Human-Centred Design MSc

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Comments about Human-Centred Design MSc - At the institution - Uxbridge - Greater London

  • Objectives
    The primary aim of this programme is to equip graduates with the practical knowledge and transferable skills required to be at the forefront of human-centred design research and application in either industrial or academic employment. Graduates will have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development, further research, and acquiring new skills at the highest level, enabling them to follow a successful career in human-centred design with national and international companies and institutions.
  • Entry requirements
    Entry Requirements A UK first or second class Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification usually in design; engineering; or related discipline; or commensurate professional experience combined with an appropriate vocational qualification. Other qualifications and relevant experience will be assessed on an individual basis.
  • Academic title
    Human-Centred Design MSc
  • Course description
    An innovative new postgraduate degree which aims to make the world safer, more efficient and more enjoyable. The MSc in Human-Centred Design takes design or engineering graduates and trains them to develop products, systems and services which are physically, cognitively and emotionally intuitive for human users. By putting the user at the heart of the design process, these human-centred designers will be primed to meet the technological challenges of the 21st century.

    Course Details

    The Brunel MSc in Human-Centred Design combines our strong pedigree in design with our research strengths in the Human-Centred Design Institute (HCDI). You will be taught by leading experts from the HCDI on their latest research findings, and your programme of teaching will cover the entire subject area, from the traditional spheres of physical and cognitive ergonomics, right through to latest developments in topics such as inclusive design and virtual modelling.

    We believe that the best human-centred designers are those who already have a design background, and who have later enhanced that by learning about the human user. This is why the Brunel MSc is targeted at those with a background in design, engineering, or a related discipline, producing graduates who not only have knowledge of the relevant theories and textbooks, but also the skills to apply the principles to real-world problems. We will provide you with knowledge and experience of user requirements, and the ability to put into practice theories, methods and tools for improving human-centred design.

    The programme can be studied as 12 months full-time, or can be undertaken within 2-4 years on a part-time basis, enabling industrialists or practitioners to study it as part of their continuing professional development.

    Taught Modules

        * Physical Human Factors in Design
          Main topics include: introduction to human factors in design, anthropometry, biomechanics, metabolism, subjective evaluation, whole-body vibration, hand-arm vibration; designing to fit body posture; designing for movement and design of controls and displays.

        * Design Management and Marketing
          Main topics include: a brief history of marketing and design management thinking; definitions of marketing and design management; relationship and synergies required between designers and marketeers; differences between consumer and industrial markets; consumer role and influence; buying behaviour; market segmentation techniques, targeting and positioning; definition, role and difference between products and services in a marketing context; pricing strategies; distribution methods; role of branding and promotion; classical and leading contemporary market research techniques; implication and challenges of international marketing; case studies; project management principles, design process stages and quality control.

        * Cognitive Ergonomics in Design
          Main topics include: introduction to cognitive ergonomics; models of human performance; mental models; situation awareness; mental workload; stress; skill; automation; usability; human error; accidents.

        * Virtual Modelling in Design
          Main topics include: human body modelling; human motion simulation; ergonomics/biomechanics analysis using virtual human; application of digital human in product design.

        * Ergonomics Tools in the Design Process
          Main topics include: introduction to methods and techniques; human factors integration and the design life cycle; methodology for selecting ergonomics methods; validity, reliability and cost-benefit of methods; data collection techniques; data representation techniques (hierarchical task analysis, cognitive work analysis; data analysis techniques.

        * Inclusive Design
          Main topics include: introduction to inclusive design; principles of inclusive design; inclusive design process; user models, user capability data; basic user research methods; introduction to design exclusion; design exclusion audit; product assessment methods; case studies (product design, environmental design, communication design, transport design); design research methodology.

        * Design of Perception Enhancement Systems
          Main topics include: an introduction to perception enhancement systems; human sensory systems; vision; hearing; somatic perception; proprioception; psychophysics; sound loudness; sound quality; auditory communication; whole-body vibration; hand-arm vibration; audio mastering; hearing aids; auditory scene analysis; information theory and automotive perception enhancement systems.

