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Human Factors in Patient Safety

Human factors

Course details

Currently enrolling for September 2024 intake 

Please note that we are currently enrolling scholars for our September 2024 intake. We advise all prospective scholars thinking about applying to submit your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. 

This inter-professional part-time online programme in Human Factors and Patient Safety is for all healthcare professionals involved in the care of hospital patients.

Scholars will attend online interactive sessions and workshops one day per month. The rest of the multi-disciplinary programme including didactic teaching, discussion boards, reading, and resources are offered online, which you can access it in your own time.

The programme is suitable for surgeons, physicians, anesthesiologists, emergency medicine doctors, obstetricians, pharmacists, nurses and midwives working in the hospital setting, as well as safety and quality managers. Graduates achieve an in-depth understanding of error and risk in healthcare systems, you will acquire the skills to be safer and more efficient in your own practice, and gain the knowledge and skills to improve the safety and quality of care in your work systems.

The aims of the programme include the development of:

  • a comprehensive understanding of error, risk and safety in healthcare;
  • the social, cognitive and personal resource skills necessary to be safe and effective healthcare workers, team members and team leaders; and
  • expertise in conducting patient safety research and quality improvement initiatives in healthcare.

The programme is accredited by the National University of Ireland, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) and RCSI.

Register your interest Submit a query Online PG Diploma/MSc in Human Factors in Patient Safety - Programme Brochure 2024 PDF | 15837.3 KB Online Postgraduate Diploma/MSc in Human Factors in Patient Safety - FAQs DOCX | 41.6 KB

The Postgraduate Diploma in Human Factors in Patient Safety is delivered over one year, is part-time and uses blended learning modalities. All didactic teaching is online. Scholars undertake five taught modules of study worth a total of 60 credits. Scholars attend approximately one online session per month and participate in weekly online Discussion Boards. 

Following the successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma, you may opt to progress to the MSc in Human Factors in Patient Safety. The MSc consists of a 30 credit Advanced Research Methods and Dissertation module which culminates in a submission-ready empirical research or quality improvement article plus an extended literature review.

Scholars may exit with a Postgraduate Certificate in Human Factors in Patient Safety which is a minor award worth 30 credits.

Modules in Year 1

Error and Safety in Acute Healthcare In this introductory module, we take a systems perspective on the issue of patient safety. This is a foundation module, the seminal literature is explored in depth.
Personal Effectiveness and Non-technical Skills This module focuses on the factors that contribute to improving personal effectiveness and team performance in healthcare.
Leadership of Process and Quality Improvement In this module, the theoretical principles and the practical strategies behind QI are explored in depth.
Professionalism and Advanced Communications In this module areas of professionalism are explored including relationships with patients and ethical practice. Principles and practice of advanced communication including shared decision-making, obtaining consent, open disclosure, breaking bad news and end of life care are also included.
Research Methods Research methodologies including: experimental and quasi-experimental methods, quantitative descriptive/ observational research, qualitative and mixed methods research, pragmatic research approaches and research in process and quality improvement. Scholars will apply their skills to the development of a research proposal which will form the basis for their research dissertation.


Formative assessment will include participation in classroom activities and group work. Summative assessment for the majority of the modules will involve:

  • a 2,000-word assignment
  • participation in a group project and presentation
  • a 300-word submission to a weekly discussion forum (n = 6-8 per module)

This programme will assist participants to:

  • Describe and interpret the major concepts, principles, theories and methodologies associated with human factors and its application to patient safety and display an ability to synthesise and critically appraise the evidence.
  • Identify and critically examine the specific person and system factors in hospitals which increase the risk of error and may impact patient safety.
  • Appraise the role of non-technical skills in supporting safe and effective patient care.
  • Utilise advanced communication and interpersonal skills to recognise and manage difficult situations arising from conflict with patients, relatives and colleagues.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of the main interpersonal and communication skills and tools.
  • Recognise issues and circumstances in health care practice that raise potential legal liability and to utilise the frameworks necessary to analyse and critically evaluate errors in hospital practice.
  • Select and apply quality and process improvement methodologies toward developing applied solutions to healthcare problems.
  • Develop an idea into a comprehensive research strategy.
  • Demonstrate mastery of the main qualitative and quantitative tools and techniques of human factors research and investigation.
  • Champion and defend a systems perspective on risk and safety management in healthcare.
  • Endorse the priority of patient safety in healthcare and demonstrate personal support for efforts to understand and manage healthcare risk more effectively.

Online-interactive dates for Year 1, starting in September 2024 – June 2025:

Module 1: Error and Safety in Acute Healthcare 

  • Error and Safety Day 1: September 2024 – Introduction to programme and to Human Factors in Patient Safety
  • Error and Safety Day 2: October 2024 – Expert Day

  • Error and Safety Day 3: October 2024 – Group Project presentations


Module 2: Personal Effectiveness and Non-technical Skills

  • Personal Effectiveness and Non-technical Skills Day 1: November 2024 – Stress Day
  • Personal Effectiveness and Non-technical Skills Day 2: December 2024 – Leadership Day
  • Personal Effectiveness and Non-technical Skills Day 3: January 2025 – Project presentation


Module 3: Leadership of Process and Quality Improvement 

  • Leadership of Process and Quality Improvement Day 1: January 2025 – Quality Improvement
  • Leadership of Process and Quality Improvement Day 2: February 2025 – Project presentations


Module 4: Professionalism and Advanced Communication 

  • Professionalism and Advanced Communication Day 1: March 2025 - Professionalism
  • Professionalism and Advanced Communication Day 2: March 2025 - Communication
  • Professionalism and Advanced Communication Day 3: April 2025 – Project Presentations

Module 5: Research Methods

  • Research Methods Day 1: May 2025 – Introduction to research
  • Research Methods Day 2: June 2025 – Proposal Feedback

Download a copy of the timetable below: TBC

  • The Postgraduate Diploma and MSc in Human Factors in patient safety is an ideal qualification for anyone who currently works, or plans to work, in leadership in healthcare. An understanding of the theory around patient safety, errors, and the individual and system level factors which contribute to these, is vital for healthcare leaders. With growing understanding of the importance of patient safety in our healthcare, a qualification such as this can be very useful to develop your career in healthcare. Alumni of the programme have published their research, brought their learning back to their workplaces, and even used the programme to progress within their own area of work. 
Progression from Postgraduate Diploma to MSc.

The MSc in Human Factors in Patient safety is a two year programme. This involves the first year, which leads to the award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Factors in Patient Safety and a second year which leads to the award of the MSc in Human Factors in Patient Safety. 
At the end of year one and on the successful completion of five modules, scholars will be given the opportunity to indicate if they wish to progress to the MSc.  Provided that scholars have met the requirements to progress, they may continue to the MSc. 

If, at this point, scholars do not wish to progress to the MSc, may indicate that they wish to graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Factors in Patient Safety . 

Scholars must complete the Postgraduate Diploma year to be eligible to progress to the MSc . There is no option to enter straight into the MSc as this is a two year programme.