Studying HCI

MSc mini project
What is Human Computer Interaction?

Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is a broad discipline that has grown out of psychology and computer science but also includes elements of design, ergonomics and informatics. It has also been influenced by sociology and anthropology. Although definitions can be constraining, it has been characterised as:

“…a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them.” (ACM SIGCHI Curriculum for Human Computer Interaction)
The notion of a ‘computing system’ is taken to include a wide range of interactive technologies, including mobile phones, social networking sites, virtual reality, interactive TV, transport control‐rooms, interactive toys just to name a few. Design is a central concern, although this can be considered in relation to a wide range of issues, such as ease of use, safety, engagement, teamworking, physical aspects, communication, emotion, privacy and fun (and more).
Students in class

The Introductory Reading List give you a sense of the field.

Course aims
  • To understand the relevance and application of human physical, cognitive, social and affective knowledge to the design of interactive systems.
  • To analyse the user requirements for an interactive system or product.
  • To understand the influence of context of use (both local and organisational) on user‐system interaction.
  • To characterise a range of human‐computer interaction and user‐centred design styles and apply these to software and hardware design.
  • To test and analyse user performance, preferences and experience in relation to human‐centred interactive systems.
  • To apply a range of HCI and Ergonomic research and development techniques to any of the above.
  • To acquire a range of transferable skills and the independent learning ability to equip students for future positions in industrial, academic or consultancy environments.
Teaching Methods
Our courses use a combination of lectures as well as individual and group coursework. The latter activities are often structured around a practical mini-project such as the evaluation of a system or the creation of physical mock‐ups of systems. The modules are assessed through such coursework and exams. Every student is allocated a personal tutor to monitor their achievement and wellbeing. uclicvisuals.gif
ladycontroller.gif We also maintain good links between students and practitioners in the field. We run a series of practice seminars in which speakers from industry come in to discuss their work and related issues, and we also run visits to consultancies and field sites such as a London Underground Control room.
Students have access to UCLIC's usability labs as well as facilities of other UCL departments. The UCLIC usability labs include an eye tracker, a driving simulator as well as motion capture systems, physiological sensors (heart rate, GSR, etc.)  and other facilities.
studentatdesk.gif The MSc project gives students the opportunity to conduct some research in the area of human‐computer interaction and ergonomics under the supervision of a member of UCLIC staff. There is a broad range of topics and questions that might be considered, and students work closely with their supervisor in selecting and carrying out their project. MSc projects, from previous years, that were awarded a distinction are available as a point of reference if you would ike to read  them.
What Students say about the Course

If you are interested in what students say about studying at UCLIC here are some testimonials:

Jesper Garde ‐- Class of 2012 -- Interaction Designer, Trip Advisor

I was very impressed with this course. Being in full time employment I split the taught modules over two years and it worked out well. Starting with the ergonomics modules was a natural 'bridge' from my industrial engineering undergraduate degree. Year two was more relevant to my professional experience with usability and interaction design practice. I was positively surprised by how the course covers such a wide spectrum of HCI including the more recent interest in user experience and affective design. The intake is very International and students come from a variety of backgrounds which makes for interesting group work with lots of learning possibilities from peers with different experience.

If you have any questions for Jesper, then you can contact him at jesper.garde.10@ucl.ac.uk.

Lucy Hughes - Class of 2009 -- User Experience Architect, Ostmodern

The MSc at UCLIC helped me gain the confidence to change my career path from being a developer to a full time user experience architect. After the course I found employment at Ostmodern, (a digital product design agency), helped by the course reputation and being able to show some examples of my MSc work in my portfolio. I have quickly become a senior level UX architect at Ostmodern and still draw from my knowledge and experience from the UCLIC MSc.

As well as academic modules, the course also offers practice for core skills such as presenting. With support from UCLIC, I presented my dissertation project at CHI 2012 in Austin, Texas and DIS 2012in Newcastle, UK.

Jan Srutek ‐‐ Class of 2008 ‐‐ Senior Interaction Designer, Foolproof
voxpops2.gif I come from a mixed business/online marketing background but I was always excited about usability. So in 2007, I decided to make a career in the user experience industry and came to London to do the MSc at UCLIC. The course gave me excellent theoretical foundations and practical skills for a user experience or interaction design career. I am now versed in the current user‐centred research, design, and evaluation methodologies and tools, and am familiar with the latest research findings. The course is highly valued in the industry and companies are always keen on hiring UCLIC alumni. I was offered a job by a UK’s leading user experience agency only a few days after handing in my MSc Thesis.
Franesca Pagnacco – Class of 2008 ‐‐ Information Architect at Aviva
voxpops1.gif Before the masters at UCLIC I had worked in several roles related to web technologies including writing copy, content management and running a team of front end developers. My main focus was webaccessibility. The UCLIC masters was very intense work. Groupwork was particularly challenging because people came from such varied backgrounds that there were always lots of different viewpoints to take into account. The breadth of subjects covered helped me gain a set skills that was instrumental in developing my career in a much more interesting direction. Since graduating I have worked in design agencies as a user experience consultant conducting research in user behaviours and motivations for clients as varied as Macmillan Cancer Research, The National Autistic Society, The Housing Federation and Sony.
Lyzbelle Strahan - Class of 2008 -- Information Architect at SapientNitro
LStrahan2.jpg My year at UCLIC was a great experience and I would recommend the course to anyone interested in HCI. I met people from a variety of backgrounds... computer science, psychology, anthropology, and design to name a few. I not only learned from the faculty, but also from my fellow students. The skills I gained from this course and the collective knowledge of the people involved in it helped me land a job at the biggest digital agency in the UK. I am glad I made the choice to attend UCL.
How to find out more

On this site we also have information about part‐time study, and graduate careers.

For further information you can:

  • Read our FAQs
  • The UCLIC Open Evening is specific for the HCI courses. At this event, you will be able to meet academics, current and alumni students from the course. You can find out about the research being developed in the HCI field, computer games research and many other activities at UCLIC, and try out some of our sensing devices (e.g., eye‐tracking, motion capture systems, biosensors). The UCLIC Open Evening will be held on the 24th February 2016 from 5pm. Please register if you wish to attend. Anyone who has already applied to the course will automatically be invited to attend. 
  • Contact uclic‐admissions(at)ucl.ac.uk, or the Admissions Tutor Nadia Berthouze: n.berthouze(at)ucl.ac.uk.
  • Go to UCL Admissions site for graduates and international students
  • Ring Admissions on +44 (0)20 7679 7742
  • E‐mail Admissions: admissions(at)ucl.ac.uk

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Page last modified on 06 apr 16 21:16 by Duncan P Brumby