Postgraduate taught 

Financial Technology MSc

Human Error and Systems Security MGT5398

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will examine the role played by human factors in the management of socio-technical systems. In particular, it will deal with the issues of human error (slips, lapses, mistakes) and violations (accidental and intentional) and frame those issues within the context of systems failure and the provision of security within safety critical organisations.


The course is delivered over 3 full days, comprising of 15 hours of lectures and 6 hours of seminars.

Excluded Courses





Students will be expected to work on a real-world case to assess the potential human factors' elements associated with potential vulnerabilities around elements of either systems failure, security weakness, or the generation of strategic errors within process design.


There will be an individual essay of 3000 words focusing on ILOs 1, 4 and 5. The essay will be presented in the form of a dialogue between a security/human factors specialist who is attempting to explain the vulnerabilities within the organisations mission critical systems and a senior manager who is resistant to accepting those assessments.

Course Aims

The course will offer an overview of the processes around the provision of safety and security and do so from a human factors perspective. The course will have a particular focus on the role that systems complexity can play in generating emergent conditions which can exceed the abilities of human actors to manage them. The course aims to highlight the role that human agency can play in the embedding of error and violation potential within organisational systems, that can create the conditions in which staff are caught in error and violation traps, and which can ultimately erode the controls that are put in place to prevent systems failure.  Participants will be introduced to a range of tools, techniques and practices which are commonly used within organisations to address the issues of security and safety in socio-technical systems.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Identify, contextualise and critique the processes that lead to the development of error and violation potential within organisational processes.

2. Be able to research and develop a threat matrix for an organisation that they are familiar with, showing how vulnerabilities in both operational processes and security systems can be embedded and exposed.

3.  Analyse and critique an organisation's current security and human factors strategies using a range of appropriate tools and techniques around the identification of vulnerabilities

4.  Develop and evaluate a range of design options around the introduction of a security system for an organisation and highlight the potential for errors and violations within that design.

5. Evaluate and discuss the potential for threat actors to cause harm within organisations either through acts of commission or omission and proposed reasoned and robust defences to deal with those threats.

6. Present the findings of their analysis in both written and presentational forms.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.