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MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies

Overview & Contacts

Course Overview

For general information:

Matthew Badham
Postgraduate Admissions Administrator

Tel: +44 (0)1904 325404
Fax: +44 (0)1904 325599
E-mail: postgraduate@cs.york.ac.uk

For informal discussion:

Professor Helen Petrie
Course Leader

Tel: +44 (0)1904 325672
Fax: +44 (0)1904 325599
E-mail: hcit@cs.york.ac.uk

Full Time - This course is only available full time.

8 assessed modules - Plus a six person-month project to be undertaken either at York or on site in industry.

The MSc in Human-centred Interactive Technologies aims to provide participants with a thorough grounding in the design and evaluation of interactive technologies of all kinds, from the perspective of the human user(s). It is aimed at graduates with a first degree in a computing discipline who wish to develop knowledge and skills in this area before undertaking industrial work or further academic study in this area. However, we will also consider applicants who have significant, relevant work experience since graduating, if you do not have an appropriate computing degree.

The unique emphasis of the MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies course is on developing an understanding of users capabilities and requirements, including users with particular requirements (such as older and disabled users, or users in a diversity of cultural settings) and developing a range of techniques to work with these users to produce interactive technologies that best suit their capabilities and requirements.

The course has two key aspects:

  • Emphasis on the sound theoretical basis for the design and evaluation of interactive technologies. This is primarily seen in the modules Understanding Users, Human Computer Interaction and Advanced Topics in Interactive Technologies.
  • Research methods to provide a sound empirical basis for the design and evaluation of interactive technologies. There are three taught modules on research methods: Quantitative Methods, Qualitative Methods and Advanced Research Methods for Human-Computer Interaction. These courses give students a thorough grounding in the empirical methods that can be used to support the design and evaluation of interactive technologies.

You can choose to apply for one of our internships, which will begin once your course has finished. Find out more about the scheme.

Course Structure

The MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies course is currently being offered as a full-time MSc, running for 12 months from the start of the academic year in October. 

The first half of the course is taken up by taught modules. Each of the MSc HCIT modules comprise a mixture of lectures, problem classes and practical classes, plus a significant amount of personal study time. In the second half of the course, students undertake an individual research project under the supervision of a member of staff.

Course Aims

  • To provide a specialist education in the theories of and methods for designing and evaluating interactive technologies
  • To provide a specialist education in the range of current research and practical topics of designing and evaluating interactive technologies
  • To provide practical experience (through practical work and the project) of designing and evaluating interactive technologies.

The lecturers are all exceptional. They are very approachable and the group dynamic lends itself well to extending teaching beyond the classroom. Informal chats outside of class have helped me to put abstract ideas into focus and I have always felt that the lecturers treat us as peers rather than students.

Thumbnail of Jonathan Settle, student on MSc Human-Centred Interactive Technologies

Jonathan Settle
MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies

Learning Outcomes

A fundamental objective of the course is to provide students with a sound theoretical knowledge and practical experience of the skills essential to the design and evaluation of interactive technologies.

In particular, having completed the course students will be able to understand theories of the design of interactive technologies and critique individual technologies from a theoretical viewpoint; (a) choose appropriate methods for empirical investigations for the design, prototyping and evaluation of interactive technologies, including both quantitative and qualitative methods; (b) plan and undertake a range of empirical investigations of existing or proposed interactive technologies at all stages of the development lifecycle, (c) analyse, draw conclusions from and present the results of such investigations; and (d) conduct a range of expert and theoretical analyses of interactive technologies to investigate their usability, accessibility and appropriateness for different user groups.

Graduates completing the course will be equipped to play leading and professional roles related to the designed and evaluation of interactive technologies in industry, commerce, academia and public service. The MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies is also intended to provide a route into a PhD or research in this rapidly expanding field.

Attendance

Full-time taught postgraduate courses run for 12 months from the start of the academic year in October.  Students on these courses are expected to be in attendance at York for the full 12 months, except for when the Department is closed. Please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Administrator for more details.

Professional Recognition

When you are awarded the MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies, you will automatically meet some of the conditions for professional engineering status in the UK, as follows:

Logo from BCS (Chartered Institute of IT) showing our accredited status

This course is recognised by the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, in partial fulfilment of the educational requirement for Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration.

