Interaction design and technologies, MSc

120 credits (2 years)

In this master's programme, you will learn how to design interactive applications and services with an equal focus on design and technology. 
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Interaction design and technologies​ master's programme at Chalmers

More and more of human life is going to take place online with digital applications – from professional collaboration and shopping to staying in touch with friends and entertainment. This programme will give you the opportunity to play a vital part in building all these applications services. 

The collaboration between humans and machines needs to be even more efficient and effective in the future, therefore the interface needs to have a high degree of usability. It is no longer enough to build a system, product or application that is only functional or efficient; there is an increasing demand for products that are not only efficient but also consider human factors, such as being ethical, sustainable, accessible, as well as pleasurable to handle and use or even fun or intriguing. The experience might also be challenging, frustrating, and provocative, for example when you design a computer game. Therefore, interaction designers will often work with designing the user experience. 



Interaction between humans and machines

The master's programme is intended for anyone with a keen interest in the interaction between humans and technology. This means that the programme attracts students from different educational backgrounds – from computer science and software engineering to design (in its many forms) and cognitive science. 

The technology we and our students work with are both well-established such as desktop computers and smartphones, but also new and innovative technologies such as dialogue interfaces, robots, virtual agents and virtual reality. Our students have to be highly skilled in building today's interfaces, but also be prepared to take part in the development of future ways of interacting with computers. The majority of the projects our students work with are software-based, but there are also a number of courses and projects that involve tangible interfaces and physical prototypes built in our maker space design studio. Our students work with many different tools, from post-its, cardboard and wood to electronics, 3D printers and laser-cutters.

We have several game-development related courses, led by prominent researchers in the field. There are good opportunities for game interested students to collaborate with game companies or with students who study game design at Gothenburg university. 

Topics covered

The subjects of design, technology, ethics, and user behaviour are fundamental areas in the Interaction design and technologies master’s programme. The courses included in the programme plan handle topics such as design processes and prototyping, human-centred design, interactive simulations, visualization, interactive art, and game development.

Master's programme structure

The master's programme runs for a duration of two years, leading to a Master of Science (MSc) degree. During each year, students can earn 60 credits (ECTS) and complete the programme by accumulating a total of 120 credits. Credits are earned by completing courses where each course is usually 7.5 credits. The programme consists of Compulsory courses, Compulsory elective courses and Elective courses.

Compulsory courses year 1

During the first year the programme starts with three compulsory courses that form a common foundation in Interaction design and technologies. Each course is usually 7.5 credits. 

Compulsory courses year 2

In the second year you complete a master's thesis in order to graduate. The thesis may be worth 30 credits or 60 credits depending on your choice. You also take the compulsory capstone course Interaction Design Project.

Compulsory elective courses 

Through compulsory elective courses, you can then specialize in one of the profile tracks, or a combination thereof. You must select four out of these compulsory elective courses.

Profile: Interaction design focused on tangible interaction

  • Tangible interaction
  • Human-centred design 

Profile: Interaction design focused on user interface design and information visualization

  • Computer graphics
  • Information visualization
  • Human-centred design
  • Mobile computing

Profile: Interaction design focused on entertainment games and social media

  • Gameplay design
  • Designing user experiences
  • Human-centred design​
  • Mobile computing

Profile: Game development focused on gameplay design and interaction design

  • ​Computer graphics
  • Game engine architecture
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Mobile computing
  • Gameplay design

Elective courses 

Beyond the compulsory elective courses, you also will take a few elective courses. You are very free to choose these courses; it can either be our own elective courses, or other courses from other departments or even other universities.


Studio facilities

We have two studio environments for our students. The Kuggen Studio is a maker space for our students, where you will have 24/7-access. This is where we have group work, workshops, labs and so on, and we have a wood workshop, a laser cutter, 3d printers, an electronics workshop, and more. Our students also have access to the research lab Kuggen Medialab. This is a studio built and equipped for user testing, audio recording, movie recording, 3d modelling, and virtual reality development. We have a green screen, camera equipment, a large collection of VR headsets, and other equipment for all sorts of media productions.

Career

As an interaction designer, you can work in any industry and any company or other organization that develops digital applications, systems, or machines that interact with a human. Interaction designers can be found in any software company, as well as in the game industry, or in companies that combine hardware and software in products such as cars, kitchen equipment and smartphones. Other key areas include web design, information visualization, artistic applications such as interactive installations and live performances, and design of online services such as webshops and online banking.

