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Undergraduate study
Computer Games Design

G470 BA/CGD (GWL2 BA/CGDFY for Year 0 entry)

 
 
 

Course overview

Ever played a computer game and thought you could design something better? Or been so gripped by one that you wish you had come up with the idea? Then think about a course in computer games design.

The games designer makes great ideas become real, designing the rules and structure of a game and implementing them in the game engine. It involves working with many different people, understanding the roles of specialists who need to work together to create games. You develop 2D and 3D design skills alongside an appreciation of game mechanics and its relationship to game play, including conceptual, story, character, level and visual design. You also study game engines and industry technologies and compare their capabilities.

Take part in Animex our annual international festival of games and animation which brings together experts from world-renowned studios including Rockstar, Pixar, Aardman, Disney, ILM, Sony Interactive and Supermassive Games.

You also have the chance to enter our local, national and international GameJam events, take part in our industry competitions, attend industry events, and Beta test some upcoming games before they are released.

 

Course details

Course structure

Year 0 (foundation year) core modules

Case Studies

This module provides tools in your reading of cultural texts. Focusing on computer games, animation and film, you gain an introductory level of understanding in the context of your chosen fields of study.
As well as looking at the historical and contextual overview of the history of animation, film and computer games, you also look at how we interpret these types of media historically and materially. You choose a text from within your area of interest and undertake an analytical review in the form of a case study.

Computational Thinking

Algorithms are considered to be at the heart of computing and are critical to developing computer-driven applications. Designing algorithms requires you to think like a machine, using computational thinking to construct procedures to implement as computer programmes.

This module introduces you to the fundamental building blocks of algorithms through classic puzzles and recreational games. You develop your knowledge of design principles and your proficiency in creating algorithmic procedures by cultivating your ability to think computationally in solving puzzles and creating routines for playing simple, computer-enabled games.

Foundation Game

You produce an individual project artefact, with the supervision of a member of academic staff. This involves you producing a small game project.
You take your existing knowledge and develop a small game from start to finish. This includes writing a high level concept document (proposal), early demo and testing (progress review) and a completed demo made within a contemporary game engine or similar.

Modelling Principles

You learn some of the basic principles of 3D computer modelling, lighting and texturing. You use 3D software to produce a simple 3D model that will be textured and rendered with basic lighting. Through guided tutorial tasks, you learn some of the first principles of 3D modelling with the view to creating a small collection of elementary assets for computer games and animation. You create simple textures in appropriate software, such as Photoshop, and consider basic CG lighting.

Narrative Design Principles

You explore the theory and practice of games narrative. You investigate the basics of storytelling in games and how traditional and moderns games have embedded narrative.

You carry out practical exercises and activities to help develop your understanding of narrative in games and individual writing and in engine implementation.

Visual Scripting Principles

You are introduced to the principles of visual scripting, including variables, functions and operators. You use these concepts to implement functionality and interaction using a contemporary game engine.

 

Year 1 core modules

Game Asset Creation

You are introduced to the basic creation of assets for small, contained or independent games. You understand the core skills required to create and implement sprites, simple 3D assets, materials, particles and audio for a game.

Game Design and Mechanics

This module introduces you to the core theories involved in designing games. You examine the pre-production stages of game and level design with a strong focus on game mechanics and their role in designing an engaging and immersive gaming experience.

You develop creative design documentation, plans and diagrams which communicate gameplay, layout and concepts as simply and visually as possible.

Game Production and Project Management

You consider a broad range of skills and methods used in effective project management. And you focus on the role of the project manager in the day-to-day management of teams and production.

You look at how to manage projects from pre-production, through to production, delivery and project closure. You develop your knowledge and understanding of techniques for project scoping, project planning, budgeting and project software, whilst developing an understanding of the role of the project manager throughout the project process.

You are introduced to tools for project management such as standard project management and task management software including cloud-based solutions for collaboration.

Game Prototyping

You are introduced to fundamental concepts involved in the creation of game prototypes. You examine the essence of a core gameplay, with a strong focus on interaction and how this translates into a tactile, engaging experience.

