Course plan: FE-HES3500
Human Element in Shipping and Logistics

Course summary

The specialisation in human element in shipping and logistics introduces the idea that the human element needs to be considered in all aspects of work life. The course is an advanced introduction to how the human element affects the safety and efficiency of maritime organisations. Elements of human well-being and the implications for safety and efficiency will also be elaborated upon.

Because of the current complexity of modern work life a systems perspective will be used throughout the course as it is necessary to understand how humans, technical systems and organisations interact and cooperate to achieve safe, efficient and healthy production. The course will integrate knowledge, theory and empirical results from the fields of Human factors, Cognitive System Engineering, Logistics and Systems Analysis. The course will allow students to gain insights into how complex socio-technical systems work and fail.

Topics which will be comprehensively addressed in this course include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Systems analysis (e.g. systems theory, system engineering and the modelling of socio-technical systems)

  • Introduction to task analysis

  • Safety (e.g. accident analysis, accident prevention, resilience engineering)

  • Efficiency (Work analysis, constraints based theory, way-finding)

  • Work-related health and safety issues (e.g. fatigue, shift-work and workload)

  • Teamwork and Crew Resource Management

  • Decision making (operational and managerial decision-making, models of decision-making under risk)

Required prerequisite knowledge

The course does not require any specific previous knowledge apart from the general requirements of the bachelor program.

However, previous experience with university courses or practical experience with The Human Element, Work psychology, human resource management or organisational HSE would be an advantage to the student.

Learning outcome

The subject will enable the students to achieve the following learning outcome:

The student shall have knowledge of following subjects:

  • the major overarching challenges that maritime organisations and operational personnel are faced during ordinary and critical work situations.

The student should be able to:

  • explain key concepts such as mental workload, human error, accident analysis, and efficiency-thoroughness tradeoff.
  • explain the key theories of Human-Technology-Organization Systems (HTO-Systems).
  • apply key theories and methods on real-life examples involving the human element.
  • compare different perspectives on modern work life.
  • describe, analyse and conceptualize how humans, technologies and organizations cooperate in order to maintain safe, efficient and healthy production.
  • understand and intervene in the complexity of modern work life in order to improve the work situations to a more safe, efficient, and healthy production.

The student shall have competence to:

  • understand and evaluate the influence of the human element on the safety and efficiency of maritime transport systems using scientific methods and theories.

Learning activities

The course will consist of a total of hours of work, divided into:

  • Lectures (12 lecture days - in total 36 hours)

  • Self-study

  • Reading Curriculum (about. 800 pages)

  • Participation in group exercises

  • Exam


Participation/Compulsory works

The students have to complete (approved/not-approved) a certain number of group exercises in order to sit for the exam. The number of mandatory presentations will be specified at the start-up of the course.


  • The final assessment will be an 8-hour school exam without any aids ( counting 100%).


  • Scale: A-F; A (highest) to F (lowest), with E as the minimum pass grade.

Examination support material

  • None

Course evaluation

The subject should be regularly evaluated to ensure that a high quality is obtained. The students are expected to actively participate in the evaluations, questioners, meetings oa. with the aim of increasing the educational quality of the subject. Evaluations will be performed in accordance with HBV quality systems.

Literature (reading list)


Flin, R., O•Connor, P. and M. Crichton (2008). Safety at the sharp end. A guide to non-technical skills. Farnham: Ashgate.

Gretch, M.R., Horberrt, T.J. and Koester, T. (2008). Human Factors in the Maritime Domain. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Papers and chapters (made available either on Fronter or by purchase as a compendium):

Gulliksen et al., Key principles for user-centred systems design. Behaviour & Information Technology Volume 22, Issue 6, 2003:397-409.

Kirwan & Ainsworth (1992). The task analysis process, in Kirwan & Ainsworth (1992), A Guide to Task Analysis. London: Taylor & Francis, p.15-32.

Kirwan & Ainsworth (1992). Task data collection. In Kirwan & Ainsworth (1992), A Guide to Task Analysis. London: Taylor & Francis p.41-80.

Kirwan & Ainsworth (1992). Balancing automation and human action through task analysis. in Kirwan & Ainsworth (1992), A Guide to Task Analysis. London: Taylor & Francis. p.241-251.

Reason, 2000, Human Error: models and management. BMJ VOLUME 320, p. 768-770.

Rihai et al., 2021, Seafarers reliability assessment incorporating subjective judgements, Proc IMechE Part M: J Engineering for the Maritime Environment 0(0) 1•22.

Hollnagel, 2009, The ETTO principle: Efficiency-Thoroughness Trade-Off. Why Things That Go Right Sometimes Go Wrong. Chapter 1: 7-21.

Sutherland, V.J. and Flin, R.H. 1989, Stress at Sea: A Review of Working Conditions in the Offshore Oil and Fishing Industries, Work and Stress 3(3): 269-85.

Alert! 2007 Time to wake up to the consequences of fatigue. The International Maritime Human Element Bulletin, The Nautical Institute, Issue No. 13 January 2007.

Gregory and Shanahan, 2012, The Human Element: A guide to human behaviour in the shipping industry, Skuld, Chapter 7:77-103)

CAP 737 Crew Resource Management, Chapter 1 Crew Resource Management (CRM) Training

N.B. Sarter, D. D. Woods, and C.E. Billings (1997). Automation Surprises. In Handbook of Human Factors & Ergonomics, second edition, G. Salvendy (Ed.), Wiley, 1997, p.1926-1943.

Reason, 1997, Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents, Ashgate, Chapter 1: p.1-20.

Jenkins et al., A systemic approach to accident analysis: A case study of the Stockwell shooting, Ergonomics, Volume 53, Issue 1, 2010, p.1-17.

D. O'Hare, 2000, The `Wheel of Misfortune•: a taxonomic approach to human factors in accident investigation and analysis in aviation and other complex systems, Ergonomics, Volume 43, 12, p:2001-2019.

Lützhoft & Dekker, 2002, on your watch, THE JOURNAL OF NAVIGATION (2002), 55, 83±96.

Riahi et al (2013) A proposed decision-making model for evaluating a container's security score. 1-24

McNicholas, M. (2008). Vulnerabilities in the Cargo Supply Chain, In Maritime Security, Amsterdam: Elsevier p.131-160.

Kluge, A., Sauer, J., Schüler, K. & Burkolter, D. (2009). Designing Training for process control simulators: a review of empirical findings and common practice. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomic Science, 10, 489-509.

Nazir, S., Kluge, A., & Manca, D. (2014). Automation in Process Industry: Cure or Curse? How can Training Improve Operator•s Performance. Computer Aided Chemical Engineering, Volume 33, 889-894. doi:

Nazir, S., Colombo, S., & Manca, D. (2013b). Testing and analyzing different training methods for industrial operators: an experimental approach. Computer Aided Chemical Engineering, 32, 667-672.

Kluge, A., Nazir, S., & Manca, D. (2014). Advanced Applications in Process Control and Training Needs of Field and Control Room Operators. IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, (in press). doi: 10.1080/21577323.2014.920437


Pages in the compendium: 408

Pages in total for the subject, including books: 912

Part of study

Subject info:

  • SubjectCode: FE-HES3500
  • Credits: 15
  • Subjectplan applies to: Class of 2015 Autumn
  • Duration: 1
  • Language: EN
  • Evaluation type: Written examination
  • Duration examination: 6 Hours
  • Responsible insitute: Department of Maritime Technology, Management and Innovation
  • Responsible lecturer: Jørgen Ernstsen