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This three-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 health care systems and processes.

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

Year 1 will give a broad introduction into the current state of safety in health care, how harm comes to patients and a detailed understanding of clinical human factors, ergonomics.

Year 2 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 3 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 attend on-campus teaching.

Eligibility Criteria

This programme is suitable for all healthcare graduates, including nurses, pharmacists, anaesthetists, surgeons, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals.

A UK 2:1 honours degree in healthcare is the minimum requirement, although if you have extensive experience of working in healthcare and have evidence of Postgraduate or Undergraduate study with subject areas including medicine, biomedical science or pharmacology/pharmacy, nursing, psychology your application will also be considered. Candidates with a relevant background and alternative qualifications should contact us for further details.


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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 certificate, 6 needed to complete diploma) and each academic year consists of 3 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 projects in their workplace. This dissertation year consists of a phased assessment:

  Course Name Compulsory or Elective Credits
Year 1:
60 credit = Cert
Introduction to healthcare delivery and what leads to harm Compulsory 20
Clinical Human Factors and ergonomics in Healthcare Compulsory 20
Individual and team skills Compulsory 20
Year 2:
120 credit = PgDip
Learning from current practice and governance Compulsory 20
Training for safety Compulsory 20
Quality improvement for safer practice Compulsory 20
Year 3:
180 credit = MSc
Dissertation and independent improvement project Compulsory 60


Dissertation year

Overall e-Dissertation (100%), comprised of the following phased learning:

Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
Project Outline deadline
Project Detailed Summary deadline
Project ePoster deadline
Masters Project eReport deadline


Fee information

Fees for Academic Year 2020/21 

Students on full-time and part-time programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that annual tuition fees are subject to revision and are typically increased by approximately 5% per annum. This annual increase should be taken into account when you are applying for a programme.

Year 1: £5,470
Year 2: £5,470
Year 3: £5,470

Please see the scholarships page for full information on the range of Edinburgh Surgery Online Scholarships available. 

Programme team

Professor Steven Yule

Professor Steven Yule
Year 3 Director, MSc in Patient Safety & Clinical Human Factors. 

Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Director of Education & Research at the STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston.


Dr. Yule is a leading academic psychologist and internationally recognized for his research on non-technical skills and patient safety in surgery. Most notably, he was one of the pioneers of the ‘Non-Technical Skills for Surgeons’ (NOTSS) behavior observation system, which is now being implemented for surgical education and research in North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia. Dr. Yule has authored several seminal manuscripts on non-technical skills, edited the first surgical textbook on the topic, and leads a research laboratory at Harvard dedicated to advancing the field of behavioral science. His current research focuses on examining the relationship between non-technical skills and patient outcomes, developing coaching for surgeons and surgical teams, implementing biomarkers of team performance, and investigating video-based assessments of surgical team behavior. He also leads a NASA-funded research program to support astronaut crews in management of medical events on deep space missions. He is vice chair of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Non-Technical Skills and past chair of the Education Committee of the Association for Academic Surgery.

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Simon Paterson-Brown
Programme Director, Patient Safety & Clinical Human Factors 

Consultant General Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh; Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh; and Chairman of Patient Safety Board at the RCSEd @spbsurgery


Mr Simon Paterson-Brown is an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer the University of Edinburgh Although originally appointed as a Consultant General Surgeon with a particular interest in upper-gastrointestinal surgery to the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh in January 1994, he has pursued a strong commitment to patient safety throughout his career. He has delivered postgraduate educational programmes locally and abroad through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) including highly successful non-technical skills (NOTSS) workshops. He is a past chairman of the RCSEd Patient Safety Board and is past President of AUGIS (Association of Upper GI Surgeons of UK and Ireland). He previously sat on the RCSEd’s Education Committee and the Specialty Advisory Group for General Surgery.

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Nikki Maran
Deputy Programme Director, Patient Safety & Clinical Human Factors

Consultant Anaesthetist at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh; Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh; and Associate Medical Director for Patient Safety and Quality at NHS Lothian

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Professor Tom Weiser

Professor Tom Weiser
Year 2 Director, MSc in Patient Safety & Clinical Human Factors  

Visiting Professor of Surgery - University of Edinburgh, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery; Section of Trauma and Critical Care, Stanford University Medical Center. 


Thomas Weiser is an associate professor in the Department of Surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, where he practices general and emergency surgery and surgical intensive care. He is on sabbatical at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh as a Visiting Professor. His research focuses on quality and safety of surgical care, and strategies for improving the safety and reliability of surgical delivery in resource poor settings. From 2006-2009 he worked with the World Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives program to quantify the global volume of surgery and create, implement, evaluate, and promote the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. He has been involved in the Disease Control Priorities Project, a World Bank initiative that evaluates the cost effectiveness of health interventions, and the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery. He is a trustee of Lifebox (, a charity devoted to improving surgical safety worldwide, and leads its Clean Cut program, a multinational effort to improve surgical safety and prevent surgical infections. 


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