Risk Assessment and Human Behaviour

Unit code: VQB5611 | Study level: Postgraduate
(Generally, 1 credit = 10 hours of classes and independent study.)
Online Real Time


The unit introduces students to basic fire safety engineering design concepts and presents the knowledge concerning occupant communication and response sub-models and subsystems as a basis for assessing the necessary input data for a risk assessment model. An introduction to Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Fire Engineering Guidelines is provided.

Important aspects of human behaviour during fire will also be introduced. Many assumptions generally held about the way humans respond to fire emergencies have been shaped by the media and provide a sensationalised view. In this unit, we will seek to clarify this view by presenting research to uncover what can truly be expected from people when a fire occurs. Statistics from coronial and survived data will be examined to provide an overview of who is at most risk when a fire starts. The focus will be on urban and residential structure fires, but human behaviour during bushfires will also be discussed.

Other areas covered in this unit are:

  • Fire statistics and statistical analysis of occurrence, death and injuries.
  • Introduction to risk management including probability, reliability, fault trees, event trees.
  • The initiation and development of fires, fire characterisation, fire toxicity and design fires.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Illustrate the use of frameworks for performance-based codes for fire safety engineering design;
  2. Formulate and critically review risk management procedures and protocols;
  3. Analyse and interpret statistical data;
  4. Critically review evidence to challenge assumptions about human behaviour in fire;
  5. Appraise fire safety systems in the context of human behaviour; and
  6. Participate in an academic community through reflective and critical engagement and understanding of principles of academic integrity.


For Melbourne campuses

Assessment type: Test
Grade: 10%
Assessment type: Report
Grade: 40%
Assessment type: Test
Grade: 10%
Test on human response
Assessment type: Case Study
Grade: 40%
Analysis of risk and human response
Assessment type: Other
Grade: 0%
Evidence of completion of the Academic Integrity Modules

Required reading

Recommended texts and other reading and course materials will be listed in VU Collaborate.

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following course(s):

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