MSc(Eng) PG Diploma
2022 start September 

Process Safety and Loss Prevention

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Enhance your skills in process safety, loss prevention and risk assessment to prepare you for a career in the oil and gas, chemical, nuclear and pharmaceutical industries.
Process safety researchers

Course description

Whether you’re already working in the field or just starting out, this course will deepen your understanding and equip you with skills and expertise in process safety, loss prevention and risk assessment. You’ll be ready for a career in the oil and gas, chemical, nuclear and pharmaceutical industries, or with any of the consultancies that service them.

Full time or part time

This course is available full time over a year, or part time over two or three years. Each module can be taken as a short course – useful if you’re already working in industry. Part-time students need to complete all modules within two years. You can take an extra third year to complete your dissertation if you need to – we won’t charge fees for that year. Apply now


Accredited by the the Institution of Chemical Engineers


The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Core modules:

Introduction to Process Safety and Loss Prevention

This module provides the background to understanding the importance of Process Safety. It sets out the structure and describes the elements of a modern approach to Process Safety. It provides the basis of how Process Safety should be approached and implemented across the lifecycle of a project, illustrated with practical examples and workshops.

15 credits
Leadership and Management of Process Safety

This module focuses on all aspects of process safety across the lifecycle from concept, detailed design, construction, start-up, operation, maintenance and decommissioning.

15 credits
Hazards & Protections

The theme of this module is hazard and risk. The interaction between process design and hazard identification is explored. A number of hazard study techniques are introduced and the concepts underlying risk and risk criteria are analysed. Protective systems such as pressure relief and fire protection are reviewed.

15 credits
Human Behaviour and Human Error

The theoretical background and practical skills are given for assessing and reducing human error. Features considered include human factors and psychological mechanisms. Human reliability is considered in industry and its impact on major hazard systems and quality assurance. Human-machine interfaces are examined. Approaches are given for improving human reliability and error reduction. Key features include task analysis and its application, the quantification of human error for risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis and the use of data collection systems. Studies identify the underlying reasons for human caused accidents and quality lapses. The module aims to give: an understanding of the importance of humans in the chain of actions leading to accidents in chemical plants, an understanding of the ways in which human error can be described in the operation of a task sequence, an appreciation of the ways in which data can be collected and used in incident investigation and an understanding of the numerical representation of human behaviour in the assessment of risk.

15 credits
Process Safety in the Chemical, Pharma and Fine Chemicals Industry

This module addresses process safety in the chemical, pharma and fine chemical industry. It is one of a series of modules which address hazards and risks in specific industries. A wide range of chemical hazards are examined including flammability, toxicity, chemical reactivity and environmental impact. Tools and techniques for identifying hazards and reducing risk are described and practical experience in their use is provided in the form of workshop activities. The module will describe how to prepare a "basis for safety" for a process.

15 credits
Process Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry

The module describes how techniques covered on the rest of the course are applied to process safety issues specific to the oil and gas industry. Within the oil industry it will cover process safety in exploration, production, refining, distribution, marketing and retail operations. Within the gas industry it will address areas such as production, storage, liquefaction and transportation. It will provide the above through the use of a number of discrete case studies.

15 credits
Major Hazards and Emergency Planning

The module sets out to provide the methodology for the quantification of the effects of major chemical plant incidents. This methodology is placed in the context of the legal requirements for the preparation of safety cases by plant operators.

15 credits
Instrumented Systems and Functional Safety

The use of computers in control process has resulted in some serious problems in the design and maintenance of safe process systems. An introduction is given to computer architecture. Requirements analysis and systems analysis with supporting tools are described followed by software concepts and tools. Training is given in software and system testing and validation, software maintenance and redesign and the development of fault tolerant systems. The standards required for safety critical instrument systems are examined. Other topics include design, operation and maintenance and safety critical systems. The above material is amplified by appropriate case studies.

15 credits
Dissertation Project

The application of scientific and engineering principles to a solution of practical problems of engineering systems and processes is developed throughout the course and demonstrated in particular by the research projects. Each student registered for the Masters degree in Process Safety and Loss Prevention is required to complete a research based portfolio. The project is worth 60 credits. This is the most important individual module in the course. The topic for study is selected in consultation with appropriate members of the teaching staff. You will choose a research project which best fits your own interests and undertakes a unique and original project on that area. Projects vary from industrially based problem solving to laboratory based research and development of new processes or ideas. The research portfolio is a major part of the degree and you will be allocated an academic supervisor who provides advice and guidance throughout the period of study. Opportunities exist for research studies to be carried out in collaboration with other university research centres as well as industrial organisations. You will present your project as portfolio consisting of a Technical Review (5,000 words) and a Dissertation (10,000 to 15,000 words) and you are also required to present the work as a poster and oral presentation during the academic year. A marking scheme is provided to you at the start of the project and each research project report is marked using a mark sheet which gives weightings to different parts.

60 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.


  • MSc(Eng): 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
  • Diploma: 9 months full-time


We use a mixture of lessons and discussions, real-life case studies, workshops and hands-on computer sessions.


Continuous assessment is based on assignments for each module, and a dissertation.

Student profiles

Group of Chemical and Biological Engineering postgraduates at a table with laptop

What I like most about my course is that it’s totally applied to industry: it’s very practical and the lecturers have a lot of industry experience. I love that with my work I can avoid big accidents occurring and save lives and the environment.

Sandra Catalina Prieto Marin

MSc(Eng) Process Safety and Loss Prevention

Entry requirements

A good honours degree in science, technology or engineering.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

Pathway programme for international students

If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Fees and funding

Contact us for current information on available scholarships.


You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

+44 114 222 7500

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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