This is a cross-faculty programme in which students undertake postgraduate research under the supervision of academic staff who are leaders in their specialisation within human-computer interaction. Students often work collaboratively with researchers in other departments and organisations beyond UCL. Graduates pursue careers in leading universities and major technology industries worldwide.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2021/22)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website.
Normally a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree or a taught Master’s degree, or the overseas equivalent, in a subject relevant to human-computer interaction. Such subjects include Psychology, Computer Science, Information Technology, Engineering Design, or other cognitive or applied sciences. Applicants with other qualifications and sufficient relevant experience and background knowledge may be considered.
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
UCL Interaction Centre (UCLIC) is a world-leading centre of excellence for interdisciplinary research on human-computer interaction, studying interactions between people and technology, and using this knowledge to inform design. UCL received the highest percentage (96%) for quality of research in Computer Science and Informatics in the UK's most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). We collaborate with technology users and manufacturers within industry and academia, including hospitals, computer manufacturers and other universities. Facilities include a usability laboratory with eye tracker, a reconfigurable space for larger equipment, and an interaction research laboratory to support research in physical computing and prototyping. Previous students have gone on to work in universities and companies in North America, Europe, Asia and New Zealand.
A number of themes link the research projects we work on in UCLIC and some projects occupy more than one theme. These themes employ both quantitative and qualitative methods and draw on the best scientific traditions in human sciences and computer science to improve human-computer interactions. Theoretical understanding from empirical studies is applied and tested through novel interactive systems that are designed to improve the user experience, e.g. reducing errors, improving effectiveness and creating a positive overall user experience.
Main research areas are:
- Persuasive technologies: investigating how various data can be sensed, collected, analysed and displayed via persuasive technologies for behavioural change;
- Designing future interfaces: designing and inventing novel physical interfaces, large scale installations and mobile technologies and exploring how people engage with these;
- Interactions in the wild: using ethnographic studies and action research in the wild to develop novel technologies to augment people, places and settings, e.g. Internet of Things;
- Affective computing: designing interactive technology that is more aware of people’s affective states, using that information to tailor the interaction process;
- Health and wellbeing: reducing stress at work by reducing errors in work contexts (especially in healthcare); improving technology to support a positive work-life balance; technology to support more heathy living or those suffering chronic pain;
- Collaboration and communication: exploring social computing and communication technologies in how people play and work together; crowd-sourcing projects;
- Educational technologies: studying how learning can be enhanced through technology such as e-lectures; designing electronic toolkits to introduce children to coding;
- Physical Computing: developing interactive systems that can sense and respond to the world around them;
- AI and HCI : artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction;
- Assistive and Enabling Technologies: technology to improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities and to support them to live as independently as possible.
About this degree
It is strongly recommended, but not obligatory that you take two taught modules in the first one – two years of registration. Typically these will be from a recommended list. In the first term, you would normally complete one of the Statistics course, Computer Programming or at least one module of an MSc programme if you have selected any and/or Qualitative Methods courses in the second term.
All students must complete a preliminary research plan at 3 months and a 1st year report and viva (20 min interview) at 9 months (10-12 mths if PT) with a thesis committee (TC). The latter is the first major examination and precedes the upgrade report and viva, which is the second major exam and normally happens between 9-18 months (15-30 mths for PT) in the 2nd year. Students must pass the upgrade viva in order to become registered for the PhD.
There are two further meetings with TC at 18 and 24 mths, at which students can provide a snapshot of their progress; they should then prepare a thesis plan for a final TC meeting at 30 months. Students then defend their thesis after submission in a final PhD viva exam.
All students also take part in the annual UCLIC PhD Showcase Day and Dilemma game in the 3rd term of each year. The showcase involves presenting work as a talk or poster to the rest of the dept and gaining feedback from research and academic staff.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
Many of our students undertake ad hoc internships of up to three months with industry and research partners. Previous internships include Microsoft Research and the Alan Turing Insitute.
