User Experience Design MSc

Why choose this course?

The aim of the User Experience Design MSc course is to equip you with the behavioural theory, design practice and technology know-how that is necessary for a career as interaction designer, usability engineer, user researcher, or head of user experience.

It focuses upon the analysis, design, prototyping and evaluation of multimedia, multi-modal, and multi-platform user interfaces that are easy to use and support a great user experience.

This course was developed in consultation with our industry panel, which includes Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, DreamWorks and Samsung Design Europe. Kingston University is an active member of TIGA, the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) and supports the User Experience Professionals' Association (UXPA UK).

This course was accredited by the British Computer Society (BCS), The Chartered Institute for IT in 2012.

2020/21 entry

If you are planning to join this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021), please view the information about changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19.

 

Continuing students

Students who are continuing their studies with Kingston University in 2020/21 should refer to their Course Handbook for information about specific changes that have been, or may be, made to their course or modules being delivered in 2020/21. Course Handbooks are located within the Canvas Course page.

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • This course prepares you for a career as an interaction designer, usability engineer, user researcher, or head of user experience.
  • You will graduate ready to present yourself to potential employers, with an online professional presence and a portfolio that showcases your skills.
  • You will use facilities such as a Tobii eye tracker, a Noldus FaceReader, Morae usability testing software, editing suites, moving-image studios and 3D workshops.

Why User Experience Design?

Philosophy and outlook

Online everything

Online services increasingly pervade all aspects of everyday life. User experience is recognised as a key element in the differentiation and success of these services – on the internet, customers must understand and enjoy, or they will go elsewhere.

The trend towards 'online everything, anytime, anywhere, anyhow' seems set to continue. New computing and communications technologies are in the pipeline, online businesses are growing, and digital content is accumulating.

Design for quality and innovation

This trend raises many professional challenges for user experience design, notably:

  1. how to guarantee that the routine steps of online life can be completed quickly and easily
  2. how to innovate and create genuinely novel experiences
  3. how to organise for distributed, collaborative projects, demonstrate the value of user experience design work, and how to operate within integrated, digital media agencies

Digital studio

We created the User Experience Design MSc to meet these challenges. The course provides:

  1. a project-based curriculum in a 'digital studio' environment
  2. opportunities for industry-based learning (start-up incubator projects, 'live'/externally hosted projects)
  3. the opportunity to tailor in-depth studies to suit your background, interests, and practice niche

Digital Media Kingston

To support delivery of the course, we created Digital Media Kingston. This collaboration between the School of Computing and Information Systems and the School of Design provides the multidisciplinary perspective needed to accommodate students with backgrounds in art and design, computer science and the humanities, and to fully address the range of user experience design issues.

Accreditation

The British Computer Society

The British Computer Society

The British Computer Society

The British Computer Society (BCS) accredits this course. This means that you can gain some exemption against BCS professional examinations, leading to Chartered membership and CEng, IEng or CSci status. For full details of exemption and accreditation levels, please check the BCS course search.

Please note: The programme delivered at our partner institution overseas is not currently accredited by the BCS. 

The Faculty is a long-time member of BCS. For many years we have hosted meetings of the local BCS Kingston and Croydon Branch, contributing to members' continuing professional development programmes.

What you will study

You will have the opportunity to:

  • take the role of a user experience (UX) designer/analyst in an interdisciplinary team of students from across the Digital Media Kingston programme, and use industry-standard techniques to deliver on time;
  • learn about fundamental User Experience activities - analysis, design, prototyping and evaluation - in the context of practical projects. Projects are selected in consultation with students (and mostly individually), so that you can tailor your degree towards the industry sector, technology or job role that suits your interests and ambitions;
  • consider user experience in relation to cutting-edge technologies (big screens, tablets, smart phones, context-aware embedded devices and multi-modal games console), current industry trends (big data, multi-channel services, digital lifestyles), and contemporary theory (cognition 'in the wild', usability vs experience);
  • explore at least one kind of specialist practice in depth, to further distinguish and focus your learning, and practice track record;
  • learn how to present yourself to potential employers through your online professional presence and portfolio; and
  • work with industrial hosts, and research-active academics to produce excellent, professional pieces of work that push the boundaries of current understanding and achieve design innovation.