You study the fundamental principles of scripting, including variables, functions and operators.

Industry Briefs

This module involves you working as individuals to produce an artefact in relation to a game experience using an Industry brief.

You experience working with a real production brief set by industry. It provides you with an opportunity to target specific and current production skills within your chosen field of study.

Non-digital Game Development

You explore non-digital game development, and the theories and methods for game and spatial design for board games, card games, room escapes, games of chance, collaborative play, and spaces of outside play. Experts and industry speakers share their hands-on experience.

 

Year 2 core modules

Game Development

As part of a team, you concentrate on the creation of a small scale, tactile game prototype within a contemporary game engine.

You are provided with an opportunity to focus on an area of expertise or experiment across a variety of development disciplines. Game Development also allows you to gain confidence in communicating your ideas to a professional audience in an engaging manner.

Game Interface Design

You are introduced to the creative and practical processes of planning and developing front end and heads-up display (HUD) interfaces for games. You are encouraged to explore a variety of creative methods including 2D and/or 3D software tools in the development of interface elements which are brought together into fully functional interfaces.

You explore design theories, interactivity, accessibility, rational navigation and interface psychology through a series of lectures and lab based sessions.

Industry Portfolio Development

You are provided with the opportunity to work from a games industry provided brief to create a body of work to a professional standard in your chosen field of study.

You produce a body of work reflecting your own specialisation, demonstrating your understanding of core industry requirements, practices and pipelines with a view to showcasing your creative and technical ability through an online portfolio.

This portfolio is intended to demonstrate your understanding of the quality of work expected at a professional level. You are expected to present your work in an appropriate online format – this may be embedded video, blogs or a specific portfolio website.

Journeyman

You work in a team to produce a game experience within a current game engine. This provides you with experience of working within a production environment, and also with an opportunity to target specific production skills within your chosen field of study.

Mission Design

You explore the design and production of gameplay missions, why people play games, what makes them fun and how this knowledge can be applied to add depth and playability to level design.

As a level designer on a live game, you produce gameplay missions within a level. You combine knowledge of game theory and psychology with techniques such as scripting, timing and game balance to concept, design and produce an engaging gameplay experience.

Mission Design uses ready-made custom game assets consisting of 3D models, animation, VFX and sound to enable you to focus on your implementation rather than creation. The missions are created within a current industry standard game engine.

 

Final-year core modules

Beta Arcade

You gain experience of working as a member of a games development team that is as close to industrial practice as possible. Beta Arcade simulates the working criteria and mix of development skills that are required to produce a polished prototype of a computer game concept which would be suitable for publication.

Final Year Project

The Final Year Project is a large-scale piece of work, undertaken under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The project involves the production of a substantial artefact related to your subject area.

You develop an appropriate sense of work-discipline coupled with a professional outlook and are expected to take responsibility for the planning and execution of an extended piece of work including the consideration of associated legal, social, ethical and professional issues. You explore a chosen subject area in depth and are required to demonstrate the ability to analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply what has already been studied on the programme whilst demonstrating critical and evaluative skills and professional awareness.

Games Narrative

You explore the theory and practice of games narrative creation and investigate the basics of storytelling in games, including: narration, character, story arcs, point of view, voice, tense, cutscene, mise en scene, narrative wash / narrative texture, backstory, storytelling using affordances and signifiers, world building, emergent storytelling, and found text / found audio.

You develop your skills as a games narrative creator through a range of strategies. Practical exercises and activities help you develop your own narrative voice and individual writing and/or visual storytelling style.

Upskill

You evaluate and identify an area of your personal skillset that is underdeveloped and take steps to develop it before undertaking your major project.

You negotiate a brief with your tutor to enhance your skills in a relevant area of current or emergent practice in games development. You research and identify appropriate academic or industry resources that are relevant to your work on practical modules, as well as the computer games industry, and use them to develop a personalised development project that can be practical or academic.

