2020/21 Full-time Postgraduate course
Postgraduate Diploma/Master of Science
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment
Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment
Research led, industrially relevant master's programme offered by an internationally leading research team with unrivalled experimental facilities.
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The programme is offered by the Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology Centre (FireSERT), a centre which is internationally recognised for its leading edge research in the fields of fire dynamics, structural fire engineering, human behaviour in fire and fire modelling. The programme draws on the expertise and resources of the Centre in terms of teaching staff (with core teaching staff all actively involved in research) and experimental facilities. Students on the MSc programme have the opportunity to use Fire SERT's state-of-the-art facilities both within the taught programme and to progress experimental research projects which are often designed to complement current research projects being undertaken by staff. Students also have the opportunity to work closely with practitioners in the design module to develop a fire safety strategy for a real complex building.
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The programme is a linked programme of awards leading to either a Post-Graduate Diploma (comprising eight taught modules) or MSc (eight taught modules plus Research Dissertation) in Fire Safety Engineering. In the PG Diploma programme (semesters 1 and 2) students will study compulsory modules in Heat Transfer and Thermofluids, Fire Dynamics, Structural Fire Engineering, Fire Engineering Laboratory, Active Fire Protection Systems, People and Fire and Fire Safety Engineering Design. Optional modules (to be taken in the 2nd semester) include Industrial Fire Safety and Computer Modelling in Fire Engineering.
All core academic staff are actively engaged in research which is closely aligned with their teaching disciplines. The majority are members of the Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology centre (FireSERT) within the Built Environment Research Insitute and were included in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (a measure of the quality of research). In REF 2014 100% of our research environment was rated as world leading or internationally excellent. This reflects the strong portfolio of published academic papers and external research grants held by the team and a vibrant Phd programme. The research ethos of the department is evident within the MSc programme which is research led and informed.
For information on activities of FireSERT see:
The PGDip/MSc Fire Safety Engineering is a linked programme of awards. The PGDip is completed in full-time mode over 2 semesters, with students then progressing to MSc and undertaking their Master's Dissertation in the 3rd semester. The MSc therefore is one calendar year. Attendance at class is normally scheduled from 9.15 to 6.15 on Mondays and Tuesdays. From time to time other lectures will be scheduled on other days of the week. You are expected to be in attendance at all scheduled classes and also to spend significant time in independent study (about 400 hours over the duration of each semester).
The programme provides a rich learning and teaching environment that is informed by current research staff and others. Throughout the programme, staff try to create a research ethos, with much questioning, discussion, reflection and debate, i.e. a learning and teaching environment that is centred around enquiry based learning. There is also a strong input from industry, particularly in the fire safety design module. Learning and teaching methods include lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory work, design project work and computer laboratory work.
Relatively small student cohorts ensure that lectures are participative and interactive whilst seminars provide more dedicated time for discussion on a particular theme (you are often directed to particular literature in preparation for such). Tutorials are key to develop learning, particularly in relation to the application of quantitative techniques that might be used in fire safety engineering. As a student, you will learn from example applications, and have the opportunity to learn on a one-to-one or group basis within an interactive and supportive environment. Laboratory work is an essential component of the learning and teaching strategy for the programme. You will have the opportunity to be exposed to the essential aspects of scentific exploration whilst engaging in a series of experimental investigations under the direction of staff in FireSERT's extensive laboratory facilities. In the design module, the learning environments are designed to simulate, in so far as possible, consulting engineering professional practice. Fire engineering is, by nature, multidisciplinary and therefore within the design module you will work in learning and teaching environments that are designed, in so far as reasonably practicable, to simulate professional working practice. You will work together in groups, supported by academic staff and industrial partners, to develop acceptable solutions to fire safety problems for a real live building project. Throughout the programme, face-to-face sessions are enhanced by learning opportunities created on-line via our on-line learning system Blackboard.
A diverse range of assessment methods are adopted in the PG Dip/MSc programme to enhance your learning experience and help you understand and enhance your individual performance. Modules are assessed either entirely by coursework or by a combination of coursework and examination. Assessment may include group and individual presentations, laboratory reports, essays, design project work. As a student you should expect to be given clear, explicit information and guidance on the assessment and understand how it will be marked. You will also be given timely and relevant individual or group feedback on all work allowing you to identify areas of weakness and feed forward into your learning.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
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Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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The module provides the fundamental knowledge of core engineering sciences i.e. heat and mass transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, and aims to develop practical skills pertained to these disciplines in the context relevant to fire safety engineering. The module materials were designed to develop a deep understanding of the physical phenomena underlying fluid flow and heat transfer in fire, their interrelations and role played at different stages of fire development. Teaching methods on the module comprise lectures, tutorials and assignments.
