Games Design

BA (Hons) - UCA Rochester - 2019, 2020

Our BA (Hons) Games Design course at UCA Rochester gives you the opportunity to explore the growing indie games industry and apply your creativity to develop a career in this vibrant, imaginative and fast-evolving sector.

This course is 'design-first' and focuses on the rules, systems and mechanics of games – the buttons you press, the things you do, what those actions mean within the world of the game and what that communicates to the player.

As a Games Design student, you’ll be part of a creative community with strong external networks. You’ll be able to focus on your own individual approach to games design as you develop a range of skills that underpin your chosen area of specialism. During the course, you’ll work within small, agile teams, where each contributor has more creative ownership over the result, usually performs more than one role and is able to innovate and challenge what has gone before.

Learning from experienced lecturers with strong links to the gaming industry, you’ll apply your skills beyond just creating entertainment and explore other areas such as avant-garde games and games with a purpose. You’ll be encouraged to apply your skills to making games for more expressive, artistic purposes alongside those geared towards mainstream entertainment.

Throughout the BA (Hons) Games Design course, we’ll encourage you to develop an entrepreneurial indie attitude which challenges normal, conventional methods and will enable you to help form the future of gaming.

Valued at more than the worth of Hollywood, the gaming industry is continually expanding at the forefront of technology, whether it’s digital or analogue, video games or board games. There are fantastic career opportunities for graduates of BA (Hons) Games Design, with the option to develop entrepreneurially into fields beyond the entertainment sector.

You’ll have access to excellent facilities dedicated to computer games with high-end PCs running software including Unity, CGI Autodesk Entertainment suite and Adobe Creative Cloud. We also have collections of board games, pen and paper role-playing games and retro videogaming setups. The course will equip you with the skills and tools you need to begin a career in the games industry after you graduate.   

BA (Hons) Games Design also has access to shared resources including 3D workshops and laser-cutting, as well as photography and printmaking.

Length of study:

Three years full-time

Campus:

UCA Rochester

Start month:

September

View term dates

Entry year(s):

2019, 2020

Entry requirements:

112 UCAS tariff points

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UCAS code:

I620

UCAS institution code:

C93

UCAS campus code:

R

Next event

UCA Open Day Pre-degree & Undergraduate

Saturday 15 June, 2019

All campuses

Course details

  • Year 1

    This year takes you through fundamental games design processes and introduces technical foundations of design, programming, art and animation.

    You’ll be introduced to a range of new skills, including conceptual design, development of rules, mechanics and systems, scripting, logic, common development practices, prototyping, introductory art and animation asset production and how to document your creative process.

    Theoretical units give you a critical and conceptual understanding of your discipline and better help you innovate in your practice.

    You will also take part in follow-up practical prototyping exercises based on the themes of your lectures, to demonstrate creativity, generative capacity of critical and contextual knowledge, and to encourage quick, experimental development practices.

    Art and Design

    This unit introduces you to key drawing skills, visual design skills, conceptual approaches and software needed to develop ideas into art assets for indie games development. You will learn how to approach visual problems creatively using a range of sources for inspiration and reference. You will be introduced to software, through which you will produce a digital and non-digital outcome, demonstrating your conceptual approach, drawing skills and technical understanding.

    Animation

    This unit builds upon ‘Art and Design’ and introduces you to key skills, conceptual approaches and software needed to develop ideas into animated assets for indie computer games. You will gain a solid grounding into the principles and processes of real time animation for computer games, from traditional drawing skills to animation in software. You will produce digital and non-digital outcomes that demonstrate your technical and conceptual skills.

    Interaction

    This unit introduces you to the fundamental concepts of gameplay, design, prototyping (analogue and digital) and visual scripting. You will produce digital and non-digital outcomes that demonstrate your technical and conceptual skills and will end up with dozens of experiments, ideas and prototypes to draw on in future practice.

    Moving Image Culture: Understanding and Interpretation

    This unit introduces you to a range of key concepts central to an understanding of historical and contemporary moving image culture, with a focus on video games and the history of their theorisation. Exploring influential video game examples and relevant theoretical and critical writings, you will analyse the cultural and artistic contexts in which the medium has been theorised, produced and played. You will also become familiar with the technological developments and conceptual transformations, before and after the so-called digital shift, establishing a firm understanding of the technical and intellectual changes that have influenced the development of the video game as a medium.

  • Year 2

    Having established a range of core skills in Year 1, Year 2 encourages you to think about and explore what can really be done with those new skills.

    You'll build upon on your planning, design and prototyping skills and develop your technical skills, and your personal artistic voice. Through a series of solo and group projects, you’ll explore how to use these skills in new and interesting ways that expand the creative boundaries of the gaming medium. You will also be introduced to approaches to entrepreneurial practice and concerns.

    Theoretical units continue to be a key part of your design practice and study abroad is an option during the second semester (January to May).

    Games Design

    In this unit you will build on the skills and knowledge you gained across all units in Year 1.

    This is an opportunity to develop your personal design, technical and intellectual interests in games through the production of a body of work that explores how values are communicated in games, and how we can make games to explore deep, meaningful topics and personal narratives. 

    You will undertake this unit individually, and produce both digital and non-digital outcomes that reflect your design skill and ability to express yourself artistically.

    Game Production

    This unit introduces you to contemporary games production practices (particularly Agile/Scrum), the roles of those involved, and gives you the opportunity to produce work as part of a group over the course of the whole year.

