National Physical Laboratory

NPL e-Learning Programme

Introduction to Measurement Uncertainty

The Introduction to Measurement Uncertainty is a certified e-Learning course that explores measurement uncertainty. You will learn how risks are estimated enabling good decision-making in practical contexts, such as in manufacturing and regulation - maximise your efficiency and productivity.

The course consists of a series of multimedia presentations, exercises and an extensive selection of additional content, delivered through a self-paced learning experience. Track your progress and assess your knowledge - receive immediate feedback on how much you have learnt.

You will receive an NPL certificate on completion.

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Learning aims and objectives

  • Identify sources of measurement uncertainty
  • Implement good measurement practices
  • Read and understand an uncertainty statement
  • Understand the process of calculating an expanded uncertainty
  • Distinguish concepts such as 'standard deviation', 'standard uncertainty' and 'expanded uncertainty'
  • Understand a coverage interval with a desired coverage probability
  • Understand how risks are estimated to sustain good measurement-related decision-making

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  • Workplace learning schemes

    • Professionals and management in measurement or related roles
    • Professionals working on the manufacturing shop floor
    • Professionals working in inspection departments
    • Apprenticeship programmes
  • National curricula

    • Universities and academic institutions
    • Students and apprentices

Course format

  • Approximately 2 hours of self-paced HD video lessons
  • Over 40 self-assessment questions
  • Formal assessments with over 35 questions
  • Selection of additional learning materials: video content and links
  • Printable lesson slides
  • On-demand NPL certificate


  • English

Contact us for other languages.


  • For pricing details, please sign up

Contact us for student discounts and special deals on volume licensing.

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More information...

About the course

This course has been designed to give you an understanding of measurement uncertainty and its underpinning concepts, showing its relevance in industry, helping your decision-making in practical contexts such as when assessing whether products conform to specifications.

Course Modules

  • Module I. Defining Measurement Uncertainty - This module explores the process of making measurements. It introduces the concept of 'measurement uncertainty' which is contrasted with those of 'error', 'accuracy' and 'precision'. The sources of uncertainty are revealed, leading to an understanding of concepts such as ‘calibration’ and ‘traceability’. The effects leading to errors and uncertainty are classified, and some good measurement practices are discussed.

    In a final note, this module highlights the critical role of the uncertainty statement to support complete statements of measurement results.

  • Module II. Concepts Behind Uncertainty Calculations - This module explores the process of calculating an expanded uncertainty. It starts by identifying two characteristics of data sets: 'average' and 'dispersion', which lead to the understanding of 'standard deviation' and 'normal distribution'.

    By considering the number of repeated measured values, this module also introduces: (a) the concept of 'standard uncertainty'; (b) how this can be scaled by a coverage factor to provide an 'expanded uncertainty'; (c) how this results in a 'coverage interval' with a desired 'coverage probability', and; (d) how to report an 'expanded uncertainty'.

  • Module III. Making Decisions Based on Measurement - This module considers how measurement can help make decisions in industry, such as whether to accept or reject manufactured items according to specific requirements. It explores the concepts of 'specification' and 'tolerance' concepts, and how decision rules (e.g. 'guarded acceptance' and 'guarded rejection') can be used to minimise the risks of making incorrect decisions.

Note: All these modules are progressively consolidated by means of a practical example.

Course formal assessment

The formal assessment is organised into 3 separate final assessments, each grading your knowledge and understanding of a particular module:

  • Module I: Defining Measurement Uncertainty (corresponding to 33.3% of the overall grade)
  • Module II: Concepts Behind Uncertainty Calculations (corresponding to 33.3% of the overall grade)
  • Module III: Making Decisions Based on Measurement (corresponding to 33.3% of the overall grade)

You will receive an NPL certificate if you complete your course with the final grade of 50% or over.

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