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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PDES1185 Contextual Studies and Ergonomics

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Professor Lisa-Dionne Morris

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25


PDES1510Design Studio 1

Module replaces

PDES 1180 Contextual StudiesPDES 1500 Ergonomics

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module is closely aligned to aspects of design and technological awareness, and contemporary influences on design. The module reflects the importance given to developing students' abilities to recognise that design and technological activities are inextricably linked. In this module students will develop the skills associated with 'value judgements'. These skills are an essential part of the product design development process.


The objective of the module is to develop students' learning through product analysis, in order that, students can learn how to develop and refine skills of:
- investigation
- research
- evaluation.

This will enable students to make informed decisions and draw upon considered views about design and technological developments.

Learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of the module students should be able to:
a) recognise the role design and material culture plays in society over a given period
b) demonstrate knowledge of key concepts and theories related to design movements and design history
c) demonstrate knowledge of key concepts and theories related to material culture
d) demonstrate knowledge of processes by which designs are produced, disseminated and received
e) research, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources
f) define key concepts from ergonomics, anthropometrics and user-centred design
g) conduct usability analyses using the 'Evaluation Systems' approach
h) use library resources to acquire published ergonomic and anthropometric data for use in user-centred design project work
i) apply ergonomic and anthropometric data in user-centred design analysis and synthesis in the context of a product development process
j) recognise how current user centred design research might impact future product design practice, for example, in designing for people with disabilities and aging populations.
Engineering Council learning outcomes
SM1i - Knowledge and understanding of the scientific principles underpinning relevant technologies, and their evolution
EA1i - Ability to monitor, interpret and apply the results of analysis and modelling in order to bring about continuous improvement
D1i - Be aware of business, customer and user needs, including considerations such as the wider engineering context, public perception and aesthetics
D2i - Define the problem identifying any constraints including environmental and sustainability limitations; ethical, health, safety, security and risk issues; intellectual property; codes of practice and standards
D3 - Work with information that may be incomplete or uncertain and be aware that this may affect the design
D6 - Communicate their work to technical and non-technical audiences
P2i - Understanding of and ability to use relevant materials, equipment, tools, processes, or products
P4i - Ability to use and apply information from technical literature
P7 - Awareness of quality issues and their application to continuous improvement
G1 - Apply their skills in problem solving, communication, information retrieval, working with others and the effective use of general IT facilities
G4i - Exercise personal responsibility, which may be as a team member

Skills outcomes
Progression in this instance may be achieved through:

- the increasing range of complexities of material considered by the students when engaging in design development;
- the students' ability to identify a greater range of relevant aspects and perspectives, and to explore different design approaches, including the needs of the users;
- a development from discrete to a more analytical accounts of design practice;
- the extent to which students' research findings are purposefully incorporated into their own design and making activities.


Syllabus Content A
- Introduction to ergonomics, anthropometrics and user-centred design
- Design for People
- Usability analysis and the 'Evaluation Systems' approach
- Man-Machine: Ergonomic Case Study
- Gathering Ergonomic Data
- Human Factors and Anthropometrics
- Terminology for Ergonomics, Anthropometry (Static and dynamic Dimensions, Percentiles, Arrangement of Workspaces (Layout, Precision Working, Envelope Design, Safety at Work, Movement and Handling)
- People: Machine Systems (Information and Display, Symbols Design and Graphics, Lettering and Typographic, Products, Controls, Systems and Orientation.

Insights into User Centred Design innovation, user focus groups, human factors, user research will be provided, and students will gain experience of using ergonomic data in design project work.

Syllabus Content B
- The Rise of the Consumer
- Status & Consumption
- Referencing research
- Post Modern Culture
- Modernism
- Semiotics
- Customisation/Appropriation
- Mass Consumption
- Marketing.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Drop-in Session21.002.00
Directed Study52.0010.00
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours109.00
Total Contact hours91.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Directed learning activities on the VLE followed by four one hour tutorials.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Students' progress will be monitored in tutorials.
- In these sessions design portfolio work and drafts of reflective reports will be reviewed.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1500 word essay50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

2 pieces of coursework, one Ergonomics and one Contextual Studies. Exam resit offered

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

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: 29/04/2024 16:16:42


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