Module Catalogue 2024/25

MEC8028 : Human Centered Design and Engineering

MEC8028 : Human Centered Design and Engineering

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr David Golightly
  • Lecturer: Professor Roberto Palacin
  • Owning School: Engineering
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



The overall aim of the module is to provide a comprehensive overview of the rationale, benefits and principles of human factors, and equip students with knowledge and skills to consider the major themes of human factors including physical factors, cognitive factors and organisational factors. This will enable students to critically evaluate designs and systems in terms of their suitability for end users, and to apply human factors knowledge to creatively apply human considerations when designing systems.

The module will present multiple design implications, considerations and methodologies when designing for a wide variety of people and applications. The module will present and discuss different scenarios where human factors considerations play a crucial role such as in system safety, in human-automation cooperation and in delivering high levels of performance and system resilience in domains such as transport.

*Overall students will be provided with a contemporary knowledge base on current trends and proven methods that support designing for humans in any engineering design context.

Outline Of Syllabus

* Human factors: origins, rationale and benefits
* Systems perspectives on human performance
* Physical, cognitive and organisational aspects of human factors
* Human-computer interaction relevant to engineering and engineered systems
* Design for accessibility and Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity
* Obtaining, capturing, measuring and use of anthropometric data to inform design
* Cognitive methodology for workload, situation awareness and human-computer interaction / User Experience
* Human-automation integration, for machine intelligence and for robotics
* Human role in safety, including human perspectives on accidents and incidents
* Complex work systems - describing complexity for human integration into engineered systems
* Applied Ergonomics: Industrial and consumer ergonomics / Transport ergonomics
* Data gathering and project management

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

The mapping of certain AHEPv4 learning outcomes to each intended knowledge outcome is indicated in each point. By the end of the module a student will be able to:

- Understand the relationship between mechanical engineering and the need to design for users of products, services and systems [M5]

- Include the “user/operator/customer” as the fundamental starting point for the design of devices and systems by coupling the product’s features to user needs, abilities and limitations [M6, M12]

- Critically identify and evaluate the main implications of cognitive, physical and organisational factors and constraints when designing for humans [M5, M6]

- To identify and critically evaluate potential sources of health and safety risk and reliability issues and formulate alternatives that mitigate these by applying relevant strategies [M1, M2, M6]

- Understand the range of EDI factors as they apply to technology design and work systems, and both critically assess and design for a range of user needs in terms of gender, sex, ability, race and cultures [M6, M11]

Intended Skill Outcomes

The mapping of certain AHEPv4 learning outcomes to each intended knowledge outcome is indicated in each point. By the end of the module a student will be able to:

- Apply a user-centred design process and identify and effectively deploy the most suitable techniques when       designing for: reliability, usability, safety, user satisfaction to best meet the initial product/system specifications. [M1, M5]

- Determine and demonstrate how physical, mental, cognitive and behavioural limits can be incorporated as design parameters [M2, M5]

- Apply physical and cognitive quantified ergonomics approaches (eg workload assessment, anthropometrics) to the evaluation and design of work and work systems [M2, M12]

- To incorporate human systems thinking into case study analysis and development projects {M5, M6]

- To be able to identify and apply appropriate methods relevant implement human factors within a project [M1, M6]

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion16:006:00CANVAS based timed assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture123:0036:0012 lectures (3 per week x 3 hours; 4 weeks)
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities49:0036:00Off-line Canvas reading materials and exercises
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical33:009:00Weekly Labs: 1)Product design evaluation2)Physical ergonomics methods , 3)Human-automation integration
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities25:0010:00Canvas reading lists for project support
Guided Independent StudyProject work415:0060:00Independent study hours expected for project work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Drop-in surgery in final week for question and answer around specific issues students face (eg in preparation for exam),
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study202:0040:00Revision of Lecture material, practical self-study and additional reading for Exam
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

- Lectures promote an appreciation of the various implications of ‘designing for humans’ and developing set of skills that can be applied to topical issues and case studies in design and ergonomics.

- Practicals, where students are given specific topic areas to explore relating to physical, cognitive and systems design, provide students with skills in human-systems analyses and demonstrate knowledge of ergonomic design, and allow them to demonstrate critical thinking in terms of safe systems.

- Groupwork allows students to demonstrate application the of critical knowledge and information relevant to a pre-assigned case and apply it to develop specific solutions within the engineering design and ergonomics space for all possible user needs and abilities.

- Exams give students the opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking in all aspects of the evaluation and design of mechanical engineering systems that reflect a wide range of users and needs.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination1202A50Exam covering all elements of the syllabus
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M50A portfolio of practical submissions
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Digital Examination2MCanvas quiz on Human Factors fundamentals. End of Week 26 (Module Week 1)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

*The examination is used to assess knowledge, independent learning and understanding of material and the ability to integrate this material, to communicate it clearly, and to demonstrate critical thinking in relation to ergonomics and human factors. Essay questions typically examine a principle or theory from human factors, and then require these principles to be applied to a given example or use case.

*The practical portfolio (totalling 2000 words or equivalent allows for design, analysis and reflection upon selected case studies, methodologies and results relevant to physical, cognitive and organisational human factors.

*For the purposes of professional body accreditation, in order to obtain a passing mark overall for this module (50%) at the first attempt the minimum acceptable mark for each of the assessment items specified below shall be 35%, with the maximum possible module overall mark where this is not the case being restricted to 40%: (1) 50% Exam (2) 50% Assignments (Combined).


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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