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MEng Computer Science (Human Computer Interaction) with Industrial Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2019

Course description

Computer Science - and more specifically Human Computer Interaction (HCI) - is radically changing the way in which we experience our world through the development of new applications in science, engineering and business. HCI is concerned with optimising the interaction between computer systems and their human users, at the intersection of computer science, behavioural sciences and social science. Here at Manchester we equip you with the skills needed to contribute to this exciting and rapidly evolving field. We provide you with the highest level of education in understanding and improving future generations of user interfaces and interactions, up to and including specialisation in advanced topics. Our course attempts to delve much deeper than other HCI related courses, in that key course units are delivered by specialists in their field, from neurophysiology to advanced social network analysis, from complex software engineering and application development to qualitative research design and methods - and everything in between.

Your first year will give you a comprehensive, broad-based foundation from which to choose your area of specialisation. You will gain not only knowledge and practical experience of the latest technologies, but also a grounding in the underlying principles of the subject. CS(HCI) is a flexible programme, allowing you to choose course units to reflect your developing and changing interests. Furthermore, a wide range of themes from across the discipline allow you to specialise in the third year. It is this combination of skills that enable our graduates to keep pace with this fast moving subject, and secure rewarding careers that can be pursued almost anywhere in the world.

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.

Teaching and learning

At Manchester we aim to provide a unique experience. Studying Computer Science with us will give you the chance to follow your academic curiosity and explore a fascinating subject.

A significant amount of your work will be project-based team work, tackling real problems. You will see how computer science is directly applicable to solving problems, across a broad range of areas.

The emphasis throughout is on independent learning, supported by regular meetings in small groups with personal tutors. You receive practical help and support from experienced staff and postgraduates, with leading experts guiding your learning and stimulating your interest. This approach is supported by conventional lectures and comprehensive on-line learning resources. We also provide excellent facilities, including specialist laboratories to support areas such as engineering and robotics.

Explore our teaching methods further on our  website .

Coursework and assessment

Unseen examinations account for about 60% of the assessment . These assess your abilities in the selection and application of knowledge, problem solving, and the design and evaluation of software or electronics. Other assessment is mainly through laboratory-based coursework that provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of computer science of electronic principles by tackling specific problems on a more realistic scale, both individually and in groups.

The remaining assessment is through presentations and essays where, in particular, you demonstrate the transferable skills you have acquired. In the third and final year, the non-examination assessment is mainly made up of the practical project.

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 units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Excitable Cells BIOL10832 10 Mandatory
First Year Team Project COMP10120 20 Mandatory
Data Science COMP13212 10 Mandatory
Fundamentals of Computer Architecture COMP15111 10 Mandatory
Programming 1 COMP16321 20 Mandatory
Programming 2 COMP16412 10 Mandatory
Research Methods & Statistics PSYC10100 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Cognition PSYC10431 5 Mandatory
Brain & Behaviour PSYC11222 10 Mandatory
Sensation & Perception PSYC11322 5 Mandatory

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 units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Motor Systems for Human Computer Interaction BIOL22332 10 Mandatory
Sensory Systems for Human Computer Interaction BIOL22341 10 Mandatory
Fundamentals of Databases COMP23111 10 Mandatory
Software Engineering 1 COMP23311 10 Mandatory
Software Engineering 2 COMP23412 10 Mandatory
Operating Systems COMP25111 10 Mandatory
Distributed Computing COMP28112 10 Mandatory
Perception and Action PSYC21112 5 Mandatory
Cognitive Neuroscience PSYC21122 10 Mandatory
Cognition PSYC21181 5 Mandatory
Essentials of survey design and analysis SOST20022 20 Mandatory
Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action BIOL21321 10 Optional
How to Make a Brain BIOL21451 10 Optional
System Architecture COMP25212 10 Optional
Computer Graphics and Image Processing COMP27112 10 Optional
Mobile Systems COMP28512 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 16 course units for year 2

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 units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Third Year Project Laboratory COMP30030 30 Mandatory
User Experience COMP33511 10 Mandatory
Enterprise Management for Computer Scientists MCEL30031 10 Mandatory
Managing Finance in Enterprises for Computer Scientists MCEL30032 10 Mandatory
Advanced Social Network Analysis SOST30022 20 Mandatory
How to Make a Brain BIOL21451 10 Optional
Clocks, Sleep & the Rhythms of Life (E) BIOL31681 10 Optional
Learning, Memory & Cognition (E) BIOL31692 10 Optional
Agile Software Engineering COMP33711 10 Optional
Natural Language Systems COMP34412 10 Optional
Compilers COMP36512 10 Optional
Documents, Services and Data on the Web COMP38211 10 Optional
Emotion PSYC31122 20 Optional
Anthropology of Vision, Senses and Memory SOAN30811 20 Optional
Modelling Social Inequality SOST30031 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 15 course units for year 3

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.

Facilities

As you would expect from leaders in the field, we offer some of the most up to date facilities in the world. Amongst the wide range of facilities available to you are:
  • Newly refurbished computing labs furnished with modern desktop computers, available with Linux and Windows
  • Access to world leading academic staff
  • Collaborative working labs complete with specialist computing and audio visual equipment to support group working.
  • Over 300 Computers in the School dedicated exclusively for the use of our students.
  • Access to a hardware library, with top of the range equipment, including drones, robots and oculus rifts.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk