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Postgraduate study

Course overview

This unique postgraduate course focuses on the design, development and production of board games, card games and tabletop roleplay games. It is one of the first courses of its kind. We have a long history of highly specialised courses in a variety of computer game development disciplines, and this new programme benefits from that detailed and deep expertise, by augmenting it with experience and knowledge in the rapidly growing market of analogue, tabletop games.

This course will appeal to graduates who wish to become freelancers or entrepreneurs in the global tabletop games market, already have an idea or an intellectual property (IP) to develop, or plan to embark on a research career in ludology.

You develop skills common to all tabletop design roles; the mechanics of gameplay and different ways of prototyping those features. You learn how to balance game systems and economies in advanced game mechanics, and how to communicate the user experience to stakeholders via contemporary marketing methods. The Advanced Tabletop Prototyping module allows you to explore the physical and cost considerations for game pieces and elements, for card-, board-, and tabletop roleplay games. The Advanced Games Writing module focuses on branching and emergent narratives in a variety of tabletop settings.The Research Methods module allows you to explore your visual and practical research interests to support the creation of high quality game designs, while preparing you for your master’s project.You also gain experience of developing your own intellectual property (IP) and pitching, presenting and promoting it in a variety of contexts. The course covers such entrepreneurial skills specifically for a board, card and roleplay game (RPG) market, to help those who want to start their own micro-studios reach crowd funding and maximal social media attention. There is a focus on making your ideas and ambitions into a sustainable and appealing personal brand and strategising your business model for maximum effect in a dynamic, global marketplace.Many teaching staff are active practitioners in the field of tabletop games, working on research or enterprise projects in this and related areas. This expertise feeds into our theoretical modules such as Research Methods, and Advanced Games Writing. There are a number of successful tabletop games companies operating on campus and in the surrounding area, who are committed to helping create a critical mass of knowledge and support for the budding freelancer or start-up company in tabletop game design. This is a unique feature within the UK university sector, and Teesside welcomes them as guest speakers on the course. Animex, our annual international festival of animation and games is unique to Teesside and offers you access to experts from world leading games studios. You are encouraged to attend to see the latest developments in the increasingly convergent area of digital and analogue games, and to use networking opportunities to meet and interact with industry personnel.


Course details

Course structure

Core modules

Advanced Game Mechanics

This module aims to discuss advanced concepts and theories involved in game mechanics design and implementation. The pre-production stages of game design will be examined with a strong focus on game mechanics and their role in designing an engaging and immersive gaming experience.

You will develop creative game design pitches which communicate concept, mechanics, gameplay, and user experience with clarity and as visually as possible. These pitches will be developed into proofs of concept.

Advanced Games Writing

This module discusses the theory and practice of creative writing in the context of games. It will extend your understanding of prose writing, including: narration, character, story arcs, point of view, voice, tense etc.

The module will employ a range of strategies to help you develop your skills as a games writer. Practical exercises and activities will be employed to help develop your own voice and individual writing style.

Advanced Tabletop Game Prototyping

This module aims to build upon fundamental concepts involved in the creation of a tabletop game prototype as part of a small team.

It will examine the contrast between the creation of a strong core mechanic, which is immediately tactile, and how it can be expanded upon through player learning, subtractive design and variety to provide longevity. Ultimately providing an accessible, engaging and substantial gameplay experience informed by playtesting.

You will enhance your skills both theoretically and practically, making use of physical gameplay elements, miniatures, and custom assets. Inspired by the structure of relevant titles, they will be encouraged to rigorously plan tasks from a macro and micro perspective prior to development.

IP Development

Intellectual Property (IP) matters: Some of the greatest financial successes in the games industries in recent years have begun as small, original titles that have gone on to generate huge franchises. The reality is that most IP doesn’t make it so big, but an IP can make or break a start-up company.

This module explores the nature of IP by developing your own IP in games, including detailed market analysis, creativity, world building, developing unique selling points (USPs), ethical and legal considerations, and developing a solid, original brand that has good market potential.

Masters Project: Tabletop Games Design

This module provides you with the opportunity to undertake a major, in-depth, individual study in an aspect of your Tabletop Game Design programme. These projects will be drawn from appropriate commercial, industrial, artistic or research-based problem areas.

The project will involve research and investigation in relevant aspects of a very specific area of study followed by the production of a major deliverable portfolio of relevant practice based materials from the area of tabletop games design.

