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The games and tech industries continue to dominate the globe, and they're always seeking game designers and developers. Become their next rising star on our BA (Hons) Computer Games Design degree course.
With help from our teaching team of games industry experts, you'll dive into the theory of game design and development. You can specialise as a programmer or artist, designing, developing, and testing games for different audiences using our advanced game development facilities. For an extra boost to your professional experience, you can complete an optional work placement.
Discover what it takes to become an industry-ready games designer at Portsmouth, two-time winner of the TIGA Best Educational Institution Award (2021, 2014).
- Explore how games are constructed by learning a variety of theories—including systems, gameplay, psychology, user experience, and narrative
- Work with next-gen technologies in our impressive facilities, including the UK's first ever Centre for Creative Immersive and Extended Reality (CCIXR)
- Enhance your teamworking skills by collaborating with other Games students on game projects – including our annual University GameJam
- Learn from an expert teaching team with strong links to local, national and international games companies—including Rare, Codemasters, Jagex, Creative Assembly, Rebellion, and Climax
- Gain valuable professional experience by completing an optional work placement—with a company or self-employed
- Broaden your cultural experience by studying abroad in Europe
- Impress your future employers by showcasing your work at our annual Graduate Showcase
for animation and game design in the UK
(Guardian University Guide, 2024)
This course is accredited by TIGA (The Independent Game Developers' Association). This means it has been examined by a panel of industry and academic experts to make sure you develop relevant and up-to-date skills needed by the games and related industries.
In 2021, the University of Portsmouth was awarded Best Educational Institution at the TIGA Games Industry Awards.
BA (Hons) Computer Games Design entry requirements
- A levels - BBB-BBC
- UCAS points - 112-120 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- T-levels - Merit
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - DDM-DMM
- International Baccalaureate - 25
You may need to have studied specific subjects – find full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept
A relevant qualification or experience in art/design/creative computing or graphic arts is required. Applicants without relevant qualifications will be asked to provide a portfolio to support their application.
Learn how to put together a creative portfolio for your application by reading our Computer Games Art and Design courses portfolio guide.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
We look at more than just your grades
While we consider your grades when making an offer, we also carefully look at your circumstances and other factors to assess your potential. These include whether you live and work in the region and your personal and family circumstances which we assess using established data.
Skills and qualities you need for this degree course
To get the most out of this course, you'll need to be passionate about creating, testing, modding, and tweaking games; and dissecting them and their impact on players.
You should enjoy critically analysing games – such as identifying their systems – in order to understand, implement, and potentially improve them.
You should also be:
- comfortable discussing games and ideas in games industry and culture
- enthusiastic about developing your understanding of the applications of game design
- eager to translate your knowledge into well-developed games
Careers and opportunities
With an estimated global value of $184.4 billion (£147.4 billion) as of 2022 (Newzoo, 2023) the computer games industry is a force to be reckoned with. In the UK, it contributed £2.9 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020/21, and the number of workers in the field grew to 20,975 (TIGA, 2022).
As the game industry and its workforce continue to expand – especially across sectors adopting its technologies and systems – multi-skilled and specialist graduates are more in demand than ever before.
Areas you can work in with a Computer Games Design degree
Game design positions in industry tend to be segmented into various responsibilities, including:
- concept design
Your theoretical, programming, and art skills from completing this course will allow you to pursue a career in any of those fields – with a graduate level design role as a starting point.
Jobs you can do with a Computer Games Design degree
You can work in various design roles, such as:
- Level Designer
- Narrative Designer
- Gameplay Designer
- Games testing (Quality Assurance)
- Game Audio
As you further your career, you can advance to senior management positions like Creative Director.
Continuing your studies
If you wish to continue your education, our course provides a natural path to a Master's degree. You can study Game Design at an MSc or MA level, or you can study MA Art or MSc Computing courses based on your specialisation.
Placement year (optional)
After your second or third year, you can complete an optional work placement to gain professional experience and enhance your skills. It's also a great incentive for employers once you graduate.
You can work for a company, organisation or agency, or you can go self-employed and start your own business with fellow students or by yourself.
Whatever you decide – or even if you just want some employability advice – our exclusive Creative Careers team can support you every step of the way.
Our in-faculty Creative Careers team has extensive recruitment experience and knows the creative sector well, making it easier for students to find placements within the creative industries.
