Course Syllabus

game studies 2 logo.jpgDIS Logo
Term & Location:

Summer 2022 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Lab & Research Session - 6 credits

Major Disciplines:

Media Studies, Psychology, Computer Science


One research methods course, and one year of either psychology, game design, or media studies, all at university level.

Research Mentor:

Joshua Juvrud, PhD

Research Director:

Tina Mangieri, PhD - 

Academic Support: 


6-Credit Research Assistantship

The 6-Credit Research Assistantship (6RA) is an experiential learning opportunity promoting the development of research skills in an international, professional, research setting.  As a Research Assistant, you perform research under the supervision of a Research Mentor (a lead scientist in the external research group). The mentor is able to offer both academic and professional advice. In addition to acquiring research experience, the goal is to develop a student/mentor relationship that benefits both the DIS student and research institution(s) in Sweden.

Research Project Description

At the Games & Society Lab at Uppsala University, Research Mentor Dr. Joshua Juvrud takes an individualistic approach using psychological methods to understand better how different game players (with different personalities, traits, and experiences) interact with various game mechanics, and are in turn affected by game experiences. Research questions and findings are therefore highly relevant for both developers of games and digital media, as well as psychologists, sociologists, and health scientists. As a researcher in the Games & Society Lab, you have the opportunity to work with digital and physical games (e.g., video games, board games, LARPING) in an experimental context using research tools such as eye-tracking and psychophysiological measures to answer questions related to human behavior. Participate in research seminars, conduct experiments with games, and work alongside leading researchers.

Research topics include:

1. Learning. The information that influences attention and subsequent learning may include other sensory inputs, cognitive processes, emotion or emotional responses, or prior experiences and future expectations. Understanding these influences on attention may help us to, in turn, be able to predict, based on eye movements, in what ways the player is experiencing a game. By associating eye-gaze patterns with measures of player expertise, skill, and enjoyment, we can use eye-gaze to understand and predict player experiences. For example, how do skills developed as a musician affect learning and performance in a game. This research is informative for understanding not only learning a game and its mechanics, but also how that learning transfers to new games, new contexts, and even to learning situations outside of the game (such as motor ability).

2. Social perception. Using eye-tracking methodology, we measure fixations, gaze direction, scanning patterns, and pupil dilation in order to understand individual differences in how people perceive various components of art and design in gaming, including characters and environments. This is extremely informative for game design, but also for understanding how individuals are learning and responding to digital media. With this knowledge, we can improve game design in order to assist in positive learning experiences for individuals.

3. Prosocial and antisocial behavior. We examine how children and adults view and then consequently interact with a game, the community within the game, and how those experiences influence prosocial and antisocial behavior both within and outside of the game. We integrate state of the art psychology tests with game design research in order to learn more about how people are affected by games. This unique combination allows an individualistic approach and focus on how different gamers (with different personalities, traits, and experiences) are affected by various game mechanisms. Using eye tracking techniques further allows a new perspective by linking individual characteristics to the microstructure of attention and decision-making during the game and relates this to game mechanics and altruistic outcomes, and looks at long-term consequences for their moral compass and social actions throughout life.

Learning Objectives

  • Obtain hands-on research experience in a laboratory setting
  • Plan, conduct, and critically evaluate experimental laboratory data
  • Perform self-directed and self-motivated experimental research
  • Actively participate in scientific discussions with a critical approach to the research
  • Write a research paper and present experimental data in a professional way
  • Learn ethical standards and academic integrity in a research process
  • Experience the authenticity of research, including the unpredictabilities, the unexpected challenges, and the unknowns that are a common part of conducting research

Research Assistantship Hours 

You will spend 180 hours directly engaged in research, together with 20 hours in co-curricular activities, during your RAship. You will arrange a schedule with your mentor which will allow you to complete per week an average of 22 hours of lab-work, 10 theoretical hours of reading and writing, and 3 hours of Introduction to Sweden to complement your research and provide context for your time abroad (35 hours in total per week). Note: there may be peak times in the research process where all Research Assistants are expected to spend a few more hours - and then possibly a few less - another week, to reflect the individual research project and process. The total hours may vary, to some extent, according to research opportunity and expectations of your mentor.