 

IET Accredited programmes logo

This course is also recognised by Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for the purposes of partial fulfilment of the educational requirement for CEng registration.

Find out more about what this means.

Modules

Course components  -  2015/2016

Click on Module TitleModule TitleTermShort Description
Understanding Users Autumn The psychological theories underlying human-computer interaction.
User Centred Design
Autumn Introduces students to the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This field covers all aspects of people's interactions with digital systems.
Qualitative Research Methods: Design Ethnography Autumn An introduction to qualitative research methods that can be used in the design and evaluation lifecycle of interactive systems.
Quantitative Research Methods Spring An introduction to experimental design and statistics as used in HCI and computer science for the evaluation of interactive systems, for experimental evaluation of algorithms and for research into HCI and computer science.
Advanced Research Methods for Human-Centred Interactive Technologies Spring Methods specific to research in interactive technologies, including eyetracking, contextual inquiry and cognitive modelling.
Advanced Topics in Interactive Technologies
Spring A broad range of topics reflecting the cutting edge of research and development of interactive technologies such as inclusive design and accessibility, domestic technology and cultural diversity.
Web Design
Spring Skills to design, implement and evaluate a web site.
Project Preparation Summer Term & Vacation You choose your project in the previous term (March), from those marked as suitable for your degree on the list of projects available. PPC is essential preparation time for this project.
Project - Human-Centred Interactive Technologies
Vacation A substantial, independent research project building on the taught course. The deliverable is a dissertation.

Personal Tutor

You will have a personal tutor and will be part of a tutorial group, usually comprising of five or fewer students. Your personal tutor provides academic and pastoral advice throughout your course. When you undertake your individual project, you will be allocated a supervisor within your area of interest, so your supervisor may then change.

Assessment

All taught modules on the MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies are examined by open assessments. The assessment paper is published at the end of the week of teaching, and you will be required to submit your answers typically four weeks later. This type of assessment allows you to engage with the research literature and gives us the chance to assess your practical skills.

Once you have successfully completed the taught modules, you will undertake an extensive individual project. Here you will work on an indentified cyber security topic, and document the results in a report. Additionally, you will be required to precis the project report in a conference style paper.

Assessments will take place at various times during the year. Practical exercises, reports and other forms of open assessment will be due either during the course module or just after its completion.

Timescales, Modules and Project Descriptions may be subject to change.

Internship scheme

You can also choose to apply for one of our internships, which begin after you have completed your individual project. Find out more about the scheme.

Project

Overview

The dissertation project undertaken by students over the summer is carried out individually, which might involve collaboration with another organisation. A collaborative project is still supervised by a member of the Department.

Projects are worth 50% of the total mark for the MSc.

Examples of previous projects include:

  • A Gesture Language for Interaction with Art and Cultural Artefacts in Museums
  • Analysis of WCAG 2.0 Techniques and Remote Evaluation by People with Visual Disabilities
  • Cultural issues in design of online banking websites: a Chinese case study
  • Evaluating Human Error through Video Games
  • Have the Same Image in Mind? Investigation of Personas in Web Design
  • Inattention and Immersion in Video Games
  • Measuring User Experience of Mobile Phones: a Study with Retrospective Protocol and Emotion Word Prompt List
  • The Application of Game Mechanics to a Virtual Learning Environment
  • The Design and Evaluation of NHS Pharmacy Dispensing Computer Software
  • Using User-Generated Content as Discourses on the Gaming Experience

How to Apply

Suitability and Entry Requirements

Typically, you will have achieved at least an upper second class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a computing-related discipline.

We are willing to consider applications from those who do not fit this profile.  We will, for example, consider applicants who do not have an appropriate qualification but have appropriate industrial experience.

How to Apply

For more information about completing your application, please take a look at the University’s webpages which tell you how to apply, and our Department's advice on completing applications.

In particular, please take note of the supporting documents we need to see in order to be able to make a decision about your application.  You are also required to nominate two referees, of which at least one should be from your current employer or place of study.

You can apply through our online application system (SELECT).

While there is no official closing date for applications, it is important to apply as early as possible.

Studentships

We have a Taught Masters Scholarship that applicants holding an offer for one of our taught MSc courses can apply for. Find out more about the award

Did you know that we offer our MSc students a continuation scholarship? Should you decide to stay and study for a PhD after you graduate, you could be eligible to have your fees paid. Check out the details of the award.