    In a team, and in response to the unit briefs for this unit, you will design two games over the year and you will do this in an iterative fashion as you would in a contemporary games development studio. Each member of your team will adopt at least one role representative of industry practice for each project - your team will need a designer, scripter/programmer, producer, artist, etc. Each member of your team will specialise in a specific area appropriate to their skills and interests, however all should be involved in, and contribute to, the design and programming elements of production. Your production workflow will require you to deliver a pitch presentation and prototype of your project at the start, and adhere to several regular milestones where consistent progress and good time-management forms a major part of the final assessment.

    Gaming Culture

    This unit explores concepts and issues central to the historical, theoretical and aesthetic dimensions of the gaming practice. It critically examines the position of computer games and gamers within culture and society, exploring gaming's relationship to gender, ethnicity, conflict and capital, before turning a critical eye inwards to discuss ludology and its attendant concepts, including immersion, procedural rhetoric and cyber-individualism.

    You will also take part in follow-up practical prototyping exercises based on the themes of your lectures, to demonstrate creativity, generative capacity of critical and contextual knowledge, and to encourage quick, experimental development practices.

    Study Abroad (Optional)

    This optional unit will allow you to spend a period of time in an overseas educational institution. If you choose this route your time abroad will replace the second half of 'Games Production' and all of 'Gaming Culture'.

  • Year 3

    Having established and developed your skills and creative thinking in Years 1 and 2, you’ll embark on a substantial development project in the third year which will be the showcase of what you have learned to date. You will also be introduced to the economics and management of the industry.

     You'll work as part of a team to produce a polished game, and individually will write an extended dissertation.

    Final Major Project - Pre-production

    You will begin this unit by developing a project proposal through which you will define the concept, scope, audience, and purpose of your Final Major Project. You will present this through a pitch to your tutors and peers. Alongside this proposal you will produce a detailed games design document and production schedule committing to project milestones (a significant milestone will be the conclusion of this unit before progression to ‘Final Major Project’).

    Final Major Project

    In this unit you will build upon the work you have undertaken in the previous unit ‘Final Major Project – Pre-Production’ to produce a polished, finished release. You will do this as part of a team. This unit represents the culmination of your study of Games Design at UCA. Through it you will demonstrate your creativity, skill, knowledge and understanding of the craft of games design and aptitude for your chosen career path upon graduation.

    Dissertation

    This unit consists of a substantial period of sustained, individually-negotiated research on a subject that is likely to be related to your chosen area of practice. You will produce a structured written argument in the form of a well-researched, long-form essay where you will evidence your clarity of argument, depth of critical thought, and research skill.

  • Study abroad

    This course offers the opportunity to study abroad for part of your second year. To find out more about studying abroad as part of your course please see the Study Abroad section:

  • Fees

    The course fees per year for 2019 entry are:

    • UK and EU students - £9,250 
    • International students - £15,500 (standard fee)
    • International students - £14,800 (full early payment fee)

    The fees for 2020 entry have not been confirmed but will be listed here as soon as possible.

    Find out more about our course fees and any financial support you may be entitled to:

    These fees are correct for the stated academic year only. Costs may increase each year during a student’s period of continued registration on course in line with inflation (subject to any maximum regulated tuition fee limit). Any adjustment for continuing students will be at or below the RPI-X forecast rate.

     

Facilities

Powerful digital workstations (Intel i7, 16GB Ram, NVidia GTX1070/80, SSD, 4K monitors) with Construct 3, Unity, Autodesk suite, Maya LT, Adobe Master Collection, and all digital games platforms (Steam, GOG Galaxy, Battle.net etc.). You will have your own workstation for each year of the course. Shared resources with other courses include laser-cutting and rapid prototyping, as well as photography and printmaking.

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Course connections

On this course, you'll be exposed to a world of opportunities

  • Industry links

    Rochester is ideally located in the South East of England proximate to 48% of the UK games industry, we’re 45 minutes from London Victoria through which the capital’s indie games and technology start-ups can be accessed.

  • Careers

    With the UK games market being the fifth largest in the world and growing at a record pace, career routes are plentiful in the computer games industry. According to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, the UK video games revenue is expected to overtake total spend on books by 2020 – the sector was valued at a record £5.11 billion in 2017 and is predicted to grow by £8 billion over the next four years.

    London and the South East comprise 47% of the UK games industry, and with 82% of games companies are looking to expand their workforce, there are more career opportunities in gaming than ever before.

  • Further study

    You may also like to consider further study at postgraduate level.

     

How to apply - 2019 entry

I am a UK or EU citizen ...

I am not a UK or EU citizen ...

How to apply - 2020 entry

I am a UK or EU citizen ...

I am not a UK or EU citizen ...

When to apply:

We are still accepting applications for 2019 entry via UCAS - get your application in now.
If applying directly to us, you can apply throughout the year but we recommend you apply as early as possible so you have time to arrange accommodation and visas.

More information:

Go to our how to apply pages

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

The standard entry requirements* for this course are:

One of the following:

  • 112 new UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 112 new 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 A*-C and/or grade 4-9 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.

*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.

International entry requirements

To view the equivalent entry requirements for your country please select it in the list below.

Pick Your Country

Non-UK equivalent qualifications

English language requirements


Your portfolio

For this course we will require you to attend an Applicant Day and bring your portfolio for assessment. We’re looking for emerging artists who are excited about the subject area, keen to learn, and are looking to create amazing digital art and design work. A portfolio should reflect your specialist areas of interest through visual work, which may include 2D or 3D artwork, sketchbooks and drawings, films, and any games or projects you’ve worked on. Portfolio work may also be provided on an external hard drive or memory stick. Further information on how to compile a portfolio and the specific requirements for examples of work to be included will be provided on the Applicant Portal after you apply.

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