 

Modules offered may vary.

 

How you learn

For each module you learn in a series of lectures and tutorials. The lecturers provide you with specific theoretical information related to the subject while the tutorials focus on developing your practical skills. In the later tutorials you work on assessments and use this time to get feedback and advice from tutors. Further support is offered online in the form of extra learning material. You are expected to manage your time to complete work outside the tutorial sessions.

In your second year you take part in our unique Journeyman module, highly praised by industry, in which all games art students work with games designers in a simulated game studio experience, outsourcing various essentials such as assets and animation to specialist teams. You work on games in Unreal and Unity to strict milestones in a scenario that is as close to industry practice as possible within an academic environment.

Learn using our industry-standard facilities including multiple games development labs, virtual reality lab, and state-of-art Vicon motion capture facilities.

How you are assessed

We believe that it is essential for you to learn through the experience of doing. Assessment for all modules is in the form of practical projects, which you work on throughout the year. You develop a portfolio of design work throughout the course. In Year 2, the Journeyman module provides you with essential teamwork skills ready for industry. The Project in the final year allows you the freedom to set your own project based on your skills and interests.


Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

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Find out more about our course related costs

 
 

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Call us on 0800 952 0226 about our entry requirements

For additional information please see our entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

 

Employability

Work placement

Being able to include work experience on your CV makes you a much more attractive applicant. You have a much higher chance of improving your degree classification and the boost in confidence will give you the edge in job interviews.

98% of our students who complete a work placement achieve a high level degree classification and are offered a graduate job within six months of graduating.

We have established excellent long-term relationships with businesses giving you the opportunity to apply for summer, year-long and graduate placements with key organisations such as: Microsoft, Rare, Team 17, ZeroLight, R8 Games, Hammerhead VR, Dojo Arcade, Schlumberger, Sumo Digital and Coastsink.

Student selection is carried out by employers through competitive interviews and often skills tests. Placements are not compulsory but are assessed and contribute to your final degree award.

Our placements team gives you help and support throughout the placement process, including guidance on applications and interviews, to help you get a placement that suits you.

Career opportunities

This specialist degree offers the skills you need for a career in the games industry and provides generic skills which open up numerous other career paths. Some of our graduates have been recognised as being among the world's best young games development talent, and feature in Develop magazine's annual 30 under 30.

Employment opportunities include creative director, games designer, scriptwriter, level designer, interface designer and games tester.

Graduates from our games degrees have gone on to work as level designers, junior game designers, mission designers and artists in a wide range of companies including 3rd Dimensions, Atomic Planet, Bizarre Creations, Creative Assembly, Eutechnyx, Halch, Media Molecule, Microsoft Rare, Naughty Dog, Ninja Theory, Frontier Rebellion, Rockstar North, Sega, Streamline, Supermassive Games, Traveller's Tales, Ubisoft, Venom, Virtual Playground, Volatile, Weta Digital and many more.

 

Information for international applicants

Qualifications

International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

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Full-time

Entry to 2020/21 academic year

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£13,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants


What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 with a work placement) or 4 years including foundation year (or 5 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: G470 BA/CGD
    GWL2 BA/CGDFY for Year 0 entry
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: Call us on 0800 952 0226 about our entry requirements

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UK applicants
EU and International applicants

 

Part-time

2020/21 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£4,500 (120 credits)

More details about our fees

  • Length: Up to 6 years
  • Attendance: Daytime
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Semester dates

Apply online (part-time)

 
 
 
 

Facilities

ExpoTalent is a unique opportunity to meet businesses to secure placements, internships and future employment opportunities.

 

Choose Teesside

iPad

Are you eligible for an iPad, keyboard and £300 credit for learning resources?

 

Accommodation

Live in affordable accommodation right on-campus

 

Campus

Study in our town-centre campus with over £270m of recent investment

 

Industry ready

Benefit from work placements, live projects, accredited courses

 

Get in touch

 

Open days

 
 
 

Foundation year

Part-time

Part-time DiscoverUni data