Human Computer Interaction MSc


Fact file

MSc Human Computer Interaction
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2:2 (or international equivalent) in a computer science, engineering, natural sciences, social sciences or art and design subject.
Other requirements
6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Jubilee Campus
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course provides the theoretical grounding, practical knowledge, and hands on experience needed to shape computing systems for the 21st century.
Read full overview

As computing becomes ever more pervasive and reaches out into everyday life, academia and industry recognise that successful systems development increasingly relies on our ability to place people at the centre of the digital revolution.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a distinctive branch of computer science dedicated to understanding the relationship between people and computers, and to enabling systems designers and software engineers to develop computing applications that better respond to the needs of customers, clients and end-users. Related terms include human-centred design, interactive systems design, user experience design, user interface design, and usability engineering.

HCI is a key area of computing, promoted globally by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and nationally by the British Computer Society (BCS). The course addresses core areas of the ACM SIGCHI Curricula for Human-Computer Interaction and is intended for students with diverse disciplinary backgrounds and experiences, including computer science, engineering, natural science, social science, and art and design.

Whatever your background, whether you are a software engineer seeking to further develop professional skill and competence or someone with little or no experience of systems design, if you believe that people should be at the heart of computing and are interested in shaping our digital future to meet human need, then this is the course for you.

Key facts

Academic English preparation and support

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK. Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent. You could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.


Course details

The MSc Human Computer Interaction is offered on a full-time basis over one year.

The course comprises 180 credits, split across 120 credits’ worth of compulsory and optional modules and a 60-credit research project.



Modules are offered by the School of Computer Science and the Faculty of Engineering. Compulsory modules provide a foundation in Human-Computer Interaction, and a range of optional modules provide the opportunity for more advanced study.

Semester one

During semester one, you must take three compulsory modules: 

Students must also take one of the following additional compulsory modules, depending on previous experience and individual preference:

Semester two

During semester two, all students take compulsory modules in:

In both semesters, students must also take some of the following optional modules, making up 120 credits in total from taught modules:

Advanced Methods in Human Factors

This module develops analysis and evaluation skills from the earlier grounding in Studying Human Performance, introducing further methods and analysis techniques. Topics include: predictive evaluation techniques (e.g. GOMs, Fitts Law); psychophysical methods: paired comparison, method of limits, threshold measurements; verbal protocol analysis; video analysis of observation data; ergonomics project management; qualitative approaches and methodologies; eye tracking methodologies; ethic considerations in Human Factors research. You will spend two hours per week in lectures for this module.

Cognitive Ergonomics in Design

This module will provide you with a thorough understanding of cognitive ergonomics and the way in which cognitive ergonomics can impact on human performance in the workplace. Throughout this course there will be some short interactive exercises which form part of the assessment. In addition to this, there will be two hours of lectures per week.

Computer Vision

You will examine current techniques for the extraction of useful information about a physical situation from individual and sets of images. You will cover a range of methods and applications, with particular emphasis being placed on the detection and identification of objects, recovery of three-dimensional shape and analysis of motion. You will learn how to implement some of these methods in the industry-standard programming environment MATLAB. You will spend around four hours a week in lectures, tutorial and laboratory sessions.


Contemporary Issues in Human Factors and Interactive Systems

This module develops an understanding of human factors and interactive systems design through student led seminars and an individual literature review that each student conducts on a contemporary topic area.

The seminar will cover aspects such as: defining human factors and interactive systems, approaches (experimental, ethnographic, analytical, etc) and the design of systems, case studies illustrating the need for socio-technical perspectives, and issues in user-centred design for products, processes and interfaces.

The literature review will equip each student with essential skills in the searching, critical analysis and synthesis of relevant literature (which may come from a variety of scientific journals, books, industrial/business/professional publications across a range of disciplines).

Each student will develop their knowledge and understanding of a specific area in human factors/interactive systems. The information collected will be critically analysed to produce an extended essay/review.

Design Ethnography

This module introduces you to the theory and practice of design ethnography. You’ll cover a range of topics including: origins and evolution of ethnography; foundations and nature of the ethnomethodological approach; ethnographic analysis; its relationship to systems design; and the perceived problems with the approach. You’ll spend around three hours each week in lectures and tutorials for this module. 

Human-Computer Systems

This module provides an overview to the discipline of Human Computer Interaction from a Human Factors perspective - considering the design and evaluation of computer systems that meet the needs of end users and the wider stakeholder groups.

Topics covered include: Usability and beyond, methods for understanding users and their requirements, developing requirements specifications, methods for designing and evaluating user experiences, visualisation technologies and multimodal interaction, virtual reality, in-car user-interfaces, designing user-interfaces for ageing and disability, designing web/on-line experiences, designing collaborative/social user experiences. For this module you will have two hours of lectures weekly.

Individual Project: Human-Project Interaction

You will undertake a project which is relevant to Human-Computer Interaction, developing your skills in research, such as: planning research activities, empirical investigation, literature review, critical reflection, evaluation, oral and written communication, individual learning and time management. Collaboration with business, industry, and other outside bodies is encouraged.

Machine Learning

Providing you with an introduction to machine learning, pattern recognition, and data mining techniques, this module will enable you to consider both systems which are able to develop their own rules from trial-and-error experience to solve problems, as well as systems that find patterns in data without any supervision. In the latter case, data mining techniques will make generation of new knowledge possible, including very big data sets. This is now known as 'big data' science.

You will cover a range of topics including: machine learning foundations; pattern recognition foundations; artificial neural networks; deep learning; applications of machine learning; data mining techniques and evaluating hypotheses. You will spend around six hours each week in lectures and computer classes for this module.

