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Video Game Digital Art with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)

Currently viewing course to start in 2023/24 Entry. Switch to 2022/23 Entry

This Foundation Year has been specifically designed to allow you to undertake an additional year of study to build stronger creative footings that ensure successful progression through your chosen degree....

  • Level Foundation
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School School of Games, Film and Animation
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

Foundation Year

This Foundation Year has been specifically designed to allow you to undertake an additional year of study to build stronger creative footings that ensure successful progression through your chosen degree.

Working in a friendly, lively and energetic environment, you will be given the freedom to expand your knowledge of practical skills, creative exploration and conceptual thinking, underpinned by broad critical understanding, academic writing and emerging theoretical principles.

Dedicated Foundation tutors will support you throughout the year and BA teaching staff from across all the schools within the Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts (BICA) will work closely with you to prepare you for progression.

There will be a range of opportunities to work on collaborative and individual projects, aimed to build your social skills and identify your role as a developing practitioner.

Throughout the year you will be challenged with projects that question your current creative experiences and explore a breadth of experimentation to broaden your technical and critical understanding.

You will be encouraged to analyse methods and materials appropriate for creative development and to question your position in relation to historical, contemporary and future world scenarios. Both practical and written research tasks will be supported by one to one tutorials and small discussion groups to help you constructively build academic and social confidence.

The two first semester modules will form the building blocks for future work and will explore core principles of creative practice focussing on the development of technical confidence, study skills and productivity.

The two final semester modules will encourage a positive integration between research and practice, challenging decision making and technical competency. This semester is designed to empower you with independent learning skills appropriate for your future BA studies.

On successful completion of the Foundation Year, you will have the flexibility to change direction and switch courses onto a related undergraduate degree programme within Birmingham School of Art, School of Visual Communication or the School of Games, Film and Animation.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

BA (Hons) Video Game Digital Art

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.

Your first position in the video game industry

Building upon your core and technical art skills, in the first year after your foundation 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.

Putting you in control of your final project

Throughout your degree, 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, 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 campus based in Birmingham City Centre where you’ll be provided with studio space to complete projects and 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.

Real experience

So, by the time you graduate, you'll have tangible, games development studio experience under your belt, ready to launch your dream career as a games developer.

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

Why Choose Us?

  • Your Foundation Year gives you the chance to explore Video Game Digital Art, Graphic Communication, Illustration, Design for Performance, Photography, Fine Art and Art and Design. You will have the flexibility to switch (should you wish to change direction) onto a number of related undergraduate degree programmes within School of Games, Film and Animation, Birmingham School of Art or the School of Visual Communication.
  • Teaching is delivered by our team of industry practitioners, who collectively have over 100 years of video game industry experience, having worked on franchises such as EA’s ‘Battlefield’, Codemaster’s ‘Formula 1’ and Sega’s ‘Sonic’. They have also taught, trained and mentored students, graduates and practitioners, who are now successful industry developers, working at studios and publishers which include Ubisoft, Microsoft and Rockstar North.
  • During the course you’ll work on numerous projects with periodic input from industry partners. Previous partners and mentors have included Codemasters, Pixel Toys, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, Microsoft’s Rare Studio and Rockstar North.
  • On the course you’ll learn a range of new skills and art disciplines relevant and appropriate for careers in the field of video game development, such as concept, environment, character, GUI and animation.
  • This course will develop you to be able to move into employment, or further study, for example on our Industry-recognised Master’s Courses, Gamer Camp, which is a finishing school for game developers (coders, artists, designers and producers) based at Birmingham City University. On our Masters courses, you’ll get intensive, practical training from our top industry-experienced team, you’ll tackle real game briefs set with input from globally recognised developers/publishers, and you’ll experience all stages of the games development process, ultimately providing you with a great portfolio of work to get a job in AAA Video Game Development.

Gamer Camp logo 710 px

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to explore our campus and facilities in person. You'll be able to hear more about your chosen subject area in our course talks.

Next Open Day: Saturday 25 June

Book now

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students
Essential

80 UCAS tariff points.

LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS
GCSE
  • GCSE English Language at grade C/4 or above
  • GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level) See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details.
Scottish National 5
  • English Language at grade C or above
  • Maths at grade C or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
IELTS 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.
Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • CDD / 80 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 4 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.

AS and AS VCE

Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 80 pts

Access to HE Diploma

  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • Information, Communication Technology and Business subjects preferred but other subjects also considered.
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
MMP

Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)

  • Pass
  • Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 80 pts

IBO Certificate in Higher Level

  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 11 points or above from two Higher Level Subjects
  • Considered with other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 80 UCAS Tariff Points
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted

International Baccalaureate Diploma

  • Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted

Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)

Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 80 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language and Maths taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016.