International Students

This course, like all others in the University, welcomes students of all backgrounds and circumstances. 

If English is not your first language, or your first degree was not taught in English, then you will need to have attained a suitable language qualification no more than two years before the start of the course. 

The University's Postgraduate Study webpages will tell you more about the English language requirements for graduate students.

Information for students

Being prepared for your MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies

This course takes students from a wide range of backgrounds, so these notes are intended to help you feel "up to speed" when you arrive.

Technical skills

You will be joining a Computer Science department, so we assume that you have some technical skills in programming and web design. This does not mean that we think you should be able to knock together a data-driven website in Flash in an afternoon, but that you at least know the basics of what a program is. A good introductory programming book is:

  • Deitel, P.J. and Deitel, H.M. (2009) Java: How to Program (8th edition), Pearson Education (There are various versions, depending on how keen you are to learn object oriented programming).

There are lots of books on HTML. This one has all the basics you will need:

  • Musciano, C. and Kennedy, B. (2006) HTML and XHTML: The Definitive Guide (6th edition) O'Reilly

Of course, there are loads of web tutorials that you might find useful as well.

Human-Computer Interaction skills

You will probably already have some Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) skills, but just so you know, our favourite HCI text book is:

  • Preece, J., Rogers, Y. and Sharp, H. (2007) Interaction Design (2nd edition) John Wiley & Sons

We basically assume that you have read this book and know its content quite well by the time you start the course. It will be referred to in several modules as well.

Other good background books to read are:

  • Norman, D.A. (1998) The Design of Everyday Things. MIT Press
  • Raskin, J. (2000) The Humane Interface. Addison-Wesley

Residency requirements  -  2015/16

Due to the intensive nature of the course, students are required to be in York during the following periods:

  • 28 September 2015 - 4 December 2015 (Autumn term)
  • 4 January 2016 - 11 March 2016 (Spring term)
  • 11 April 2016 - 19 September 2016 (Summer term and vacation)

However, it should be noted that the MSc is full time and it is assumed that students are working whether or not they are in full attendance.

Careers

Careers

Discussing my time at York and my MSc in my Capgemini interview was a definite advantage, as it put me a step ahead of the rest.

Small picture of Alex Vaughan

Alex Vaughan, MSc in HCIT 2011, now Graduate Technology Consultant for Capgemini

Here at York, we're really proud of the fact that more than 97% of our postgraduate students go on to employment or further study within six months of graduating from York. We think the reason for this is that our courses prepare our students for life in the workplace through our collaboration with industry to ensure that what we are teaching is useful for employers.

So where do our students go once they leave York?

Pie chart showing the industry destinations of Computer Science postgraduates

Internship scheme

Improve your employability prospects by applying for one of our internships, which begin after you have completed your individual project. Find out more about the scheme.

 

 

 

 

Home Lab

The Interactive Home Laboratory

Research in the Home Lab with Wii

The Home Lab is located in the Department of Computer Science here at York, and is part of the Centre for Usable Home Technology. As a students studying the MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies, you will have access to the Home Lab throughout your studies.

The Home Lab has two main purposes:

  • It is a space for demonstrating what people want from the technology in their homes through research prototypes and off-the-shelf products. 
  • It is a laboratory for research. Although research can be carried out in people's homes, the Home Lab provides a homely yet controlled laboratory space for experiments and user testing.

Some examples of products tested in the Home Lab include:

The appropriation of games technology

Mainstream games technology can be appropriated for serious purposes such as re-habilitation. Our demo shows how the Nintendo Wii can be used to allow a seated patient to gain confidence through balance games.

Fingerprint Door Lock

Using fingerprints as a way of proving one's identity used to be seen only in spy films, but there are now affordable and reliable applications such as the fingerprint door lock we have in the Home Lab. The doorlock has great value for people with learning difficulties. These people have little difficulty learning how to use the lock and it circumvents any issues around forgetting, losing or, as in one instance, giving away the door key. Supplied by Access Automation.

The appropriation of mobile technology

Apps for smart phones and tablets such as the iPad also present opportunities for caring purposes. One product includes an app to record your blood pressure as measured with a home testing kit. Readings are colour coded and can be sent to a doctor with just one button press.

You can find out more about the Centre for Usable Home Technology here.

Research in the kitchen of the Home Lab

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