Teaching on this course usually takes place in two separate specific week blocks (Monday to Friday 9am–5pm). For further details please contact secpgstudentoffice@kingston.ac.uk.

For a student to go on placement they are required to pass every module first time with no reassessments.

The course comprises four taught modules and a final project:

Semester 1

Semester 2

Optional placement year

Final project (June to September)

Core modules

Digital Studio Practice

30 credits

You will work with a multidisciplinary group of students as appropriate for your course (User Experience Design MSc, Game Development (Design) MA, Game Development (Programming) MSc and Computer Animation MA); involved with the digital media production process in response to a project brief developed in consultation with the industry panel and/or research staff. Projects concern contemporary platforms, such as iPhone, Android, Windows, Playstation, Xbox and Next Generation controllers and innovative input devices. You also develop a professional profile (online CV/portfolio) fitting for your role and intended destination which you maintain throughout the course.

  • Coursework: report, prototype, and presentation (group and individual)
  • Schedule: allow one weekday per week in the first semester
  • Staff: course staff
User Experience Design (Systems)

30 credits

This module focuses upon the usability testing, detailed design and prototyping of single-user interaction with data-intensive, web services and applications via the desk-top, particularly for information seeking and shopping. The emphasis is upon quantitative measurement for optimisation and efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.

  • Coursework: usability test report, prototype, presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately two one-week blocks in the first semester
  • Staff: Dr Martin Colbert
Media Specialist Practice

30 credits

This flexible module gives each you the chance to develop your unique interpretation of professional practice that captures your specific interests or niche within your course field.

  • Possible specialisms for User Experience Design include: information architecture, web prototyping (Javascript, HTML, CSS etc), mobile-user testing, remote user research, visual design, interaction design, content strategy, service design, branded Ux and information design.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Programming) include: tools and plug ins; pathfinding algorithms; graphics programming; physics; game server backends; traffic/flocking/crowd AI.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Design) include: concepts; mechanics; levels, narrative; gameplay; world and system design; interface and navigation; casual, serious and game studies.
  • Possible specialisms for Computer Animation include: storyboarding; character development; visual narrative; match moving; lighting; art; environments; levels and props; motion capture; rigging; particles, dynamics and fluids; tools and plug ins.
  • Coursework: design report, artefact (video, prototype, design documentation, or empirical data as appropriate), presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one weekday per week in the second semester
  • Staff: course staff
User Experience Design (Content)

30 credits

This module focuses upon user research, participatory design and prototyping for new interaction concepts, particularly those for multi-user or multi-modal interaction with media-rich information sources for personal and ubiquitous computing platforms. The emphasis is upon qualitative insight and creativity for user engagement and persuasion across the end-to-end user journey, particularly in mobile contexts.

  • Coursework: design report, prototype, presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one day a week in the second semester
  • Staff: Dr Martin Colbert
Digital Media Final Project

30 credits

This module relates the work of the course to a practical solution and demonstrates skills in defining, analysing and developing a substantial solution to an individually defined user experience design-related problem. You will be guided and supported in your choice of project by course tutors and this will be informed by individual career and personal development planning undertaken during the preparation of the proposal.

  • Assessment: Three kinds of project are possible – Practical Project and a 3–5,000-word report; Thesis 12–15,000-word report; and Management Project Report (10,000 words).
  • Schedule: allow approximately fortnightly supervisions for four months (or equivalent)
  • Staff: course staff

Core modules

User Experience Design (Content)

30 credits

This module focuses upon user research, participatory design and prototyping for new interaction concepts, particularly those for multi-user or multi-modal interaction with media-rich information sources for personal and ubiquitous computing platforms. The emphasis is upon qualitative insight and creativity for user engagement and persuasion across the end-to-end user journey, particularly in mobile contexts.

  • Coursework: design report, prototype, presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one day a week in the second semester
  • Staff: Dr Martin Colbert
Media Specialist Practice

30 credits

This flexible module gives each you the chance to develop your unique interpretation of professional practice that captures your specific interests or niche within your course field.

