Embodied interaction

Course - second cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2019, autumn 2018

Course Code:
KD641A revision 1.2
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Interaction Design
Date of ratification:
15 May 2018
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
03 September 2018
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
15 June 2012

Entry requirements

1. Degree of Bachelor or equivalent in subjects relevant for interaction design. Examples of relevant subjects include, but are not limited to: computer science,
informatics, information systems, human-computer interaction, new media arts,
fine arts, design (industrial, product, graphic, interaction), communication studies,
media studies and cognitive science.

2. Approval of the following submitted material: 2 x work samples of previous
relevant work and an individual response to the application assignment, available
on the Malmö University web site.

3. General eligibility + the equivalent of English course B in Swedish higher
secondary school.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as part of a general degree at advanced level.


Embodied Interaction is an established sub field in Interaction Design addressing physical computing, wearables, haptics and tangible and performative interactions. This course integrates theory and practice and asks critical questions around bodies, society, data and agency in conjunction with materials experimentation including, but not limited to, electronic prototyping. Performative, collaborative and multidisciplinary methodologies are emphasized


This course identifies Embodied Interaction as an important subfield of Interaction Design.
Building on the starting point of embodied interaction as an umbrella for physical computing, wearables, haptics and tangible interactions, this course:
1. redefines embodiment in terms of materiality and asks for an awareness of whose bodies and what bodies are designed;
2. opens critical engagement with contemporary politics and economics;
3. fosters awareness and experimentation of methodologies, including experimental prototyping, performative and critical approaches to design in heterogeneous design situations.
4. requires an engagement with interdisciplinary scholarly writing

Learning outcomes

Repertoire and theory
1. Build a repertoire of important design elements and materials in embodied interaction.
2. Integrate relevant theories pertaining to embodied interaction.
3. Demonstrate an awareness of relevant multidisciplinary approaches to embodied interaction.
Skills and technique
4. Display the ability to engage in, and argue for, experimental interaction design with relevant approaches methodologies and materials.
5. Demonstrate skills required for constructing academic knowledge, specifically the ability to engage effectively with the academic literature .
Reflection and criticism
6. Demonstrate the ability to formulate and assimilate relevant critical and theoretical perspectives in relation to embodied approaches to interaction design.

Learning activities

Three educational processes integrated into this Embodied Interaction course: 1. Electronics skills acquisition in the form of a workshop component (a short course on Arduino, sensors, and actuators); 2. A theoretical and critical component based on readings and seminar discussions; 3. A collaborative project producing a design prototype.


The assessment for the course is based on a project prototype presented to the group and an academic paper. The project prototype is produced by a team of between 3-5 students. The paper is individually written.

Learning outcomes 1–4 assessed through oral group examinations (including studio milestones and project presentations). Learning outcomes 5 & 6 concern the development of skills in using the research literature efficiently, and are assessed in two ways: in the oral group examinations by examining the academic grounds for students’ decisions and claims; and directly based on an individually submitted written reflection of 2000-2500 words.

Grading system

Fail (U) or Pass (G).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Bardzell, Shaowen. 2010. Feminist HCI: taking stock and outlining an agenda for design. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1301-1310.

Bogost, Ian. The Cathedral of Computation. The Atlantic, January 5 2015.

Dourish, P. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001. (chapter one, plus selected extracts)

Dourish, P. Epilogue: Where the action was, wasn't, should have been, and might yet be. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. 20, 1, Article 2 (April 2013), 1- 4.

Dunne, A., & Raby, F. Design Noir: The secret life of electronic objects. August/Birkhäuser, 2001. (extracted sections)

Höök , K., Ståhl, A., Jonsson, M., Mercurio, J., Karlsson, A., & Banka Johnson, E.C. Somaesthetic Design. Interactions, Vol.22 Issue 4, 2015, 26-33.

Kozel, Susan. “Re-Embodiment: new strategies for teaching Embodied Interaction.” Proceedings for CUMULUS Kolding, 2017, 107-116.

Koskinen, I., Binder, T., & Redstro¨m, J. Lab, Field, Gallery and Beyond. Artifact, 2:1,2008, 46-57.

Light, A. HCI as heterodoxy: Technologies of identity and the queering of interaction with computers. Interacting with Computers Vol.23, Issue 5, 2011, 430-438.

McFadden, S. Teaching The Camera To See My Skin: Navigating photography’s inherited bias against dark skin. Buzzfeed, 2014.

Schlesinger, Ari, Kenton P. O'Hara, and Alex S. Taylor. 2018. Let's Talk About Race: Identity, Chatbots, and AI. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Paper 315, 14 pages.

Students will be expected to purchase an Arduino starter kit.

Course evaluation

Plenary discussion and individual written evaluation, focusing on the learning outcomes and the means for achieving them (learning activities, resources, course organization etc.).