Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Human Computer Interaction

UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DEPARTMENT Computer Information Systems

DESCRIPTION Advanced software engineering techniques help deliver robust and predictable systems, however the human is seldom factored in as part of this engineering discipline. Bad design decisions may lead to, at best, a frustrating user experience and lost revenues, and at worst, catastrophic outcomes.

Building systems for use by human users requires an intimate understanding of what it means to be a user - with all its strengths and limitations. Human-computer interaction (HCI), as an inter-disciplinary field, aims to provide this understanding, drawing from areas such as psychology, business and software engineering. The interaction of all of these fields yields a sizeable body of knowledge and this unit aims at synthesizing and presenting this field through both theoretical and practical lenses.

This unit also offers an opportunity for students to get a deeper understanding on how to build human-centred systems, through rigorous design-thinking, development and evaluation methods. This skill set is also transferable across domains - from finance to healthcare, from aviation to power grid management and from web development to robotics.

Study-unit Aims:

Students will learn about designing technology that is usable and enjoyable for users from the get-go, helping them reach their goals efficiently, minimizing friction and frustration. Several lab and field techniques will be introduced throughout the course which can be used to study and model the user, as well as to evaluate design considerations for new and live systems.

Students will also be exposed to trends and cutting edge work in academia as well as industry through sharing and networking - whenever possible.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Develop a user-centred design strategy.
- Develop interaction and navigation strategies for screen based systems.
- Analyse principles of human factors and ergonomics in system design (including accessibilty).
- Devise an evaluation strategy to diagnose issues in new and existing systems using both numeric and qualitative methods.
- Predict and model user behaviour for a given system.
- Predict how systems and design elements will affect the user.
- Adapt and adopt best practices and heuristics to system design.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Apply appropriate user centred design techniques for interactive systems.
- Align interactive systems with ISO standards for human-centred design.
- Pin-point potential bottlenecks and pain points in interactive systems.
- Propose and execute evidence-based plans to evaluate and improve the usability and user experience of interactive systems.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Soegaard, M., & Friis Dam, R. (2013). The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed. Interaction Design Foundation. (ISBN 9788792964)

Adlin, T., & Pruitt, J. (2010). The essential persona lifecycle: Your guide to building and using personas. Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann. (ISBN 978-0123814197)

Sauro, J., & Lewis, J. R. (2012). Quantifying the user experience: Practical statistics for user research. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann. (ISBN: 978-0123849687)

Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D., & Noessel, C. (2014). About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, 4th Edition, Wiley. (ISBN: 978-1-118-76657-6)

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study, Fieldwork and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Presentation (30 Minutes) SEM2 No 15%
Project SEM2 Yes 85%

LECTURER/S Conrad Attard
Colin Layfield
Christopher Porter (Co-ord.)
Dylan Seychell


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.