  • Possible specialisms for User Experience Design include: information architecture, web prototyping (Javascript, HTML, CSS etc), mobile-user testing, remote user research, visual design, interaction design, content strategy, service design, branded Ux and information design.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Programming) include: tools and plug ins; pathfinding algorithms; graphics programming; physics; game server backends; traffic/flocking/crowd AI.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Design) include: concepts; mechanics; levels, narrative; gameplay; world and system design; interface and navigation; casual, serious and game studies.
  • Possible specialisms for Computer Animation include: storyboarding; character development; visual narrative; match moving; lighting; art; environments; levels and props; motion capture; rigging; particles, dynamics and fluids; tools and plug ins.
  • Coursework: design report, artefact (video, prototype, design documentation, or empirical data as appropriate), presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one weekday per week in the second semester
  • Staff: course staff

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Tier 4 visa.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Core modules

Digital Media Final Project

30 credits

This module relates the work of the course to a practical solution and demonstrates skills in defining, analysing and developing a substantial solution to an individually defined user experience design-related problem. You will be guided and supported in your choice of project by course tutors and this will be informed by individual career and personal development planning undertaken during the preparation of the proposal.

  • Assessment: Three kinds of project are possible – Practical Project and a 3–5,000-word report; Thesis 12–15,000-word report; and Management Project Report (10,000 words).
  • Schedule: allow approximately fortnightly supervisions for four months (or equivalent)
  • Staff: course staff

 

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

You need a good honours degree (equivalent to 2:1 from a UK university) in art and design, computer science, or humanities. The most relevant undergraduate degrees are relevant to digital media – graphic design, communication design, interactive media, information technology – but also psychology, ethnography. The course attracts students with both BA and BSc degrees.

Possible weakness in the undergraduate degree may be compensated with relevant work experience, and other evidence that you are motivated and able to study at this level. This may be demonstrated both through qualifications and portfolios of work. If you have an online portfolio/PDF of design and digital work (and a description of your design process) we recommend this is included as a link in your personal statement.

Experience in digital media, user interface development and user interaction design is particularly valuable. Experience in an application domain (health care, business information, retail) is also relevant.

Exceptional applicants may have no first degree but more than five years working in information technology, the creative industries or humanities. In these circumstances, an online portfolio/PDF of design and digital work (and a description of your design process) should be included as a link in your personal statement.

International

In order to complete your programme successfully, it is important to have a good command of English and be able to apply this in an academic environment. Therefore, if you are a non-UK applicant* you will usually be required to provide certificated proof of English language competence before commencing your studies.

For this course you must pass IELTS academic test in English with an overall score of 6.5, with no element below 6.0, or meet the scores listed on the alternative online tests. Please note that we do not accept Standard XII as proof of Academic English.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements may be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

* Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Mock-ups, functional prototypes, demos, videos, presentations, design documents, essays.

All taught modules are project-based and assessed by practical coursework. Typically, this involves an in-class presentation for formative feedback mid-way through a teaching-block ('term'), followed by project deliverables at the end of term i.e. as appropriate, project proposals and strategies, personas, user journeys, task models, styleguides, low-fi/mid-fi/hi-fi prototypes, styleguides, and evaluation reports. Project deliverables are typically accompanied by a design report, which relates project processes and decision-making, and/or explains the final design.

In the majority of modules, the coursework topic and project strategy are selected by students, in consultation with module staff and in the light of the student's existing skills, portfolio and intended destination. In the digital studio practice module, students are assigned to a multi-disciplinary groups, and asked to respond to a set creative brief.

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Year 1: 16% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

Year 1

Year 1
  • Scheduled teaching: 290 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1510 hours

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Year 1

Year 1
  • Coursework: 100%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

­You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which provides dedicated academic guidance and advice as well as the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes, therefore you may be taught alongside postgraduates from other courses.

What this course offers you

These course features are intended to maintain academic standards and ease the transition from university study to commercial practice, whilst providing an enjoyable and stimulating experience that develops individuals holistically:

  • Project-based teaching and learning.
  • Talks on principles and methods, and guided practical workshops support the development of UX practice.
  • In-class presentations and workshops, and discussions encourage collaboration.
  • Coursework topics tailored to development of your portfolio and destination.
  • Balanced consideration of research, design, prototyping and evaluation in the context of project management.
  • A broad coverage of UX issues that covers mobile, desktop and other devices (Internet of Things).
  • User Performance and Experiential Criteria (from utility and efficiency to engagement, persuasion and brand perception).
  • Key topics of User Journeys, Design Thinking, Usability Testing.
  • Possibility of dovetailing study and work via externally hosted projects, placements and start-ups.
  • Whole-day or whole-week delivery eases scheduling for part-timers.

