The BA Video Game Art undergraduate degree course responds to the growing demand for skilled, team-orientated, reflexive graduate professionals ready to succeed.
Interactive entertainment and video games development are key sectors for contemporary culture, economic growth and employment locally in the Midlands, nationally and globally.
This accelerated two-year course gives you a guaranteed video game development placement in our in-house studio, which will take place over the summer term of the course. The workplace simulation approach of our department (NTI Birmingham) has been championed by the influential 2009 Livingstone Next Gen Report, which cited us as a national best practice example for developing new talent for the games industry.
The course covers both core and technical art skills. It starts with helping you develop your core art skills, so expect to be doing a lot of drawing and studying topics including colour theory, composition, value and tone. Once we’ve covered the fundamentals we’ll move onto supporting you develop your technical and digital art skills. You will focus on 2D and 3D graphics covering, texturing, user interface design, environment art, character art, animation and art pipelines for interactive products.
Building upon your core and technical art skills, in the first year you will be tasked with a specific role within our in-house game development studio over the summer term. This work experience gives you the opportunity to apply the knowledge and professional practices you’ve learnt on the course in a safe and supportive environment. Typically for these projects you’ll be using industry-standard game development tools such as Unity and Unreal. These summer projects have in the past been mentored and supported by external partners such as Red Bee Media, FreeStyleGames and Codemasters. The work you’ll produce during these summer placements can act as excellent portfolio pieces, demonstrating your ability as both a professional artist and effective team member.
Throughout the two years of your course, you will be provided with a structured programme of learning, in line with your chosen specialism of video game art. The course culminates with a project you define yourself which targets a specific subsector of the games industry, such as character art, concept art, environment art or user experience (among others). You have the choice of either proposing your own individual project or collaborating with other students to create another video game project for your portfolio.
Teaching takes place in a modern production studio based in Birmingham City Centre where you’ll be provided with studio space to complete projects and a laptop with all the software you’ll need for the duration of the course.
You will be taught by staff with significant experience in the video game development industry, having worked with game developers including, Free Radical Design, Codemasters, Freestyle Games, Sega and EA Games.
So, by the time you graduate, a whole year before most students, you’ll have two years of tangible, games development studio experience under your belt, ready to launch your dream career as a games developer.
Alternatively, you can choose to apply for one of our one-year Gamer Camp courses, to gain even more in-depth skills and experience.
"I have been fully supported throughout my journey to become a professional artist. I found the practical, studio simulations to be particularly useful as they both helped me in my art practice and gave me tangible production and development experience." Mark Sutcliffe, 2014-16
Students are satisfied with this course! We scored 100 per cent for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2018.
Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Saturday 23 March 2019. You can book your place now. You'll be able to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.
We want our students to achieve their full potential. So, if you receive a Special Unconditional Offer from BCU and then go on to Meet or Beat our published entry requirements, you could be eligible for a £1,000 scholarship.
*Term and Conditions apply - some undergraduate courses are not eligible for this scholarship.
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good digital or physical portfolio.
At the point of application, you must have GCSE at Grade 4 (C) or above in English Language and Mathematics. Equivalent qualifications and/or experience will be accepted
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBB at A Level, excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking (120 points)|
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2, including merit or higher in 20 credits at Level 3. Media related Access courses only.|
|BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)||D*D* combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 120 UCAS points|
|BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)||
DDM (120 points)
|BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years)||Combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 120 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||
Obtain a minimum of 30 points overall. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they achieve a total of 15 points or above from three Higher Level subjects alongside other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 120 UCAS Tariff Points
|Irish Leaving Certificate||Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 120 tariff points, achieved in four Higher level subjects|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||Achieve a minimum of 120 tariff points achieved from either five Highers or a combination of two Highers offered with two Advanced Highers.|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||Pass plus grades BB at A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 120 UCAS points|
|If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.
Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
In addition to qualifications applicants will also need a good portfolio.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements|
|IELTS||6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any bands) or equivalent|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).||
In addition to the above, applicants will also need:
English Group A - Grade 4 or above
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
We've put together a whole host of resources including student tips and expert advice to help you nail your exams. You can even get a free revision guide.
