Chris Johnson, Index

Open Assessment From 1996-7

The aim of this assessed exercise is to give you practice at using the world's computer resources to research and present a given problem. A paper copy of the solution should be handed to your tutor in the first lab of next term (week 21).

Task description

You should write an essay of no more than 2,000 words to answer the question given below. Marks will be allocated for the style and presentation of your argument. Marks will also be allocated for the references that you use. You should cite the Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) of the pages that you visit. Here is an example of one of these references [1]. You should also cite any books that you find useful. Here is an example of a book reference [2]. Here is an example of a journal reference [3].

The Question

Human error is a greater cause of major accidents than computer or systems failure. Discuss.


An overview of human error and major accidents is provided at [4]. A number of sites present 'real' accident reports. These can be accessed through the Links page of the Glasgow Accident Analysis Group [5]. The Air Accident Investigation Branch is a good starting point for first-hand reports of major accidents. For example, a recent near-accident involving a Boeing aircraft is reported in full at [6]. Nancy Leveson, one of the leading experts in this area, is giving a talk to the Department on Wednesday 19th March, details of this event are available through the Department's main web page.

Marking Scheme

This exercise is worth 20 marks out of the 100 that are associated with the HCI course. The following marking scheme will be applied:



[2] J. Preece, Human-Computer Interaction, Addison Wesley, Wokingham, England, 1994.

[3] N.G. Leveson, Software Safety: Why, What And How, ACM Computing Surveys, Vol. 18, No. 2, 
pages 25-69, June 1986.



 (note that there is no 'l' on 'htm')