I Created a UX Master’s Curriculum — My Thought Exercise

(Inspired by David Venturi’s writing, this article includes a bit about me, something about fun, and my UX curriculum. Being new to User Experience Design, I found this to be a really useful thought exercise and I hope you do too.)


Have you pursued higher education or years of work experience in a field unrelated to design? Live in a city but don’t have the money or time to pursue a User Experience or Human-Computer Interaction degree?

If so, we have something in common.

It is possible to take what you already know and apply it to a career in UX design. Passion, self-learning and reaching out to others in the industry will help get you there.

I’ve met people from a huge number of backgrounds ranging from marine biologist to maths teacher to anthropologist to marketer who have all been successful switching their career to digital. They have all been more than happy to talk to me about their experiences and help guide me to form my own.


Why do I like User Experience Design?

  1. I’ve always had a spark of creativity inside me, finding my happy place in hobbies of drawing, designing and photography.
  2. I have a background in psychology and completed a Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology here.
  3. The UX industry is dynamic, encourages life-long learning and is fun.
You can’t be creative if you’re not having fun” — Dave Kelly of IDEO

This phrase speaks to me on many levels. It reminds me of the magic of childhood where play is encouraged and creativity is always rewarded. Adults glean delight from witnessing children having fun, and will always seek opportunities for them to have it.

Why then is fun encouraged so much less in adulthood? A culturally-defined cut-off age, for example 18, signifies a sharp boundary between childhood and adulthood. Between playful learning and serious responsibilities. There areresponsibilities to be serious about but, as is more often the case these days, young adults tend to get bogged down and feel hopeless when it comes to fulfilling them.

Imagine if it was a top priority of employers to make workspaces as fun as possible, help employees feel good, and inspire creativity. Maybe this isn’t feasible in every workplace, but it seems to be readily encouraged and available in the creative industry. I want to experience for the first time what it is like to be part of such a fun and nurturing environment, while getting to indulge my hobbies every day.


I’ve had a go at creating my own UX curriculum based on my psychology Master’s programme. This exercise has helped me uncover important aspects of UX that were not apparent at first. I wrote it based on what I’ve learned in the past nine months (from knowing nothing about the industry to getting an internship). I’d like it to show UX from a different perspective and help inspire people to learn more. These articles really helped me get started — ‘Designing a free online learning curriculum’ and ‘How to teach yourself UX design’. Please note what I’ve written below isn’t exhaustive and is meant to be taken light-heartedly and encourage thought :)

Original Curriculum (MSc Child and Adolescent Psychology)- need minimum of (65) points:

Compulsory components

  • Advanced Psychodiagnostics in Children and Adolescents (5)
  • Behaviour Training with Children (5)
  • Solution Focused Therapy (5)
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy with Young People (5)
  • Master Thesis in MSc. Psychology (20)

Choose one of the following options as an internship

  • Internal Practical Internship (10)
  • Practical Internship Psychology (10)
  • Research Internship Psychology (MSc) (10)
  • Clinical Practical Internship Psychology (20)

Recommended elective(s)

  • Child Neuropsychology: Theory and Assessment of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (5)
  • Trainers Course Communication Skills (5)
  • Advanced Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (5)
  • Transdiagnostic Approach of Eating Disorders (5)

New Curriculum — need minimum of (65) points:

Compulsory components

  • Cognitive Psychology (5) — examining the brain from a neuronal/chemical level to understand how users think, what their motivations are, what they need
  • Web Development (5) — HTML/CSS/JavaScript, introduction to backend systems, CMS
  • People Management in Research (5) — users, clients, stakeholders (getting people to realise what they need versus what they want/think they need)
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods in UX (5) — differences, when to choose, types, mixing.
  • Design Tools (5) — photoshop, illustrator, affinity — watch online video tutorials (YouTube, Udemy, Lynda etcetera)
  • Master Thesis in MSc. UX (15)

Choose one of the following options as an internship

  • Internal Practical Internship (10) — a small project for a friend (e.g. website redesign for a friend or non-profit)
  • Practical Internship Psychology (10) — source and contact a firm, enquire about helping on one project for 4–6 weeks, ask for a formal feedback procedure (see requirements and feedback template for this in course folder)
  • Clinical Practical Internship Psychology (20) — secure an internship in a firm lasting no less than three months and up to six. Ask for formal feedback procedure (see requirements and feedback template for this in course folder)

Recommended elective(s)

  • Empathy in Design (5) — more in-depth cover of this important topic
  • Trainers Course Communication Skills (5)
  • Time Management & Organisational Skills (5)
  • Public Speaking Workshops (5) — modes of presenting

That’s it! I intended this to be a quick thought exercise and nothing too detailed or refined. For example, it does not include a reading list. It is not meant to be a valid curriculum, but rather a guideline or perspective that helps you think about what UX means to you. Please show some love if you liked it. Thanks!