You will also produce a written report that contextualises and critically evaluates your final outputs.

Pitch, Present, Promote

The global games industry is awash with big hitters with seemingly infinite budgets, but it the recent rise of the “entreprenerd” has been swift, and small start-ups can generate vast amounts of interest through careful and selective marketing campaigns using social media.

This module considers promotional and digital communications for the games industries in the age of patronage and crowd funding.

It discusses strategies and operational matters of multimedia interactions in promotional culture for getting your brand message across to a variety of stakeholders and audiences.

Research Methods

You gain the knowledge and skills to understand the research process in computing and digital media, and the necessary skills to undertake your masters project. You learn how to use and critically evaluate previous academic research, and to generate good evidence material to justify their professional practice. This involves you learning about different research strategies and data generation methods and how they fit into the development lifecycle and the evaluation of the user experience, the use of the academic research literature, and research ethics.

Assessment involves you preparing a research proposal which can form the basis of your master's project.


Advanced practice


The internship options are:

Vocational: spend one semester working full-time in industry or on placement in the University. We have close links with a range of national and international companies who could offer you the chance to develop your knowledge and professional skills in the workplace through an internship. Although we cannot guarantee internships, we will provide you with practical support and advice on how to find and secure your own internship position. A vocational internship is a great way to gain work experience and give your CV a competitive edge.

Research: develop your research and academic skills by undertaking a research internship within the University. Experience working as part of a research team in an academic setting. Ideal for those who are interested in a career in research or academia.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

This course uses a blend of face-to-face learning in class, and some distance-based learning. The September semester has standard face-to-face classes, with regular lectures and seminars to introduce and discuss the topics. Practical sessions happen weekly for each module, and allow you to focus on the development of your coursework, putting the theory into practice and receiving regular feedback and critique from your tutors and peers.

The January semester has two modules which operate more loosely, allowing you to determine much of your own schedule, with minimal timetabled weekly catch-ups and drop-in sessions for support, but with most of the learning content delivered online. This is designed to give you a taste of the freelance or independent studio life, and to ease you into the final semester over the summer: This is where you will work independently, scheduling one-to-one meetings with your project supervisor as needed.

How you are assessed

Assessment is via coursework, with a variety of practical, industry mirroring and academic formats. This has been designed with maximum inclusivity in mind, so you can pitch and present in person, via live internet video link, or by pre-recorded audio video. You will be making polished prototypes of your games and evidence them via online assessment submissions, using captured gameplay sessions and planning documentation of specific board or card game materials: Even though tabletop games are analogue, the means of making them is not, and this is reflected in how the assessment is designed and managed.

Some of the assessment has group work elements, to mirror industry practice where games are designed in teams. Other assessments may be industry-inspired or led, or part assessed by industry practitioners. All assessments are academically rigorous and are suitable for those who are interested in careers in teaching or research in games.


Entry requirements

You will normally have a first degree in related discipline (2.2 minimum) or relevant experience or equivalent qualifications. 

In addition, international students will require IELTS 6.0 or equivalent.

For additional information please see our entry requirements



Career opportunities

Careers in the tabletop games industry are mixed, with many of the more creative ones (games writer, or independent game developer for example) being freelance or entrepreneurial. However, many of the skills in this area are applicable to other industries including computer game design, interactive experience design, events and attraction design and other interactive design careers. Graduates with a more technical focus on gameplay modelling and balancing may wish to work in user experience (UX) design and testing, and will have the skills to do so.



2019 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£5,900 a year

£4,335 a year with advanced practice

More details about our fees

  • Length: within 1 year (September start), 16 months (January start) or 2 years with advanced practice (September or January start)
  • Enrolment date: September and January
  • Semester dates

Apply online (full-time)

Apply online (fast-track) for current students



2019 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£722 for each 20 credits

More details about our fees

  • Length: 2 years
  • Enrolment date: September and February
  • Semester dates

Apply online (part-time)

Apply online (fast-track) for current students


Choose Teesside


Stand out from other job applicants with your higher level qualification, specialist knowledge and expanded networks.



Improve your project management, critical thinking, research skills, time management, presentation skills and teamwork.



The median salary for working-age (16-64) postgraduates in 2018 was £6,000 more than graduates
(DoE Graduate Labour Market Statistics 2018,



Study in our friendly town-centre campus with over £270m recently invested and another £300m over the next 10 years.


Get in touch


Open days

16 November 2019
Postgraduate open day

Book now