Interaction Design - BDes (Hons)
Want to build the next Instagram or Snapchat? Join Interaction Design to create the next generation of apps, websites and digital experiences.Take a look
- Deloitte Digital
- Web Designer
- App Designer
- UX Designer
- UI Designer
- Interaction Designer
- Digital Product Designer
- Front End Designer
In this section
Want to build the next Instagram or Snapchat? Join Interaction Design to create the next generation of apps, websites and digital experiences.
Interaction design is all around us: it’s in the digital tools we use everyday; it’s on the web, it’s off the web; it’s at the tips of our fingers, it’s in our pockets; in short, it’s everywhere. Interaction design is about shaping digital things for people’s use.
This design-centred course is aimed at those who aspire for a career as an interaction designer, helping to shape the digital landscape we all, increasingly, live in. The course equips you with the skills you need to meet the challenges of an industry that’s changing rapidly and which offers exciting international career opportunities.
The emergence of devices like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Amazon Echo have – in a very short space of time – revolutionised how we interact with and consume content. Tools like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are changing our behaviour. We browse web sites whilst watching television, or standing in a bus queue. Interaction designers shape these experiences.
In the last few years the need for a new kind of designer has emerged, a designer with the skills and thinking required to design for these new platforms and for platforms that have yet to be conceived.
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A globally recognised hub of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurshipWatch the video
About this course
In this section
Students work both individually and collaboratively in a dynamic studio environment designed to provide you with the skills required to work within a rapidly growing global industry.
With an emphasis on design, the first year equips you with a solid understanding of communication design fundamentals, both on-screen and, importantly, off-screen. Projects include paper-based interaction design exercises; an introduction to the fundamentals of HTML and CSS; an overview of data and imagery and their role in communication; and an exploration of identity and the psychology of branding, which enables you to develop your own, professional online presence.
Year two focuses on narrative and how we tell stories. It introduces further technical skills required to build exciting applications. The second year also has a strong entrepreneurial focus, designed to introduce you to the realities of business and equip you with the skills and thinking needed to develop and sell your own digital products.
In the final year of the course, the emphasis shifts towards self-directed study through the creation of a substantial portfolio of work. This shift in focus towards self-direction is designed to ensure graduates are employable. Opportunities also exist to develop new digital products with potential for commercialisation beyond the course.
The course also engages students with a range of industry led projects and international competitions designed to showcase their abilities on a world stage amongst their peers.
Do I need to be a computer expert?
No, nor do you need to understand coding before starting the course. Throughout the course you will be introduced to the industry standard digital skills necessary to produce high quality, creative outcomes. You will develop the practical, creative and theoretical skills that will enable you to address both given projects and your own work through the use of various media.
The teaching team
Our teaching team has an internationally respected profile in the field of interaction design. Our team are regularly invited to speak at events all over the world and contribute to the industry’s leading publications, ensuring that what we teach you is relevant, up-to-date and what industry needs.
In addition to our core team, the course draws upon the talents of a wide range of international visiting lecturers. Recent lecturers that have worked with our students include: Nicholas Felton (Facebook), Cennydd Bowles (Twitter), Elliot Jay Stocks (Adobe) and Eva-Lotta Lamm (Google).
With these high profile, design-focused connections, the course ensures that your experience is challenging and dynamic, offering opportunities internationally in what is a high growth global industry.
100% of the course team hold Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
Diploma in Professional Practice DPP
Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS
Find out more about placement awards
This is a full-time three year course with an additional, optional placement year.
Attendance to all studio sessions is mandatory. The course is made up of workshops, lectures, seminars, tutorials, peer review/feedback, supervised studio sessions and independent study.
Attendance at all sessions is mandatory, it is expected that you will not only engage with the taught elements but also with independent learning in the studio. Here your individual learning can be expanded through informal conversations with your fellow students and feedback from staff.
- September 2020
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Learning and Teaching Methods
Lectures will introduce the historical and contemporary practices and discourses in interaction design. Discussing the origins, purpose, roles and effects of such practices.
Seminars will provide opportunities for you to explore issues emerging from the lecture programme, to listen to contributions from peer group members, to articulate ideas and to reflect on emerging discussions.
Workshops will enable you to develop skills necessary to achieve the module learning outcomes. Workshops are essentially task-orientated where you learn by doing and by reflecting on the outcomes of both individual and the peer groups’ learning.
Demonstrations will normally be embedded within workshop sessions and are conducted by module staff. These sessions provide you with clear guidelines on the usage of specific techniques, materials and processes.
Critiques will provide opportunities for you to reflect on your work, articulate carefully considered constructive criticism, and realise the potential of peer learning. Students will have the opportunity to present their work in progress, to reflect on and evaluate your work and to listen to peer views. There are three key elements of critiques: self-reflection, constructive criticism and peer learning.
Tutorials will give you advice and feedback and monitor student’s individual progress. During tutorials key areas for enhancement will be identified and work strategies will be discussed.
