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Games Design at UCA

Learn how to shape and enhance a player's gaming experience and fully develop exciting ideas on our holistic BA (Hons) Games Design degree course at UCA Farnham.

The role of the games designer is central to the development of any game – it's designers that create the rules, systems and mechanics that form the centre of any gaming experience. You’ll learn to prototype games using games engines, develop design documentation, conduct research, and create experiences. This course is all about developing your ideas, nurturing your creativity, and giving you the skills to make your concepts a reality. 

You’ll be supported along the way by a team of lecturers with a wealth of industry experience at AAA games studios, and, since the course is aligned to the most prestigious developers and publishers, you’ll be fully prepared to start your career right after graduation.

 

Course entry options

Select from the following options to find out more about the different study options available for this course:

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Institution code
C93
UCAS code
I620
Campus
UCA Farnham
Start date(s)
September 2024, September 2025
Duration
3 years full-time
Entry requirements

112 UCAS points
International equivalent qualifications

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Institution code
C93
UCAS code
I62A
Campus
UCA Farnham
Start date(s)
September 2024, September 2025
Duration
4 years full-time
Entry requirements

32 UCAS points

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Institution code
C93
UCAS code
I62C
Campus
UCA Farnham
Start date(s)
September 2024, September 2025
Duration
4 years full-time
Entry requirements

12 years of schooling (with good grades)

Close
Institution code
C93
UCAS code
I621
Campus
UCA Farnham
Start date(s)
September 2024, September 2025
Duration
4 years full-time
Entry requirements

112 UCAS points
International equivalent qualifications

Close
Institution code
C93
UCAS code
I62B
Campus
UCA Farnham
Start date(s)
September 2024, September 2025
Duration
5 years full-time
Entry requirements

32 UCAS points

Close
Institution code
C93
Campus
UCA Farnham
Start date(s)
September 2024, September 2025
Duration
5 years full-time
Entry requirements

12 years of schooling (with good grades)

Accreditations, partners and industry connections

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The Rookies

The Rookies is a leading platform for digital artists to promote their work and assists members in preparing for industry. It also helps students find a school and course that’s right for them with its directory of accredited schools.

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Discover the stories of our Games students
What you'll study

What you'll
study

The content of the course may be subject to change. Curriculum content is provided as a guide.

UCA’s Integrated Foundation Year is designed to give you the skills you’ll need to start your degree in the best possible way – with confidence, solid knowledge of creative practice, study skills and more.

You’ll explore a range of creative techniques and develop your portfolio, with your chosen subject in mind. We’ll work with you throughout the year to ensure you’re on the right track and give you the tools to achieve your highest potential on your degree.

Find out more about the Integrated Foundation Year

For our students coming from a non-UK educational background, UCA has launched an Integrated International Foundation Year, based at UCA Farnham to bring students from around the world to one hub of creativity.

This year of preparatory study is designed to give you the skills you’ll need to start your degree in the best possible way – with confidence, solid knowledge of creative practice, study skills and the English speaking and writing skills you’ll need to succeed.

You’ll explore a range of creative techniques and develop your portfolio, with your chosen subject in mind. We’ll work with you throughout the year to ensure you’re on the right track and give you the tools to achieve your highest potential on your degree.

Find out more about the Integrated International Foundation Year

Launch Week
All launch weeks feature a range of activities, which will comprise an interdisciplinary Industry Guest Speakers’ Series offered to all students across the School of Games and Creative Technology.

There will also be other activities, such as study trips and/or studio visits, Design Sprints, could also take place.

Fundamentals of Game Design
You’ll be introduced to the core skills that are required by game designers across multiple disciplines, including game design theory, design documentation, development in game engines and 3D game asset development. You’ll be introduced to game engines and other game development software for the prototyping and production of game artefacts.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion
The unit provides an opportunity for you to explore what is meant by equality, diversity, and inclusion and the implications of these concepts on your own creative practice.

Board Game Design
Applying your skills to paper-based design, you’ll work in teams to prototype and build a board game. You’ll consider building mechanics, technical design documentation and artwork such as box art, character and environment designs, including 3D models for your game, which you’ll present at the end.

Opportunity Week
Opportunity Week gives you the chance to try something a little different, broaden your engagement and your subject knowledge, such as Games Jams and Design Sprints. There may also be study trips and/or studio visits locally, in major hubs like London and even internationally for festivals, or trips museums, galleries and festivals.