Large companies such as Volvo, ABB, Google, and Microsoft are of course a place where you often find interaction designers (or UX designers which is a popular title at the moment), but you can also find work at non-profit organizations or governmental institutions. Other potential employers are start-up companies or smaller companies developing new and innovative solutions, for example in the gaming industry or in virtual reality providers. You can also work as an engineer and designer in interactive art projects and performances.​​​

​Research within Interaction design at Chalmers

The programme is offered by the Division of Interaction design at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Chalmers. The teachers are also researchers, working in areas such as tangible interaction, game design, innovative user interfaces, artificial intelligence for music and arts, virtual reality and the use of IT in vehicles.

Here are some examples of our many research projects:

  • ​Social drones – How can humans and airborne drones co-exist, and communicate with each other?
  • VR for learning about air quality – In the CityAirSim project we have developed new methods to calculate how vegetation affects air quality in the city streets, and then we visualize the result in virtual reality to teach students how to plan for future cities.
  • Artistic research – Machine learning and artificial intelligence for music and arts.

Both in our research and our teaching with have close collaboration with industry and other organizations in society, ranging from small local start-up companies to large companies such as Volvo and ABB. We often bring in our alumni or other professionals as guest lecturers or guest critics, and both in the master thesis project and other project courses the students work with companies acting as external clients. It is also common for our students to collaborate with other organizations that play very important roles in our society, such as Amnesty or the Swedish children's rights organisation Bris.

Department of Computer Science and Engineering​​​​​​​​​

​Sustainable development

The programme is in different ways teaching and encouraging the students to work towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDGs)​. The table below provides an overview of the sustainable development goals and the associated targets. within the programme.
SDGs for Interaction design at Chalmers

Goal 3: Good health and well-being
There is a continuous debate in society concerning the dangers of digital products; such as the surveillance capitalism of social media platforms, potential addiction to games, and how toxic online communities affect the mental well-being of the user. Often these fears are misunderstood or exaggerated, but nevertheless, professional interaction designers must have deep ethical insights and knowledge to be able to work with these issues. There are also potential health benefits associated with interaction design, ranging from supporting users with disabilities to enabling fitness training in virtual reality.

Goal 13: Climate action
Digital applications can in many ways promote and support climate actions. Information visualization can help consumers make more sustainable purchasing decisions or help city planners to engage future projects with the public in a democratic and inclusive manner. The urgent need to decrease travel – especially air travel – is being mitigated by tools for remote collaboration, and there is big potential in for example using virtual reality and augmented reality for future online meetings.

Student interview

“We learn to design the best possible solution
Santosh, USA, Interaction design and technologies

Why did you choose this programme?
– By trade, I am a mechanical engineer with a heavy emphasis on aerospace engineering. There has always been a designer side of me that I felt was underutilized. During my bachelors, I did a minor in Industrial design where my university allowed students to take five additional classes outside the original curriculum as a way to explore other disciplines. I fell in love with design as a career and have been slowly working my way to finding the perfect balance between design and engineering ever since. Interaction design and technologies at Chalmers is a great complementary track in design where many different types of disciplines work together to design the best possible solution for users based on particular problems. As an engineer, I bring problem-solving skills to the design field while design helps me refine them with more lenses such as empathy and study human behaviours on a deeper level.

What have you been working on?
– My favorite so far has been Prototyping for Interaction design. In this class, a team of students from various backgrounds finds a problem to concentrate on for a final project. Our team was given a design prompt from the instructors and we as students are entirely responsible for understanding our users, conducting interviews, prototype initial ideas, integrating basic electronics, and presenting a final demo. We chose to design a solution around the topic of Wellbeing and specifically breathing techniques for stress relief. It was great collaborating with others and seeing the problem from various angles knowing that there is always room for improvement. Also, the course offers more reading resources that are optional, rather than mandatory, so it’s up to the student’s motivation to make the best of the course and spark their intrigue.

What do you like the most about your programme?
– So far, I have been exposed to a wide variety of specializations that are possible with the programme. In the upcoming quartiles, I hope to narrow down my focus to information design or data visualization as my chosen track or specialization. The common theme is that the programme is heavily user-centered design-driven. So, the classes are geared towards alleviating problems for users and their needs in some shape or form.

What do you want to do in the future?
– I have had some experience working in my home country (USA) but I want to explore the work culture here in Sweden as well. Finding a good company that fits my existing technical background along with values in sustainable design is the key. Just need to look for the right lock!

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Page manager Published: Mon 17 Oct 2022.