Human Factors in Patient Safety

Human factors

Course details

The Masters (MSc) in Human Factors in Patient Safety is a unique programme for healthcare professionals who are responsible for the care of acute hospital patients.

The first of its kind in Ireland, it is accredited by the National University of Ireland (NUI) and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

The two-year part-time programme comprises six modules of study – five taught modules, delivered by experts in human factors in patient safety, and a research dissertation module.

Designed to suit your busy schedule, the programme is offered using blended learning modalities – online elements, which you can access from home plus face-to-face classroom teaching.

Students attend RCSI for face-to-face teaching for three days per module, structured as one full-day per month. This is supplemented with online content and individual/ group-based learning activities.

The Research Methods module, offered in Year 2 as part of the Masters qualification, involves a five-day workshop plus online content.

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Error and Safety in Surgical 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, we explore the key areas of professionalism including relationships with patients and ethical practice. In addition, you are introduced to the principles and practice of advanced communication including shared decision-making, obtaining consent, open disclosure, breaking bad news and end of life care.
Research Methods At the end of this module, you will be familiar with data collection and analysis techniques associated with the most important social science and human factors methodologies. In addition, you will apply these skills to the development of a research question, mapping the question to the most appropriate research design and writing a research protocol.
Research Dissertation In this module you will apply the knowledge, skills, and techniques developed over the previous five modules. You will conduct an independent research or quality improvement project which will be presented as a ready for publication research paper.


Formative assessment will include participation in classroom activities and group work. Summative assessment will involve:

  • A 2,000-word written assignment per module.
  • Participation in a group project and presentation, per module. 
  • A 300-word submission to a weekly discussion forum, (6-8) per module.
  • For those progressing to the Masters programme, a publication-ready research article accompanied by an extended literature review will be submitted for assessment.

Download the programme brochure for further details on individual module course content, assessment methods and a draft timetable.