefore be asked to provide a CV detailing your knowledge / experience in particular areas.
  • Course fees quoted include all relevant course materials, tuition and examinations, lunch and refreshments.
  • A completed booking form with Purchase Order or payment is required no later than one month before the course starts, or immediately for bookings made within one month of the beginning of the course.
  • Fees are payable to The University of York. 
  • Payment can also be made by credit or debit card. 


We regret that a fee must be charged when confirmed bookings are cancelled or transferred to future dates. In the event of a cancellation, you may nominate a substitute
(acceptance of this substitution is subject to academic and availability conditions). If a suitable substitute cannot be found the following scale of charges will apply:

  • 56 days or more before the programme starts ‐ full refund
  • 55 days or less ‐ 50% refund
  • 28 days or less ‐ 25% refund
  • 14 days or less ‐ no refund

Transfers to a postgraduate award

Students who attend any short course(s), and subsequently choose to undertake a full MScCertificate or Diploma, will be entitled to some credit of the fees already paid, which can be used towards the cost of the full award. The credit a student is entitled to is calculated as follows:

Module Credit % of the fees already paid
1st module 85%
2nd module 75%
3rd module 70%
4th module 70%

You should apply for your chosen postgraduate award after taking no more than 40 credits of modules. All components, including modules taken as SCSE short courses, must be taken within a five year time period.

We reserve the right to amend published information.

Book your place

Before you make your booking, please ensure that you have read our Booking Conditions.

Enrolling on your course

Please complete the CPD Booking Form and return it to Once this form has been processed, you will be able to use e:Vision to access your student record. Please include your name in the 'subject' of your email.

Paying for your course

If your employer will be paying for your training and you would like us to raise an invoice, please complete the CPD Payment Form and return it to Please include your name in the 'subject' of your email.

If you wish to pay by credit or debit card, click the 'pay online' button, below.

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Contact us

MSc SCSE and Short Courses Team