Who teaches this course?

About Digital Media Kingston

The User Experience Design MSc course is delivered by Digital Media Kingston.

Digital Media Kingston (DMK) is an interdisciplinary, collaborative project between the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, and School of Design at Kingston University. Its mission is to bring together creative expression, theoretical analysis, scientific rigour and technological innovation to underpin innovation and excellence in the computational arts.

The teaching element of the DMK project delivers a suite of four related courses: Computer Animation MA, Games Development (Design) MA, User Experience Design MSc, and Games Development (Programming) MSc. You will share the majority of your taught modules with students taking these digital media courses.

Postgraduate students may run or assist in lab sessions and may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Guest tutors and supervisors

User Experience is a practical subject, so what counts, is not just what you know, but also how you do it.  There is great diversity in Ux practice, and London is a great incubator for it.  So we are lucky to be able to invite a range of researchers, designers, product managers and mentors to lead tutorial groups, and to supervise your coursework projects.  Working with experienced practitioners is probably the best way of learning how to practice, and it keeps everyone in touch with real world demands and the professional community.

Alberto Ferreira   

Raida Shakiry   

Nadia Tosheva   

Mylene Petermann   

Makayla Lewis 

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MSc full time £9,200
  • MSc part time £5,060

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MSc full time £14,500
  • MSc part time £7,975

Home and European Union 2019/20

  • MSc full time £8,000
  • MSc part time £4,400

Overseas (not EU) 2019/20

  • MSc full time £14,100
  • MSc part time £7,755

Fees for the optional placement year

If you choose to take a placement as part of this course, you will be invoiced for the placement fee in Year 2. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme and the costs for the placement year.


Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Facilities – our modern teaching environment

Equipment

We have Morae usability testing software, a Tobii eye tracker, a Noldus face reader and can accommodate one-on-one usability tests, focus groups and observational studies of collaborative work in a variety of settings. A range of computing devices are also available – mobile phones, touch screens, very large monitors, etc. 

Morae captures, annotates and analyses a rich set of data quickly and conveniently. Sample heat maps reveal the focus of visual attention. Face reader quantifies the strength of user's response in terms of six facial expressions and look for correlations between expressions and other biometric data.

Research vehicle website

We operate a website for studying live web traffic (real online behaviour in context). 

Your own laptop

There are machines at the University that provide a way of completing the coursework. However there is no single standard toolbox for user experience.

Part of being an independent practitioner is knowing how you like to work, what tools you like to use and knowing how to push these tools to the limits. A good approach to the course is to 'mix and match' your own tools to suit the team/client/problem.

There are new tools released every month, so we encourage people to get hold of, and own/borrow their favourite kit and install it on their own machine. 

Media technology labs

A multimedia and graphics studio that houses 39 Pentium 4 PCs all with DVD writers and our full graphics software which includes Maya complete, Adobe Production Studio, Premiere Pro, Photoshop CS2, Illustrator, After Effects, Encore, Audition, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Combustion. 

Digital media workshops

The digital media workshops provide a wide range of software and specialist technical support in the key areas of CAD, 2D and 3D design, digital imaging and processing, high-quality photographic printing, audio and video production, mono and colour printing (up to A3+), and large format plotting (up to B0+).

All 132 computers in the digital media workshop are set up as dual boot workstations. This means that both the Windows XP and Macintosh OS X platforms are available on each machine. You are therefore able to choose the platform (PC or Mac) that you want to work with at any given time. 

Other technical resources that are available to students on the DMK suite of courses include: 

  • games development suite
  • gyroscopic inertial motion system
  • NTI vendor suite
  • digital photography labs
  • premier filming space
  • post-production suite
  • animation suite
  • sound recording suite

Examples of student work

Work from the User Experience Design (Systems) module

Usability test report

A local GP surgery website and PatientAccess.com were usability tested to see how quickly and easily patients can register for the NHS Electronic Prescription Service (EPS).