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2019||FT||2 years||£9,250 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2019||FT||2 years||£12,300 per year|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.
UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.
There are three ways to apply:
Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.
If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.
If your application is progressed, you will be asked to submit a portfolio of your creative work. This can be submitted digitally or you can physically bring it in. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show us examples of your work and creative interests to support your application.
Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips and advice on putting your portfolio together.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.
You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
You will be required to purchase a Wacom digital tablet or equivalent, drawing materials and sketchbooks. While you may choose to purchase personal copies of text books, all our key text books are available from our library or online (subject to normal library loan and online access arrangements). NTI Birmingham courses aim to connect students with industry locally, nationally and globally, in alignment with student aspirations. Opportunities to engage with industry in an alternative location are always promoted but are never compulsory so students can make a decision based around their individual responsibilities, lifestyle and finances.
Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.
We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
During the first year, teaching methods may include practical sessions, lectures and group debates, featuring input from both University staff and guest lecturers from industry, providing you with a wide range of practical knowledge and insight.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):
Art Theory and Practice
The purpose of this module is to give you the opportunity to learn and then apply fundamental art techniques and methodologies. Students will work individually to produce a sketch book based upon a defined theme. Sketching can be used to develop ideas at various stages of the design process. For example, to establish an overall form and using perspective drawings and construction lines can assist the artist in developing ideas by considering how the object will look from various different views. The work students will be given mirrors creative industry advice about art practice and will require an element of research and skill application.
The practical nature of the module will enable students to apply knowledge gained and in applying the art theory, students will have to examine a range of foundational art techniques required by all creative industries. In industry artists spend much of their time tackling complicated design briefs. Therefore, employers desire artists with highly developed problem solving and practiced art foundation skills.
2D Art Production
The purpose of this module is to give students an up-to-the-moment introduction to the working methodologies of 2D video game production. This module allows students to experience the challenge of completing the research, concept and development phase of a 2D video game project.
Working in small art teams, students will research appropriate art styles and comparative game products to define their own unique art style. The focus of the module will be on 2D game development disciplines, for example; 2D environment, concept, 2D character, GUI/UX and sprite animation.
3D Modelling Theory and Practice
The purpose of this module is to give students to opportunity to learn and then apply fundamental 3D modelling techniques and texturing methodologies. Students will work individually to produce a game ready 3D prop asset for use within a game engine.
3D Art Production
The purpose of this module is to give you an up-to-the-moment introduction to the working methodologies of 3D video game production. This module allows you to experience the challenge of completing the research and development of 3D video game environment assets.
Working in small art teams, you will research appropriate production workflows and shade creation methodologies to define and develop your own unique game environments. The focus of the module will be on 3D game development disciplines, such as 3D environment, prop, texture and lighting.
The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines.
You will be tasked with completing a project over a short development / production period. This project may be set either by an academic or course industry-partner.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.
Interactive Entertainment, Development and Implementation
The module is an opportunity to learn about the nature of interaction within game products and experience the challenge and thrill of developing a fun, gaming experience.
The ethos of the module is that of a ‘Game-jam’, where student teams will be tasked with completing a game brief inspired by either; a broad theme, a defined genre or a defined reference product. This project will be small in scope and scale, a micro-project.
The video game micro-project will enable students to take a code, art, design or production role within a small development team.
Narrative Entertainment Script & Production
The module is an opportunity to learn about the nature of storytelling, audience engagement and the variety of methods and tools a writer or communicators has at their disposal to engage, inform, excite and elicit emotional response from the audience The ethos of the module is that of a ‘Story-Jam’, where student teams will be tasked with completing a narrative challenge game brief inspired by either; a broad theme, a defined genre or a defined story arch.
Please note list of optional modules is indicative only. Your choice will not be guaranteed for optional modules but a fair and transparent process will be adopted and shared with you.
During your second year, there will be a further opportunities to learn from guest lecturers.
You will undertake one major project module, where you will go through the process of scoping, defining and pitching the creation of your own project, which may include your own art assets, a new product, or even working with an industry partner to respond to a brief they have set.
