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The University of Southampton

FEEG3004 Human Factors in Engineering

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the elements of human factors and shows how the characteristics and capabilities of people can be taken into account so as to optimise the design of things used by people, the environments in which they live and work, and the organisation of systems.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This course aims to provide students with a grounding in the principles of Human Factors Engineering, giving them a comprehensive understanding of the main factors involved in cognitive, physical, environmental, and psychophysiological approaches. The module will demonstrate how the characteristics and capabilities of people can be taken into account in order to optimise the design of things used by people, the environments in which they live and work, and the organisation of systems. Students will develop an appreciation of Human Factors principles and how these have an impact in the design and evaluation process of simple and complex sociotechnical systems. The module will combine theoretical analysis with practical applications to allow students to understand how Human Factors Engineering is used in the real world. The module takes advantage of the University of Southampton’s substantial experience and expertise in Human Factors research, and will make use of case studies based on recent and ongoing research projects. The module is very research focused with many of the case studies having been conducted in collaboration with commercial organisations including GE Aviation (e.g. design of novel cockpit concepts), Jaguar Land Rover (e.g. vehicle automation), Network Rail (e.g. accident analysis) and the Ministry of Defence (e.g. analysing work in submarines, helicopters, and Command and Control teams).

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The experimental design process in the context of designing a Human Factors study.
  • The importance of research ethics in the context of Human Factors studies.
  • The cognitive capability of humans in terms of situation awareness, decision making, and communication.
  • The system view of errors and accident analysis.
  • The role automation in modern sociotechnical systems.
  • The effect of stress on the human body and associated methods of measurement.
  • The effect of environmental elements (e.g. visual, acoustic, thermal) on humans and implications for design.
  • The importance of physical considerations (e.g. anthropometrics, vibration, motion sickness) and their implications for design.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Formulate (plan and describe) human factors experiments to evaluate various elements of human performance
  • Critically appraise key Human Factors theories.
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various Human Factors methods.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Time management.
  • The use of creativity and innovation in problem solving.
  • Collating, synthesising and prioritising information.
  • Learning, studying and researching independently.
  • Reporting your work effectively.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Design a Human Factors study.
  • Make use of Human Factors methods for the processes of design and evaluation.
  • Apply anthropometric data in design.


This module provides a detailed overview of Human Factors Engineering, to show how knowledge of the capability of humans can be used for the design of systems and machines and the optimisation of the working and living environment. Engineering students gain a competitive edge as they will be provided with a background knowledge of Human Factors, which is essential to all engineering disciplines, but is not often taught. Contact time in the module will include the following sessions, with each session including a mix of different delivery modes as decided by individual lecturers in consultation with the module lead: 1) Introduction to Human Factors (3 hours) (KP) 2) Human Factors Methods: Evaluation exercise (1 hour) (KP) 3) Experimental design and lab tours (4 hours) (KP/CA) 4) Physical Human Factors 1: Anthropometrics (2 hour) (YY) 5) Physical Human Factors 2: Vibration and Motion Sickness (3 hours) (YY) 6) Environmental Human Factors 1: Visual and Thermal environments (2 hours) (ATM) 7) Environmental Human Factors 2: Acoustic environments (3 hours) (ATM) 8) Cognitive Human Factors 1: Distributed Cognition and Situation Awareness (2 hours) (KP) 9) Cognitive Human Factors 2: Human Error and Decision Making (3 hours) (KP) 10) Cognitive Human Factors 3: Accident Analysis (2 hours) (KP) 11) Cognitive Human Factors 4: Psychophysiology (3 hours) (AR) 12) Cognitive Human Factors 5: Communication and Automation (2 hours) (KP)

Special Features

Lab tours of the Human Factors facilities available on campus.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

A mixture of classroom-based teaching and learning methods will be used, including lectures, video case studies to facilitate group activities and class discussions. These will be supplemented by short recorded lectures available through Blackboard which will feed into the delivered sessions, self-study, and lab tours.

Supervised time in studio/workshop2
Follow-up work10
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Completion of assessment task40
Wider reading or practice25
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Wilson, J.R. & Sharples, S. (Eds) (2015). Evaluation of Human Work. 

Plant, K.L. & Stanton, N.A. (2016). Distributed Cognition and Reality: How Pilots and Crews Make DecisionsDesign. 

Stanton, N.A. et al. (2013). Human Factors Methods: A Practical Guide for Engineering and Design. 

Reading list. Extensive reading lists will be provided at the end of each session

Pheasant, S and Haslegrave C.M.. Bodyspace: Anthropometry, Ergonomics and the Design of Work. 


Assessment Strategy

A specimen exam paper will be available to the first cohort of students undertaking the module following these revisions to enable them to understand the level at which they will be assessed.




MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Examination 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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