MSc in Safety and Human Factors in Aviation

Application Dates
Course Overview
Masters (Coursework)
Tuition Fees
see website
Cranfield, United Kingdom
1 Year
Prior Study
Bachelor honours degree
Graduation Results
Not applicable
Study Field


Demand for human factors and safety expertise continues to grow within aviation as well as other safety critical industries. This course has been designed to provide industry with equipped graduates who can make a real and lasting improvement to performance and safety through the application of skills and knowledge learnt through a mix of lectures and practical exercises.

Who is it for?

This course attracts a wide variety of students from aviation professionals in civil and military domains to high-quality graduates in engineering and social science disciplines. The wide range of skills and knowledge represented by students on the course provides a learning environment unique to here.

Why this course?

Delivered through the specialist Safety and Accident Investigation Centre, operating for over 30 years to support global safety and investigation, this course is unique in that it synthesises the study of human factors with the study of safety and safety assessment, creating a powerful combination to really add-on value in applied aviation and safety critical contexts.

It is designed to provide industry with successful and well equipped graduates who can make a real and lasting improvement to performance and safety through the application of skills and knowledge learned on the course. Demand for human factors and safety expertise continues to be a growing area within aviation as well as other safety critical industries. Safety critical systems require high human performance in addition to engineering excellence to meet the safety and business requirements of the aviation industry. To meet these demands, the design of systems must match, support and augment the capabilities of the user.

We are very well located for visiting part-time students from all over the world, and offers a range of library and support facilities to support your studies. This enables students from all over the world to complete this qualification whilst balancing work/life commitments.

Your teaching team

Our teaching staff work closely with organisations in the aviation industry including major manufacturers, airlines and operators, maintainers, the military and regulators. Teaching staff include leaders in aviation psychology, human factors, accident investigation and safety sciences:

  • Professor Graham Braithwaite
  • Dr Jim Nixon
  • Dr Hamad Rashid
  • David Barry
  • Dr Leigh Dunn
  • Dr Matthew Greaves
  • Dr Wen-Chin Li
  • Dr Simon Place
  • Pete McCarthy
  • Dr Becky Charles.

Course details

The MSc comprises 12 modules; eight compulsory and two of the optional taught modules; and two group project modules. The PgCert consists of three compulsory modules with the remaining modules selected by yourself. You also complete an individual research project.

Group project

Two group projects are completed by students: 

  • The Capstone Group Project will provide a simulated industrial environment where knowledge and skills gained from the taught components of the course can be consolidated and applied to solving a human factors and safety problem. 
  • The Applied Safety Assessment module will provide students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems module, in a practical scenario. In addition, the module aims to equip students with the ability to conduct a comprehensive safety assessment on an airframe whist working in a team, and to present the group work both orally and in a written report.

Individual project

Each MSc student is required to undertake an individual research project. The output of this project is a written report presented in the format of a scientific paper. The project aims to provide students with an opportunity to apply the technical and analytical skills taught during the course, in a practical way. The individual research project is a chance to study a specific subject or problem area in much greater depth and use some of the techniques learned during the course. You will be assigned a supervisor who will help to guide you in your research.

Previous Individual Research Projects included:

  • The analysis of behaviour associated with high workload in military air-traffic control
  • Checklist design in General Aviation
  • Safety in ground handling with Menzies Aviation
  • Pilot-autopilot conflict with Airbus.


Taught modules 40%, Group projects 20%, Individual research project 40%.

Compulsory modules

All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course:

  • Cognitive Ergonomics
  • Human Performance and Error
  • Human-Computer Interaction in Aviation
  • Aviation Medicine
  • Research Methods
  • Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems
  • Aviation Safety Management
  • Aircraft Accident Investigation and Response
  • Safety and Human Factors in Aviation Course Induction
  • Capstone (Group Project)

Elective modules

A selection of modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course:

  • Flight Data Monitoring
  • Training and Simulation
  • Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance
  • Work and Job Design

Entry requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree or equivalent in engineering, aeronautical engineering, mathematics, ergonomics, psychology or other science. Other qualifications (e.g. HND or alternative) may be acceptable, provided that there is evidence of sufficient relevant work experience.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. Our minimum requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS Academic – 6.5 overall
  • TOEFL – 92
  • Pearson PTE Academic – 65
  • Cambridge English Scale – 180
  • Cambridge English: Advanced – C
  • Cambridge English: Proficiency – C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.

Applicants who do not already meet the English language entry requirement for their chosen Cranfield course can apply to attend one of our Presessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses. We offer Winter/Spring and Summer programmes each year to offer holders.

Your career

There are strong employment prospects for graduates in safety-related management and operational positions. Course graduates generally find suitable employment in a range of safety and human factors related roles. Previous graduates of the course have been successful in gaining employment with:

  • Airbus
  • BAE Systems
  • British Airways
  • Qinetiq
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • NATS
  • Honeywell
  • Easyjet
  • DHL
  • Royal Navy
  • Frazer-Nash
  • MBDA.