If you are creating your own product, you may wish to partner up with the students with complementary skills such as programming, design, production and business.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 180 credits):
3D Sculpting Primer
The purpose of this module is to give students to opportunity to learn and then apply fundamental 3D sculpting and texturing methodologies for game character development. Students will work individually to produce a game ready 3D character bust/asset for use within a game engine.
3D Character Production
The purpose of this module is to give students an up-to-the-moment introduction to the working methodologies of 3D video game character art production and this module allows students to experience the challenge of completing the research and development of a 3D video game character asset.
Working individually, students will research appropriate production workflows and retopology creation methodologies, to define and develop their own unique game characters. The focus of the module will be solely on the 3D game development disciplines of character artist. This is due to the complexity and distinct specialisation that this role has within industry.
The purpose of this module is to give students the opportunity to learn and then apply fundamental 3D animation techniques and skinning methodologies for game character development. Students will work individually to produce an animation ready, 3D game character asset for use within a game engine.
The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration &/or your own professional practice. The module enables you to create either an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines or your own self-defined project.
The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practice-based portfolio.
The course is structured around teaching you new skills and allowing you, where and when possible, the freedom to experiment and experience putting your new skills into practice through stakeholder-directed live projects.
Typically, this means modules are split into taught modules and studio-based project modules.
In the taught modules the focus is on your personal development as a professional artist, where you will also learn professional project management methodologies to help you deliver you design projects. You will take modules which focus on the development of skills for specific roles within the sector. For example, you will gain an understanding of the history and fundamentals of game design, looking at 2D and 3D game spaces and analysing advanced and strategic game design.
During taught module, you will receive two four-hour classes per week plus one tutorial.
Studio-based project modules
The Video Game Design and Production course is all about providing you with the crucial experience-based learning you'll need for your career. To this end during the summer term, you will be required to attend an in-house work placement. During this placement, you will be required to attend full-time and have opportunity to use development tools such as Unity and Unreal.
This is a two-year accelerated undergraduate degree course with professional game development studio experience embedded as part your learning journey.
You'll be assessed in a variety of different ways, including practical project work – both group and individual – presentations, written reports and practical portfolios.
Assessment is embedded into the course, which will mean your learning experience isn't constantly interrupted by assessment. You are also assessed on your work within a project delivery team while you are based in our simulated in-house studio environment.
All students on the programme will be issued with a laptop to use while on the course, this computer will be preloaded with all the industry-standard software required to complete the assignments and roles within the studio.
On the course, you'll be taught by established industry professionals with a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm, who are experienced at recognising and responding to the rapidly changing demands the industry.
At the beginning of every module you will be given a project brief. Throughout the module you will then have taught sessions to help you fulfil the brief, followed by tutorials to monitor your progress and give you guidance and feedback.
Below is an example* from the 2D Art Production module. Please note, this is just an indicative brief and the actual briefs may vary every year.
Overview: Ghosts & Goblins – MetalSlug – Rygar – create a contemporary classic
Take ONE of these classic games and create concepts for an updated version for the Target Hardware – Tablet (iOS, Android). It must include the following key features: a main Character, multiple enemies, environments (at least THREE GUI elements), pre-visualisation and art style.
You have three art styles to choose from for your updated game: Scooby Doo (Original), Loony Toons or Steven Universe. Please pick ONE art style and after analysis/research, create a Style Bible for your new game. This art style must be used to inform future art production decisions.
The end of year summer showcase gives you the chance to showcase some of the work you’ve completed over the past academic year to high profile industry guests. Hear more about the event from Head of the New Technology Institute, Oliver Williams.
At the NTI we are members of both of the Video Games Trade Associations, TIGA & UKIE. We are also a PlayStation First institution and a very active member of the Sony Academic Alliance.
For successful graduates there is a natural progression from BA Video Game Art to MA Video Game Development, which is a one-year accelerated Master’s degree focused on initially indie and then AAA video game development. Students taking this option can gain an undergraduate and postgraduate degree within three years.
Alternatively, Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University offers a wide range of MA courses, allowing you to specialise in such areas as online journalism, social media, photography or event management. Master’s courses within the School of Visual Communication and Birmingham School of Art are also available.