The test results showed that, whilst almost everyone was able to complete the registration page for EPS, only a third of participants understood what they needed to do to register in the first place, and after registration, only half understood which services were now available to them. The perceived ease of use of both sites was in the 'Unacceptable' range. If the top 10 redesign recommendations were implemented, the registration experience could be improved significantly.

Work from the Digital Studio Practice module

Game localisation

This project involved three students - an animator, a games designer and a user experience designer. The project brief was to show how multiple versions of the same game could be more appealing for different audiences - Asia, USA, Europe. The user experience student conducted the design research, project management, and obtained player feedback about the localised prototypes.

Game biometrics

This project involved three Ux students and two games design students. The project brief was to research, design, prototype and get feedback about the concept of a ‘biometrics dashboard' - software that integrated data from various physiological sensors attached to users (EEG, GSR, etc) and then displayed this data to games designers, so that they could more fully appreciate the player experience. The user experience designers created the prototype for their game designer ‘clients' and domain experts.

Work from the User Experience Design (Content) module

Here are some examples of projects undertaken as part of the User Experience Design (Content) module.

Presentation

An app that helps you take better pictures. With 91% of mobile users taking a photo at least once a month compared to 73% of digital camera owners, it's now accepted that smartphone pictures are equal or better than those from your point-and-shoot. Normally people use apps to edit their mistakes - how about an app which improves the photo during the process?

Prototype

This prototype knows the user's intended destination. It serves as the user's ticket, letting the user in and out of stations, guiding them around the tube system, prompting them when to get on and off, and bills their account.

Work from the Media Specialist Practice module

Case study of Contextual Inquiry: a gift app for small groups

This coursework researched Karen Holzblatt's ‘Contextual Inquiry' method (an approach to interviewing informed by ethnography), and then used the method to analyse a gift selection app for small groups.

Styleguide for data tables

This coursework researched the design of various user interface components, and showed how these components can be combined to create an easy to use data table.

Work from the Digital Media Final Project module

Here you can see some examples of final projects undertaken on this course.

A diary study and redesign of Fitbit app sleep monitor

Four volunteers were asked to use the Fitbit wristband to monitor their physical activity for a five-week period, and to record the way they used Fitbit in a diary.

The diaries identified various barriers to the adoption of Fitbit, and its sleep functions in particular. Consequently, the Fitbit sleep monitoring app was redesigned to be more intuitive, and more supportive of informed intervention.

Responsive design

Modern websites must display well on screens of all sizes. This ‘Body of Work' project developed a prototype online photo gallery using Adobe Fireworks, TAP engine and the Dolphin browser. The prototype was then evaluated on 7" Android devices in a naturalistic setting. The key visual design challenge was to provide intuitive navigation to high impact content and a compact layout.

Usability testing

This 'Dissertation' project was keen to go 'beyond human-computer interaction' and so conducted a detailed study of the usability, credibility and persuasiveness of a travel website. This clip, recorded on our old analogue equipment, shows an interaction which could cause a user to abandon the site:

Recorded on our previous analogue kit. Usability testing is also covered on the User Design (Systems) module.

This experiment looks at user requirements of a mobile wardrobe:

Mobile interaction is also covered on the User Experience (Content) module

Optimisation for conversion

This project applied a user-centered process to a design agency's web pages. The redesign highlighted calls to action, displayed important options visually, and removed unnecessary text. Information seeking became easier and conversions increased significantly.

The work brings together persuasive design (User Experience Design (Content) module), with user-centered evaluation (User Experience Design (Systems) module) with traffic studies and web analytics (Media Specialist Practice module).
Usability test of interactive seating plans (from CIM506 Usability Engineering 2008/09)

A student compared part of an existing website with a prototype of its replacement

The design of interactive seating plans is critical to the success of website selling tickets. Proposed designs are often tested on a selected audience before being released to the public at large.

Working with a major ticketing website, a student tested two versions of an interactive seating plan with users from different European countries, and compared the results. The use of pop-up windows, the representation of seating options, and the means of navigating around the arena, all turn out to have important impacts upon ease of use and user preferences.

