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The University of Southampton

SESS6074 Maritime Safety: Risk, Environment and Law

Module Overview

In view of the Engineering Council’s support for the development of engineering degrees that will equip students to become professional engineers, the module follows the European Network for Engineering Accreditation guidelines to contribute to graduate awareness of the wider multidisciplinary context of engineering. The module introduces, develops and examines an emerging engineer’s capability of becoming a responsible engineer – to human life, marine structures and the maritime environment, and highlights the importance of non-technical – societal, health and safety, environmental, economic and industrial - constraints and their implications for engineering practice. This is achieved through a greater understanding of the actors in the design, construction, operation and end-of-life of an engineered artefact and the legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks in which they operate. The module engages a deep learning methodology in systematic risk assessment from the perception of risk to the quantification and mitigation of risk. From an engineering perspective this involves an understanding of the subjectivity associated with determining hazards and the stochastic nature of engineering components where tools are provided to deal with these issues. Further, fundamental concepts of law are reintroduced, building on previous undergraduate understanding of the law, to demonstrate how the law applies in the context of ships and shipbuilding. Unfamiliar ways of looking at the design and operation of engineered systems, within their legal, ethical and regulatory context, are explored and used in a practical sense through group projects. These projects are disseminated to and assessed by their peers in a manner that will be increasingly more familiar during their professional lives.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Probability and statistical theory applied to safety, risk and reliability. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: SM2, EA1)
  • Reliability approaches. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: SM7)
  • Safety management principles and practice and importance of ethics. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: SM3, SM7, EA1, D2, EL1, EL8 )
  • Principles of environmental impact assessment (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: SM3, SM7, EA1 )
  • Quantitative risk assessment methods and their use as part of the decision-making process in both maritime design and operations. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: SM5, EA1, D2, EL6, EL11, EL13)
  • The environmental impact of maritime engineering activities and methods by which the impact can be minimised. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: EL4, EL11)
  • Contract law, particularly in relation to contracts of shipbuilding and ship sale. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: D1, D6, EL5, P4)
  • Tort law, particularly in relation to obligations placed on those that build and sell ships. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: D1, D6, EL5, P4 )
  • The regulatory framework applicable to ships and their operation and its roots in international law. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: EL5, EL12, P4, P6, P9)
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Solve maritime engineering design and operations in the context of safety and environmental impact within their legal, ethical and regulatory framework, based on fundamental principles and the use of the latest analysis techniques. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: SM5, SM6, SM8, SM9, EA3, EA4, D2, EL2, EL4, EL8, EL9, EL11, EL13, P1, P4, P9, P10, P11, G1, G4)
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use quantified risk analysis as a framework for solving problems involving uncertainty. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: EA2, ES3, EA7, D3, D4, D9, P8)
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply risk analysis techniques to engineering problems. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: EA5, EA6, EL6)
  • Apply public and private law to reduce and mitigate engineering problems. (Contributes to EAB accreditation LO: EL4, P4)


Introduction to Safety: The role of the engineer will be outlined with regard to the impact on the environment. The importance of safety - human and equipment - and the need to avoid incidents, catastrophic or otherwise. Safety - Legislation: The importance of legislation in improving safety, zones of the seas, the high seas, flag state jurisdiction and piracy. Shipping regulations: SOLAS compliance, MOU, MARPOL, the control of pollution, dumping. Flag state registration: public law regulation and private law functions. Safety - Design and management: Description of terminology and the various stages of assessing design and operating practices. Safety culture - its importance in minimising accidents. Acceptable levels of risk - both society and individual. Perceived and actual risk. The importance of proper planning in response to perceived risk. Lessons for design: fundamental considerations, the use of risk and consequence analysis to carry out cost-benefit analysis. How to improve safety within an organisation. Risk Analysis: Revision of probability and elementary set theory, Venn diagrams etc. More advanced treatment of probabilistic variables - probability density functions and the like. Common distributions, Normal (Gaussian), Log-normal, and Rayleigh. Extreme value distributions. An introduction to quantitative and qualitative risk assessment methods. Deductive and inductive methods. Fault Tree Analysis, Event Tree Analysis, Failure Mode, Effect and Criticality Analysis (FMECA or sometimes FMEA). Minimum cut sets and Fussel-Vesely algorithm. Fuzzy set theory - what it offers to risk analysis. Reliability: How to assess reliability to understand the frequency events might occur. Failure data collection, confidence limits and characteristic values - statistical methods and engineering judgement. Waiting times and interarrival times. Failure probability of series and parallel systems. Poisson process and Markov chains. Contract law: The nature and essential terms of a contract. Understanding expressly agreed and legally implied contractual terms. The Sale of Goods Act. The effect of contract terms on contracts of shipbuilding and ship sale. Tort Law: The Tort of Negligence and nuisance; vicarious liabilities and statutory duties Systems approach to safety and the Environment: Safety and the environment are key concerns for every engineering artefact. Understanding the manner in which safety and environmental impact is ensured through a multi-disciplinary approach explicitly covering the interaction between risk/reliability and legislation.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Learning activities include • Lectures • Interactive tutorials • Directed reading • Coursework

Follow-up work18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Completion of assessment task66
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly. 

Marine Policy. 

Ocean Development and International Law. 

Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 25%
Final Assessment  75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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