        * Research Methodology and Innovation
          This element involves 3 key themes: Practical research issues; including research processes and strategies, researcher/supervisor roles and relationships, writing, communicating and disseminating research and principles of good research practice. Information retrieval and risk management; including risk analysis and decision support, financial indicators. Innovation; including brainstorming, value engineering and intellectual property protection.

        * Dissertation
          Enables students to apply the skills and knowledge acquired throughout the taught programme. Topics will be offered from internal or external (industrial) projects to provide students with experience of ‘live’ research. If an external project is chosen, a suitable industrial supervisor will also be identified.

    Special Features

        * Fundamental principles of human-centred design are blended with cutting-edge topics to give you a rounded knowledge base.

        * The programme focuses on giving you practical knowledge and applied skills, based on real case studies.

        * The course is taught by members of the HCDI, ensuring high quality teaching from leading researchers in the field.

        * There is a balanced programme of lectures and lab-based teaching across the modules giving you the chance to use state-of-the-art hardware and software.

        * Assessments are based on 'live' projects so you can gain experience of putting human-centred design into practice.

        * We enjoy good support from industry partners providing input on the programme as well as opportunities for project placements and career networking.

        * Puts you at the forefront of this burgeoning discipline to give you the best career prospects for the future.


    Assessment methods vary across the taught modules, with a split of exams, coursework and labs appropriate to the learning material. For the final dissertation, you will bring all your new knowledge and skills to bear on a real-world problem. Exceptional students may have the opportunity to take a work placement with one of our industrial partners for their dissertation project, subject to availability. In any case, your final submission will report on a 'live' project and, in keeping with the applied nature of the programme, will be presented either as an academic paper or a technical report, depending on your focus.

    It has a strong emphasis on practical outputs with industrial focus, and there will be opportunities for working with relevant industrial organisations on the dissertation project, including areas such as (but not limited to):

        * Transport ergonomics
        * Command and control
        * Augmented cognition
        * Inclusive design
        * Information architecture
        * Human factors integration

    Teaching Methods

    Our MSc has a strong emphasis on practical outputs with industrial focus, and so much of your teaching and assessment will be based on applied problems and case study material. You will be taught by leading experts from the HCDI based on their latest research findings, as well as occasional guest lecturers from industry on their current developments and projects. Teaching methods are matched to module content, so you will have a balanced programme of lectures, tutorials and lab-based learning across the course. The programme is designed to give you hands-on experience of the tools and techniques of human-centred designers.

    You will also have access to our well-equipped workshops so you can hone your skills on practical solutions. The workshops offer a wide range of facilities for machining metal, plastics and wood, while our model-making workshop is equipped with rapid prototyping machines and tools for making industrial models or aesthetic prototypes. Our state-of-the-art facilities include the BITLab and our Driving Simulator Lab – which now includes car and Train Simulators.


    Human-centred design is a burgeoning discipline with an associated growth in recognition and capability throughout industry. It is becoming increasingly important in our modern technological world, where maintaining health and safety, efficiency and satisfaction both at home and at work depends on designers and engineers knowing how to design systems and equipment around the capabilities and limitations of the human users. Consequently, training in this field is becoming more of a requirement for employers and employees. Because the Brunel MSc gives graduates real-world practical knowledge and transferable skills, you will have a head start in applying for positions, whether in industry, consultancy or academia.

    Opportunities are growing in the UK and around the world in a wide range of industrial careers across sectors such as aerospace, transport, government, defence, manufacturing, process control, and health and safety. Larger industrial organisations in these fields are all increasing their capability in human-centred design as a response to their business need, with employers including:

        * Network Rail
        * Rail Safety and Standards Board
        * London Underground Limited
        * Civil Aviation Authority
        * Transport Research Laboratory
        * Health and Safety Executive
        * Atkins
        * Qinetiq
        * AEA Technology
        * Defence Science and Technology Laboratories
        * Lockheed Martin
        * Aerosystems International

    To support this industrial focus, there has also been a rapid growth in consultancy services. There are currently 55 Ergonomics Society Registered Consultancies employing graduates in this field and offering a range of services to industry. Several of these (including Davis Associates and CCD Design & Ergonomics Ltd) have already expressed their support for this MSc. Academic opportunities are also on the rise, with programmes being sponsored by the research councils, defence contracts, government bodies and commercial organisations.

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