MSc and Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate

Overview of Modules

UCLIC postgraduate courses draw on knowledge from a number of background disciplines. All students pursue studies in the following topics, via lectures, practical work, group work, field studies, and so on. Most lectures should be regarded as keynotes suggesting profitable avenues in self-study, and lecturers are free to teach in novel and interesting ways as appropriate to the topic. All courses include exercises done individually or as group work, and will often involve experiments, data collection, discussions, presentations etc. The modules offered are:

and The different courses are:

Examples of timetable for full-time and flexible part-time students can be found here. These are only examples and changes can occur from year to year.

The taught modules are assessed through practical work and individual coursework. Applied Cognitive Science and Perspectives on Design modules are asssed through written exam.

PSYCGI15 – Affective Interaction

Aims and objectives:

The aims of the module are to give students familiarity with a range of methods for designing and evaluating systems (including robots) that are aware of, support and regulate the affective experience of the user.

Module description:

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the emerging field of affective interaction by bringing together research and methodologies from cognitive psychology (affective science) and HCI. The first part of the module will aim at giving the students a basic introduction to the theory of emotion from psychology and neuroscience viewpoints and to understand its importance in human decision and communication processes. The second part will focus on the challenges in designing and evaluating systems that are capable of affectively interacting with humans. Methods to design, measure and influence the affective experience will be taught. Examples of current applications (e.g. in entertainment, education, health, therapy, rehabilitation, service robotics) will be used to identify problems and design solutions. Finally, the ethical implications (e.g., privacy) of affective interactive systems will be discussed.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: Concepts related to affective processes in humans, theoretical affective models and methods to model and design for affective user experience

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: Apply theories of affective processes to practical case studies. Present well founded arguments relating theory to practice

Practical skills: Designing and evaluating affective interactive systems by reference to relevant theory

Transferable skills: Group work; Presentation skills; Reflect on design process

PSYCGI08 - Applied Cognitive Science

Aims and objectives:

The aims of the module are that students should have an understanding of cognitive science and an ability to use that knowledge to reason about the design and use of interactive systems.

Module description:

This module covers both theoretical and applied aspects of psychology as they relate to the design of interactive systems. The objectives of this module are to lay the theoretical foundations for understanding human behaviour and relating that understanding to the design and evaluation of interactive systems. Theoretical aspects will include human information processing, rational problem solving, knowledge representation, human error, learning, decision making, memory, attention, perception, motivation, language and communication — all as related to HCI and the individual. Practical exercises will apply the theory to selected problems in HCI, including design tasks, evaluations of systems and related investigations. Students completing this module will be expected to have a good understanding of all aspects of cognition particularly as they apply to the design of systems, and the ability to apply that understanding in the design and evaluation of interactive systems.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: Theoretical perspectives on cognition and human behaviour those are relevant to the design of interactive systems;

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: Apply theories of cognition to practical case studies; Present well founded arguments relating theory to practice;

Practical skills: N/A

Transferable skills: Argumentation and communication of ideas; Synthesis of information from multiple sources; Written presentation.

PSYCGI12 – Design Experience

Aims and objectives:

The aims of the module are to get students to develop their HCI design skills and explicitly reflect on that development and to integrate studies throughout the rest of the course.

Module description:

This module is intended to integrate the learning in the separate modules of the rest of the course. This will be done through a two-week long practical group mini-project followed by a poster-based presentation of the product design, and a period of essay writing. Staff will support the activities of students through a combination of monitoring, guidance and consultancy-like roles. The project is a practical design project of specific user interface or human/machine system. Students are expected to draw on relevant theory and methods in order to develop a successful and effective design. The essay should represent the growth in knowledge and experience of the student during the taught part of the course through an argumentation of how the taught modules and coursework have shaped their thought process during the practical part of this module and through a critical reflection on their ability to function as a designer in the future.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: the user-centred design process from being given a brief to evaluating a prototype.

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: Justify the use of user-centred design processes and critically evaluating their contribution to the overall product.

Practical skills: Reflective practice in HCI. Applying UCD methods to a realistic design brief;

Transferable skills: Group work, presentation skills, critical self-evaluation.

PSYCGI07 – Design Practice

Aims and objectives:

The aims of the module are to give students practical skills for building useful designs from the outset of the design process before starting on the cycle of user evaluation. By the end of the module students should be able to:

Module description:

This module provides an introduction to design practice. It is strongly based on principles of design, on the study of designs both good and bad, and on the essential skills and methods that interaction designers need. Topics covered include ways of representing designs, methods for establishing the needs of users, how to devise suitable forms of solution to design problems, methods of visual design, and the use of testing to ensure a satisfactory outcome. Existing designs, covering a wide spectrum, will be subjected to scrutiny and discussion, and practice sessions will enable students to gain proficiency in using taught methods.

The course is delivered through a mix of lectures and practical design studios. During lectures students are encouraged to think critically about interactive design problems and techniques for eliciting requirements. During the design studios students will gain practical experience in using tools and techniques to explore and evaluate potential design solutions. The course culminates in a two-week Design Project, in which students are required to work as part of a small team to address a novel design problem using tools and techniques acquired during the taught component of the Design Practice module.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: Methods for eliciting and specifying requirements; Techniques for producing successful designs; Use of prototypes and prototyping methodology in design.

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: Elicit appropriate human-centred requirements; Apply design techniques to a design problem;

Practical skills: Develop one or more prototypes of a design; Use prototypes in the design process.

Transferable skills: Communication of requirements; Presentation of designs; Group work; Reflect on design process.

PSYCGI09 – Organisational Informatics

Aims and objectives:

The aims of the module are to give students familiarity with both theoretical and practical aspects of understanding group working and organisational systems that are mediated by technology.

Module description:

This module covers social and organisational aspects of the introduction and use of interactive systems, and relevant aspects of organisational psychology. It includes consideration of organisation development and change, including organisational culture and work design.

Design issues that relate to interactions between small groups of users and artefacts (including computer systems) are also considered. It covers topics such as computer-supported collaborative working, multi-person systems, distributed cognition, and social concerns in interaction.

Students learn to relate theories such as Distributed Cognition, Activity Theory and Communities of Practice to the design of interactive multi-person systems. They also learn to distinguish between ‘functionalist’ and ‘interpretive’ approaches to the study of information systems.

Learning outcomes:

Students will become familiar with a range of approaches to understanding the design and use of multi-person work systems that incorporate technology. This will cover a range of theoretical approaches and also case studies.

Knowledge and understanding of: theoretical perspectives on group working and actions, particularly as they relate to technology in the workplace.

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: apply theories of group working and the design of socio-technical systems to practical case studies, and construct and present well founded arguments relating theory to practice.

Practical skills: design and evaluate groupware systems drawing on relevant theory.

Transferable skills: argumentation and communication of ideas; group working; synthesis of information from multiple sources.

PSYCGI10 – Perspectives on Design

Aims and objectives:

The aims of the module are to familiarise students with design processes, as described and as practiced, to give them practical skills in identifying user needs, and to make them aware of the different design issues in contrasting design contexts.

Module description:

Successful human computer interaction is the result of careful design and the interface is now an established design object in its own right. It is also a highly diversified field of design, encompassing an astonishing range of interactive technologies used in a near unlimited range of usage situations. The Perspectives on Design module provides a detailed exploration of the knowledge, techniques, metaphors and success stories of HCI design. It pursues several parallel themes, including HCI as designed object and design process, HCI design within multidisciplinary projects, putting structure into HCI design processes, HCI design tools, design for personal and organisational interaction, creative interface design and engineering design. The module identifies different perspectives on this emerging and richly varied field and looks to the future directions in which the field is moving.

Learning outcomes:

Students will become familiar with key issues in the design of interactive systems. They will develop practical skills for capturing users needs and translating these into realistic interface designs. They will become familiar with the HCI design literature and develop the ability to independently critique HCI design theory.

PSYCGI13 – Physical Ergonomics 1

Aims and objectives:

Module description:

This module assumes no previous knowledge of Ergonomics. It is taught through a mixture of lectures, hands-on practicals and groupwork. The syllabus draws from the wider discipline of ergonomics those topics that relate to the design and evaluation of human-machine systems, and in particular to human-computer systems. For example, the module includes relevant parts of workspace design, interface design, task analysis and risk assessment.

The module explains the physical abilities and limitations of people who use computer systems (the users) and the routes by which Ergonomics can help design systems that match the needs of the users and their tasks.

Students gain an understanding of the physical demands that interactive systems and their use environments might place upon users, and the routes by which Ergonomics can address these demands.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: The variability between users and the need to accommodate the ‘limiting user’ in design; The physical factors of interactive systems workplaces and equipment together with the potential effects on the user and the work if poorly designed; The fundamental relevance of task analysis, posture, anthropometry etc when planning a workplace, and their use in Physical Ergonomics design; Techniques and standards for Physical Ergonomics in the context of HCI applications.