Mixed Reality Technologies

This module focuses on the possibilities and challenges of interaction beyond the desktop.  You will explore the 'mixed reality continuum' - a spectrum of emerging computing applications that runs from virtual reality (in which a user is immersed into a computer-generated virtual world) at one extreme, to ubiquitous computing (in which digital materials appear embedded into the everyday physical world - often referred to as the 'Internet of Things') at the other. In the middle of this continuum lie augmented reality and locative media, in which the digital appears to be overlaid upon the physical world in different ways.

You will gain knowledge and hands-on experience of design and development with key technologies along this continuum, including working with both ubiquitous computing based sensor systems and locative media. You will learn about the Human-Computer Interaction challenges that need to be considered when creating mixed reality applications along with strategies for addressing them, so as to create compelling and reliable user experiences.

Mobile Device Programming

You will look at the development of software applications for mobile devices, with a practical focus on the Android operating system. You will consider and use the software development environments for currently available platforms and the typical hardware architecture of mobile devices. You will spend around three hours per week in lectures and computer classes for this module.

Physical Ergonomics

A thorough understanding of Human Factors/Ergonomics is critical to the successful design and implementation of products, workplaces, jobs and systems. This module focuses on the physical characteristics of people (e.g. body size, strength, flexibility, vision and hearing abilities) and considers how to account for an individual’s fundamental needs, capabilities and limitations. Ultimately, such an understanding will lead to products, workplaces, jobs and systems which promote productivity, health, safety, comfort, etc.

The syllabus covers: Structure and functioning of the human body; anthropometry (human body dimensions) and product/workplace design; biomechanics (loadings on the human body); work-related upper-limb disorders; manual materials handling; risk assessment for work-related musculoskeletal disorders; designing and assessing environments to account for visual, acoustic, thermal and vibration factors. You will spend around two hours per week in lectures studying for this module.

Risk and Safety Science for Engineers

This module aims to give an understanding of risk, primarily in the context of safe systems but also in relation to major projects, investments and public and social systems. The potential causes of accidents and of human error are explained, and an introduction given to methods of reporting and investigating accidents and techniques for analysing accidents and systems reliability which will lead to the design of safer organisations and work systems.

Topics covered include: risk and risk perception; risk assessment and management; accident models and accident causation; causes of human error; epidemiology, accident reporting and analysis; accident prevention; human reliability assessment; safety climate and culture; safety systems management. You will spend around two hours per week in lectures studying for this module.

Simulation and Digital Human Modelling

This module aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to use digital human modelling and systems simulation approaches in human factors research and design/evaluation work. In addition, the module aims to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental assumptions upon which digital human modelling and simulation tools are based and their primary capabilities and limitations. You will spend two hours in lectures and two hours in practicals each week when studying this module.

Simulation and Optimisation for Decision Support

This module offers insight into the applications of selected methods of decision support. The foundations for applying these methods are derived from Operations Research Simulation, Social Simulation, Data Science, Automated Scheduling, and Decision Analysis. Throughout the module, you will become more competent in choosing and implementing the appropriate method for the particular problem at hand. You will spend five hours per week in lectures and computer classes for this module.


Software Engineering Management

This module is part of the Software Engineering theme. This module covers the following topics: Management of the introduction of new software or IT systems; Software project management practices; Practical experience of use of an Agile software development project management process; Practical experience of use of Test Driven Development, pair programming and various approaches to software management tools, including the use of software versioning, project management planning tools and continuous integration and deployment.

Studying Human Performance

The module aims to give a broad review of the measurement techniques which can be used in ergonomic analysis and evaluation of systems or products, together with an understanding of the need for experimental design and control in order to obtain valid and meaningful results. It will also provide a theoretical basis for techniques which may be practiced during laboratory work and exercises in other human factors modules. You will have two 2-hour lectures weekly for this module.

Systems Engineering and Human Factors

This module fills a current gap in Engineering teaching by addressing systems analysis and development across a range of applications. You will learn that technical, human, organizational and economic factors must be addressed when understanding the operation and potential failure in existing systems, and in developing requirements, implementation and evaluation approaches for social and socio-technical systems, and for systems of systems. You will spend two hours in lecture weekly for this module.


Please note that all module details are subject to change.

Over the summer period towards the end of your course, you will undertake an individual research project in Human-Computer Interaction under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The topic can be in any area of HCI that is of mutual interest to both you and your supervisor, ranging from purely theoretical studies to empirical studies of users and/or practical design work developing and evaluating prototypes of novel computing systems to support user needs, including novel mobile and location-based or 'ubiquitous' computing application

For more details on our modules, please see the module catalogue.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



UK/EU Students

The Graduate School website at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

International Students

Opportunities for funding may be available to overseas students through the International Office at The University of Nottingham.



There is an increasing need in industry for graduates with an understanding of the human element in systems design. The MSc Human-Computer Interaction provides you with skills and knowledge essential to design companies that appreciate the value of human-centred design. The course will equip you with the knowledge and skill sets necessary to shape the development of new technology that puts people at the heart of computing, including core HCI techniques for identifying user needs, shaping systems design, and evaluating developed systems and applications. It provides a pathway to careers in interactive systems design, user experience design, user interface design, and usability engineering.

The MSc HCI is also good starting point for students who wish to study for a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction and the associated area of Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW). Beyond academia, PhD students in the Mixed Reality Laboratory have also taken up internships in world-leading industrial labs across Europe and America, including Xerox, Microsoft, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, where they have gone on to develop their careers.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 95% of postgraduates from the School of Computer Science who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £27,550 with the highest being £40,000.* 

*Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Career Prospects and Employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers** and 
can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career. 

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and 
specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills 
workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

** The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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