Patient Safety & Clinical Human Factors (MSc, PgCert, PgDip - Online Learning)


Program Description

Programme description

This 3-year part-time online MSc programme in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors aims to support any graduate health care professionals (ranging from nurses to surgeons and anaesthetists) in using evidence-based tools and techniques to improve the reliability and safety of everyday healthcare systems and processes.

Applicants for this degree will be looking to distinguish themselves as being experienced in patient safety and, in some may, looking to move towards specializing or taking a management lead in this field. The programme will draw on teaching materials from a global network of enthusiasts.

Year One will give a broad introduction into the current state of safety in healthcare, how harm comes to patients and a detailed understanding of clinical human factors, ergonomics.

Year Two will then go from the state of healthcare to look at how we can improve safety in healthcare. This involves examining how good teamwork influences patient outcomes, as well as improving healthcare and medicine management. We will also focus on quality improvement research and methodologies.

Year Three will follow the highly successful iterative module used by the Masters in Surgical Sciences, involving submission of a project outline, abstract submission with poster preparation, and completion of a dissertation.

Due to the unique completely online nature of the pedagogy, the programme would be an attractive option for those professionals wishing to secure academic credit or a higher degree in patient safety and who are unable to commit to attending on-campus teaching.

Online learning

The programme is delivered by recognized experts in the various subject areas and will draw upon the extensive staff expertise at the University of Edinburgh and at other Institutions internationally. A blend of online learning methods are utilized such as; discussion forums and live tutorials to create a dynamic and collaborative learning experience. You will become part of an online community bringing together students and tutors from all over the world.

Assessment of progress is achieved by group work, essays, critical incident reporting, scientific posters and group wiki events. In addition to the core learning in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors, the programme will allow you to enhance your interpersonal, self-management, IT, team working and project management skills.

The programme is delivered in an online environment that provides a dynamic and collaborative learning experience. Expert tutors will support you through every stage of the programme and you can engage with fellow students in supportive and constructive online networks. The flexible learning environment means you learn at the times and locations that suit you best, making this programme suitable for high calibre, busy professionals who want to update and extend their knowledge.

Programme structure

The programme has two elements: the taught element and the dissertation element (in Year 3).

The taught element of the programme is divided into six 20 credit courses (3 are needed to complete the certificate, six needed to complete diploma) and each academic year consists of three teaching blocks, each running over a period of 11 weeks.

During the dissertation element of the programme, students will have the opportunity to further develop their developing skills and design and conduct their own quality improvement project in their workplace.

This dissertation year consists of a phased assessment.

Year 1

60 credit = PgCert

  • Introduction to healthcare delivery and what leads to harm (20 credits)
  • Clinical Human Factors and Ergonomics in Healthcare (20 credits)
  • Individual and team skills(20 credits)

Year 2

120 credit = PgDip

  • Learning from current practice and governance(20 credits)
  • Training for safety(20 credits)
  • Quality improvement for safer practice(20 credits)

Year 3

180 credit = MSc

  • Dissertation and independent improvement project (60 credits)

Learning outcomes

The five Learning Outcomes have been mapped onto the SCQF level 11 characteristics:

  • To demonstrate an extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of the current background and principal theories regarding the extent of and causes of harm in healthcare, reliability, patient safety and human factors.
  • To put into practice the applied knowledge, skills and understanding by planning and executing a significant project of research, investigation or development.
  • To develop the necessary cognitive skills to deal with complex issues and make informed judgments in situations in the absence of complete or consistent data/information. *To recognize contributory factors towards adverse events and use this knowledge to inform improvement plans and learning at a local and organizational level (including audit/M&M meetings and Duty of candour as well as ethics).
  • To develop communication skills. To communicate, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise; to access a wide range of routine skills and a range of advanced and specialized skills as appropriate to a Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors.
  • To exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in professional and equivalent activities. To demonstrate leadership and initiative and make an identifiable contribution to change and development and/or new thinking. To demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the chosen research topic; Identity, conceptualize and offer original and creative insights into novel information and/or recently published data; Produce a written critique of a defined piece of research; Demonstrate originality and creativity in the development and application of new knowledge, understanding, and practices.

Career opportunities

A graduate of this programme may be looking to develop specific skills in this area within their current position and some may be looking to secure an appointment as a patient safety officer, a position that is increasingly promoted and advertised in the UK. We anticipate that this qualification would not necessarily result in a change in career for graduate healthcare professionals so much as developing their current role.

The demand for individuals with knowledge and skills in teaching and assessing patient safety and quality improvement is growing rapidly. Both NHS England and Scotland are driving initiatives in this area and this is being observed globally. Graduating students will have a significant advantage in signalling not only their commitment to patient safety and quality improvement, but they will have also demonstrated the skills needed in identifying and measuring patient safety risks from a Human Factors science perspective and the ability to apply quality improvement methodology to making effective changes to improve safety. These skills are highly sought after particularly within the NHS and other developed healthcare systems.

Entry requirements

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in healthcare, with subject areas including medicine, biomedical science or pharmacology/pharmacy, nursing, psychology.

We may also consider your application if you have relevant work experience; work experience must be in a related scientific area, for example, hospital or primary care (preferably based around patient safety, quality improvement research) for 3 or more years. Please contact the programme team to check before you apply. You may be admitted to the certificate level only in the first instance.

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration
  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Scholarships and funding

UK nationals, those with settled status, and some EU nationals not resident in the UK could be eligible for a postgraduate loan towards fees - and in some cases living costs.

Last updated Feb 2020

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About the School

Together we form a unique grouping in the UK where vets, medics and biomedical scientists work together and study the common causes of disease that affect our populations.

Together we form a unique grouping in the UK where vets, medics and biomedical scientists work together and study the common causes of disease that affect our populations. Read less