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PSYC326 Human Factors and Ergonomics

The study of factors that affect decision making and cognition in naturalistic task settings.

This paper focused on human factors (ergonomics), with a particular emphasis on cognitive engineering - which is the study of factors that affect cognition and decision making in naturalistic task settings. It is a field of study particularly concerned with human performance in technological settings. These include transportation (road, rail, air, sea), manufacturing, mining and health care. This paper provides an introduction to the topic and preparation for further study in the area.

Paper title Human Factors and Ergonomics
Paper code PSYC326
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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PSYC 210 and PSYC 211 and PSYC 212
PSYC 322
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science

With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in each of PSYC 210 and 212 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-328 concurrently with PSYC 211.

With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in PSYC 211 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-328 concurrently with PSYC 210 and 212.


Dr Vanessa Beanland (

Teaching staff

Dr Vanessa Beanland

Paper Structure

The emphasis is on the characteristics of human cognition in real-world settings for individuals, teams or individuals teamed with intelligent systems. Topics will include: the analysis of human error from both a practical and theoretical perspective, display design, automation, attention, workload, skill and decision making.

Internal Assessment: Internal assessment is 50% of the final grade in this paper, consisting of written assignments (35%) and one class test (15%).

The written assignments includes exercises designed to promote individual research and considered reflection on key aspects of the paper.

The class test is a short test consisting of multiple-choice and short answer questions.

Teaching Arrangements

One 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour lecture per week.

Textbooks are not required for this paper.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will:

  • Develop knowledge of theories of human error and systemic failure and apply these to real-world incidents and accidents
  • Develop knowledge of human attention and apply this to problems of display design, automation and workload
  • Develop knowledge of theories of decision making and apply these to different domains
  • Demonstrate critical thinking about accident causation and errors in human performance

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Friday 14:00-15:50 29-34, 36-41