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HITD201 Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a problem solving methodology that helps students and innovators to approach today’s problems from a new perspective. This multi-disciplinary process involves the involvement of users at an early stage and rapid prototyping throughout. This course will introduce the Design Thinking process and provide practical experience in approaching problems with this innovative methodology. Students will learn key Design Thinking concepts and then get to apply these concepts working with companies on real examples. This course will be invaluable for students who want to learn effective problem solving techniques for business, engineering, education and other domains.

The course will involve two weeks of intensive lectures during the students will work on two projects in parallel to the lectures. Each project will take three to four days and the projects will be conducted in teams. During the initial two weeks students will learn how to empathize with the people affected by the problem and how to better define the problem before starting to create ideas for possible solutions. The students will also learn how to prototype their ideas and how to test them with users. This will be done by studying the following key topics:

1. Empathize: Understanding the needs of the people being designed for by using techniques such as interviewing, observation, focus groups, and background research.

2. Define: Creating an effective problem statement that defines a need that is to be addressed and a key insight into how this need might be satisfied.

3. Ideate: Generating possible solutions using brainstorming, creative prompts, critical evaluation, and others. Methods for documenting and presenting initial ideas.

4. Prototype: Communicating problem solutions to others by developing prototypes, using sketching, video, hardware and software prototypes, and other methods.

5. Test: Methods for testing and evaluating design prototypes. Collecting feedback from end users that can be fed back into the design thinking process.

After the two-week taught component, the students will work in teams for eight weeks on applied projects that have been developed with external partners. During this time the students will attend weekly research meetings to report on their progress. By the end of the course students will understand the Design Thinking process well and will have applied it in several problem solving situations.

Course Information System And Enrollment

You can find additional information on UC Course Information System: HITD201. You can enroll to the course by following the instructions. The course is open to all students that have at least 60 credits of any 100 level courses and to people from outside the university. The course will consist of a full time block teaching unit of two weeks (December 9-20) followed by a project period that will last until February 14th, 2014.

Information for External Partners

Would you like to get involved in the Design Thinking Summer Course? You can, for example, propose a problem to the students for them to work on. Please use this form to propose a project. You can also register for the course yourself. Participation is not limited to UC students. Members of related industries or organizations are free to enroll. HITD201 is currently not listed on any degree schedule. Students may enquire with the Dean of the relevant Faculty whether HITD201 can be credited towards their degree.


This course is supported by:

Tait AuCom_badge_RFTS_CMYK NZ MerinoANZCOcdc

Previous Workshops

We already offered a two hour introduction workshop that many students and staff enjoyed:


PhD Program

The Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) at the University of Canterbury is offering a PhD degree in Human Interface Technology (HITL). This is a multi-disciplinary degree that is designed to allow students from a variety of backgrounds to undertake research in Human Interface Technology. The research can focus on our established research themes, including Augmented Reality, Human-Robot Interaction, Interaction Design, Science and Technology Studies, and Visualization. Other topics may be considered.

Advantages to enrolling for the HITL PhD degree:

  • you can receive a PhD in 3 years
  • PhD enrolment can start at anytime
  • there is no course work requirement at all
  • the possibility of full scholarship support
  • the opportunity to study at the world renown HIT Lab NZ
  • being able to live and study in beautiful Christchurch, New Zealand
  • it is one of the only multi-disciplinary Human Interface Technology PhD degrees in the world

Students from any background who have completed an honours level undergraduate degree or Masters degree can apply for the HIT Lab NZ PhD program. We are particularly interested in students with a strong interest in technology and design, and a desire to conduct research at the forefront of Human Interface Technology. There are limited places available, especially for those who would like financial support.

Admission Requirements for PhD at the University of Canterbury

Students must meet the admission requirements of the University of Canterbury. Students with degrees from universities other than those within New Zealand must first obtain permission to enrol (Admission ad-eundem) before being allowed to enrol for a postgraduate degrees. This requires the submission of a completed application form and supporting papers to the University, details of which may be obtained from here. It is important to be aware that admission to this Department as a postgraduate student is dependent not only on the academic level of the candidate but also on the availability of a supervisor in the candidate’s area of interest. The areas of interest must be clearly specified by the candidate when applying for admission. A candidate is strongly advised to contact an appropriate supervisor and arrange a topic for research. The supervisor and topic should be named in the application letter.