Interactive Seating Plan (copyright Ticketmaster)

Philosophy and outlook

Online everything

Online services increasingly pervade all aspects of everyday life. User experience is recognised as a key element in the differentiation and success of these services - on the internet, customers must understand and enjoy, or they will go elsewhere.

The trend towards 'online everything, anytime, anywhere, anyhow' seems set to continue. New computing and communications technologies are in the pipeline, online businesses are growing, and digital content is accumulating.

Design for quality and innovation

This trend raises many professional challenges for user experience design, notably:

  • how to guarantee that the routine steps of online life can be completed quickly and easily;
  • how to innovate and create genuinely novel experiences; and
  • how to organise for distributed, collaborative projects, demonstrate the value of user experience design work, and how to operate within integrated, digital media agencies.

Digital studio

We created the User Experience Design MSc to meet these challenges. The course provides:

a project-based curriculum in a 'digital studio' environment;
opportunities for industry-based learning (start-up incubator projects, 'live'/externally hosted projects); and
the oportunity to tailor in-depth studies to suit your background, interests, and practice niche.

Digital Media Kingston

To support delivery of the course, we created Digital Media Kingston. This collaboration between the School of Computing and Information Systems and the School of Design provides the multidisciplinary perspective needed to accommodate students with backgrounds in art and design, computer science and the humanities, and to fully address the range of user experience design issues.

After you graduate

Graduate destinations

Graduates of this course now work in roles such as user experience designer, user experience researcher, product owner, usability consultant, interaction designer, and information architect and content strategist.

Some work in-house, at companies such as John Lewis, Aviva, IBM, E-Bay, BSkyB, RAC, Thomas Cook, BBC) in UK and around the world at Google (USA), Symantec, Microsoft and TPVision (India). Others work for agencies such as Systems Concepts, weare:London, AIA Worldwide, Amaro, Wilson Fletcher  and UI Centric, in the UK, and around the world at MediaEngine (Italy), Oxx (Norway) and Thoughtworks (Johannesburg).

Graduates increasingly find employment within UK Government, public sector and charities (Dept Work & Pensions, Ministry of Justice).

You can find out even more (actual employers, career paths, in-demand skills) by asking to join the User Experience course Linkedin group. The group is open to anyone interested in UX careers.

When does teaching take place?

This course is offered one-year full time, and normally two to three years part time. The full MSc course consists of an induction day, four taught modules, and final project (which is equivalent to two modules).

Three of four taught modules run as one whole day per week during each semester, while the User Experience Design (Systems) module is offered as two one-week blocks, several weeks apart. Normally, each module will include approximately 70 hours contact time, with prior-reading and followed by directed learning. A further approximately 230 hours per module is expected for self-guided study and coursework.

The course is structured to suit all student groups, with block teaching allowing part-time students to study whilst meeting other commitments, and overseas students are also able to complete their degree within visa limitations.

Full-time study

Full-time students starting in January encounter two differences in the course:

  • The spring semester modules (User Experience Design (Content) and Media Specialist Practice) are taken before autumn semester modules (User Experience Design (Systems) and Digital Studio Practice). The key need here is to identify a specialist field of interest relatively soon in the course - the undergraduate degree title is often helpful here.
  • The Final Major Project begins in May/June ie earlier relative to the course. January start full-time students need to identify a specialist field of interest relatively soon - the undergraduate degree title, and the topic selected for MSP are often helpful here. (Hand-in remains at the end of the course ie January)

So full-time students starting in January may specialise sooner, and for longer. However, given the way we manage the course, any difference is not that important, especially given the student's opportunity to influence their assignment topic. For part-time students, and students with work experience, any difference is even less important.

Part-time study

Part-time students will normally complete the four taught modules in the following order:

  • Year 1: User Experience Design (Systems) and User Experience Design (Content).
  • Year 2: Digital Studio Practice, and Media Specialist Practice, followed by the Final Major Project.

This way, a general, technical comprehension of grounding in the field is established first, before undertaking user experience roles in group work, or exploring specialisms in-depth. However, modules may be taken in any order.

Some part-time students complete the final project at the end of the second year but it is also possible to spread the work out until January or September in a third year.