Introduction to Games Production
You’ll be led through production management, communication tools, further game engine and design software skills, as well as expanding upon design theory and research of existing games, This will give you a full overview of how the games production pipeline works, and you’ll be required to produce an academic project reflecting on the practice of game design.

Client Brief
You’ll be asked to use your skills and knowledge to work on a client-facing brief. You’ll work individually or in teams to respond, building your collaborative skills. And you’ll focus on refining your presentation skills to ensure outcomes are shared successfully.

Interactive Narratives
You’ll study popular frameworks and theoretical concepts such as designing a plot, character, setting, dialogue, culminating in making your own interactive narrative. You’ll investigate narrative as a psychological and anthropological phenomenon, before understanding its most contemporary and experimental forms embodied in postmodernism, and finally, games as narrative architectures for exploration.

ATOM Activities
ATOM activities are tiny pieces of diverse individual learning that facilitate interdisciplinary exposure and give you the chance to learn topics that would not otherwise be scheduled on your timetable.

PLE Digital Outcome 1
Your PLE Digital Outcome is a purposefully edited, self-directed record of your constructive engagement with and presence on, digital media platforms across the year. Examples of this could be an online portfolio or blog/vlog, or social media activity.

Launch Week
All launch weeks feature a range of activities, which will comprise an interdisciplinary Industry Guest Speakers’ Series offered to all students across the School of Games and Creative Technology.

There will also be other activities, such as study trips and/or studio visits, Design Sprints, could also take place.

Rapid Games Prototyping
You’ll advance your understanding of key concepts, tools, development and production methods in digital game development, with an emphasis on experimentation across multiple platforms and software packages. You’ll identify the scope and parameters of a prototype that provide a clear gameplay loop, situated within a specific genre and platform as identified by market research. Once this prototype has reached a pre-defined level of gameplay defined by the brief, they will begin anew on another prototype with a different gameplay loop and genre until they have a portfolio of original IPs.

The Conscious Practitioner
You’ll explore global perspectives and influences on creative practice, drawing upon interactions with varied identities, cultures, politics, and histories. The unit will explore how beliefs, values and attitudes drive behaviour and practices.

Environmental Storytelling (electives)
Learn about how narrative works in environmental design – how the surroundings of a game can convey mood and atmosphere. You’ll use game engines and 3D modelling to build original scenes, implementing them in a fully realised game environment for player habitation, movement and interpretation.

You’ll explore the fundamentals of environmental storytelling: discovery, interpretation, participation and play; advocate an understanding of the historical, social and cultural factors underpinning any design, and finish with the delivery of an original narrative architecture embodied as a playable project.

Motion Capture Technologies (elective)
Motion-capture techniques now widely impact many core disciplines with the creative industries, such as Games, Fashion, Film and TV, VFX, Animation, Digital Performance and beyond. This intensive unit is designed to give you a grounding the core skills, knowledge and understanding required for motion-capture production. As part of the unit, you’ll earn how to use VICON Motion Capture technologies at UCA for a wide variety of disciplines.

Opportunity Week
Opportunity Week gives you the chance to try something a little different, broaden your engagement and your subject knowledge, such as Games Jams and Design Sprints. There may also be study trips and/or studio visits locally, in major hubs like London and even internationally for festivals, or trips museums, galleries and festivals.

Games Studio
This unit builds upon previous production and development skills aiming to give a simulation of a game studio environment with a focus on team working and collaboration to a brief. You’ll expand your use of production management, communication tools, game engines, file repositories and personal and collaborative reflective practice. Within the team, roles are organised with staff to allow students to begin to specialise into their chosen areas of expertise.

Industry Brief
You’ll use your skills and workflows to produce work for an industry brief, who will set specific parameters and conditions to be met by a deadline. This could include style guides, historic markers, format conditions, audience, and genre.

You’ll work as individuals or in a team (depending on the brief) and develop new skills in engaging and communicating effectively with your fellow students, including your ability to respond to an industry focused brief. In addition, you will focus on refining your presentation skills to ensure that you successfully share the outcomes, reflecting on your output.

Creature Animation (elective)
This unit will start with observational studies, such as a trip to the zoo, where you’ll undertake and shoot reference footage of animals in motion in order to gain a deeper understanding of each creature’s body mechanics.

You’ll then create a walk cycle, a run cycle, and a short emotive piece showing interaction between the creature and an environment.

Pervasive Game Studio (elective)
This unit explores and practices the design of pervasive games. As the name indicates, pervasive game experiences refuse traditional boundaries of games and play, whether this is the field, the board, or the screen.

