Physical factors in the work environment

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


To provide knowledge on noise, vibration, radiation and extreme temperatures as workplace health hazards.


  • Sound and noise; Acoustics, decibel, frequency analysis, legislation
  • Noise exposure and hearing loss
  • Non-audiological effects of noise; cardiovascular effects, cognitive function, annoyance etc.
  • Measurements of noise; strategy and instruments
  • Calculation, interpretation and presentation of results from field excercise and finally written feedback report
  • Noise control measures
  • Whole-body and hand-arm vibrations; definitions, evaluation of exposure, regulations
  • Monitoring and assessment of vibrations
  • Scientific articles on noise and vibration exposures; reading and discussions
  • Heat stress at work
  • Cold work environment
  • Illumination at the workplace
  • Ionizing- and non-ionizing radiation

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course

the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student is able to:

  • describe the physical characteristics of noise and vibrations in the working environment
  • describe the consequences to health and well-being of excessive exposure to noise
  • describe the characteristics of whole-body and hand-arm vibrations and its health effects
  • outline the approaches to risk reduction embodied in the hierarchy of control of noise and vibrations
  • describe health effects of very hot and very cold work environments
  • describe different types of radiation with regards to physical properties, measurements, risk evaluation and control measures


The student is able to:

  • conduct field measurements in the industry to investigate and assess risks from noise and vibrations
  • analyze field measurements of noise and vibrations in relation to risk of health effects and to current standards
  • write a feedback report on noise and vibration measurements to the industry
  • apply appropriate strategies for implementation advise on control measures regarding exposure to noise, vibration and radiation by control at the source, at transmission and at the receiver
  • produce a plan for the control of heat stress and cold climate for selected occupations

General competence

The student is able to:

  • integrate knowledge from different disciplines
  • promote positive interaction and collaborative relationships between the different actors within occupational health
  • apply a scientific way of thinking and a critical approach to research results
  • communicate and disseminate knowledge about physical factors influencing the working environment orally and in writing to relevant audiences

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Every other year - next spring 2023

Required Previous Knowledge
Proficiency in English at a level corresponding to TOEFL 550 (paper-based) or 213 (computer-based) or IELTS band 6.0 is expected.
Access to the Course
Students enrolled in the master programme in Global Health, students enrolled in similar programmes at UiB or other partner universities.
Teaching and learning methods

Total student investment time is 160 hours. The course lasts four weeks and comprises lectures (38 hours), field work in the industry with assignment (60 hours), student presentations (6 hours) and critical analysis of relevant scientific articles (6 hours) and individual assignment based on a relevant topic (50 hours).

The field work carried out in the industry and the assignment is essential parts of the course, with work load distributed throughout the course.

The field works include preparatory theoretical and practical work, literature review, workplace visits, industrial process description, data collection/noise measurements, data analysis, reports/assignment and presentation of results and conclusions for discussion in the research group.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

One full-day field exercise (8 hours) in the industry with additional, associated report/assignment and oral presentation of results from the field work

One individual assignment of about 5 pages addressing a relevant topic in occupational health/hygiene

Forms of Assessment

Written exam (3hrs), student and group presentation and assignments. The written exam counts 70% and the individual assignment 30%.

Students who receive the grade "F" are allowed to re-sit according to standard procedures at the University of Bergen.

Grading Scale
ECTS credits A-F (F = fail)
Assessment Semester
Reading List
The reading list will be made available by 1 December on Mitt UiB
Examination Support Material
English English dictionary
The Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care