UCL Centre for Systems Engineering


Risk Modelling and Management

System failure, System integrity, Risk management, Decision making under uncertainty.

Decision Tree

We are interested in understanding the causes of system failure, whether technical, organisational, or the result of individual error. Although many failures are blamed on individuals, there is usually a systemic failure at the heart of the problem. We study major failures like the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and accidents at nuclear power stations like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island to understand the conditions under which technological failures are likely to occur. We also study the factors that lead to robust or high integrity systems.

We are also interested in tools and methodologies for decision making under uncertainty. A common question, for example, is whether to embark upon a research and development project which has unclear payoffs. We use a range of modelling techniques such as decision trees (right) to calculate the costs and benefits of different decisions with uncertain outcomes.

Our Research Projects

Thesis: Risk and Rationality: An Exploration of Prospect Theory in the Context of Project Management


Zakari Danlami Tsiga


Economic theory presents the concept of utility in decision making and suggests that people are rational decision makers, although this idea has been challenged by behavioural economics and prospect theory. This project examines decision making in the context of project risk management and explores whether project participants in practice make decisions based on rationality (and if not, what are the possible reasons for any deviations). The research implements a mixed-method approach involving surveys and focus groups, to explore the research question quantitatively and qualitatively.