Independent Studywill provide opportunities for you to reflect on learning requirements, to plan coursework preparation and execution, to explore independent learning pathways and to exercise self-motivation and discipline in your work patterns.
At each level, modules are assessed according to specific criteria and weightings which are provided at the beginning of each module. Coursework includes, paper prototypes, live projects, design outputs, practical and contextual research, written commentaries, online journals, presentations, and dissertations. Both formative and summative feedback is provided on coursework.
Feedback offers you clear guidance regarding your performance and future development. Feedback helps you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses allowing you to develop and improve your creative abilities and technical skills throughout the course.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
Interaction Design Fundamentals
This module focuses on a series of practical, hands-on workshops, which enable students to fully explore the foundational principles of interaction design, both off- and on-screen. Paper-based exercises introduce students to fundamental communication design principles, including those developed at the Bauhaus, Ulm School of Design and beyond. Computer-based exercises introduce students to the core languages (HTML5 and CSS3) required to understand web standards.
Introduction to Communication Design
This module equips students with a comprehensive understanding of the history of communication design. Through a series of connected lectures, students are introduced to the breadth and depth of communication approaches, intended to inform their practical work. Coupled with the focus on history and theory, students are equiped with a range of practical study skills, through team and solo exercises.
This module contains a series of practical, hands-on workshops, which equip students with both a theoretical understanding of iconography and identity, and the skills required to communicate their ideas visually. Paper-based exercises introduce students to the idea of rapid prototyping ideas and 'thinking through paper'. Computer-based exercises take these sketches and prototypes and develop them further.
These skills are utilised in the creation of a series of branding exercises - moving from personal brand to corporate identity - equipping students with an understanding of the landscape of identity.
Imaging and Data Visualisation
This module equips students with a broad knowledge of differing types of imagery: both illustrative and diagrammatic. By introducing illustration, then exploring infographics and data visualisation, students are introduced to the rich possibilities imagery can offer as a core part of the communication process.
Designing with Content
This module focuses on equipping students with an understanding of how content can be shaped as a core part of the design process. Students are introduced to a variety of sources of content, including: self generated content; client-supplied content; user generated content; and content dynamically retrieved from external sources, e.g. APIs.
By introducing students to the principles of building content systems, considering structured forms of relational content, and working with external content sources through APIs, students are given the building blocks to build more dynamic material, which will help them in their final year.
On completion of this module students will have gained an awareness and understanding of the rich potential that digital product design offers. Through this context they will also have been introduced to the wide range of product design and business modelling methods needed by the contemporary interaction designer.
This knowledge will pave the way for the students to progress to their placement year and final year, where the understanding and awareness of the content covered in this module will form a foundation on which they build.
Designing User Experiences
This module looks beyond the technical 'how' of interaction design and explores questions relating to 'why'. Starting with users and their needs, the module investigates the experiential aspects and emotional perception of the things we create as designers.
By creating a series of iterative prototypes exploring various aspects of user experience design, students are introduced to the importance of designing for 'humans', not 'users' and conclude the module discovering that the field commonly labelled UX (User Experience) might better be labelled HX (Human Experience).
Narrative and Storytelling
International Academic Studies
This module is optional
This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.
This module is optional
This is an optional placement year for students who have completed Level 5 prior to the final year of study. The placement must be a minimum of 25 weeks duration and can be in a broad range of Art/Professional practice. A programme of work is agreed by the student, the Placement Tutor and the Placement Partner and usually takes place in Europe with respect to the relevant health and safety and disability regulations.(SENDO). The placement is designed to increase experience of workshop/studio/communal and technical practice, while broadening and enhancing the student's social, personal and professional development. Upon successful completion of the placement year the student is awarded a Diploma in Professional Studies (DPP) or a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) International upon graduation from the course.
Major Project Prototyping
This module focuses on equipping students with the foundations required to successfully embark on the second semester Major Project module. By placing a heavy emphasis on prototyping and stressing the importance of iterative design processes, students are equipped with the skills required to undertake a substantial piece of work in the second semester.
The module focuses on developing prototypes at a range of fidelities, from working drawings and wireframes through to functional prototypes. The emphasis is on rigorously testing the assumptions that will be relied upon in the second semester and ensuring that students are equipped to successfully complete a substantial, professional project.
Research and Writing
This module focuses on the importance of developing students' critical awareness. Through a written piece of coursework, students are encouraged to explore the changing context of interaction design, exploring how the subject area is expanding and evolving.
Students are encouraged to reflect upon their practice and its theoretical underpinnings, helping them to understand the importance of reflective writing and how it can be mapped onto, and benefit, practice.
This module is designed to showcase the student's learning throughout the course, enabling them to demonstrate the skills they have acquired to potential employers or possible funders.