They can guide you through every step of the application process, including:
- Searching for the ideal job through their database of vacancies
- Giving tips on how to write an interesting CV that will catch employers' attention, no matter the role
- Organising mock interviews, so you can hone your technique and familiarise yourself with the recruitment environment
- Writing your startup business proposal – if you're going down the self-employment route
The team will continue to give you support throughout your placement year.
You can work in various junior positions in designing, programming and artistry, such as:
- Game Designer
- Level Designer
- Narrative Designer
- Gameplay Designer/Programmer
- Game Artist
You can intern at games studios and technology companies like:
- Sumo Digital
- Criterion Games
Alternatively, you can work as an independent or freelance game designer and developer.
Ongoing careers support
Get experience while you study, with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, and work experience.
Towards the end of your degree and for up to five years after graduation, you’ll receive one-to-one support from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to help you find your perfect role.
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.
What you'll study
Core modules in this year include:
- Design Studio
- 3D Modelling
- Games Design and Context
- Coding and Scripting for Games
- Art Skills for Games
- Game Development
Core modules in this year include:
- Design Games
- Student Enterprise for Games
- Project Initiation and Career Planning
- Prototyping and Iterating Games Designs
Optional modules in this year include:
- Commercial Asset Production For Real Time
- Creative Technologies Study Exchange
- Design and Visual Research For Cinema and Game
- Designing For Animation
- Engaged Citizenship Through Interdisciplinary Practice
- Gameplay Programming
- Maths For Games
- Modern Foreign Language
- Professional Experience
Core modules in this year include:
- Final Year Project
- Real-time Interactive Group Project: Part 1
- Real-time Interactive Group Project: Part 2
Optional modules in this year include:
- Advanced Graphics Techniques
- Create Worlds
- Games Research
- Implementing Game Audio
- Programming AI For Games
- Psychological Theory For Game Designers
We'll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Changes to course content
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, course content is revised and regularly reviewed. This may result in changes being made in order to reflect developments in research, learning from practice and changes in policy at both national and local levels.
Teaching on this course includes:
- practical problem-solving and experimentation (individual and in group)
During your final year, as part of your specialisation, you'll have one-to-one tuition with a project supervisor and work on briefs from real industry clients.
Our teaching staff are published, practice-based games researchers that have worked on commercial games with various studios, including:
- The Chinese Room (Dear Esther)
- Rebellion (Sniper Elite series)
- Jagex (Runescape)
- Stainless Games (Carmageddon)
Many of our staff members hold PhDs in game-related fields, attend conferences regularly, and are active in the University's Advanced Games Research Group.
You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a Web connection.
How you're assessed
You'll be assessed through:
- practical artefacts
- presentations (video and in-person)
- written reports
You'll be assessed during modules and you'll receive feedback to help improve your learning.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
We use a blended learning approach to teaching, which means you’ll take part in both face-to-face and online activities during your studies. As well as attending your timetabled classes you'll study independently in your free time, supported by staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 30 hours a week studying for your degree.
In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities for about 10 hours a week. These activities include:
- group work
The rest of the time you’ll do independent study, either tutor-directed or alone, such as:
You may also participate in external events, like GameJam, to develop your portfolio and challenge your skills.
You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, from Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings. There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:
Types of support
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
You'll have regular contact with your personal tutor in learning activities or scheduled meetings. You can also make an appointment with them if you need extra support.
You'll have help from a team of faculty academic skills tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.
Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.
You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.
If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.
They'll help you to
- discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
- liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
- access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
- liaise with external services
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Course costs and funding
- UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £18,800 a year (subject to annual increase)
Funding your studies
Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.
You may need to spend £20 - £75 per annum on drawing and modelling materials, printing, memory sticks or CDs, and DVDs. (Depending upon option modules selected).
If you take the Student Enterprise Module, you’ll need to pay an additional cost of approximately £20.
If you take a placement year or study abroad year, tuition fees for that year are as follows:
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £925 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £925 a year, including Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £1,800 a year (subject to annual increase)
You may need to spend £25–£50 per annum on drawing materials.
How to apply
To start this course in 2024, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – I620
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
Applying from outside the UK
As an international student you'll apply using the same process as UK students, but you’ll need to consider a few extra things.
You can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
Find out what additional information you need in our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.