Graduate destinations

Graduates of this course now work in roles such as user experience designer, user experience researcher, product owner, usability consultant, interaction designer, and information architect and content strategist. Some work in-house, at companies such as John Lewis, Aviva, IBM, E-Bay, BSkyB, RAC, Thomas Cook, BBC) in UK and around the world at Google (USA), Symantec, Microsoft and TPVision (India). Others work for agencies such as Systems Concepts, weare:London, AIA Worldwide, Amaro, Wilson Fletcher and UI Centric, in the UK, and around the world at MediaEngine (Italy), Oxx (Norway) and Thoughtworks (Johannesburg). Graduates increasingly find employment within UK Government, public sector and charities (Dept Work & Pensions, Ministry of Justice).You can see what previous students are up to now, and how they got there, by looking at some of their personal websites and portfolios:

One digital media agency produced this report on the prospects for User Experience in 2018.

You can find out even more (actual employers, career paths, in-demand skills) by asking to join the User Experience course Linkedin group. The group is open to anyone interested in UX careers.

Changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19

Changes detailed here are for students joining this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021).

Course information (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Composition of the course

We do not anticipate making any changes to the composition of the course, i.e. the number of modules or credits in a year for part-time postgraduate courses, as a result of the pandemic.

In order to safeguard our students' health and safety and to minimise the risk of disruption to their studies, the University has postponed all Study Abroad programmes for outgoing students in the first teaching block of 2020/21 (from September 2020 to December 2020). The University will review this decision before the second teaching block and will take into account relevant government advice at that time.

Changes can be made to courses as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to the composition of the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Modules

We do not anticipate making any changes to module titles and summaries or to the availability of modules as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to modules as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to module titles and/or availability of modules will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Length of course

We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through and graduate from the course without delay.

In exceptional circumstances the sequence of learning and teaching activities may be changed, e.g. re-sequencing those modules that can be delivered more effectively under the current restrictions with those which would be more difficult to deliver, such as practical modules and placements.

Entry requirements (changes for 2020/21 entry)

We have not changed entry requirements as a result of the pandemic. However, the range of accepted alternatives have increased as has the way in which we select students, which now includes virtual interviews and online portfolios.

Entry requirements for international students

We have not changed entry requirements for international students as a result of the pandemic. However, in response to the pandemic, we now accept a much broader list of English language exams for entry to the course; the level of these exams remain the same.

Teaching (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes to the way the course will be delivered

Due to the current pandemic the course's teaching and learning activities will be delivered through both online and on-campus methods (blended learning) in 2020/21. In order to provide all students with a comparable on-campus experience, the University has committed to ensuring that all courses provide at least 30% of their teaching and learning activities on-campus.

While physical distancing measures remain in place, you will receive your learning and teaching via a blend of on-campus and on-line activities. Should your circumstances prevent your attendance at on-campus sessions, you will still be able to engage with your course in a way that allows you to progress. Where this is not possible, support will be available to consider what options are open to you.

Computer lab workshops and tutorials will be delivered through both on-campus teaching and as virtual online activities to meet the same learning outcomes in a socially-distanced manner, with no change in the total hours of delivery.

Changes to teaching in the event of a further lockdown or adjustments in government advice

The University will continue to closely monitor government announcements and advice in relation to the current pandemic and, where required, will take any necessary action in order to comply with such advice.

In the event that a further lockdown is enforced the University will aim to deliver the course fully online. This may require some additional changes being made to planned teaching and learning activities, including assessments. The majority of our courses are prepared to be delivered fully online if the situation requires it. Where the quality of the student experience may be compromised significantly, or the course is unable to be delivered fully online, the University may need to suspend the delivery of that course until a time that it can be delivered appropriately. Students will be supported in these situations to ensure they are able to make the right choices for their particular circumstances.

In the event that the current social distancing restrictions are fully lifted and the University is able to resume normal delivery of teaching and learning activities, courses will assess whether it is in the students' interest to resume normal delivery. In some cases it may be better to continue and complete modules under the planned blended delivery mode.

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for Year 1

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours will not be made as a result of the pandemic. However, it is possible that some adjustments might be made at module level, e.g. a few more scheduled activities, in order to help ensure student engagement with blended learning.