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma

MMP

Scottish Advanced Higher

  • Achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades DDD.
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).

T-Levels

  • Pass overall (C or above on the core).
  • Digital production, design and development T Level considered for BSc (Hons) Video Game Development and BA (Hons) Video Game Design courses.

UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design

Merit overall

UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology

Merit overall

UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts

Merit overall
Other qualifications
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.
Additional information for EU/International students
Essential

Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.

In addition to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.

EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements
IELTS

6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.

If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.

 

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 3 years
  • TBC

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.

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Guidance for UK students

UCAS

UK 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.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Portfolio Guidance

You are not required to submit a portfolio for this course.

Course in Depth

Foundation year

Throughout the year you will be challenged with projects that question your current creative experiences and explore a breadth of experimentation to broaden your technical and critical understanding.

You will be encouraged to analyse methods and materials appropriate for creative development and to question your position in relation to historical, contemporary and future world scenarios. Both practical and written research tasks will be supported by one to one tutorials and small discussion groups to help you constructively build academic and social confidence.

The two first semester modules will form the building blocks for future work and will explore core principles of creative practice focussing on the development of technical confidence, study skills and productivity.

The two final semester modules will encourage a positive integration between research and practice, challenging decision making and technical competency. This semester is designed to empower you with independent learning skills appropriate for your future BA studies.

In order to progress onto your BA Programme, you must successfully pass all four core modules (totalling 120 credits).

Year one

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):

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Year two

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):

Download course specification

Download now

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.

Taught modules

In the taught modules the focus is on your personal development as a professional artist. You will take modules which focus on the development of skills for specific roles within the sector.

Studio-based project modules

The BA (Hons) Video Game Digital Art 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 studio simulation. During this placement, you will be required to attend full-time and have opportunity to use development tools such as Unity and Unreal.

Assessment

This is a two-year accelerated undergraduate degree course, with an additional foundation year, 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.

On the course, you'll be taught by staff that include established industry professionals with a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm, who are experienced at recognising and responding to the rapidly changing demands of the industry.

Projects

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 – PC, 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.


End of year showcase

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. 

Employability

Enhancing your employability

Courses within the School of Games, Film and Animation 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:

  • Reviewing CVs, covering letters and application forms
  • Career planning and decision making
  • Preparing for interviews and assessment centres
  • Developing portfolios
  • Networking with employers
  • Advice about self-employment and entrepreneurship


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.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

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.

Graduate stories

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.

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.

Scott Woodhams - employability tab- VGDA

Scott Woodhams
Technical Artist, MediaTonic Games

A typical day involves implementing artists’ work into the game, fixing any graphical issues and creating art, whether that’s through 3D modelling or painting in Photoshop. I enjoy the problem solving part of my role the most and the job-like structure of the course made the transition into industry really smooth for me. All the art skills and knowledge I learned are indispensable in my day to day activities. I wouldn't be able to do this job without it.” 

Find out more about Scott's role

International

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:

Facilities & Staff

Parkside and Curzon Buildings
NTI-facilities-2
NTI-facilities-3

Our School of Games, Film and Animation is based in the Curzon Building, a £63 million development, located on our City Centre campus.

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.

Margaret Street campus

During your Foundation Year you will be based at our Margaret Street Campus - an impressive purpose built Grade 1 listed building. From industry-standard machinery in metal, wood and print, to our studio spaces and media suite, everything you need will be at your fingertips from day one. See our facilities

Our staff

Jo Newman

Foundation Course Director

Jo chose a career in education so that she could provide students with learning environments where conversations, ideas and materials can be selected, combined, analysed and shared, offering them a way of socializing, caring and questioning to grow their learning with meaning for their futures. She champions the integration of...

More about Jo

Jane Watts

Foundation Lecturer

Jane is an interdisciplinary practitioner, and began her career in textile design. She has since worked as National Craft Advisor for the Women’s Institute in the charity sector, and has 20 years’ experience of teaching in higher education across a range of creative programmes. Alongside running the BA Art Business programme, Jane is also...

More about Jane

Joe Miles

Course Leader BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging

Specialising in commercial and editorial photography for national and international clients, Joe currently leads the BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging courses. Experienced in both film and digital photography he has worked with RED cameras, combining moving and still imagery. His extensive list of clients include:...

More about Joe