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Video Game Design - BA (Hons)

Our BA (Hons) Video Game Design undergraduate course responds to the growing and innovative sector by developing skilled, team-orientated, reflexive graduates ready to succeed in the field. Interactive Entertainment and Video Games development are key sectors for contemporary culture, economic growth and employment locally in the Midlands, nationally and globally....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  

 

Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

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

Overview

Our BA (Hons) Video Game Design undergraduate course responds to the growing and innovative sector by developing skilled, team-orientated, reflexive graduates ready to succeed in the field. 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. The work-place simulation approach of our department has been championed by the influential 2009 Livingstone, Hope Next Gen Report which cited us as a national best practice example for developing new talent for the games industry.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

The course focuses on digital media asset production and communication. You will gain a grounding within the industry’s design and production principles while developing your creative and teamwork skills.

Building upon your design and production 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 learn on the course in a safe and supportive environment. 

Throughout the two years you will be provided with a structured programme of learning, in line with your chosen specialism of video game design. The course culminates with a project you define yourself which targets a specific subsector of the video games industry.

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.

“The BA Video Game Design course will give you the opportunity to learn all about games design and production, helping you to get your foundation of experience that you will need to decide upon which is the correct career path for you.” Zuby Ahmed – Programme Director

Why Choose Us?

  • This fast-track programme provides a rare opportunity to secure a BA (Hons) degree in only two years.
  • Guaranteed placement in our summer development team in your first year of study.
  • 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 two-year 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 skills relevant and appropriate for careers in video game development specialising in design and production within fields such as component game design, level design, business development and project management.
  • 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.

Entry Requirements

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

Essential Requirements

120 UCAS points

Successful applicants also must complete an online test

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
  • BBB / 120 UCAS points
  • Excluding subjects General Studies & Critical Thinking
  • 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 120 pts
Access to HE Diploma
  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3 with 20 credits at merit or distinction
  • 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)
DDM
Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media) Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 120 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 14 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
  • Considered with other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 120 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 28 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 120 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 DDM
Scottish Advanced Higher
  • Achieve a minimum of 120 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 CCC
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of CC in two Advanced Highers plus grades of CC in two Highers).
UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design Merit overall / 120 UCAS points
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.

International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).

Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.

 

International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

Mature Applicants

Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 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

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

International students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

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.

3) Through UCAS

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.

Personal statement

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:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

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.

Course in Depth

Year one

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the history of videogames and also provide a basic introduction into game design. By looking at the history of the games industry from a global context; the module will discuss the evolution of video games which will provide students contexts to consider current and future games industry opportunities and market trends. The module also enables development of team and communications skills which are key employability skills.

The purpose of this module is to allow students to cover the fundamentals of the process of design for conceptualising a game. There are also sessions on game design theory fundamentals. This will give students an understanding of the development and documentation needed to illustrate and refine that idea to others to then plan, manage and implement the game into production. The module also enables development of communications skills which are key employability skills, which are need to be demonstrable upon graduation.

The purpose of this module is to build upon previous modules and apply more in depth analytical lenses to ascertain on a macro level the role and significance of video games in culture and society, whilst on a micro level students will research, analyse and appraise usability, immersion and emotion in the video games under discussion. The module also enables development of communications skills which are key employability skills, which are need to be demonstrable upon graduation.

The purpose of this module is to cover the fundamentals of the process of 2D game space design for conceptualising gameplay within 2D environments, married with game design theory fundamentals. Students will then gain an understanding of the development and documentation needed to illustrate and refine ideas to others to then plan, manage and implement the 2D game space design and support information into production, followed on by a critical analysis of the development process.

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 you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules:

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 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.

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

Year two

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 180 credits):

The purpose of this module is to allow students to the opportunity to generate ideas to become a multiple screen/multiple platform strategy, based on future technologies. This will then be presented / pitched to high level stakeholders at the end of the module. The multiple screen/multiple platform strategy will be supported by the academic team so that the output work will support future modules and also any potential future business development/enterprise opportunities which the student(s) may wish to explore.

The purpose of this module is to cover the fundamentals of the process of 3D game space design for conceptualising gameplay within 3D environments, married with game design theory fundamentals. This will give students an understanding of the development and documentation needed to illustrate and refine ideas, to then plan, manage and implement their own 3D game space designs, supported by production management methodologies, with continued critical analysis of the ongoing development process.

The purpose of this module is to allow students to generate ideas to become a business plan which will be presented / pitched to high level stakeholders at the end of the module. The business proposition will be supported by the academic team and introduces industry approaches to, and application of assessment and evaluation within a business context. Furthermore the practical nature of the module will enable students to apply knowledge gained so that the output work will support any potential future business development/enterprise opportunities which the student(s) may wish to explore.

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 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 designer. You will also learn professional project management methodologies to help you deliver your design projects. You will take modules which focus on the development of skills for specific roles within the sector, for example, understanding the history and fundamentals of Game Design, looking at 2D and 3D Game Spaces, and advanced and strategic Game Design.

The Video Game Design and Production course is all about providing you with crucial experience-based learning you'll need for your career. To this end during the summer you will be required to attend an in-house work placement. It is during these modules you’ll be using development tools such as Unity & Unreal.

This two-year accelerated undergraduate degree course has professional game development studio experience embedded as part of 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.

The course culminates with a project you define yourself which targets a specific subsector of the video games industry, for example; working as a component and technical designer or even managing a project using Agile Project Management methodologies (note this is not an exhaustive list of roles). 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.


Student work

Students created Xtreme Robot Destruction, a post-apocalyptic game about robots, with Sony PlayStation First. Hear more about their process and their favourite features of the game.

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

Experience on the Course

Workplace simulation and giving student indicative or real industry-standard work to complete while on their course is a core pillar of the approach and success for courses at the School of Games, Film and Animation. 

On top of the course-specific experiences, the University has introduced the BCU Graduate+ programme, which is an extra-curricular awards framework that is designed to augment the subject-based skills that you develop through your programme with broader employability skills and techniques that will enhance your employment options.

Leading up to and upon graduation

At the end of your studies, you’ll complete a final major project, which 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

Placements

During the summer term of your first year, you will have the opportunity to work in a video game development team as part of the in-house placement element of the course.


Working on live projects

Whilst studying with us, you'll have the opportunity 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.

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

Arthur Fostier- employability tab VGDP

Arthur Fostier
Gameplay Designer, Pixel Toys

I’m currently working on a mobile strategy title entitled “Realm War” where I’m responsible for balancing the different units in the game. This involves a deep understanding of all kinds of interactions and mechanics of each unit, as well as being informed in regards to how users are playing the game. The production element of the course has been immensely useful for my role at Pixel Toys, as it gave me a better understanding of how to realistically go through the many steps of content development when I first joined the studio.” 

Find out more about Arthur's role

International Students

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

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.

Facilities and 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.

Our staff

Zuby Ahmed

Programme & Creative Director Video Game Design & Production

Zuby is a seasoned game developer and manager, with a career spanning over 20 years, 15 years of which have been focused within the Games Industry.

Starting as a freelance writer for Edge, Zuby went onto work for Digital Image Design, Warthog Games, and EA Games.

In 2006 Zuby founded SmashMouth Games (SMG), with a focus on making innovative 'pick up & play' games whilst also starting his career in Higher Education as a lecturer. Zuby has taught graduates who have gone on to have successful careers, working for companies which include Sony, Ubisoft, TT Games and Rockstar North.

More about Zuby