A game development team playing on PC

UCAS code

I620

Mode of Study

Full-time, Full-time sandwich with work placement

Duration

3 years full-time, 4 years sandwich with work placement

Start date

September 2023

Overview

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).

Course highlights

  • 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 or prize-giving annual University GameJam event
  • Learn from an expert teaching team with strong links to local, national and international games companies –including Rare, Codemasters, Jagex, Climax and Stainless
  • 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
TIGA graphic of a tiger with thick black sans-serif text below it

Entry requirements

BA (Hons) Computer Games Design entry requirements

Typical offers

  • A levels – ABB–BBB
  • UCAS points – 120–128 points (calculate your UCAS points)
  • T levels – TBC
  • BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
  • International Baccalaureate –25

See full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept

Selection process

A relevant qualification or experience in an art/design subject is preferred. If you don't have the relevant qualifications, you may be asked for a portfolio to support your application.

English language requirements

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

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.

Facilities and specialist equipment

Student in CCI TV Studio Gallery during a live broadcast.

CCIXR

Create stunning works for film, TV, music, gaming and immersive reality in the UK's first integrated facility of its kind.

Explore CCIXR

Male gamer holding playstation controller

Game development lab

Develop, test out and debug your video games using the latest dev kits in the world's largest PS5 University Lab – here at Portsmouth.

Two students using light sabres in virtual reality lab

Motion Capture Studio

Our studio is decked with all you need for visual effects, gaming and other virtual productions.

Explore Studio

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 $131.23 billion (£97.95 billion) in 2020, the computer games industry is a force to be reckoned with. In the UK, it contributed £2.2 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019/20, and the number of workers in the field grew to 18,279 (TIGA, 2020).

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:

  • gameplay
  • narrative
  • level
  • 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 Art 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)

Between your second and 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.

Creative Careers

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.

Placement roles

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

Placement destinations

You can intern at games studios and technology companies like:

  • Rare
  • Sumo Digital
  • Sega
  • Criterion Games
  • IBM
  • Amazon
  • Babcock

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.

What you'll study on this BA (Hons) Computer Games Design degree

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.

Modules

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
  • Gameplay Programming
  • Maths for Games
  • Design And Visual Research For Cinema And Game
  • Modern Foreign Language
  • Student Enterprise
  • Professional Experience
  • Engaged Citizenship Through Interdisciplinary Practice

We'll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

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:

  • Games Research
  • Create Worlds
  • Programming AI for Games
  • Psychological Theory for Game Designers
  • Implementing Game Audio
  • Advanced Graphics Techniques
  • Motion Capture
  • Targeting Platforms

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

Teaching on this course includes:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • 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
  • exams

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're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.

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:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • group work

The rest of the time you’ll do independent study, either tutor-directed or alone, such as:

  • practice
  • reading
  • research
  • revision
  • coursework

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.

Term dates

The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.

See term dates

Supporting your learning

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.

In addition to the support you get from your personal tutor, you’ll also have access to a Faculty student support advisor. They can give you confidential, impartial advice on anything to do with your studies and personal wellbeing and refer you to specialist support services.

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
If you need support with software and equipment or you want to learn additional skills (including skills not covered on your course), our creative skills tutors provide free workshops, activities and one-on-one tutorials. Skills you can learn include life drawing, film camera operation and video production.
Computing support staff are always available to give technical support in the Faculty's computer suites during normal working hours. There's also some support available from 5.00pm to midnight at busy times of the year.

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
  • referencing
  • 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.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (2023 start)

  • UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU and International students – £17,900 a year (including Transition Scholarship – subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

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.

Costs breakdown

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.

Apply

How to apply

To start this course in 2023, 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.


How to apply from outside the UK

See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.

To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of 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.