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.
During semester one, you will study the following compulsory modules.
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 also provides a theoretical basis for techniques which may be practised during laboratory work and exercises in other human factors modules.
The syllabus covers:
- introduction to experimental design; experimental controls; selection and recruitment of subjects; user trials; ethical considerations
- observational methods: direct and indirect observation; recording techniques; measurement of behaviour; activity sampling
- subjective measurements: ranking methods, rating scales, application in interviews and questionnaires
- task analysis: task description; tabular and hierarchical task analysis; applications
- introduction to SPSS
- descriptive statistics
- statistical analysis: types of data; normal distribution; non-parametric tests; parametric 2 samples tests, correlation and regression, chi square, ANOVA
You will 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.
Collaboration and Communication Technologies
You’ll consider the design of collaboration and communication technologies used in a variety of different contexts including workplace, domestic and leisure environments. You'll consider the basic principles of such technologies, explore the technologies from a social perspective, consider their impact on human behaviour and critically reflect on their design from a human-centred perspective. You'll spend around two hours per week in lectures for this module.
Collaboration and Communication Technologies Project
In this module you are given the opportunity to combine your developing CCT knowledge with your programming abilities. You have the whole semester to build a working collaborative project, optionally in a team, and produce a report on how it supports collaboration according to CCT theory. The primary focus is on building a working application, and so existing strong programming ability is required to take this co-requisite with Collaboration and Communication Technologies.
You will study the following compulsory modules:
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.
You will cover the following topics:
- introduction to human computer interaction
- user interface design
- evaluation of computer interfaces
- HCI design and requirements elicitation
- multimodal interfaces
- mobile computing
- virtual reality
- computers in context
- computers and collaboration
- HCI in practice
- advanced display systems
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.
Over the summer period towards the end of your course, you will undertake an individual 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.
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 (eg 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
Data Modelling and Analysis
This module will enable you to appreciate the range of data analysis problems that can be modelled computationally and a range of techniques that are suitable to analyse and solve those problems. Topics covered include: basic statistics; types of data; data visualisation techniques; data modelling; data pre-processing methods including data imputation; forecasting methods; clustering and classification methods (decision trees, naīve bayes classifiers, k-nearest neighbours); data simulation and model interpretation techniques to aid decision support.
Spending around 4 hours each week in lectures and computer classes, appropriate software (eg. R, Weka) will be used to illustrate the topics you'll cover.
Fundamentals of Information Visualisation
Information visualisation is the process of extracting knowledge from complex data, and presenting it to a user in a manner that this appropriate to their needs. This module provides a foundational understanding of some important issues in information visualisation design. You will learn about the differences between scientific and creative approaches to constructing visualisations, and consider some important challenges such as the representation of ambiguous or time-based data. You will also learn about psychological theories that help explain how humans process information, and consider their relevance to the design of effective visualisations.
If you want to learn how to design and implement your own interactive information visualisation, you should also take the linked module G53IVP (Information Visualisation Project). Together, these two modules form an integrated 20 credit programme of study.
This module covers the history, development and state-of-the art in computer games and technological entertainment. Students will gain an appreciation of the range of gaming applications available and be able to chart their emergence as a prevalent form of entertainment.
Students will study the fundamental principles of theoretical game design, and how these can be applied to a variety of modern computer games.
Students will study the development of games as complex software systems. Specific software design issues to be considered will include the software architecture of games, and the technical issues associated with networked and multiplayer games.
Students will use appropriate software environments to individually develop a number of games to explore relevant theoretical design and practical implementation concepts.
Information Visualisation Project
This module provides an opportunity to put into practice knowledge and understanding that you have developed through the linked module G53FIV. You will gain practical experience of how to design and evaluate a distinctive interactive visualisation which presents information gathered from a complex and interesting data source.
Your project will be supported by tutorials that introduce practical topics that are essential to effective visualisation design, and which have not been considered in G53FIV, including specific algorithms for extracting information from data, structured processes for designing visualisations and selected elements of design aesthetics (such as colour choice and typography). You will gain experience in web-based technologies that enable the implementation of multi-layered and interactive information visualisations, supported through lab work that introduces specific features of these technologies.
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.
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.
Cognitive Ergonomics in Design
- cognitive psychology and ergonomics
- the human as information processor: Memory and attention, mental models
- human workload
- displays, controls, consoles and control rooms
- decision making, automation
- situation awareness
- problem solving and artificial intelligence
- decision support systems, decision making biases
- situated cognition and joint cognitive systems
This module gives you a comprehensive overview of the principles of programming, including such concepts as procedural logic, variables, flow control, input and output and the analysis and design of programs. Instruction will be provided in an object-oriented programming language. You will spend around five hours per week in lectures and computer classes studying for this module.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.