In this unit, principles of game design are applied to the design, development, promotion and engagement of outdoor play enmeshed with various media and technologies. We explore the campus as a playground, with links to other forms of media including sport, film, theatre, television, websites, social media, augmented and virtual reality. The final deliverable is a pervasive game design.

Virtual Production Studio (elective)
Virtual Production (VP) is a rapidly growing area of content production. By combining CGI, game-engines, and virtual reality technologies, VP enables completely new ways of making digital productions for broadcast and online, to real-time, on-set visual effects. You’ll learn how to use UCA’s Virtual Production Stage to produce live or online virtual productions of all sorts and disciplines.

ATOM Activities and PLE Digital Outcome
These units are an extension of the Year 1 ATOM Activities and PLE Digital Outcome

If you opt to complete a professional practice year, this will take place in year three. You will undertake a placement within the creative industries to further develop your skills and CV.

While on your Professional Practice Year, you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee for that year. This fee will be determined using government funding regulations. Based on current regulations, we expect this to be a maximum of 20% of the tuition fee rate that you are charged for your second year of study. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during this year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this as you approach your Professional Practice Year.

Please note: If you are an international applicant, you will need to enrol onto the course ‘with Professional Practice Year’. It will not be possible to transfer onto the Professional Practice Year after enrolment

Launch Week
All launch weeks feature a range of activities, which will comprise an interdisciplinary Industry Guest Speakers’ Series offered to all students across the School of Games and Creative Technology.

There will also be other activities, such as study trips and/or studio visits, Design Sprints, could also take place.

Final Major Project: Pre-Production
Your final year allows you to develop a significant body of work that demonstrates your chosen pathway discipline, ideation skills, genre interests and your aspiration for your future role within the Games and entertainment industries. Work from this period of study will make up and define your graduate portfolio. This unit is all about developing your project proposal through which you will define the concept, scope, audience, and purpose of your Final Major Project.

Final Major Project: Critical and Conceptual Influences
This unit consists of a period of sustained, individually negotiated research which will help you develop an appropriate methodological approach towards your Final Major Project. You’ll produce a written piece that reflects upon and articulates a clear and sustained argument.

Professional Practice
You’ll identify, explore and develop professional promotional resources that highlight your strengths and your body of work. This will help you define and present yourself in a professional manner to external parties, in line with the conventions of professional practice and the workplace.

Final Major Project: Production
The culmination of your studies, you’ll follow through with your agreed proposal to produce a body of work that demonstrates your creativity, skill, knowledge and understanding of recognised games industry practices and pipelines, to a professional standard. Work from this stage will make up your graduate portfolio.

You will take responsibility for your own development in anticipation of graduation and professional practice in the computer games industry, and you’ll be required to keep a development journal to document your technical skills and ideas, your process, and your ongoing critical evaluation and reflection.

This course is designed to offer you (if eligible) the opportunity to study part of your degree aboard at a UCA partner university, while still earning credits towards your UCA degree.

For more information please visit the Study Abroad section

Industry placement
offer

Preparing graduates for successful careers underpins everything we do, and all students on this course may be offered support to identify and prepare for an industry placement according to their individual needs. We’ll draw on our wide range of contacts within the creative industries to help provide you with opportunities that align with your interests and future career aspirations.

Course specifications

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change in line with our Student Terms and Conditions for example, as required by external professional bodies or to improve the quality of the course.

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Each year, we’re privileged to be able to share our graduates’ incredible work with the world. And now’s your chance to take a look.

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Fees & funding

Fees & financial support

Tuition fees - 2024/25 entry

  • Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
  • BA course: £9,250

If you opt to study the Professional Practice Year, for 2024 you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee of £1,850. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during your Professional Practice year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this.

Tuition fees - 2024/25 entry

  • Integrated International Foundation Year: £9,250 (see fee discount information)
  • BA course: £9,250 (see fee discount information)

If you opt to study the Professional Practice Year, for 2024 you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee of £1,850. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during your Professional Practice year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this.

Tuition fees - 2024/25 entry

  • Integrated International Foundation Year: £16,950
  • BA course: £17,500

If you opt to study the Professional Practice Year, for 2024 you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee of £3,390. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during your Professional Practice year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this.

Please note: The fees listed on this webpage are correct for the stated academic year only, for details of previous years please see the full fee schedules.

UCA scholarships and fee discounts

At UCA we have a number of scholarships and fee discounts available to assist you with the cost of your studies.

Financial support

There are lots of ways you can access additional financial support to help you fund your studies - both from UCA and from external sources. Discover what support you might qualify for please see our financial support information.

