1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Usability Engineering
  4. Print

Usability Engineering (INFO30004)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codeINFO30004
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date


How do you design information and communication technologies that are useful, usable and satisfying? Usability Engineering addresses this question. Usability is now a vital part of the IT industry for both work and leisure. We can see usability (or the lack of it) in the design of tablets, aircraft cockpits, business software, car navigation devices, and many other technologies.

In this subject students will learn concepts and techniques integral to creating usable systems. These include: contextual analysis of human activities; principles for designing usable human computer interactions; styles of user interfaces; and methods to evaluate the usability of new designs. Students will also learn relevant theories underpinning these techniques including aspects of human cognition and the theory of natural design.


  • Theoretical foundations of Usability Engineering
  • Understanding User Requirements
  • Expert based evaluations (e.g. Cognitive Walkthroughs and Heuristic Evaluation)
  • User based evaluations
  • Prototyping (high fidelity and low fidelity)
  • Analysis of Usability data
  • Visual Design
  • Social Computing

Intended learning outcomes


On completion of this subject the student is expected to:

  1. Define and distinguish between the different types of user interface,
  2. Exploit cognitive and social factors that make interactive software usable
  3. Apply key design principles and guidelines that assist user interface designers, and understand the limitations of such guidelines
  4. Apply techniques of Usability Engineering across the development lifecycle
  5. Develop a sound usability test and evaluation plan for a particular design project

Generic skills

On completion of this subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Acquire design oriented problem-solving skills
  • Review and research skills
  • Team work skills
  • Written and oral presentation skills

Eligibility and requirements


50 points of Level 2 subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
INFO20003 Database Systems
Semester 1
Semester 2
SWEN20003 Object Oriented Software Development
Semester 1
Semester 2
COMP20003 Algorithms and Data Structures
Semester 2
COMP20007 Design of Algorithms
Semester 1
COMP20008 Elements of Data Processing
Semester 1
Semester 2



Non-allowed subjects

615-348 Human Computer Interaction

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Assignment 1 - Group project (3-4 students) on user needs analysis of a particular situation of use, design of a paper prototype and a cognitive walkthrough. The assignment consists of a written report (3000-4000 words - 20%) and a presentation (10 minutes - 5%) due in week 6, requiring approximately 30 hours of work per group member. Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) 3 and 4 are addressed in this assignment.
  • Assignment 2 - Group project (3-4 students) to create a digital prototype (based on the findings of assignment 1) and to conduct a usability evaluation of the prototype. Groups must report on the evaluation via a written report (3000-4000 words - 20%) and a presentation (10 minutes- 5%) due in week 12, requiring approximately 30 hours of work per group member. ILOs 4 and 5 are addressed in this assignment. Assignment 2 is a hurdle and must be passed to pass the subject.
  • One written 2 hour closed book end of semester examination (50%). ILOs 1 to 4 are addressed in the examination. The examination is a hurdle and must be passed to pass the subject.

Hurdle Requirement: To pass the subject, students must obtain:

  • at least 50% of the marks available in assignment 2
  • at least 50% of the marks available in the examination

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorRyan Kelly
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours36 hours, comprising of two 1 hour lectures and one 1 hour tutorial per week.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts


  • Subject notes


    The subject is delivered through a combination of two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour tutorial each week, over twelve weeks. The lectures will address relevant theoretical and conceptual ideas and will include guest speakers from industry where appropriate. The tutorials will focus on the application of the theories and concepts through practical exercises and assignment work. Outside class students will study theory and cases through reading, they will work on their group assignment and participant in a lab-based usability study.


    All relevant resources will be available on the Learning Management System (LMS). These include lecture slides, tutorial notes, recommended reading, extension material, and links to industry material.


    This subject is relevant to careers as a usability engineer, interaction designer, information architect etc. Students will work on projects that will be applicable to real world cases. Speakers from Industry will be invited to give guest lectures. A collection of industry-based resources will be posted on the LMS.

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    Subject coordinator approval required

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 10 August 2019