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The University of Southampton

COMP6241 Advanced Topics in Human-Systems Interaction

Module Overview

Increasing numbers and kinds of computationally-driven systems require engagement with human beings. While some examples are obvious, from apps to social media to social computing, some are perhaps less obvious such as secure systems, autonomous vehicles, agent-human collectives, service provision and/or management like food chain mangement, information visualisation/automation for big data, games design, behaviour/skills support for health or education, environmental monitoring - all of these processes have humans in the loop, whether these services are designed to support human performance as an explicit foreground interaction, or deliver support more transparently. This course will help computer science and software engineering students develop the knowledge, skills and practice they need to design, build and evaluate effective, human-in-the-loop systems. The module will use a mixed methods learning approach from guided topic overviews, to student-lead discussions of cutting edge research, to group projects that explore requirements gathering, to preparation of results for publication. Students who have taken this module previously have developed systems used by ECS, have published papers stemming from their work on the module, and have gone on to funded PhD work and from there to industry. The course is modelled on research practices found not only in academia but also in industry. No matter what path students choose after this module, this introduction to HCI research will give them skills to flourish and to lead.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Core open challenges for human-systems interaction.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Select and synthesize research papers on a method or research challenge.
  • Lead peer teaching of research methods.
  • Present research ideas in the formal models of the domain.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Deliver peer evaluations and critiques of colleagues' work.
  • Coordinate, negotiate and manage research projects.
  • Present a synthesis of domain knowlege for team use.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Develop interaction prototypes.
  • Evaluate interaction prototypes both qualitatively and quantitatively.
  • Determine and execute appropriate requirements gathering methods to develop an innovative interactive technology.


In this course, students will develop a functional level of expertise in research methods in HCI sufficient to develop innovative and novel solutions in the term's chosen topic area. Each week we will explore core readings, and leading papers on HCI research methods. Individual Work 1. All students will do the assigned reading each week. As part of individual work, a student will lead the peer teaching for the research topic, and another for the research method. 2. As part of the discussion another student will be responsible to craft at least three questions on the material presented to challenge the leader. Group Work Project As part of engaging with the research methods, students will form into teams to propose an approach to address a challenge in the topic area. The project will include the following components: • developing the problem, • investigating related work, • applying a research method to explore the problem • producing a prototype solution • evaluating the solution. The presentation of work will provide experience in current methods for research publications in HCI: video of prototypes and formal write ups of research methods.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Main teaching methods are informed by McMaster Medical School model of peer teaching. For instance, Owning a topic: • given a topic, students are responsible for finding relevant content (papers, demos), presenting the resources to their peers to teach them the key findings/methods from this material - to practice synthesis and analysis Critique • students will also be responsible for preparing questions for their "teachers" • they will also explore methods for reviewing/evaluating such material, and how to frame these questions/challenges for their peers. Presentation and Organisation • students will use research papers to derive heuristics for presenting work in a paper in both general and domain specific settings. Project Management • students will also need to revisit coordination for group projects and group project phases to deliver on research outcomes. Professional Expectation • They will prepare work for a conference where other human beings will review their work.

Completion of assessment task104
Wider reading or practice46
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Research Methods in HCI. 

Cognitive Science. 

A topic-specific text may be assigned for any given term. 

Cultural studies Theory and Practice. 

Neurophysiology: A Conceptual Approach. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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