KV7002 - Human-Computer Interaction for Social Change

What will I learn on this module?

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a field of study focusing on the interaction between humans and computers. The way that social life is organised influences the computer interfaces that we design – HCI traditionally concerns itself with satisfying user needs and requirements based on our social interactions. But, technologies also change (sometimes fundamentally) the things that we do and how we do them in the course of our everyday lives. Sometimes this is deliberate and driven by opposing value systems, as in the case of the use of interactive technologies in supporting revolution, activism, citizen science for advocacy e.g. for social change. Sometimes new technologies enable and bring about new forms of living, working, or participation in civic society that disrupt existing ones, as with Uber, AMT, and social networking platforms like Twitter.

In this module you will specifically explore how to design, develop and evaluate technologies for social change, from a human-centred perspective.

Indicative topics that we will cover include (but are not limited to):

Principles of Human-Centred Design for interactive technologies
Understanding people, context, and social life: Theories, Social media, Instrumented environments
Mock-ups, Prototyping and User Interface tools and toolkits
Participatory design
Designing to provoke: Adversarial design, Critical design
Designing for the future: Speculative design, Design fiction
Interaction qualities and experiences: Slow technology, Designing for Non-use, Counterfunctional design
Evaluation techniques: Action research, Field studies, Usability labs (eye tracking)
Specific Application Areas: HCI and environmental sustainability, ICT for Development (ICT4D), The future of: Health, Work, Money, Digital Civics

How will I learn on this module?

Students will learn through weekly workshops which will combine lectures about key issues, topics and theories in HCI and Social Change, and hands-on practical skill learning and practice for doing HCI work. This will be accompanied by a group project in which they will respond to a provided brief to design and prototype an interactive artefact or experience for social change. Students will also complete a piece of substantial desk-based research and design work (written report) to motivate and understand a particular design context, and critically engage with academic HCI literature related to it.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support on the module will be provided by the module team, e.g:

o The designated Module tutor and associated teaching staff (faculty members – the module team) including practical class support from PhD students and Post-docs working in the area of Human-Computer Interaction. The module team, will provide support for students including answering student queries and providing guidance in relation to the module, including its assessment and the student’s academic progress. You can seek support in-class and can also request it outside of class time via appointment (see ‘Communication with staff’)

o Communication with staff – this is supported in a number of ways, including:
o Email – you will be to contact members of staff via email
o eLearning Portal (eLP) - this is used to providing you with specific information related to the module, such as copies of lecture and seminar handouts, assignment briefings, instructions, and announcements
o Appointments - members of staff operate an open-door policy.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Understanding human-centred design principles, approaches and techniques
2. Understanding design skills for social change
3. Understanding of specific application areas of contemporary HCI
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. Group development of an interactive artefact or environment to support social change

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Demonstrate critical engagement with research, including with research papers, articles etc.

How will I be assessed?

Coursework (100%):

Group project prototype and presentation/demo (40%) (MLO 1, 2, 4) [working to a brief, groups (of up to 8 members) will prototype and present an interactive technology and their documented design process to support some kind of ‘social change’ activity – depending on the brief set each year.]

Individual report (60%) (MLO 3,5) [1. A 2500 word report outling design documents generated from secondary research of a “social change” topic set each year. This will require desk-based research and individual design work, furthering understanding developed through the lecture material provided.]





Module abstract

This module explores the human-centred design of interactive technologies to support social change. You will learn about how to design, develop and evaluate interactive technologies which will have a positive impact on society and the world. Working in design teams you will learn a suite of skills to support the design of novel digital technologies and experiences, which will add to your portfolio of product development and provide a chance to work on a group project answering a brief on a timely topic related to social change. This module will allow you to learn from, and work with, researchers from NORTH Lab (Northumbria Technology for Humanity) Northumbria’s world-leading collective of Human-Computer Interaction researchers.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time

Department Computer and Information Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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