Fire dynamics as a field of scientific knowledge embraces most fundamental principles related to fire initiation, development, suppression and release of toxic products of combustion. The module presents students with the unified consideration of the above problems and relates them practical fire safety design procedures, studied later in the course. Emphasis is on deep understanding of physical and chemical processes underlying fire behaviour. A large number of practical calculation examples is offered to students in order to prepare them for real fire design challenges.
This module considers durability, building code requirements, structural fire testing, material properties at elevated temperatures, thermally induced structural behaviour, in the context of structural design against fire.
Fire safety engineering is inherently concerned with the provision of equitable life safety options for all occupants of buildings. This module provides an understanding of human behaviour with respect to fire, the impact of fire on people and the complex interactions which exist. Students can then apply this knowledge in the development of reasonable and safe solutions to complex problems related to fire safety design and management of buildings.
This module enables the student to acquire skills in observing, measuring and analysing physical and chemical attributes of behaviour associated with fire processes. It will also equip students with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the techniques required to conduct and interpret results from experimental research.
Active fire protection is an integral and important part of overall fire safety design. The module provides students with the essential knowledge of methods and technologies currently used for active fire protection. Relevant physical/chemical principles underlying fire suppression techniques are emphasized. Practical examples are introduced in order to familiarize students with the real design procedures for fire protection systems.
This module seeks to develop in students the knowledge and experience in applying fire safety engineering approaches to the provision of fire safety in buildings. Students are exposed to an environment in which they experience the fire safety engineering design process within a comprehensive design exercise set at a high professional level.
This module enables the student to undertake an independent in-depth study of a particular aspect of fire safety science and engineering. It facilitates development of skills in problem solving and decision making whilst also refining other skills including investigative and evaluative skills. Students are required to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject researched, skills in critical analysis and use of investigative methods. Students are required to display these skills in written and oral format that will clearly display analysis of the principal arguments and conclusions of their work.
This module is optional
With recent advent in computer technology and better understanding of the underlying theory relating to the fire phenomenon, computer modelling plays an increasingly important role in fire research, particularly for applications where full-scale experiments are too expensive or dangerous. The increased interest in computer modelling has led to the rapid development of various computer programmes, most of which have been used in practical designs. An understanding of the fundamental theory and practical techniques is essential in order to conduct meaningful computer modelling and more importantly to analyse and critically evaluate the simulation results. This module provides such an understanding through lecturing as well as hands-on practice.
This module is optional
This module considers fire resistance construction, smoke isolation and venting, ware house storage, storage and special commodities, flammable liquid ignitability and liquid storage and explosion.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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(a) have gained:
(i) an Honours or non-Honours degree in a related science or engineering discipline from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which is recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or
(ii) have gained an equivalent standard in a Postgraduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate or an approved alternative qualification;
b) hold an A level pass in GCE Mathematics at Grade C or alternatively the applicant's primary degree must have a significant mathematics base to at least A level standard.
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Typically we require applicant for taught programmes to hold the equivalent of a UK first degree (usually in a relevant subject area). Please refer to the specific entry requirements for your chosen course of study as outlined in the online prospectus. We consider students who have good grades in the following:
|Level 12 English Lang in HSD|
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There is strong demand for well educated fire safety engineers, and the majority of students will embark on a career within a fire safety engineering consultancy. Graduates from the Ulster course are also employed in other interesting and diverse careers in fields related to fire safety both in the UK and worldwide e.g. as regulators, fire safety officers in both the public and private sector, researchers in research and testing facilities, and fire brigade officers both in the UK and Europe. Opportunities also exist within the Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology centre (FireSERT) for PhD studies in a wide range of fire science and engineering related topics.
Accredited by the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.
Accredited by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.
Accredited by the Energy Institute (EI) on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to comply with full CEng registration requirements.
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There are two prizes associated with the course - Best Student (full-time) MSc Fire Safety Engineering and Best Dissertation MSc Fire Safety Engineering. Both are sponsored by Jensen Hughes.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.