Within the wider School of Media, we also invest significantly in our postgraduate provision as we recognise that more specialist and professional courses are required across the media industry.
Sophie talks to us about her creative journey and how BA (Hons) Video Game Digital Art has allowed her the freedom to explore.
Throughout the course video games industry practitioners visit the course and either review student work or help deliver taught sessions.
During taught modules guest speakers may attend for specific classes such as User Experience (UX) & concept art.
During project modules, industry guests have historically attended ‘milestone review’ sessions to review and feedback upon students’ video game development work, as well as providing direction for further development.
During your final major project, an industry mentor may be sought to help you deliver your project. For example, in 2016 staff from Microsoft’s Rare studio worked with students to help them complete their major projects.
Our students created a post-apocalyptic game about robots called Xtreme Robot Destruction. Hear more about their process and their favourite features of the game.
NTI courses are built upon workplace simulation and industry-standard work, ensuring you behave less like a student and more as a professional, gaining the workplace experience and attributes you need.
As well as gaining course-specific skills, you could also gain broader tools through our Graduate+ programme, which will help enhance your employment options by helping with careers development, employability activities, volunteering and part-time work experience.
Leading up to and upon graduation
At the end of your studies you’ll complete a final major project, this project may lead you to working directly with a client. This direct contact will give you the experience, confidence and freedom to put into action all you’ve learned on your studies. Allied with this course-specific experience, you will also have access to a range of support staff and services from the University’s Careers Service, who can help with:
Students on the Interactive Entertainment degree courses at Birmingham City University work on live briefs with real clients.
During the summer on the first year of your course you’ll have a guaranteed placement in an in-house development studio. Our students previously worked directly with The Wellcome Trust on an interactive, online awareness campaign which involved making, video games, web apps, mobile apps and video material to promote The Crunch initiative.
Students have also worked along postgraduates to make a mobile version of the PlayStation 4 Xtreme Drone Racing game which is being developed as part of the PlayStationFirst initiative. The mobile versions features racing against 40 drones in a variety of locations in Birmingham, geotagged content and extensive drone customisation.
During the summer term of your first year, you will have the opportunity to work in a wide game development team as part of the in-house placement element of the course. Previous projects have included a ‘Doctor Who’ interactive comic book project with the BBC and Red Bee Media, an integrated web and mobile suite of mini games with The Welcome Trust and Xtreme Drone Racing with Sony PlayStation First.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Students progress into roles with video game development, wider interactive entertainment and creative art roles, working as technical, concept, environment, character and VFX artists, or technical and character animators. Our graduates have gone on to work for many major game development studios, including:
Scott Woodhams (BA), Junior UI Artist at Mediatonic
By focusing on portfolio creation and ensuring that you have a dedicated arts practice, you can achieve your career goals. Through commitment and hard work, Scott was able to find work in his chosen disciplines soon after graduating.
Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.
Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.
The course has excellent links with the following game development studios: Codemasters, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, Exient and Mediatonic.
We caught up with industry professionals from Rare, Pixel Toys and Playground Games at our end of year showcase to ask them why they think our students are industry ready. Take a look at what they said in the video below.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students.
The first-class experience offered by universities are reflected in the world’s largest survey of international students. International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
The New Technology Institute (NTI) is a part of Birmingham City University's City Centre Campus at University House.
We help you learn a specific discipline such as digital marketing, programming or art and put that discipline into practice by offering flexible teaching space, dedicated development studios and open access work areas for group projects, as well as course-specific facilities.
Discover more about the industry experts you can meet on our two-year fast track degree course.
Zuby Ahmed is one of our lecturers, watch this video to find out more.
Shaun Magher is a senior lecturer working with Birmingham City University’s NTI department, specialising in Story and Character development, Performance Animation and Digital Art. He teaches on Interactive Entertainment, Video Game Digital Art and Gamer Camp.
Shaun helps shape students into industry ready ‘T shaped’ artists. The horizontal strand demonstrates proficiency across various art disciplines and the vertical demonstrate a specialist expertise.