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2018/19 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MECH5495M Engineering Psychology and Human Factors

15 creditsClass Size: 53

Module manager: Dr Gustav Markkula

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

The module includes some elements of data analysis and model implementation using MathWorks MATLAB at a basic level. Therefore, prior experience of programming (e.g., MATLAB) would be recommendable, but a passing grade is possible also without it.

This module is not approved as an Elective


This module will provide engineering students with an overview of the fields of engineering psychology and ‘human factors i.e., of the capabilities, limitations, and behaviours of humans as users and operators of engineered technology with a special emphasis in this module on ground vehicles and aircraft as well as the implications of these matters for design of such technology. The module will cover the theory, from psychology, neuroscience, and physiology, of mechanisms underpinning human-machine interaction, as well as concrete practical applications of the same. The ultimate aim is to improve the students ability of designing technology that is effective, safe, and acceptable for humans, and to make students capable of effectively contributing, from their engineering perspective, to multidisciplinary collaborations with experts in psychology and human factors.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of the module, students should be able to:
1. Comfortably read, understand, and communicate using basic psychology and human factors terminology
2. Describe the most important mechanisms and factors involved in shaping human behaviour when interacting with technology
3. Describe and discuss ways in which engineering design choices can make technology more or less effective, safe, or acceptable for a human operator.
4. Discuss possible limitations of our understanding of human psychology and behaviour, and implications for engineering design
5. Describe challenges associated with the experimental study of human behaviour, and some ways of addressing these challenges
6. Implement simple quantitative models of human operator behaviour, and analyse these in computer simulation
Upon successful completion of this module the following UK-SPEC learning outcome descriptors are satisfied:
A comprehensive understanding of the relevant scientific principles of the specialisation (SM7M)
A critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights most of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the specialisation (SM8M)
Understanding of concepts relevant to the discipline, some from outside engineering, and the ability to evaluate them critically and to apply them effectively, including in engineering projects (SM9M)
Ability both to apply appropriate engineering analysis methods for solving complex problems in engineering and to assess their limitations (EA6M)
Awareness of the need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in engineering (EL8M)
Awareness of and ability to make general evaluations of risk issues in the context of the particular specialisation, including health & safety, environmental and commercial risk (EL13M)
A thorough understanding of current practice and its limitations, and some appreciation of likely new developments (P9m)
Ability to apply engineering techniques, taking account of a range of commercial and industrial constraints (P10m)
Understanding of different roles within an engineering team and the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility, which may be as a team member or leader (P11m)
Apply their skills in problem solving, communication, information retrieval, working with others, and the effective use of general IT facilities (G1)


Overview of psychological and neuroscientific models of the human as operator of technology
Perceptual and motor limitations and learning
The human as controller
Attention and multi-tasking
Working memory and situational awareness
Anthropometry, biomechanics, and work physiology
Workload and fatigue
Human error
Collecting and analysing data from human technology users
Methods for design and evaluation
Modelling and simulation of human behaviour

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours115.00
Total Contact hours35.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Approximate breakdown of time for private study:
- 40 hours for the assignment
- 45 hours for reading (2 hours per lecture)
- 30 hours for revision and exam practice (including non-assessed self-test MCQs)

There will be 5 optional online MCQs (not part of the module mark), allowing students to test themselves during the module.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The practicals will be interactive and will thus give weekly opportunities to gauge student progress, both for the teaching staff and the students themselves. The optional MCQs will provide additional opportunities for the same.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentHome assignment with 4 subtasks40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 27/02/2019


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