CSC8606 : Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction and UX

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The discipline of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) has been developing, and increasing in importance for more than 40 years. HCI knowledge comes from a large academic and industrial research community and underpins an area of professional practice in the tech sector(often referred to as ‘UX’ for User eXperience in industry), which explores how interactive digital systems (across all digital platforms) can be designed to be useful, usable and provide users with an engaging user experience. HCI is a fundamentally cross- and multi-disciplinary field, and over the course of its history various academic disciplines and practices have influenced its approaches to studying people and evaluating how they interact with, understand and use of technology. Equally, it has fundamentally influenced the ways in which we design interactive digital technologies, from command line interfaces, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), through mobile interactions, apps, embedded systems, physical/tangible computing, and on to robotics and AI systems. This module is focused on providing students with a thorough grounding in the development of HCI as a field of study, and its basic principles of human-centred design. Students will learn about the user-centred development lifecycle for digital technologies, and will practice and become familiar with the basic skills of requirements elicitation and usability evaluation.

The aims of this module are:

1. To introduce students to the field of Human-Computer Interaction, its key concepts, technologies and professional practices.
2. To provide a survey of the history of HCI and the shifts in how the field has conceptualised and studied Human-Computer Interactions over time.
3. To provide students with knowledge of different HCI methods for understanding users, stakeholders, contexts and requirements.
4. To give students practical experience of basic methods for requirements elicitation, interface design and usability evaluation.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Introduction to the field of HCI: the human-centred design of technology
2. Origins of HCI: People (users) as cogs in the machine
3. The turn from human factors to human actors
4. The user-centred design lifecycle
5. Methods for requirements capture
6. Usability evaluation techniques
7. Contexts and challenge areas for interactive technologies
7.1 HCI in the work-place: Cooperative work and distributed cognition
7.2 HCI off the screen 1: Tangible computing and embodied interaction
7.3 HCI off the screen 2: HCI and ubiquitous computing
7.4 Third-Wave Approaches to HCI: Play, Leisure and Sociality
7.5 Technology as experience and experiential approached to HCI
7.6 Research through design and design as provocation
7.7 Beyond the lab: Challenges for HCI in the wild

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 materials241:0024:00Non-synchronous delivery of lecture materials in support of course content, 4 lectures per week.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion127:0027:00Final critical commentary blog post on contemporary issues in HCI.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion127:0027:00Report from practical classes focussing on the requirements elicitation & usability evaluation task
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading124:0024:00Directed reading preparation for classes.
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities122:0024:00Practical activities delivered asynchronously through workbooks and some supportive video materials.
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity62:0012:00Directed reflective blog posts preparations on HCI readings and skills practice
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery62:0012:00Synchronous online discussions or reading material. Tutorial/drop-in discussion, possible PiP.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

As the students will originate from a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds, the teaching of this module is intended to combine opportunities for introductory reading and learning around the history of human-computer interaction and critical analysis and reflection on how approaches and concepts of human interaction with technology have changed over time.

Using a blended approach to cater for online provision students will receive a series of video lectures on relevant topics covering the history and development of the field of HCI. They will also be directed to read specific text book chapters and research papers prior to weekly group teaching sessions (held online and face-to-face as preferred) and will be expected to take an active role in discussing this work. Online materials will also be made available to introduce practical skills for both requirements elicitation and interface testing/usability evaluation. Students will try out these different methods, collecting user data.

Following the end of sessions, students will be expected to write short reflective commentaries on papers they have read and discussed in class to support deep learning, and will be expected to produce lab book notes about the practical skills they have been developing. These notes from both readings and skills practice will be shared in class viewable blogs on the module’s online learning environment.

At the end of the module, students will be assessed on a final blog post that brings this accumulated knowledge together, discussing the issues and concepts of the history of HCI in relation to the practical skills they have been developing.

Students are expected to spend time studying independently outside of the small group teaching sessions. Independent study will be focused around the students identifying further background literature in HCI of relevance to their specific areas of interest and critical reflection on how methods of studying human behaviour relate to technological contexts and issues of import at specific times in HCI history.

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
Essay1M50Final critical commentary blog post (2000 words max)
Report1M50Description of practical skills work & reporting of findings from requirements capture exercise & usability evaluation-2000 max
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Reflective log1MSeries of blog posts responding to activity in practical classes and/or assigned reading
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment has one formative component, and two summative components (equally weighted). The formative component includes developing a reflective log (blog posts) regarding the reading material set and/or practical sessions, as directed – the notes for which will be commented on throughout the course. The first summative assessment includes an extended blog post – which critically reflects on the reading material discussed in the small group sessions throughout the module and the notes made in previous blog posts. It provides an opportunity to critically reflect on the development of HCI and the ways in which theories impact on practical skills. The second piece of assessment is a formal report of two activities, a requirements elicitation exercise and a usability evaluation, using standard formats for both. This written report gives practical experience of industry standard reporting formats for these kinds of activities and demonstrates competence in the skills evaluated alongside transferable communication skills.

Reading Lists