We occasionally advertise funded studentships throughout the year – please check on the Jobs section of our news, Events and Seminars pages.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Recent graduates have either pursued academic careers as researchers and/or lecturers and some additionally work as usability consultants alongside their postdoctoral roles. Some have continued as postdoctoral researchers within the department or other departments in UCL, while others secured research internships abroad (eg, Microsoft Research in California), or other postdoctoral positions in Europe, North and South America, Asia and New Zealand. Some have alternatively continued their careers in industry as research scientists in leading technology companies, such as Google.
The interdisciplinary nature of research in UCLIC means that our research graduates have a broad skill set combining various specialisms, such as psychology, design and/or computer science. They are adaptable and able to work across many fields with people from different professional backgrounds both in academia and industry. Consequently, they are creative, motivated individuals with a keen understanding of the needs of government and commercial organisations as well as having extensive academic knowledge and skills.
UCLIC are currently part of a Global Disability Innovation Hub, working with partners such as Leonard Cheshire Disability, the V&A and Sadler's Wells to design better user experiences for disabled people. We also have strong links with hospitals and manufacturers of medical devices, as well as other commercial and arts organisations. At present, we have a number of EC funded grants involving collaborations with Universities, companies and government organisations in Italy, France, Spain, Greece and Sweden. Some of our studentships have been co-funded by companies such as the BBC and Microsoft and many students often undertake industry based internships.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The cross-faculty nature of this programme enables students to pursue interdisciplinary projects and work with researchers from different fields across UCL and other organisations. We also have strong links with industry and students can undertake industry internships. Graduates often extend their careers beyond academia, pursuing careers in industry or the public sector, or combining roles as leading academics and consultants, and sometimes working in collaboration with the arts.
Students are strongly supported in developing a range of presenting and teaching skills, using creativity and innovation to present in new and interesting ways. They often act as co-supervisors on Masters projects on our MSc in Human-Computer Interaction, which helps them to develop supervisory and leadership skills. There are many training opportunities across UCL to practise such skills and give students confidence for their next steps.
Department: UCL Interaction Centre
What our students and staff say
"I worked at UCL before starting my PhD at UCLIC and the transition was made very easy for me. I found the department to be very supportive and encouraging. There is a great feel of both social and academic support. Here we are pushed to ask the harder questions about our work, which greatly prepares you when discussing your research at events and conferences, which you are encouraged and supported to submit to and attend. I am very proud to be a part of such a multi-disciplinary group!"
Dilisha PatelInteraction Centre PhD
"I studied both for my Bachelor's and Master's at UCL, and UCL was one of the investors in a start-up I worked for, and so I feel very comfortable here. Additionally, the specific department (UCLIC) is one of the best in the world in our field. I love UCL - the Bachelor's was an incredible, defining time in my life and the Master's was fascinating, fun and pretty much essential in my field for employability. I can't believe I'm lucky enough to be back pursuing a PhD in the field I love, and in an institution which I am proud to be a part of."
Geraint JonesHuman Computer Interaction PhD
"Pursuing a PhD at UCLIC exposed me to research areas that are different from my previous experience, which was focused in Engineering. People here come from various backgrounds, and they are extremely nice and helpful. To me, choosing to study in a major city such as London has opened the door to many great opportunities which have helped me engage in various academic and non-academic activities!"
Ahmed AlqaraawiInteraction Centre PhD
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
- All applicants
- 30 July 2021
Applicants should apply through Computer Science or Psychology. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.
Applications for competitive funding awarded by UCL must arrive by 29 November at the latest in the year preceding the academic year you wish to start. If other sources of funding are being considered, it is still in your interest to apply by the 29 November deadline. Later applications can sometimes be considered. Applications should be made as soon as possible, and not later than 30 June for entry in September/October.
Scholarship applicants: 29 November 2020 if applying through either UCL Computer Science or the Division of Psychology & Language Sciences.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
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