Computer Science (Human Computer Interaction) with Industrial Experience (5 Years) [MEng]

Course aims

The aim of the course is to give you a deep understanding of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) from neurophysiology to advanced social network analysis, from technically complex software engineering and application development to qualitative research design & methods - and everything in between. More specifically you will learn of the tools, techniques, and the mindset necessary to approach highly challenging HCI work; or move on to advanced research, be that in a commercial R&D division, as part of a skunkworks project, or within academia.We aim to instill not just a theoretical knowledge of HCI as a science and engineering discipline, but also a solid base of practical skills, an understanding of design, comprehension of the commercial world and competence in transferable skills  such as problem solving, team working, and creativity.

Special features

  • Allows you to plan, design, develop, and evaluate all aspects of interactive systems, device interfaces, and interaction scenarios.
  • All topics are taught by experts in their field, and students attend course units from Neuroscience, Social Science, and the Statistics Unit giving them cross-disciplinary experience.
  • All required Advanced Mathematics is taught as part of the course.
  • Course units and themes of relevance to Human computer Interaction include: Fundamental to Advanced Human Computer Interaction, HCI Methodology, Software Engineering and Agile Design, Statistics and Advanced Statistical Analysis, Advanced Social Network Analysis, Human Motor and Sensory Systems, Human Learning, Memory and Cognition.
  • You have access to all the core Software Engineering units and all the additional HCI specific units only available to specialist HCI students.
  • You can specialise very quickly allowing a more detailed view of HCI than on other courses.
  • The course equips you with skills that are in high demand from industry.

Course unit details

Over the first three years of study, all students follow the same course and reach the same level of study, thus providing the grounding for careers in industry and for postgraduate study. The first year of study establishes a strategic overview of the main areas of Human Computer Interaction and introduces the underlying science and mathematics. Second, third and fourth years of study develop the key knowledge and understanding necessary to enter industry, or postgraduate study. 

Course content for year 1

Introduces you to HCI and computer science in general, as well as software engineering. You will also gain the basic knowledge and skills that are applicable to all areas of interaction engineering such as object oriented programming, distributed systems, statistical analysis, and mathematics. Further, you will gain basic knowledge and skills that are applicable to all branches of computer science, such as: mathematics; programming; and distributed systems. You will also be introduced to the fundamental principles of Human Computer Interaction and Interactive systems.

Team-working is an important part of the first year which includes a year-long team project culminating in the demonstration and examination of a fully working team application. This project sets the context for HCI design and development and enhances your awareness of current issues.

Course content for year 2

The second year starts your detailed education in key areas of HCI. Course units in software engineering, operating systems, distributed computing, motor systems, and sensory systems provide the technical foundations for HCI project work. Units in quantitative and qualitative research design and methods, and native HCI methods provide the underlying scientific base. HCI specific tutorials link these aspects into a unified whole. You will also study databases technologies - a key aspect of most modern software systems.

Course content for year 3

The third year completes the above process by introducing an integrated view of advanced HCI, with reference to applicable sciences and technologies. You are also able to take a number of optional units in the third year to further enhance your specialisation. Finally, you undertake an individual project during this year, which aims to foster your competence in research and development, as well as in professional communication.

Course content for year 4

The Industrial Experience year enables you to gain relevant industrial experience as part of your studies by spending your third year working for a company actively participating in the design and development of a computing related product or service. Besides the money that you earn during this year, you also gain practical experience that can be invaluable both in your final year project and when applying for jobs after graduating. Many students find that the experience often helps to clarify their ideas about their future career path.

The strength of the School's links with industry means that may of our students undertake placements in some of the most prestigious companies in the world. The companies at which our students are currently placed include Credit Suisse, IBM, Google, Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline, British Telecom, Accenture, Barclays Capital, Electronic Arts and Mercedes GP.

Course content for year 5

The final year enhance the contents of the equivalent three-year BSc programmes with:

  • a) an increase in the depth and range of computing related subjects studied;
  • b) additional studies in subjects such as management, law, accounting and health and safety;
  • c) an 8 week industrial project;
  • d) a group business feasibility study.

The enhancements enable you to develop an in-depth specialist knowledge across a range of computing subjects, including some covered by the MSc in Advanced Computer Science. They also allow you to understand the business skills you need to develop and manage a successful business exploiting computing technology. Graduates from the MEng programme will be equipped with the higher level skills needed for the top jobs in business or research.

Career opportunities

The course is designed from a technical perspective and will prepare you for professional careers in the Human Computer Interaction and User Experience industry (design, development, testing and operation of interfaces, devices, and behavioural modelling) as well as in other areas such as research and technical development. It will provide you with the knowledge to accomplish highly technical interaction projects and to communicate with others, making novel, informed and sensible suggestions regarding HCI/UX work being undertaken - both by you individually or as part of a wider development team. More broadly it will prepare you for leadership positions in a successful career in industry. It will develop your transferable skills, particularly team working, creativity and adaptability, and enable you to specialise in advanced HCI topics.

Employers, from large multinational firms such as EA Games, IBM and Microsoft to small local organisations, actively target our students, recognising that graduates from the School of Computer Science are equipped with the skills that enable them to excel in a whole host of positions, including many that are not traditionally associated with computing graduates. Opportunities exist in fields as diverse as finance, films and games, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, consumer products, and public services - virtually all areas of business and society.

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