Lab Location

This DIS Research Project is located at Uppsala University and Campus Gotland of Uppsala University. The project includes required research travel to the island of Gotland.

Research Mentor

Joshua Juvrud - Ph.D. in Psychology (Uppsala University). As a research psychologist, his work has focused on the ways that novel techniques in research (eye-tracking, pupil dilation, virtual reality) can be used to assess how children and adults perceive and interpret people, emotions, and actions. Josh focuses this research in two fields. In developmental psychology at the Child and Babylab in Uppsala, he seeks to understand how children learn about their world and the social cognitive development of face perception and socialization processes such as gender, race, and ethnicity. In games research at the Games & Society Lab at the Department of Game Design in Visby, Gotland, his work examines the psychology of people, their actions, and emotions in game development, player engagement, learning, and immersion to understand better how different game players (with different personalities, traits, and experiences) interact with various game mechanisms and are, in turn, affected by game experiences. 

Approach to Mentoring

In general, the 6RA is designed for highly motivated students with a strong interest in developing their research skills. You will experience a hands-on class in a laboratory setting also including theoretical hours, where you will read, write, discuss, and prepare your research. You will be part of an active research team and experience the dynamics of a European research institution. You will be provided with the basic scientific knowledge of the field and be introduced to the methods and techniques needed to conduct the experiments. Regarding teaching style, especially in the laboratory setting, our approach is "learning by doing." For the theoretical focus, you are expected to immerse yourself in the topic and take responsibility so you achieve the highest learning outcomes by actively participating in discussions and presentations. 

Responsibilities and Expectations of the Research Mentor

Your research project will be part of a larger, ongoing research project at the host research institution. Your mentor and/or co-mentors will guide you on methodology and techniques, advise as to ethical considerations, provide feedback throughout the research process, and help you find resources to conduct your research on-site. A gradual transition toward independence is the goal, as you gain confidence in transitioning to a more self-directed and self-motivated project under the mentor’s guidance and supervision. It is important that the project reflect your work, as the Research Assistant, and not only your mentor’s contribution.  

It is not expected that you pursue a project where you are able to obtain definitive publishable results. The project chosen and agreed upon between you and your mentor should be focused and designed to produce results within the DIS term calendar. While it is not necessary for the results to be significant (in that the results find a solution to the problem or hypothesis proposed), arguably any results to the proposed question(s) are significant to the next phase of the research project

Responsibilities and Expectations of the Research Assistant

Specific expectations of you as the Research Assistant are agreed upon with your mentor at the beginning of the semester. However, in general it requires that you:

1.    Spend an average of 35 hours per week carrying out the research project, including 3 hours of Introductionto Sweden each Wednesday. You will need to arrange a schedule with your mentor which will allow you to complete the required hours performing a combination of theoretical and hands-on research at the external research institution.

2.    Arrange project check-in meetings with your research mentor and/or co-mentor(s) at mutually agreed upon times during the summer. Clear and continuous communication with your research mentor throughout the term is a necessary part of the research project and it is expected that you initiate these meetings. 

3.    Submit assignments on time including a literature review,  a written and oral outline of the research project, a journal club presentation, and a final research paper, as agreed upon with your mentor.

As part of your theoretical focus, you are expected to read and write relevant scientific literature in relation to your research project and use your newly-gained knowledge to critically evaluate the research component, ask relevant questions, and actively participate in research discussions within the field. During the practical work, you are expected to actively engage by planning and performing your own experiments and carefully monitoring the conducted experiments and analyzing the collected data. You are expected/encouraged to critically evaluate possible issues if experiments do not go as expected and come up with ideas to modify or reflect on potential mistakes.

Overall, it is important to be enthusiastic about the project. Carrying out a research project is neither a straightforward nor predictable process as you are creating new (and at times unexpected) knowledge. This is part of what makes research exciting but, at times, also challenging! 

Evaluation and Grading

During the summer research assistantship, you are expected to fulfill various assignments, described below. To be eligible for a passing grade, all of the assignments must be completed. Your mentor assesses your work and assigns your final grade.

