Course syllabus

Semester 1, 2019

15 Points

Prerequisites and Restrictions

Prerequisites: COMPSCI 230 or SOFTENG 206

Restrictions: COMPSCI 370, SOFTENG 350

Course Description

Welcome to Human Computer Interaction (HCI). For computer users the interface 'is' the system and for the 'average' system over half the code is entirely about managing the user interaction. This makes HCI an important area of study and research within Computer Science. As you will find during the course, HCI encompasses everything from designing a simple web page like this to developing Virtual Reality environments! We often combine knowledge from psychology, design and computer science.

The course emphasizes two complementary competencies of HCI: the ability to design a usable interface and the ability to evaluate the usability of a user interface. There are three substantive assignments that match key practical competencies for evaluation and design: (1) a human-centred design specification; (2) a detailed design assignment (including paper prototyping and an HTML prototype); and (3) usability evaluation. As part of a workbook, there are also various small assessment items including in-class quizzes and worksheets. In addition, the course includes theory elements to add depth to your evaluation and design capabilities: e.g. regarding use of colour and sound in interaction, specific topics like gamification and accessibility, and emerging interaction technologies. We have a  guest lecture each semester to offer broader perspectives.

Staff Involved in the Course

Course coordinator: Danielle Lottridge,, Ext. 85212, Room: 303.525,


Weeks 1-4: Paul Ralph,, Ext: 88867, Room: 303.494,

Weeks 5-7: Gerald Weber,, Ext: 88114, Room 303.527,

Weeks 8-12: Danielle Lottridge. Office hours: Wednesdays 4-4:50pm in my office 303.525.


Weeks 2-4: Marylyn Alex  ‎(

Weeks 5-8: Thomas Suselo ‎(

Weeks 9-11: Elliott Wen (



  • Mon 4:00PM - 5:00PM, 109-B28 (General Library, Room B28)
  • Wed 5:00PM - 6:00PM, 109-B28 (General Library, Room B28)
  • Fri 12:00PM - 1:00PM, 260-115 (Owen G Glenn, Room 115)

Labs/Tutorials (note: these are listed as 'labs' but we will often refer to them as tutorial - each session has substantively the same material).  All sessions are one hour in length. See below for times and locations.

  • Mon 9:00AM, 303S-B75, B09
  • Mon 10:00AM, 303S-B75, B03
  • Mon 11:00AM, 303S-B75, B08
  • Mon 3:00PM, 303S-G75, B06
  • Mon 5:00PM, 303S-B75, B01 & B10 (which was previously in G75)
  • Tues 10:00AM, 303S-G75, B14
  • Wed 12:00PM, 303S-B75, B05
  • Wed 1:00PM, 302-180, B07
  • Thur 8:00AM, 303S-B75, B04
  • Thur 9:00AM, 303S-B75, B12
  • Thur 10:00AM, 303S-G75, B13
  • Fri 9:00AM, 303S-B75, B11
  • Fri 11:00AM, 303S-G75, B02

Course Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course a student will have the ability to:

  • Evaluate a user interface, including heuristic evaluation, modeling and designing test plans for evaluation with human subjects
  • Design and prototype a user interface fit to the intended users, including conceptual design, low-fidelity prototyping, layout and grouping, HTML prototyping, colour, border design and font selection
  • Understand key HCI concepts, including role of memory and sound, emerging interaction technologies, data visualisation and gamification 

Course Schedule (tentative - check reading list for updates)

Week Monday Wednesday Friday Tutorial
1 Introduction Theory of design Understanding and assessing success No tutorial
2 Interviewing Stakeholder mapping Persona modeling Interviews
3 Current events Affinity mapping Sketching & creativity techniques Affinity mapping
4 Managing the backlog Human-centred Design Design principles & memory A1 clinic
5 Visual perception Aesthetics, patterns and standards


Paper prototyping
6 Lines and borders Text Colour HTML/CSS 
7 Forms and controls Sound Accessibility DHTML/Javascript
8 Affective design Material design Design for mobile A2 clinic
9 Interface usability Heuristic evaluation Usability testing 1 Usability protocols
10 Usability testing 2 Usability analysis UX guest  JASP
11 Experiments 1 Experiments 2 HCI/UX in industry A3 clinic
12 Queen's Birthday Future of HCI Course review No tutorial


Requirements for Passing: A pass in both practical (the assignments and workbook) and theory (exam) is required to pass this paper. The pass thresholds are determined empirically once all marks are in.

