Bachelor of Design with Honours
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Belfast School of Art
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20
Want to build the next Instagram or TikTok? Join Interaction Design to create the next generation of apps, websites and digital experiences.
This highly creative course is aimed at students aspiring to a career as an interaction designer, helping to shape the digital landscape we live in. The course equips you with the skills you need to meet the challenges of a dynamic and rapidly changing industry which offers many exciting career opportunities.
Ranked 8th in the UK for Art and Design in The Times Good University Guide, Ulster University is one of the top places to study Interaction Design, not just in the UK, but worldwide.
Interaction design is all around us. The emergence of devices like Apple's iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Amazon's Echo, has – in a very short space of time – revolutionised how we interact with one another.
Apps like Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram are changing our behaviour and there's a growing need for designers with the skills and creative thinking required to design for these apps and for digital products yet to be conceived.
The course is highly rated by industry professionals and benefits from partnerships with world-class companies such as Google, Deloitte Digital, Square, Booking.com, and others. A degree in Interaction Design will offer opportunities in a wide range of exciting and very well-paid roles, including app design and web design; user experience and user interface design; virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR); and digital product design.
A foundation diploma year gives you the opportunity to explore a range of art and design approaches and disciplines to help you choose your undergraduate specialism.
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 content and user experience design and how people interact with, and use digital products. 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.
An optional placement year provides students with the opportunity to work with world-leading companies in the development of digital products or study at universities around the world.
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 highly 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
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.
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:
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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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.
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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
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) by Advanced HE - 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 2021-2022.
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.
At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
Applicants may satisfy the requirement for one of the A Level grades (or equivalent) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University.
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DDD
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DMM
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DD plus A Level Grade C
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Introductory Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of D plus A Level Grades BC
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate (2016 Suite)
Award profile of D plus A Level Grades BC
112 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.
Overall profile is minimum 25 points (including 12 at higher level)
Overall profile of 63% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)
Overall profile of 15 credits at Distinction and 30 credits at Merit (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)
For full-time study, you must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass at Grade C/4 or above in English Language.
Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Communication will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE English.
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.
Students are selected through portfolio submission and/or 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 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.
Acceptable alternative qualifications include:
Pass HND with overall Merit to include 45 distinctions in level 5 credits/units may be specified.
Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 75 distinctions in level 4 credits/units may be specified.
You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met).
In this section
Graduates from this course are now working for:
With this degree you could become:
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 can progress to the MA UX and Service Design course or pursue another 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).
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.
Fees for entry in 2023/24 have not yet been set. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
International Undergraduate Scholarship
£2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee.
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.
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.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.
“Studying Interaction Design allows you to develop a deep understanding of the creative and practical skills you need to excel in your chosen design career. Supported every step of the way by lecturers actively involved in the industry, coursework helps you develop the hands-on experience required to gain employment within this exciting industry.”
—Amber McGregor, Lead Designer, Selazar
“Interaction Design equipped me with the skills, ability and contacts to jump into the design industry. Learning the fundamentals of design has encouraged me to grow and expand my knowledge as a designer. The lecturers where with us every step of the way encouraging us to push ourselves and explore new aspects of design, which by the end of the course left me with a portfolio and skillset I was very proud of.”
—Nathan Patton, UX Designer, Synechron, Dubai
“The Interaction Design course was essential in building my confidence and creativity as a designer. I felt that the lecturers on the course were always there to give me the encouragement and reassurance that helped me to grow and succeed. By the time I finished my degree, I had a portfolio filled with ambitious and exciting industry-standard projects and was able to walk straight into employment as a full-time UX Designer. I couldn’t be the confident designer I am today without the support I received from this course!”
—Hannah Sharp, UX Designer, Kainos