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PGDip Safety Critical Systems Engineering

Understand how complex products and services undertake tasks that pose a risk to human lives, and become a practioner in keeping people safe.

2018/19 entry


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

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28 February, 7 and 14 March

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This course will provide you with the educational background required to become a leader in the field of safety critical systems engineering, whether you are currently a practising - or aspiring - professional in this area.

Products and services are taking on more authority over activities that have the capability to pose a risk to human lives. System safety professionals address a web of interlinked contributing factors to assess the safety of these products or services.

This course will provide you with the opportunity to become a practitioner in safety-critical systems engineering, or to enhance your existing practice, and to reflect on the implications of your work both for your current role and for society as a whole. Three strands of work will develop your skills: safety-critical system safety thinking, skills as a safety engineer and professionalism.

The course will ensure you are better equipped to make a contribution to your organisation. You will gain a thorough grounding and practical experience in the use of techniques for the development, operation and assurance of the safety characteristics of systems or services that have safety implications. We will explore the principles behind these techniques to ensure that sound safety engineering judgments can be made. You will investigate the latest research and focus on advanced practice in a number of areas. 

The course employs the extensive research and industrial experience of the developers of the work packages you will address. It brings together safety professionals from many different domains (aerospace, military, automotive, railway, nuclear) to ensure your learning is as varied and as comprehensive as possible.

This course is also available as an MSc in Safety Critical Systems Engineering, or a PGCert in Systems Safety Engineering.


When you are awarded the MSc in Safety Critical Systems Engineering, you will automatically meet some of the conditions for professional engineering status in the UK. This course is recognised by the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, in partial fulfilment of the educational requirement for Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration. It is also recognised by Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for the purposes of partial fulfilment of the educational requirement for CEng registration.


Course content

The course can be taken on a full or part time basis, meaning it is very flexible and can easily fit in around work commitments.

Each 10 credit module will require you to attend University for five days. You will undertake intensive teaching sessions based on lectures, case-studies and exercises.  

There are 90 credits of taught modules in total throughout the course (both full and part time options). Seven of these modules are core, and two are optional. 

You will also take 30 credits of critical evaluation.

Research project

You will undertake a critical evaluation module as part of this course. 

The critical evaluation considers the state of the art relating to one aspect of systems safety engineering. You will determine the gaps in this state of the art via a literature review. You'll also outline a proposal for the design and evaluation elements required to address at least one of these gaps in the knowledge.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Employ system safety thinking throughout the lifecycle of a system or service using a broad, systematic imaginative anticipation of safety risks, causes and consequences.
  • Contribute to the development and assessment of safe systems and services by ensuring that proper consideration is given to safety issues as part of the systems engineering process.
  • Assure the safety of systems and services by organising and presenting information in a robust way that is amenable to critical evaluation, making appropriate choices from established assurance approaches. 
  • Design, execute and monitor an organisations safety management processes to address relevant regulations, legislation and operational context by considering individual human factors, team competence and organisational structures.
  • Effectively communicate with technical and non-technical stakeholders about system safety problems and their solutions in a clear and organised manner.
  • Operate as a leading safety-critical system safety professional, by maintaining awareness of key legal and ethical issues relating to system safety, appreciating how safety critical systems can affect society, and by continuing to expand and deepen knowledge through critical engagement with the discipline.


​97% of our students achieve employment or go on to further study within six months of graduating.

REF 2014

In the Times Higher Education's assessment of the 2014 REF, our research ranked 7th overall in the UK, 5th for impact and 6th for environment.


Our staff are at the cutting edge of their fields and we maintain strong links with industry.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee
Full-time (1 year)£15,910£16,780

Additional costs

Text books and resources will be available to you through the University of York library and all course materials are provided. Lunch is provided Monday to Thursday of teaching weeks and refreshments throughout the teaching week as well. You will need to arrange and pay for your own accommodation and travel to York for the teaching weeks and costs associated with this will vary depending on your location and the standard of accommodation you book.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Careers and skills

The vast majority of people who undertake this course are already working in industrial fields such as aeronautical engineering, marine engineering, naval and military fields, automotive applications, gas and electric services engineers. Undertaking this course will equip you to progress within these fields.

Career opportunities

  • Aeronautical engineer
  • Safety manager
  • Naval engineer
  • Automotive engineer
  • Gas or electrical services engineer

Transferable skills

  • Information-retrieval
  • Numeracy
  • Time management

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

The course is taught through a variety of lectures, seminars and case study exercises undertaken in small groups of around six.

Teaching location

The Department of Computer Science is based on Campus East. Teaching takes place in the specialist CPD suite in the Ron Cooke Hub, also on Campus East. This includes a large seminar room and break out rooms, seating area and refreshment facilities.

Course location

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Each module has an open assessment associated. This means that you undertake the assessment in your own time away from the University. This open assessment, and any associated work packages, is designed to consolidate and further deepen your knowledge, skills and approaches to the subject matter covered in the module. Of course, it is also designed to assess your progress.

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade

Typically you will have achieved a first degree in a numerate, technical discipline. This course is specifically directed at those with several years of industrial experience. If you do not have a first degree but instead have relevant industrial experience, your application will be considered on a case by case basis. 

Other qualifications

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. For further details of the requirements please see our Postgraduate courses information.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Next steps

Contact us

Contact our admissions team if you have any questions

Heather Taylor (Course administrator)
Dr Mark Nicholson (Course Leader)

Learn more

Department of Computer Science

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