Human Factors in Patient Safety

Why study human factors?
Human factors recognises that non-technical skills, such as communication, teamwork, decision-making and leadership are critical to enhanced patient care in hospital settings.

The study of human factors creates a culture of patient safety by making care safer and more effective in healthcare settings for the benefit of hospital patients.

The Human Factors in Patient Safety programme provides a greater awareness of risk and error in the workplace by providing participants with skills required to mitigate risk and prevent adverse outcomes.

It also offers access to an interprofessional team of experts in surgery, psychology, nursing, pharmacy and the related fields of medical ethics, medical litigation, leadership, professionalism and communication, amongst others.

Course details
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.

Subjects taught

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, 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
The research methods training course will cover the full range of 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 protocol which will form the basis for their research dissertation.

Modules in Year 2
• 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.

Entry requirements

This is an inter-professional programme. Applications are invited from all those working in the acute hospital setting including surgeons, anesthesiologists, emergency medicine physicians, obstetricians, radiologists, acute care nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, radiographers, social workers, dietitians, occupational therapists, other allied healthcare professionals and quality managers.

To be eligible, candidates must hold:
• A Bachelor of Medicine (MB) or a primary degree in a health and social sciences field with a qualification achieved at the level of 2.2 honours.

• All candidates must also provide evidence of at least two years’ work experience in acute hospital care and must be currently working in the acute hospital setting.

• If English is not your first language, you will also need to supply a copy of an academi IELTS examination, or equivalent, with an overall score of at least 6.5 and no individual band below 6.5*. Read more about minimum English language requirements here.

Assessment Info


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.


2 years part-time.

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.


Fees and funding

•Year 1: €5,000
•Year 2: €7,500

Non-EU applicants
•Year 1: €10,000
•Year 2: €15,000

Please note
•All students also need to pay an annual NUI fee of €45.
•Fees are subject to annual review

Post Course Info

Career progression
• Staff nurses and clinical nurse managers graduating from the MSc in Human Factors in Patient Safety may be entitled to a specialist Qualification Allowance, payable to nurses employed directly on duties in specialist areas appropriate to the qualifications.

• The MSc in Human Factors in Patient Safety is listed as an approved Masters degree qualification that is eligible for incremental credit under the ‘Framework for the application of incremental credit to new entrant consultants to the Irish Public Health Service'. A new entrant consultant may be granted up to two years’ incremental credit for completing the MSc in Human Factors in Patient Safety at RCSI.

Your future
This Human Factors in Patient Safety programme has attracted healthcare professionals from across the acute hospitals settings and from all seniority levels. We have had consultant and trainee surgeons, emergency medicine physicians and anesthetists. We have also had nurses from all acute care domains including ICU, surgery, emergency medicine and general medicine, as well as those that have transitioned out of nursing to safety and quality roles. Additionally, we have also had pharmacists and obstetricians undertake our programme.

The programme is open to anyone interested in patient safety and quality in healthcare. This is an interprofessional programme and there is a strong emphasis on the interprofessional collaboration through classroom workshops, discussion boards and group projects. Graduates from our programme tell us that they use the knowledge and skills developed in this programme daily, in their working lives. Our graduates have found this programme to be career-enhancing through improved confidence to become involved in and lead patient safety initiatives, improved personal effectiveness through enhanced teamwork, leadership and communication skills, and through enhanced research and writing skills.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time,Daytime,Blended

  • Apply to

    Course provider