Any changes made to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

'Scheduled teaching' includes teaching that is online either live or recorded / on demand.

Timetable

Your individualised timetable for teaching block 1 (i.e. from September 2020 to December 2020) should be available by the end of August 2020. Timetables for teaching block 2 (i.e. from January 2021) will not be available until the autumn. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9am and 9pm. To accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing, we will need to maximise the time available for teaching. This means, we may have to use Wednesday afternoons and enrichment week for additional teaching slots. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.

Class sizes

On-campus teaching may involve smaller class sizes in line with social distance requirements.

Assessment (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes can be made to modules, including how they are assessed, as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our modules up to date with current developments in that subject area. Due to the current restrictions in place, i.e. social distancing, it is anticipated that many formal on-campus examinations, including practical examinations, will be replaced with alternative assessments which can be completed online. These changes will be considered and approved through the University's processes to ensure that student assessments will be able to demonstrate they have achieved the expected learning outcomes. The approval process will also assess whether the change impacts the status of any professional body accreditation the course benefits from.

Any changes to the overall methods of assessment for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Staff (changes for 2020/21 entry)

No changes are expected to the general level of experience or status of staff involved in delivering the course.

As a result of the social distancing restrictions in place, on-campus teaching activities may need to be split into smaller groups which may require the support of teaching assistants and student mentors, who will be managed by experienced staff.

Fees, funding and additional costs (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Tuition fees

There will be no changes to published tuition fees for 2020/21.

Additional costs (e.g. field trips, materials, equipment, etc.)

As a result of the blended delivery of courses in 2020/21, where a significant proportion of the teaching will be done online, students will need a personal laptop or computer and access to the internet to participate in online teaching and learning activities. Students who are able to travel will have access to computers on campus, however, it should be noted that access to on-campus facilities will be restricted due to social distancing requirements.

The University is considering how best to provide support to students who do not have access to suitable hardware and software requirements and access to the internet. Identifying students who require this type of support is an important milestone for the University in our journey to ensure equity of access while we continue to deliver our blended approach. Information about the support that will be available will be provided to students during the induction period.

Funding

There will be no changes to any existing University funding arrangements for 2020/21. Currently there are no indications from the UK government that there will be any changes to government funding arrangements.

Fees and funding for international students

There will be no changes to published tuition fees or funding arrangements specifically relating to international students for 2020/21.

Work placements and field trips (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Placements (including work and clinical placements) and field trips included as part of the course will go ahead as planned. However, to ensure students are able to gain maximum value from these activities, it may be necessary to reschedule them to later in the year when current restrictions have been lifted. We acknowledge that this year it may be more difficult for students to secure appropriate placements. In those situations, students will be guided and supported through the various options that will be available to them, including switching courses or interrupting their studies until a time when they can complete their placement.

Any proposed changes to placements or field trips would go through University's agreed processes where the impact of the change will be carefully considered. Students will be advised of any changes that may become necessary and appropriate support will be available to students to guide them through the various options that may be available to them.

In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our students, the University will ensure that appropriate risk assessments are made before students are sent on a placement.

Courses which require placements or field trips to be completed in order to pass relevant modules will have contingency plans in place in the event that a placement or field trip cannot be completed due to another lockdown or more stringent social distancing measures.

Voluntary placements or field trips may be rescheduled, or, as a last resort, cancelled if it becomes difficult to deliver them and doing so is in the interest of the health and safety of our staff and students.

Award, qualification and accreditation (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Qualification

No changes will be made to the qualification awarded, e.g. MSc, as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to courses, including the qualification awarded (although very rare), as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area. Any changes made to the qualification awarded for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Additional (changes for 2020/21 entry)

International students

International students should maintain awareness of the UK government's and their home country's government advice on possible travel restrictions. The University will closely monitor advice and guidance published by the UK government and assess its impact on our international students. Appropriate advice and guidance will be provided as and when required.

Students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities

The University will ensure students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities are able to effectively engage with their studies remotely. For certain courses an inability to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities may not be in the students best interest, as it may impede their chances of succeeding in the course or lead to them receiving a poor learning experience. In such cases students will be advised and guided through the various options available to them, such as deferring their studies until they can engage fully with the course.