The application process is as follows:

  1. Check if you meet the admission requirements of the University of Canterbury.
  2. Send us your application through our job board. Select the specific PhD position you are interested in or choose the "Genearal PhD" position. We will contact you to discuss your application and to schedule an interview.
  3. Review the application guidelines.
  4. Send your application to the Postgraduate Office.

Once accepted into the program, Doctoral students can begin their studies at any time during the year. For international students, please check these guidelines. The general policies and regulations for PhD research are available here and in the Policy Library.


Scholarships are available from the Univeristy of Canterbury and from the HIT Lab NZ. A scholarship from the university will allow you more freedom to determine your research focus, while scholarships from the lab will require you to work within one of our funded projects. The University has two general categories for domestic scholarships and international scholarships.


Master Program

The Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) is offering a new master degree of Human Interface Technology.

About the HIT Lab NZ

The HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury is developing and commercializing technology that improves human computer interaction and by doing so unlocks the power of human intelligence. The HIT Lab NZ conducts research with new emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Next Generation Video Conferencing, Immersive Visualization and Human-Robot Interaction. Interaction Design techniques are used to adapt these technologies to the needs of end users and solve real world problems. The end goal is to improve the user experience with technology.The HIT Lab NZ has been conducting research in Human Interface Technology for many years and is now recognized as a national and international center of excellence in the area. It is currently one of largest and best funded research centers in this area in New Zealand. HITLab NZ has a number of academic partners and industry partners based around the world. There are HITLab facilities based at the University of Washington (Seattle), as well as a HITLab AU based at the University of Tasmania in Australia.

The Masters Program

As New Zealand and international business moves to a more design centred future, there is increasing demand for Human Interface Technology skills. The design industry and the government have acknowledged this demand. The Master of Human Interface Technology (MHIT) program aims to improve interactive technology to meet users’ needs. The program directly engages with industry and offers students a mechanism for direct industry engagement through projects and scholarships.Human Interface Technology is useful in a wide range of areas such as medicine, rehabilitation, education and training, entertainment and business. Study in the field incorporates a diverse range of topic areas including User-Centred Design, the development of new interface devices and technologies (hardware and software), evaluating these technologies within the application context, and studying the broader impact of interface technology on human behaviour and society.


The master’s degree consists of a course and a thesis to be completed full-time over one year. The course and the thesis are offered in parallel and students can start in February and July. Graduates will have knowledge of key interface design principles, the ability to describe and evaluate interface hardware and software, and research and development skills. Admission into the master’s program is a Bachelor’s degree with honours, which is equivalent to a four-year undergraduate program. Suitable fields include Computer Science, Design, and Psychology. But also students from other related fields may qualify.

The program consists of an intensive 12 weeks taught course (HITD601) that teaches advanced topics of human interface technology and a thesis (HITD690). Students start considering their thesis topic already during their HITD601 course and dedicate their efforts to it after completing the HITD601 course.


The University of Canterbury is offering masters scholarships for domestic students and international students. The University has also a wide range of additional scholarships that you may apply for. In addition, the HIT Lab NZ is also offering scholarships in collaboration with industry.

Qualifications Required to Enrol in the Degree

Detailed instrucation on the regulations concerning the MHIT program are available.


To get admission to the program you should first review the application process. You can start the program in February or July.

Further Information

Please visit our website at to learn more about the program and the research the HIT Lab NZ is conducting. You may also contact our academic director for specific questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



The HIT Lab NZ offers a large range of facilities and expertise for your research. You can either propose your own line of research or join a project in our research themes. Internships usually last between three and six months. Scholarhips from the HIT Lab NZ and Scholarships from the University of Canterbury are available. Please have a look at our job board for available internships.


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University of Canterbury
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New Zealand

(64 3) 364 2349


University of Canterbury

University of Washington

Canterbury Development Corporation