Assignments and their weights are shown in the following table:

Attendance & Participation


Milestone 1: Research proposal, paper outline


Milestone 2: Background & literature review


Milestone 3: Method section


Milestone 4: analysis, first full draft


Final Paper




 Attendance and Participation – 20%

Participation is a central part of laboratory-based research and the international study experience. Attendance at all classes, research meetings, journal clubs (described below), and lab sessions is mandatory. Students must inform their mentor in advance if they cannot attend a class session. As a Research Assistant, you are expected to be active in discussions and group work. Active participation and engagement include asking questions related to the readings and material presented as part of the RAship and taking part in discussions, including constructive criticism of others work. Active participation means contributing through your own initiative.

Every week, progress will be checked. Students will all need to present their progress and discuss the upcoming steps.

Of the 20% of your final grade devoted to attendance and participation, 5% of your attendance and participation grade will reflect your active involvement in weekly Introduction to Sweden sessions each Wednesday, led by DIS Swedish Language and Culture faculty, Maria Carlsson. Please see the Introduction to Sweden Canvas page for these required weekly activities, designed to introduce you to the cultural context of your temporary home, enhance your time in the Stockholm region, and deepen your understanding of Sweden.

  • Journal Club

Journal clubs are research presentations followed by discussions organized by the research lab. They are occasions for detailed discussions within a specific research area and for development of excellent presentation skills as required of researchers today. Journal club also provides experience in close, critical reading of research papers and experimental data.

The research paper that you choose to present during a Journal Club should be related to your research area. If you are more than one DIS Research Assistant in the same lab, the other student(s) should also read the paper and prepare questions for the journal club discussion.

The presentation should have a logical and clear structure and provide relevant information on the background, methods, conclusions, and future perspectives of the presented work. The original data reported in the paper should be presented and discussed in a clear way.

Milestone 1: research proposal, paper outline – 10%

Present a draft of your introduction, which includes a research question, a breakdown of the important literature to consider and points to address, and the supporting literature you plan to explore. Present an overall outline of your paper. Present a research management plan indicating what research activities you are planning to do in each week (e.g. reading X articles in week Y; sketching design ideas on day Z, producing text on section A in week B). Plan this with the paper outline and remaining milestones in mind.

Milestone 2: background & literature review – 10%

Present a solid draft of your background that situates your study in available literature and explains how your paper relates to available previous research. Rather than merely summarize, it should highlight key ideas from other research as they apply to your study.

Milestone 3: methods section – 10%

Present a solid draft of your method section, which includes methodological reflections. What does your sample look like? What equipment are you using? What methods and measures did you select, and why? Milestone 3 includes a description of practical steps and procedures, answering how your study was structured.

Milestone 4: analysis, first full draft – 10%

Present an analysis section and a discussion, along with the previously finalized sections. In your results and discussion, be sure to explain your statistical tests and the findings, and then discuss and interpret your findings in a logical and relevant sequence. You should at least include an introduction which restates the research problem. It should contain a systematic description and explanation of your results, highlighting key observations through the lens of your theoretical framework. It should include a discussion of patterns, principles, and relationships shown by each major finding, placed in perspective. How do they contribute to the understanding of your research problem? Include perspectives on unexpected findings as well. Submit a first full draft of your paper.

Final Paper – 40%

You final paper should include the introduction, the literature review, the hypothesis/research question(s), the predicted results, a methods section including statistical methodology, the results section (illustrated by relevant pictures, graphs and tables), a discussion section putting your results in perspective, and final conclusions associated with your question(s). The manuscript should be handed in per group.


Note that many US colleges/universities require their students who are participating in research at home or abroad to acquire Institutional Review Board approval. Examples include:

  • Research involving human subjects
  • If the results of any research conducted during your term with DIS involving human subjects are to be made public or published in the US

You are responsible for confirming whether home IRB-approval is required and, if so, for seeking the approval of your home schools' IRB. In addition, all research conducted in Europe must adhere to GDPR regulations, as noted above.

Before Arrival in Stockholm

Once accepted, you will be connected to your mentor(s) via email. You will then contact your mentor(s) and briefly introduce yourself further. Please note that some mentors may give you 10 – 15 hours of research literature to read before your term begins.

Academic Regulations

Please make sure to read the Academic RegulationsLinks to an external site. on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due