A case study approach is taken to illustrate a design approach to the development of a Masters course. Over a 10-year period, the course was developed from traditional delivery and teaching modes, through the introduction of problem-based learning, and the incorporation of human computer interaction (HCI) elements. The latter development coincided with a shift from classroom-based teaching to distance learning mode, and the resource and design issues in this dual transformation are discussed. Pedagogic principles of problem-based learning were applied along with a range of other case conditions in framing the design intent. It is concluded that the design process in HCI and problem-based learning applications is central in ensuring that appropriate learning environments are established. While there is no single formula for designing problem-based learning or integrating HCI into learning programmes, the application of appropriate principles and methods is essential.