Last Updated S012019


Unit Code MSR603
Unit Duration 1 Term (online) or 1 Semester (on-campus)

Master of Engineering (Safety, Risk and Reliability)

Duration 2 years  

Year Level Two
Unit Creator / Reviewer Keerthy Mysore
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites All MSR50X units (nested Graduate Diploma)
Credit Points


Masters total course credit points = 48

(12 credits (Thesis) + 3 credits x 12 (units))

Mode of Delivery

Online or on-campus. 

Combination of modes: Online synchronous lectures; asynchronous discussion groups, videos, remote and cloud-based labs (simulations); web and video conferencing tutorials. High emphasis on personal and group self-study.

Unit Workload

Total student workload including “contact hours” = 10 hours per week:

Lecture – 1 hour

Tutorial Lecture - 1 hour

Practical / Lab - 1 hour (if applicable)

Personal Study recommended - 7 hours

Unit Description and General Aims

This unit takes the student through the process of modelling systems and predicting Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety. With a brief introduction to probability theory, it moves on to stating the rules for series and parallel systems, repairable and non repairable systems. It then takes the student through modelling techniques such as Reliability Block Diagrams, Fault Tree Analysis, Event Tree Analysis and Failure Mode and Effect Analysis. The unit moves on to covering “Design for Reliability” processes and reliability of mechanical components and systems. Finally, the unit introduces the student to Software Reliability also highlighting the relevance of systematic failures and human factors.

These aspects are addressed in this unit.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students are expected to be able to:

1. Model systems in the success or failure domains and perform the math.

2. Arrive at system failure rates from component failure rates.

3. Compare multiple design proposals from the safety and reliability points of view

4. Highlight weaklings and single points of failure

5. Learn how to factor in the human intervention in mathematical modelling

6. Understand “Design for Reliability”

7. Reliability of mechanical components and systems

8. Software Reliability

Student assessment

Assessment Type

(e.g. Assignment - 2000 word essay (specify topic) Examination (specify length and format))

When assessed

(eg Week 5)

Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Quiz

Word length: n/a

Topic: Fundamental concepts of Probability theory, series and parallel systems, repairable and nonrepairable systems and safety metrics and Reliability Block diagrams and Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)   

Week 4 20% 1, 2

Assessment 2 - mid-semester test

Type: Report (Midterm Project)

[This will include a progress report; literature review, hypothesis, and methodology / conclusions]

Word length: 1000

Topic: Practical scenarios to be modelled using 3 techniques.   

Week 8 25% 1, 2, 3, 4

Assessment 3

Type: Report (Final Project)

[If a continuation of the midterm, this should complete the report by adding sections on: methodology, implementation / evaluation, verification / validation, conclusion / challenges and recommendations / future work. If this is a new report, all headings from the midterm and the final reports must be included.]

Word length: 2000

Topic: Practical scenarios involving human intervention to be modelled using FTA and ETA   

Week 12 35% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Practical Participation

Compile a treatise on “Design for Reliability” OR “Software Reliability” OR Safety integrity verification study to include reliability, fault tolerance and diagnostic capabilities    

Continuous 15% 6, 7, 8

Class Participation


Continuous 5% 1-5


Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook(s)

D.J. Smith and K.G.L. Simpson, Safety critical systems handbook: a straightforward guide to functional safety: IEC 61508 (2010 edition) and related standards, 2010 (used in MSR507)

D. J. Smith, Reliability, Maintainability and Risk, 2005.

Fault Tree Analysis, Australian standard AS IEC 61025, 2008


Reference Materials

Number of peer-reviewed journals and websites (advised during lectures). Examples listed below.

  • P. O’Connor, Practical Reliability Engineering, 5th Ed, Wiley, 2012 
  • IDC /EIT notes and Reference texts as advised.
  • Other material advised during the lectures

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topic 1

1. Probability theory

2. Series systems

3. Parallel systems

4. Redundancy rules


Topic 2

1. Common cause failure

2. Repairable and non-repairable systems

3. Underlying mathematics

4. Metrics for measuring safety integrity


Topic 3 and 4

1. Reliability Block diagrams

2. Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)

3. Event Tree Analysis (ETA)

4. Monte Carlo, Markov and variance reduction techniques


Topic 5 and 6

1. FMEA – Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

2. FMECA – Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis

3. FMEDA – Failure Mode, Effects and Diagnostics Analysis


Topic 7 and 8

1. Architectural constraints

2. Fault Tolerance

3. Diagnostics and Diagnostics Capability

4. International standards on Functional Safety

5. Systematic failures

Topic 9

Design for Reliability

1. Design for Reliability (DfR) Process

2. Identify, Design, and Analyse

3. Verify, Validate and Control

4. Assessing the DfR capability of an organisation

5. Learn how to calculate reliability targets

6. Understand and Identify possible commercial solutions to technical problems


Topic 10

Reliability of Mechanical Components and Systems

1. Mechanical stress, strength and fatigue

2. Creep, wear and corrosion

3. Vibration / shock, and temperature effects

4. Materials, components and processes

5. Aging facilities – operating beyond the design life

6. Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM)


Topic 11

Software Reliability

1. Software in engineering systems, software errors and preventing errors

2. Programming style, fault tolerance, redundancy / diversity

3. Software checking, testing and quality assurance

4. Software safety standards (EN 50128, IEC 61508, IEC 61508-3, MILSTD 882-C etc.)

Topic 12

Project and Unit Review

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues. Instructors/facilitators may choose to cover a specialized topic if applicable to that cohort.

Project – due at end of term