Module Catalogue 2020/21

CSC8607 : Research Methods in Human-Computer Interactions

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jan Smeddinck
  • Lecturer: Dr Vasilis Vlachokyriakos
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module will provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to begin to undertake design-led research in Human-Computer Interaction. The module will provide a methodological foundation across disciplinary backgrounds to support the collection, analysis and reporting of empirical data and the development of analytic insight on human-computer interaction. This includes both approaches and methods for present-in-person, as well as for remote/online research.

1.       To introduce students to relevant research methods for understanding users of digital technology, including quantitative, and qualitative research methods.
2.       To explore the theoretical underpinnings of the scientific process, research methods and epistemologies.
3.       To introduce students to research study design.
4.       To provide students with hands-on experience of collecting, analysing and evaluating research data pertaining to system design and evaluation.
5.       To support students in critically evaluating and selecting appropriate research methods.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will give students an introduction to the core practical and theoretical foundations for research methods in Human-Computer Interaction. We will address key skills such as study design, statistical analysis, preparing qualitative research, doing qualitative analysis, and presenting research outputs / writing research reports. Additional materials will develop the knowledge and skills required to produce and evaluate ethical research and to effectively communicate scientific knowledge. The following topics are indicative of the content of these components:

1.       Study design
2.       Experiments
3.       Statistical analysis
4.       Philosophy of Science
5.       Ethics
6.       Qualitative data collection
7.       Qualitative data analysis
8.       Scientific communication

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to:
1.       Critically read and evaluate research studies.
2.       Justify choices of research methods.
3.       Understand the epistemological commitments of different research positions.

Intended Skill Outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to:
1.       Design empirical research studies
2.       Select appropriate research methods to answer specific research questions
3.       Collect quantitative and qualitative research data
4.       Employ common approaches to analysing quantitative and qualitative research data
5.       Effectively communicate scientific knowledge in common formats

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials360:3018:00Asynchronous delivery: Phil of Sci & Theoretical Found of Res Method + App Res Method, Ethic & Res
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading360:4024:00Preparatory reading and practice for taught sessions (accompanies asynchronous lectures)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00Synchronous timetabled workshops (PiP by request) on group based projects
Guided Independent StudyProject work172:0034:00Applied research project and writeup (coursework)
Guided Independent StudyProject work61:006:00Asynchronous supported work on applied research projects and write-up.
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity61:006:00Asynchronous group activities linked to workshop topics/materials.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time61:006:00Synchronous discussions, group activities, feedback & Q&A on lecture materials.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will be delivered with an emphasis on a pragmatic approach to research design in human-computer interaction and will provide students with the ability to 1) find the best ‘fit’ between research methods and research problems and 2) begin to apply the necessary data collection and analysis methods. Teaching methods will therefore focus on developing 1) critical insight on methodological principles and 2) practical skills in the application of research methods through three modes of learning: agonistic debate; peer learning; and experiential learning. These choices are motivated by underlying characteristics and qualities of scientific knowledge and the scientific method, namely falsification and empiricism, together with the supporting research philosophy frameworks including post-positivism, critical realism and social constructivism, and compliment the learning content. Agonistic debate will support the development of critical thinking in relation to the value and validity of various research methods. Agonistic debate will be driven by the delivery of learning material providing alternating and diverging perspectives on study topics. Through self-directed inquiry, required reading, and diverse disciplinary backgrounds, students will be expected to engage in and with the active debate. In workshops, elements of peer learning will support further critical reflection on the appropriateness of research methods to specific research problems and group working will reveal the myriad of perspectives that can be found in and through research methods. The application of research methods will be reflected through the design and implementation of an individual applied (small) research project by each student. These projects will be based around a self-determined research question by the students within a pre-defined range of topics and methods and will be developed and implemented as the module progresses. This offers an opportunity to constantly reflect the implications and opportunities of the learning content at hand against the requirements of – and applicability towards – the students’ self-selected research questions.
This learning will be assessed through the ability of students to effectively communicate research, where they will be expected to justify methodological decisions, analyse empirical data, and synthesise data analysis in a written coursework assignment that summarises the individual research project.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M100Report on own research project, inc motivation, method, implementation, analysis, discussion, reflection 3000 words max
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal1MResearch proposal aiming at demonstrating an understanding of the possible flaws biases & ethical concerns in the design of research
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment will provide an opportunity to produce and communicate scientific knowledge through the application of research methods. The research study report will collect and demonstrate the student’s ability to concisely describe, plan, and conduct experimental studies, and to statistically and/or qualitatively analyse data produced through the study. The concurrent development of the project alongside course contents and with structuring activities during the workshops and opportunities for questions and feedback during drop-in surgeries will provide opportunity for formative feedback and to advance skills in scientific communication. The work will also assess the students’ ability to describe, justify, and apply research methods, and their ability to collect, analyse and synthesise empirical data. Two broad categories of empirical data (quantitative and qualitative) provide the backbone of the evaluation and will support the assessment of the students’ ability to design and carry out research in post-positivist and social constructivist modes.
The formative assessment means that after introducing the basics of experiments, study design and basic qualitative/quantitative methods of undertaking HCI research, students will be asked to submit a research proposal aiming at demonstrating an understanding of the possible flaws and biases that could be introduced in the design of research experiments. Feedback will be given prior to the summative assessment.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.