Design and Interaction Specialization

A major may elect to receive a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Design and Interaction (Major code: CG33). This area of specialization is intended for majors interested in human computer interaction. Allowed electives currently include advanced courses in cognitive science, communication, computer science, computer engineering, and visual arts. The following requirements are effective for incoming students after Fa16:

LOWER DIVISION REQUIREMENTS (11 courses, 44 units or 10 courses, 40 units)

Math (chosen from the following):

  • Math 10A, 10B, 10C, 18
  • or
  • Math 20A, 20B, 18
    *Students intending to take Cogs 118A, B, C, or D are advised to take Math 20-A-B-C-E, 18, and 180A before their junior year.

Cognitive Science:

  • Introduction: Cogs 1
  • Design: Cogs 10 or Dsgn 1
  • Methods: Cogs 13, 14A, 14B
  • Neuroscience: Cogs 17
  • Programming: Cogs 18 or Cse (7 or 8A or 11) *

* CSE 8A + 8B or 11 are recommended for the Design and Interaction specialization, as they are pre-requisites for some upper-division classes

UPPER DIVISION REQUIREMENTS (12 courses, 48 units)

Core (6 courses):

  • Distributed Cognition: Cogs 100
  • Fundamental Cognitive Phenomena (choose any 2): Cogs 101A, 101B, 101C
  • Cognitive Neuroscience (choose any 2): Cogs 107A, 107B, 107C
  • Computation: Cogs 108

Electives (6 courses):

  • A total of 6 electives are required, where at least 3 of the 6 electives must be taken within the Cognitive Science department. At least 4 of the 6 electives must be taken from the approved specialization elective list.
  • Students also interested in Machine Learning and Neural Computation can choose from this group of classes for their general electives:  Cogs 118A, 118B, 118C, and 118D.
  • One course in the Cognitive Science 19X series may be used as an elective to satisfy the requirements for the B.S. degree, but only with the approval of both the instructor who supervised the course and the undergraduate advisor.
  • Cogs 160 may only be used once for elective.

NOTE: Courses for the major must be taken for a letter grade with the exception of 195, 198, and 199 which are only offered on a P/NP basis; a minimum grade of C- is required for all courses; Complete most of your CORE courses during your junior year, if possible; At least half of all electives taken must be Cogs Courses; others can be chosen from the list of approved electives or petitioned through the department.



Steven Dow. Assistant Professor,, website.  Research:  Human-computer interaction, social computing, and design. Understanding and creating tools to support creativity for individuals, groups, and crowds.

Philip Guo. Assistant Professor, CSB 129,, website.  Research:  Human-computer interaction, design, online learning, computing education, programmer productivity.

Jim Hollan. Professor, CSB 159, (858) 534-8156,, website. Research:  Cognitive ethnography, distributed and embodied cognition, human-computer interaction, multimodal interaction.

David Kirsh. Professor, CSB 173, (858) 822-0672,, website.  Research:  Design, cognitive ethnography, distributed and embodied cognition, thinking with things, e-learning.

Scott Klemmer. Associate Professor, Atkinson 1601B,, website.  Research:  Human-computer interaction and design. Empowering more people to design, program, learn, and create: example and data-driven design tools; unearthing ingredients of creative excellence; fostering social learning online.



COGS 18. Introduction to Programming with Matlab (4)
(Cross-listed with CSE 7.) Fundamentals of computer programming and basic software design covering topics related to variables, functions, and control structures; writing, testing, and debugging programs in Matlab. Examples focus on scientific applications. Recommended preparation: high school algebra and familiarity with the computing milieu. Students with limited computing experience may take Cognitive Science 3 for preparation. Students may not receive credit for both Cognitive Science 18 and CSE 7.

COGS 100. Cyborgs Now and in the Future (4)
Covers the theories of situated, distributed, enactive, and embodied cognition. Explains how cyborgs are a natural consequence of our current understanding of embodied minds embedded in culturally shaped niches; how mental systems can be distributed over other people and things. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 10.

COGS 102A. Distributed Cognition (4)
Cognitive processes extend beyond the boundaries of the person to include the environment, artifacts, social interactions, and culture. Major themes include the philosophy and history of cognitive science, the role of artifacts in human cognition, and theories of socially distributed, embodied, and extended cognition. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 1 and Cognitive Science 14A.

COGS 102B. Cognitive Ethnography (4)
This course examines memory, reasoning, language understanding, learning, and planning directly in everyday, real-world settings. The course work includes projects in which students make observations of real-world activity and analyze their cognitive significance. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 102A.

COGS 102C. Cognitive Design Studio (6)
This is a project-based course focused on the process of cognitive design. Students work in teams to design and evaluate a prototype application or redesign an existing system. Three hours of lecture and two hours of design laboratory. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 102B or consent of instructor.

COGS 120. Interaction Design (5)
(Cross-listed with CSE 170.) Introduces fundamental methods and principles for designing, implementing, and evaluating user interfaces. Topics: user-centered design, rapid prototyping, experimentation, direct manipulation, cognitive principles, visual design, social software, software tools. Learn by doing: work with a team on a quarter-long design project. Recommended preparation: basic familiarity with HTML. Students may not receive credit for both Cognitive Science 120 and CSE 170. Prerequisites: CSE 11 or CSE 8A and Cognitive Science 1 or Cognitive Science 187A or DSGN 1.

COGS 121. Human Computer Interaction Programming Studio (4)
This course covers fundamentals of user interface design and implementation of web-based systems. A major component is completion of a substantial programming project in which students work together in small teams. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 120 and CSE 8B or CSE 11.

COGS 122. Interaction Design Startup (4)
Explores tools and processes for innovating novel business concepts to solve problems involving the interaction between humans and technology. Students will work with an interdisciplinary team to understand unmet user needs and to create a value proposition that balances technical feasibility, financial viability, and desirability. Prerequisites: (COGS120 or COGS187A or COGS187B or DSGN100)

COGS 123. Social Computing (4)
This course explores the intersection of social behavior and computational systems.  Students will examine a range of organizational, technical, and business challenges related to social computing, and learn how to use tools to analyze, design, and build online communities.  Prerequisites: (COGS102C or COGS120 or COGS187A or COGS187B or DSGN1)

COGS 124. HCI Technical Systems Research (4)
In this advanced project-based course, we study the state-of-the-art in research on technical systems for human-computer interaction (HCI). Students will deconstruct the systems described in top-tier HCI papers and work in teams to create novel technical systems of their own.  Prerequisites:  (COGS120) and (COGS121)

COGS 187A. Usability and Information Architecture (6)
Examines the cognitive basis of successful web and multimedia design. Topics: information architecture, navigation, usability, graphic layout, transaction design, and how to understand user interaction. Prerequisites: CSE 7.

COGS 187B. Practicum in Professional Web Design (4)
This course follows up on the basics of multimedia design taught in Cognitive Science 187A. Students will probe more deeply into selective topics, such as animation, navigation, graphical display of information, and narrative coherence. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 187A or consent of instructor.