Additional course costs

In addition to the tuition fees there may be other costs for your course. The things that you are likely to need to budget for to get the most out of a creative arts education will include books, printing costs, occasional or optional study trips and/or project materials.

These costs will vary according to the nature of your project work and the individual choices that you make. Please see the Additional Course Costs section of your Course Information for details of the costs you may incur.

Facilities

This campus has studios with high-end PCs with Alienware towers, 4k dual screen monitors and Wacom Cintiq graphics tablets, all dedicated to games design, with software including Unity and Unreal games engines. In addition, our Farnham campus has sound production and Foley studios, pro tools and a specialist library.

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Games studio, UCA Farnham

Games studios, UCA Farnham

VR motion capture studio, UCA Farnham

Games studios, UCA Farnham

Lydia Beharrell, BA (Hons) Games Design

“UCA definitely helped prepare me for the real world, and I don't think I would be where I am now without it. It gave me the confidence in the software that we use, in the ability to present my ideas/changes in a professional manner and more just to trust the process.”

Lydia Beharrell, BA (Hons) Games Design

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Entry & portfolio requirements

Entry & portfolio
requirements

BA (Hons) course
BA (Hons) course with Professional Practice Year

The standard entry requirements* for these courses are one of the following:

  • 112 UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma / BTEC National Extended Diploma
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 112 UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 27-30 total points in the International Baccalaureate Diploma with at least 15 IB points at Higher level, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade 9-4/A*-C including English (or Functional Skills English/Key Skills Communication Level 2).

Other relevant and equivalent Level 3 UK and international qualifications are considered on an individual basis, and we encourage students from diverse educational backgrounds to apply.  

Portfolio requirements

You will be required to submit a digital portfolio and if you’re a student from the UK, attend an Applicant Day. This can include personal work with traditional or digital media, sketchbook drawings, and relevant coursework. Further information on specific portfolio requirements and how to submit your digital portfolio will be sent to you after you’ve submitted your application. View more portfolio advice

 


BA (Hons) course with Integrated Foundation Year
BA (Hons) course with Integrated Foundation Year and Professional Practice Year

The standard entry requirements* for these courses are one of the following:

  • 32 UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Pass, Pass, Pass at BTEC Extended Diploma / BTEC National Extended Diploma
  • Pass at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 32 UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 24 points from the International Baccalaureate, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade 9-4/A*-C including English (or Functional Skills English/Key Skills Communication Level 2).

Other relevant and equivalent Level 3 UK and international qualifications are considered on an individual basis, and we encourage students from diverse educational backgrounds to apply. 

Portfolio requirements

You will be required to submit a digital portfolio and if you’re a student from the UK, attend an Applicant Day. This can include personal work with traditional or digital media, sketchbook drawings, and relevant coursework. Further information on specific portfolio requirements and how to submit your digital portfolio will be sent to you after you’ve submitted your application. View more portfolio advice

 


*We occasionally make offers which are lower than the standard entry criteria, to students who have faced difficulties that have affected their performance and who were expected to achieve higher results. We consider the strength of our applicants’ portfolios, as well as their grades -  in these cases, a strong portfolio is especially important.

BA (Hons) course
BA (Hons) course with Professional Practice Year

The entry requirements for these courses will depend on the country your qualifications are from, please check the equivalent qualifications for your country:

Any additional entry requirements listed in the UK requirements section, e.g., subject requirements, work experience or professional qualifications, also apply to international applicants applying with equivalent qualifications.

Portfolio requirements

You will be required to submit a portfolio for review. Further information on specific portfolio requirements and how to submit your portfolio will be sent to you after we have reviewed your application. View more portfolio advice

 


BA (Hons) course with Integrated International Foundation Year
BA (Hons) course with Integrated International Foundation Year and Professional Practice Year

For these courses you need to have completed 12 years of schooling (with good grades) and show strong evidence of your ability to successfully complete the programme and progress onto your chosen degree.

Any additional entry requirements listed in the UK requirements section, e.g., subject requirements, work experience or professional qualifications, also apply to international applicants applying with equivalent qualifications.

Portfolio requirements

These courses don't require a portfolio.

 


English language requirements

To study at UCA, you'll need to have a certain level of English language skill. And so, to make sure you meet the requirements of your course, we ask for evidence of your English language ability, please check the level of English language required:

Don't meet the international entry requirements or English language requirements?

You may be able to enter the course through the following entry pathways:

Apply now

Please use the following fields to help select the right application link for you:

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