European Master and Certification Program
in Risk Engineering and Management

Special risk issues I.

Course code: 161336 (MOD)
Language of instruction: English
Duration of the course: 10 days (90h)
Lecturers: Jørn Vatn (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Prof. Dr. Aleksandar S. Jovanovic (Steinbeis Advanced Risk Technologies GmbH)
Assessment: Written Exam Transfer Paper [optional topic for Project Study Paper]
Credit points: 5 CPs

Short description

This first part of the module presents the basic theory for safety and reliability analysis. The starting point is definition and discussion of basic concepts related to reliability and risk analysis. Then qualitative techniques like functional analysis, FMECA and identification and evaluation of faults and hazards are introduced. The next step is to introduce familiar quantification techniques like reliability block diagrams, fault- and event tree analysis, and Markov methods. Special attention is paid to safety-critical systems (IEC 61508) where analysis of systems with common cause failures is important. The course ends with methods for estimation of failure rates and a survey of reliability data sources. The second part of the module presents theoretical backgrounds and state-of-the-art research issues on perception and communication of risk. It aims to provide a solid basis for further developments of such work tasks by including theoretical achievements in the related fields, various examples from field work, and an internal training exercise. The understanding of communication processes and the improving of information and communication techniques related to risk and hazards are central themes of the course. The course will also provide insight into selected historical aspects as well as current topics and literature. Lecturing is complemented with exercises based on experience of focus group work.


3.1 Knowledge:

The module shall give a thorough introduction to basic concepts and approaches related to analysis and evaluation of safety and reliability of technical equipment – with a special focus on equipment that is used for production and distribution of energy. The module will also provide the participant with a theoretical background sufficient to develop, investigate and otherwise contribute to research applications in core topics of the fields. It will contribute to develop skills and ability to prepare and conduct data collections based on focus group work. Also the participant shall be able to select fruitful research topics and relevant methodological approaches for further analyses and discussions and shall be able to present research results at conferences and in international publications.

3.2 Skills:

The students shall be able to identify and assess failures of single units and of complex systems. They shall be able to assess which parts of a system that are of special importance to prevent system failures. They shall further be able to apply different methods to determine the reliability of single items and complex systems, and identify the pros and cons related to each method.

3.3 Competence:
The students shall learn to understand the importance of safety and reliability in relation to applications within production assurance, quality, risk, environmental protection, and sustainable development. They shall, in addition, gain an understanding of the relationship between costs/disadvantages and benefits related to different safety measures.

Course Content by Units

Unit 1:
Definition and discussion of basic concepts related to reliability and risk analysis. Functional analysis and identification and evaluation of faults and hazards. System analysis based on FMECA, reliability block diagrams and fault trees. Quantification of reliability and availability of technological systems. Measures for reliability importance. Analysis of repairable systems by Markov methods. Analysis of safety-critical systems (IEC 61508). Analysis of systems with common cause failures. Estimation of failure rates. Survey of reliability data sources.

Unit 2:
Risk Perception is an internationally widespread and reputed research area of relevance to applied work in various disciplines. Its basis is related to the discussion on "social acceptance" in the 1970s. The research area has gradually developed into a multidisciplinary field which has contributed greatly to the understanding and developing of communication about risk and hazard. The field of psychology is regarded as a central contributor to the discipline, which also includes contributions from other social sciences and the arts, as well as science and technology. Risk Communication focuses on preventative planning and action. The participant of the course shall gain knowledge about the contribution of Psychology and other relevant research areas to the fields of risk perception and risk communication, about ethical issues related to risk research and risk evaluations and about rules and conduct related to public participation processes.

Unit 3:
Exercises and experimental work

Teaching Methods

The basic theoretical contents of the module are presented in lectures days.

Small exercises and group works are used to get familiar with the concepts.

The remaining part of the module is based on self-study with supervision from the professor.

There are mandatory exercises to be conducted as part of the self-study.


The course is following the text book M. Rausand and A. Høyland: System Reliability Theory; Models, Statistical Methods, and Applications, Second Edition, Wiley 2004.

The following topics will be covered with reference to the text book:

Chapter 1:all

Chapter 2:  pp.15-33 (mid); pp.37 (mid)-41 (mid); pp. 43 (mid)-47 (mid)

Chapter 3: pp. 73-133 (mid); pp. 136 (mid)-139

Chapter 4: all

Chapter 5: pp. 183-187 (mid); 188 (mid)-190 (mid); 192 (mid)-204.