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: Appreciate the variability between users; Select and apply appropriate Physical Ergonomics data and standards; Predict potential effects of poor design on the user and the work.

Practical skills: Evaluate the physical factors of new technology workplaces and relate them to the tasks and the users; Apply a range of Physical Ergonomics techniques for evaluation and design

Transferable skills: Group presentation; Group work; Link theory with practice; Understand limitations of craft methods, and advantages of applied science.

PSYCGI14 – Physical Ergonomics 2

Aims and objectives:

The aim of this module is to provide the opportunity of extending, integrating and applying those concepts learnt in Physical Ergonomics 1 to the design of the workstation for a real system.

Module description:

This module is organised as an intensive mini-project over a two-week period. Students work in small groups and the emphasis is on experiential learning. Students build and test a full-size model of a workstation for a real system and can thus experience first-hand the difficulties of ergonomic design and the effectiveness and limitations of various techniques. Each group also presents a case for the cost-benefit of ergonomics in HCI systems development, in a role-play presentation.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: Methods for eliciting and specifying ergonomic requirements; Techniques for developing and evaluating ergonomic designs; Use of ergonomic source data in design; Relation of ergonomic design process to HCI.

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: Evaluate a problem in the field and plan how to study it in the studio; Integrate PE knowledge to plan the necessary design process; Elicit appropriate ergonomic requirements; Select and apply ergonomic techniques to the design problem; Reason about the consequences of compromises in ergonomic design.

Practical skills: Build and test a 3D full-size model of a design; Enhance practical skills relating to ergonomic techniques; Source and learn further techniques as required.

Transferable skills: Communication of requirements; Presentation of designs; Group management; Project planning; Reflecting on design process; Practice under resource constraints; Cost-benefit analysis.

PSYCGI11 – Usability Evaluation Methods

Aims and objectives:

Students will become familiar with a range of data gathering and analysis methods that are relevant to the concerns of Human–Computer Interaction. They will be aware of the scope and applicability of those methods, and be able to select and apply appropriate methods according to requirements. They will be able to present the findings of evaluations through written reports.

Module description:

This module will equip students with the practical skills needed for the assessment of interactive systems. This will include analytical approaches (based on theories of cognition and interaction) and empirical approaches (based on the gathering and analysis of data from users). It will also include theoretical understanding of the strengths and limitations of evaluation methods for interactive systems design. Analytical approaches will include inspection techniques and more explicitly theoretically grounded methods. Empirical approaches will focus on qualitative techniques. The course will cover the design of studies, and the gathering and analysis of data.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: usability evaluation techniques pertinent to HCI studies.

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: apply theories of evaluation (qualitative, quantitative and analytical) to practical examples and understand issues around the strengths and limitations of techniques, and how to select appropriate techniques for studies.

Practical skills: practical application of UEMs; collecting and analysing data.

Transferable skills: argumentation and communication of ideas; group working.

PSYCGI98 – MSc HCI-E Project

Aims and objectives:

To enable student to consolidate skills gained earlier in the MSc programme, to gain experience of research, and to write a substantial piece of work.

Module description:

Each MSc student undertakes a practical project under the general supervision of University staff. The subject is decided after consultation between the Teaching Director, the supervisor(s) and the student. The write-up of the project is in the form of a dissertation and counts as an important part of the MSc assessment. Projects may be based in UCLIC, any University Department, a research laboratory, or externally in industry. The problem investigated can be research or applications orientated. The presentation of the project is always in the form of an academic dissertation (about 12000 words), whether the investigation is laboratory-orientated or applications-orientated. The student is expected to bring in a good balance of the subjects covered by the course, taking an interdisciplinary approach to the problem and backing the practical side of the project with a full relevant literature review. A few students may be supervised by academics in other departments, most commonly Computer Science.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of: Research and development methods appropriate to the chosen topic.

Intellectual (thinking skills) – able to: Apply theories to chosen practical examples. Critically review research literature.

Practical skills: Practical application of design and evaluation techniques. Collecting and analysing data. Reviewing literature.

Transferable skills: Argumentation and communication of ideas. Information seeking.

The following titles of previous projects indicate the scope of topics:

For example projects see - last few years' projects