Assignments: There are 3 assignments, worth 10% each of the course marks:

  • Assignment 1: Human-centred design specification - in groups of 5
  • Assignment 2: Low-fidelity and high-fidelity design - in groups of 5
  • Assignment 3: Usability evaluation - in groups of 5

Workbook: 20% of course marks, including 5 quizzes worth 1.5% each. Students will be supplied with a workbook that they are expected to bring to each lecture. Each class will include an individual or group assignment (e.g. sketching, problem solving, quizzes on readings) which are completed directly within the workbook. The workbook will be collected and marked twice during the semester: during mid-semester break and at the end of semester. Quizzes will be torn out and handed in after completion. There are 1-2 pages of activities per lecture. Because quizzes may be given in any class, and most activities are designed to be completed in groups, with the instructor's guidance, attendance is required. Two blank activities over the semester will be forgiven. Students who miss classes are responsible to recover as much of what they missed as possible from their classmates.

Exam: 50% of course marks. Closed-book 2-hour multiple-choice, during semester exam period.

Note: to maintain the value of our degrees, it is vital that plagiarism is not tolerated. Review about Academic Integrity at the University of Auckland.

Our tutors/markers are all PhD students who are extremely qualified to mark. Requests to negotiate marks will not be tolerated.


There are a number of places where you can seek assistance with your learning.

Office Hours

The lecturing and tutoring staff are happy to meet with you - send us an email to arrange a time.  For any question related to course content consider using the piazza discussion (see below). This is a large class and most likely many other students will also have the a similar question and be happy to see our answer.

Lecture Recordings

Lectures may or may not be recorded.  If they are recorded, there may be a delay of 1-2 days before the lecture recordings are distributed through Canvas.  You can find links to the lecture recordings on Canvas.  Note that some learning activities conducted in class do not translate well to the recordings, and may or may not be recorded.  To maximise your learning opportunities, you are encouraged to attend the class in person.

Discussion Forum

We will set up a piazza discussion forum with topics for each of the three assignments, workbook, exam and general. On past experience, these can be quite active and provide a lot of useful interchange between lecturers, tutors and students. Please make use of the forums to ask any questions that you think might be of interest to other students.  If your question is of a personal nature, or relates to a unique situation that will be of little interest to others, then please contact the teaching staff directly.


No required textbook. See readings list


You should attend one lab session each week. These computer-lab based tutorials are presented by a tutor with a strong knowledge of HCI. The tutorial topics reinforce skills from lecture, particularly those critical to successful completion of the assignments. You do not need to be in the same room as your assignment group mates.

The tutors are there to be your first port of call to discuss the assignment expectations. Please ask questions during the tutorial session - other students probably have the same or similar questions, too! You can also talk to the tutor after the session (but understand sometimes they're headed to the next tutorial session or to another meeting in their schedule). They will also answer questions by email, and can be contacted by email to set up a face-to-face meeting.

Note: necessary material for assignments is delivered well in advance of assignment due dates. Start on your assignments early so you have time to ask questions informed by your first attempts - don't expect to have the tutor's undivided attention the day before the assignment is due!

Student Rep

Your student rep is elected from among the enrolled students and is there for you to voice a concern or complaint that you are not personally comfortable to take to the teaching staff directly.

Rep for this course: Alexandra Fowler <>

Help with Canvas

For help with Canvas see:

Course summary:

Date Details