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Unique human factors psychology course joins NZ programme

17 May 2024

UC’s postgraduate course in human factors psychology has been selected for inclusion in a national collaborative programme across several universities.


Photo caption: UC School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing lecturer Dr Dwain Allan

The course in human factors psychology (PSYC451) by Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) stands out as the only course within the programme focusing specifically on psychology and cognitive human factors, making it a unique and valuable addition, says UC School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing lecturer Dr Dwain Allan.

“PSYC451 is in keeping with the School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing’s status as a forward-leaning school dedicated to delivering innovative, inspirational and evidence-based programmes of study.”

The cross-university programme, coordinated by Auckland University of Technology (AUT), is part of an initiative designed to align with the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of New Zealand’s (HFESNZ) competency framework and meet the educational requirements for HFESNZ certification.

Dr Fiona Trevelyan, who leads the programme at AUT, highlighted the distinctiveness of the PSYC451 course due to its innovative, future-focused syllabus. 

“There is no other psychology or cognitive [human factors] course included apart from the course offered by UC,” Dr Trevelyan says. “PSYC451 supports students to gain essential knowledge for researching and applying psychological science to a wide range of systems and environments.”

Human factors psychology delves into the science behind how people think about, experience, and engage with the artificial or human-made world. PSYC451 provides valuable insights into the specific human factors – cognitive, emotional, and physical – that shape our behaviour. This knowledge is crucial for designing and improving systems and environments in diverse fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), healthcare, transportation, cybersecurity, and more.

The new postgraduate programme, funded by the New Zealand government and jointly managed by the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ) and professional societies, is based on an existing AUT qualification. It incorporates papers from various New Zealand universities, with a third of the credits recognised as prior learning from institutions like UC. The programme has also been accredited by the UK Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), ensuring an independent overview and facilitation of students’ completion of HFESNZ professional membership applications.

The official launch is scheduled for 21 May 2024. This collaboration marks a significant step in advancing human factors education and addressing the growing need for expertise in this field, especially as disruptive technologies such as AI and robotics continue to transform various industries.

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