The DFP Core

(1) Fundamentals in Designing Interactive Computational Technology for People (Human-Computer Interaction)

[3 units] Academic Year: offered as CPSC 544, in W1 (Sept-Dec)

Course website:

This graduate-level introduction to the theories and concepts underlying the design of interactive technologies for human use is important for all professionals and researchers engaged in this endeavour. The first core course of the cross-disciplinary Designing for People (DFP) Graduate Training Program, it builds common ground among students from a range of backgrounds, providing a shared vocabulary and methods to bring into other components of the training program. “DFP” means designing for human experience, abilities, and fallibilities, which requires in-depth engagement of users throughout the design process. Students will learn methods to help them understand and critique the choices designers have made to build the world around them, focusing on the underlying models of the user used in human-computer interaction and the theory of and advanced methods for design and evaluation.

(2) DFP Project

[3 units] Academic Year: offered as CPSC 554K, in Term W2 (Jan-June)

Course website:  coming

Overview: The DFP Project enables students to gain hands-on collaborative experience solving real-world design challenges, by integrating end users into the design process and synthesizing appropriate techniques within the context of reflective practice and design thinking.
Working with a mentor team comprised of DFP faculty, project sponsors, industry and senior students from the same training program, students will learn to understand and frame a design situation, to develop a design concept through successive levels of prototyping, and to evaluate their design, and communicate it to others for feedback and to support decision-making.

Teams and Projects: Interdisciplinary student teams collaborate closely with project sponsors drawn from, e.g., industry, health organizations, and nonprofits such as schools, museums and neighborhood collectives. Project sponsors will work with students to define the design opportunity and create a viable solution including appropriate technological elements.


Spans 2 terms (Winter Term 2 and Summer Term 1, or Jan-June). We anticipate a moderate pace through WT2 (working with project sponsors on challenge identification, concept generation and initial evaluation), then increased intensity in ST1.

Class meeting times: Teams will meet weekly at a team-established time, with different mentors joining on a regular schedule; and monthly as a full cohort with all faculty mentors for design crits to discuss, reflect and share project challenges and successes. 

Deliverables: Periodic reports and demonstrations at significant design stages (1-2/month). There will be a final report and a demonstration at a public late-June DFP Design Showcase to project to sponsors and industry affiliates, as well as our larger UBC DFP community.

  • Prerequisite: Completion of CPSC 544 (graduate-level introductory human computer interaction course) or equivalent, approved by instructor.
  • Eagerness to engage in a challenging and rewarding team experience.