Science of Occupational Health, Safety and the Environment MSc/Diploma

This joint programme recognises the increasing demand from both industry and enforcement bodies to integrate occupational health, safety and environmental management issues.

On completion of this course you will be in a position to identify, evaluate and provide solutions to a wide range of hazards and risks to be found in industry, commerce, marine and agricultural situations. It is accredited by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Institute of Acoustics (Environmental Noise module).

This programme is run jointly by the Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in the School of Health and Population Sciences. It recognises the increasing demand from both industry and enforcement agencies to integrate occupational health, safety and environmental issues.

Postgraduate Diploma
Subjects studied include a selection of three of the following:

  • Core Module
  • Safety Technology
  • Risk and Safety Management
  • Occupational Health and Hygiene
  • Environmental Noise
  • Chemical and Biological Incident Management
  • MSc (as above, plus the following):
    Research Methods

The programme is accredited by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and is also accredited by the Institute of Acoustics (Environmental Noise Module).

Why study this course

The course aims to teach the science and practice of occupational health, safety and environmental control in the context of a team approach. On successful completion of the Masters programme, students should be in a position to identify, evaluate and provide solutions to a wide range of health, safety and/or environmental problems, and function well in a multi-disciplinary team. It recognises the increasing demand from both industry and enforcement bodies to integrate occupational health, safety and environmental issues. The comprehensive syllabus recognises the importance of technical, and practical skills as well as the need for good management skills. This programme is a collaborative endeavour with the Institute of Occupational Health.


The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is the professional body which accredits the PG Diploma.   Accreditation of a student’s PGDip depends on the selection of appropriate optional modules for study. The research based modules, which are required to upgrade the PGDip to an MSc, can count towards up to 50% of the professional development required for an individual’s chartered membership status with IOSH. The University follows the framework syllabus set by the IOSH and there is regular contact between the University and IOS.


The MSc is offered on a full-time (one-year) and part-time (two-year) basis. The Postgraduate Diploma is only available part time. In the Full time MSc, both of the following elements are taken concurrently.

Part time MSc Year 1: taught elements (described below) - a mixture of block and day release

Part time MSc Year 2: research elements

The part time Postgraduate Diploma follows the same syllabus as the PT MSc Year 1. View the course timing schedule (PDF - 55KB).

Chemical hazards in the workplace

In the first year all students follow a compulsory Core Module. Students then have a choice of three modules from a selection of five. (Please note that the availability of individual option modules will depend upon student numbers).

Core Module

This module will provide the students with an introduction to post graduate study and will include an overview of information sources, literature searching, computing and library facilities.

A foundation in the underpinning knowledge common to both Environmental Protection and Occupational Health and Safety will be provided. The human exposure pathways for environmental and occupational pollutants will be discussed along with the toxicological methods for evaluating the adverse effects of pollutants. The perception of risk will be considered together with a brief introduction to generic risk assessment and control. The administrative and judicial system in the UK will be explored with regards to their interface with both environmental and occupational control. Comparisons with other administrations will be considered. The philosophy and practicalities of compliance strategies will be discussed. The principles of sampling and measurement of pollutants will be examined.

Chemical and Biological Incident Management

This module will provide students with a basic knowledge and understanding of the scientific and legislative issues related to the management of chemical and biological incidents. The causes and types of incident will be introduced. The management of such incidents will be examined in detail, covering the contribution of the different agencies, legislative issues, communication with the public and techniques in remediation. The module will provide students with the ability to design a management plan for an incident.

Environmental Noise Module

This will be a practically based module which will enable students to make reliable measurements of background noise and noise from a variety of noise sources, according to the requirements of relevant British Standards, Codes of Practice or legislation. The presentation and interpretation of the measured data will be considered and the significance of measured noise levels in terms of acceptability to people will be assessed. The principal methods of noise control to mitigate the impact of noise on the community will be identified. Having considered the above the student will be able to critically appraise the noise measurement methodology, data and interpretation in reports and environmental appraisals, and to comment on proposals for noise impact mitigation.

Occupational Health and Hygiene Module

This practically based module will provide students with an introduction to the role and interface of occupational health professionals. It will enable students to recognise, evaluate and control a comprehensive range of hazards found in the workplace. The opportunity to study in detail specific occupational diseases will be afforded, for example, dermatitis and occupational cancer. Practical sessions will provide the opportunity to devise, implement and evaluate monitoring programmes for biological, chemical, physical and radioactive workplace hazards. The principal methods to control and to mitigate the impact of occupational hazards on the worker will be identified. There will be an assessment of the current UK and international occupational health standards together with a study of legal controls.

Risk and Safety Management Module

This module will commence with a consideration of the legal requirements for safety management. There will be consideration of the legal relationship between employer and employee, which will include a review of the current case law relating to civil liability. There will be a review of occupational accident and ill health data and its relevance as a management tool will be evaluated. Theories of accident causation will be examined and management strategies to prevent accidents will be considered. In particular the role of the individual and the organisation will be explored. Quantitative and qualitative risk assessment methods will be studied. The philosophy of the management of controls to prevent accidents will be considered.

Safety Technology Module

This module will examine the integrity of machinery, plant and structures including the causes and consequences of failure and a consideration of preventative measures. The hazards arising from machinery, plant premises and processes will be evaluated and the technological and scientific principles which can be applied to remove or control the subsequent risk will be studied in detail. The following areas will also be considered with respect to their relevance to workplace safety; movement of people and materials, electricity and fire. Relevant legislative controls will be studied.

Research Methodology Module

This module will provide students with the underpinning skills necessary for them to successfully undertake an MSc research dissertation. It will provide students with an understanding of processes needed to plan, implement and evaluate a research based study. In particular there will be sessions looking at hypothesis generation, survey design, sampling strategies, questionnaire design, computing skills for research, literature searching and an introduction to some basic statistical techniques. During the module students will be expected to formulate their project ideas and to write their research protocols. These will then be presented at the end of the module.


An in-depth piece of project work which is supported by appropriate research and has practical application will be submitted in the form of a 10,000 - 15,000 word dissertation. Projects can take the form of laboratory based or field-work type research.

Fees and funding

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

The new postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will be introduced for students commencing in the 2016-17 academic year. The government-backed student loans will provide up to a maximum of £10,000 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas.

Detailed criteria and information regarding the application process is expected in early 2016. The key information to date is summarised here.

Fees for 2016

  • Home/EU students £6,840 FT (£3,420 PT)
  • International students £18,900 FT only

Learn more about fees and funding

Other scholarships and studentships
Please see the funding database search for more information.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

For further information contact the School directly or get in touch with the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system.

Entry requirements

Entry on to the courses requires a 2:1 (Hons) degree in a relevant discipline.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students:

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Formal lectures; group work; case studies; practical simulations; industrial/commercial visits; and student centred learning.

Assessment methods

In Year One all students will complete an extended essay as assessment for the Core Module. Each Option Module is assessed by a piece of coursework and a three-hour examination held at the end of the year. All elements must accrue a pass mark. Students who successfully complete the above will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma unless they wish to proceed to study for an MSc. In year two assessment is via the dissertation report and associated viva voce examination. Students achieving an overall mark of 70% or more may be awarded an MSc with distinction.

Related research

On completion of this course you will be in a position to identify, evaluate and provide solutions to a wide range of hazards and risks to be found in industry, commerce, marine and agricultural situations. It is accredited by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Institute of Acoustics (Environmental Noise module).

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