Through the creation of a substantial piece of work, students demonstrate an understanding of both the project management and quality assurance skills needed to work within industry. The intention of the module is to provide an opportunity to demonstrate the depth and breadth of knowledge students have acquired during their time on the course.
Design Presentation and Reporting
This module focuses on equipping students with the knowledge and understanding required to create a formal presentation and deliver it confidently. The primary aim of the module is to provide an opportunity for students to formally present their project research, concepts, development, and finished application in a structured, coherent and persuasive manner.
Through an emphasis on developing and practicing pitching skills, students are equipped with the confidence and personal qualities required to deliver a design presentation in an effective and convincing manner. The module enhances students' communication skills through verbal, visual and written material that clearly explains the methodology of their Major Project's design development
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
The A Level requirement for this course is BCC - BBB.
Applicants can satisfy the requirement for one of the A level grades (or equivalent) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University.
Applied General Qualifications
The BTEC Extended Diploma requirement for this course is based on an overall BTEC award profile of DMM - DDM to include 15 merits.
Irish Leaving Certificate
The Irish Leaving Certificate requirement for this course is H3, H3, H3, H4, H4 – H3, H3, H3, H3, H3 and English Language at grade O4 or above.
The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is CCCCC - BBBCC.
Scottish Advanced Highers
The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is CDD - CCC.
Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum 24 points (12 at higher level).
Access to Higher Education (HE)
Successful completion of Access Course with an average of between 65% - 70%.
GCSE Profile to include English Language at minimum grade C.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Additional Entry Requirements
Students are selected through interview and/ or portfolio. The course team encourage potential applicants to show their creativity through their portfolio, which can be paper-based, screen-based or both. We want to see evidence of your thinking and we would encourage you to bring sketchbooks and working drawings that show us how your ideas were developed. We will work with you to improve your drawing and technical skills.
You do not need to be a computer genius to join this course – at this stage we are more interested in your creative potential.
Careers & opportunities
In this section
Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:
- Deloitte Digital
Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:
- Web Designer
- App Designer
- UX Designer
- UI Designer
- Interaction Designer
- Digital Product Designer
- Front End Designer
Graduates with skills in interaction design have many well-paid career opportunities available to them, these include: interaction design, web design, app design, user interface design (UI) user experience design (UX), user experience research, graphic design and digital publishing.
Design studios in Northern Ireland, the UK and beyond are staffed or run by graduates taught by the course team. Recent graduates have found employment throughout Europe, the Middle East, the USA and Australia while others have established their own successful interaction design businesses.
Those wishing to research and develop their own work to a higher level go on to pursue a Masters qualification either at the Ulster University or at other institutions in the UK and further afield. There is also the potential for entry onto a PhD.
There are also opportunities for those wishing to teach after the completion of a postgraduate teaching qualification (PgCE).
Work placement / study abroad
In third year you are expected to spend a minimum of 25 weeks in industry. Here you are expected to work as part of the professional practice designed to acquaint you with alternative business cultures and protocols to enhance your personal and professional development.
Alternatively you can study in a wide range of approved instutitions around the world.
Successful completion, obtaining a total mark of 40%, of the placement year leads to the award of the Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or (DPPI) International or a Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS) upon graduation. A mark of 70% and above will enable the award to be granted with commendation.
ApplyHow to apply Request a prospectus
Applications to full-time undergraduate degrees at Ulster are made through UCAS.
Portfolio and interview
Students are selected through portfolio and interview. The course team encourage potential applicants to show their creativity through their portfolio, which can be paper-based, screen-based or both. We want to see evidence of your thinking and we would encourage you to bring sketchbooks and working drawings that show us how your ideas were developed. We’ll work with you to improve your drawing and technical skills.
You do not need to be a computer or coding genius to join this course – at this stage we are more concerned with your creative potential.
- September 2020
Fees and funding
In this section
Fees (per year)
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
- Northern Ireland & EU:
- England, Scotland, Wales
and the Islands:
£9,250.00 Discounts available
- £14,060.00 Scholarships available
Scholarships, awards and prizes
Discounts for student from England, Scotland and Wales:
You have three discount options to choose from:
£2,000 discount on tuition fees. £1,000 discount on tuition fees
- Plus £1,000 towards accommodation
- Plus £500 towards travel
£1,000 discount on tuition fees
- Plus Mac Book Pro
- Plus £500 towards travel
International Undergraduate Scholarship
- Open to all new international (non-EU) entrants on the first year of a full-time undergraduate course delivered on one of our Northern Ireland campuses, commencing September 2018.
£2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee.
- Information on other scholarships available to international students
Other awards and prizes:
Information provided is for guidance only as scholarship details are subject to change - please refer to the source website for up-to-date and accurate information.
Additional mandatory costs
Students purchase materials for their own coursework.
Consumable workshop contribution of up to £100 is optional and contributes to materials used by students.
Field trips to museums, galleries and exhibitions may incur additional costs.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
- The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
- Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
- If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
- The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
- The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.