Chapter 6: pp.207-214; 217 (mid)-221

Chapter 7: nothing

Chapter 8: pp. 301-346 (mid); 351 (mid)-353

Chapter 9: pp. 361-386 (mid)

Chapter 10: pp. 419-452

Chapter 11: nothing

Chapter 12: nothing

Chapter 13: pp. 539-546

Chapter 14: all

  • (FMECA)
  • (Fault Tree Analysis)
  • (Event Tree Analysis)

Chapter 4 (Systems of independent components)

Chapter 5 (Component Importance)

Chapter 8 (Markov Processes)

Chapter 9 (Optimization of Replacement Intervals)

  • (Maintenance Planning and Optimization)

Chapter 10 (Reliability of safety instrumented systems [SIS])

  • (Use of Markov processes with SIS) (Markov approach)

From books:

Glickman, T. S., & Gough, M. (2004). Readings in Risk. (Part 1, 5 and 6). Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future; Baltimore: Distributed by the Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, ©1990.

Morgan, G. M. Probing the question of technology-induced risk (pp.5-16).
Morgan, G. M. Choosing and managing technology-indused risk (pp. 17-29).
Fischhoff, B. , Watson, S. R., & Hope, C. Defining risk (pp. 30-42).
Starr, C. Social benefit versus technological risk (pp. 183-194).
Plough, A., & Krimsky, S. The emergence of risk communication studies: Social and political context (pp.223-232).
Reed Johnson, F., Fisher, A., Smith, K., & Desvousges, W.H. Informed choice or regulated risk? Lessons from a study in radon risk communication (pp. 247-258).

Grimvall, G., Holmgren, Å., Jacobsson, P., & Thedéen, T. (Eds.), (2009) Risks in Technological Systems, (Chapters 3, 8, 16). New York: Springer.

Chapter 3:Odén, B. Risks in the past and present (pp. 19-34).
Chapter 8: Hansson, S. O. Factors and exposure limits (pp.113-122).
Chapter 16: Drottz-Sjöberg, B.-M., & Sjöberg, L. The perception of risks of technology (pp.255-273).

Roeser, S., Hillerbrand, R., Sandin, P., & Peterson, M. (Eds.), (2012) Handbook of Risk Theory. Epistemology, Decision Theory, Ethics, and Social Implications of Risk. (Chapters 2, 3, 24-29). Heidelberg: Springer.

Chapter 2: Hansson, S. O. A panorama of the philosophy of risk (pp. 27-54)
Chapter 3: Möller, N. The concepts of risk and safety (pp.55-85).
Chapter 24: Risk communication in health (pp. 621-660).
Chapter 25: Sjöberg, L. Risk perception and societal response (pp. 661-675).
Chapter 26: Finucane, M. L. The role of feelings in perceived risk (pp. 677-691).
Chapter 27: Buck, R., & Ferrer, R.Emotion, warnings, and the ethics of risk communication (pp. 693-723).
Chapter 28: Kahan, D. M. Cultural cognition as a conception of the cultural theory of risk (pp. 725-759).
Chapter 29: Drottz-Sjöberg, B.-M. Tools for risk communication (pp. 761-787).


Drottz-Sjøberg, B.-M. (2010). Perceptions of nuclear wastes across extreme time perspectives. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 1, 231-253.

Drottz-Sjöberg, B.-M., & Persson, L. (1993). Public reaction to radiation: fear, anxiety, or phobia? Health Physics, 64, 223-231.

Drottz-Sjöberg, B.-M., & Charpak, Y. (2011). Science, H1N1 and society: Towards a more pandemic-resilient society. Final report from the Expert Group on “Science, H1N1 and Society”. Brussels, 15/06/2011.

Krauss, R. M., & Fussel, S. R. (1996). Social psychological models of interpersonal communication. In E. T. Higgins and A. W. Kruglanski. Social Psychology. Handbook of Basic Principles (pp. 655-701). New York: The Guilford Press.

Robson, C. (1993). Real World Research. A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioners Researchers. Chapter 8-9 (pp. 191-268). Oxford: Blackwell.

Sjöberg, L. & Drottz Sjöberg, B.-M. (2008). Risk perception by politicians and the public. Energy & Environment, 19, No 3+4, 455-485.

Sjöberg, L., & Drottz-Sjöberg, B.-M. (2001). Fairness, risk and risk tolerance in the siting of a nuclear waste repository. Journal of Risk Research, 4, 75-101.

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Contact: via email or phone +49 711 1839 781 or +49 711 1839 647
(Course profile ID: VC, generated on September 24, 2021)