The University of Southampton
Winchester School of Art

1L6F BA (Hons) Games Design and Art (3 years)

Combining the creative side of games design with essential technical know-how, this distinctive programme will appeal to students who want to make unique new games and take forward ambitious ideas in emerging new game markets, platforms and spaces.

Introducing your degree

On the BA Games Design & Art you’ll gain an understanding of the whole games design and development process, graduating with skills that you can apply in any part of the games industry, from small studios to major games publishers. Unlike many games design courses, it is based in an art school rather than a computer science department, allowing you to work creatively while gaining essential technical skills. Through studio work you’ll have the chance to apply design thinking to games design, explore concepts you are passionate about and make the games you want to make. These might be games that offer an immersive experience, make people think differently about an issue, generate team-based fun or offer pure escapism. Broad in its scope, the course covers the spectrum of gaming, from physical games and board games to video and virtual reality games. Working closely with your peers in a small, close-knit class, you’ll collaborate, inspire one another and discover your strengths. Studio work is set up to simulate the approach of independent (indie) design companies; working on group projects, you’ll experience different design team roles and learn how to pitch and market your ideas. In addition, guest lectures by successful games entrepreneurs and opportunities to present your own games to industry will give you a head start as you enter this dynamic sector.

Overview

With more and more people playing games, and organisations seeking to make their processes more engaging through gamification, this exciting programme opens up a world of opportunities. You’ll learn to generate ideas through creative research, apply design thinking to the creation of brand new games, and refine them through prototyping and user testing. You can also explore the emerging area of purposeful or ‘serious’ games, which aim to change behaviours or tackle social issues through gaming.

You’ll benefit from being part of a vibrant art school community; taking inspiration from the work of those in other disciplines, such as fashion and fine art.

Programme Structure

This is a full-time, three-year degree programme.

Year one

In the first year the emphasis is on creative research, innovation and testing; it’s a safe space in which to try out ambitious ideas and build your confidence. You’ll work in teams to investigate a location or an issue, drawing out something that you can translate into game play. You’ll make prototypes for users to play, using their feedback to improve your games. Through these projects you’ll also try out different industry roles, for example acting as creative or technical lead.

Year two

Year two involves applying industry practices to your games thinking. You’ll put together a games proposal and design, in the form of a blog that outlines the game idea and the market research behind it, designed to ‘sell’ a new game. With your class group you’ll vote on the best ideas, which will be taken forward into development within teams. Based on your first-year experience of different team roles, you’ll pitch for a specialist ‘job’ on the project you would like to work on. You’ll work collaboratively to develop an advanced prototype, which you’ll show and pitch to industry representatives at an E3-style showcase event.

Year three

You’ll spend the whole of your final year working on a project that interests you. You’ll be asked to select a topic – it could be a concept or idea that fascinates you, a pet hate or a social issue you’re passionate about – and brainstorm it to come up with a new game idea. You’ll produce your game for your final project, or team up with fellow students to work on a collaborative project, ready for launch at shows in Winchester and London. The London show is an opportunity to present your game to invited industry guests.

Examples of past student projects include:

  • a game that tapped into a student’s interest in stress; she created a local cooperative game where teamwork generates increasing amounts of stress among team members.
  • a puzzle platformer that uses metaphors to make social commentary and inform players about the issue of homelessness.
  • an interactive iOS app for classroom that helps schoolchildren learn about ecosystems in a fun and engaging way.
  • a board game that is used for consultation between a medical professional and a young adult to help enhance mental health care.

Practical and technical skills

Your assignments will involve making physical as well as virtual games – for example, students have been challenged to make a real and digital versions of crazy golf. Your studio work will be supported by skills-based workshops to give you the skills you need, in areas such as coding, 2D and 3D asset creation, and model making.

Reflective and contextual understanding

Throughout the course you’ll reflect on your studio practice and, through written work and blogs, demonstrate your understanding of your own creative research processes and the wider context in which you are working.

Optional module

In year two you’ll be able to choose from a range of optional module on topics relevant to the creative industries. This will enable you to broaden your skills and knowledge in an area that suits your career goals, for example by studying business, marketing, or digital or visual culture.

Preparing you for career success

The course is set up to ensure you graduate with the skills and experience that will help you make a smooth transition from higher education to your career, whether you are looking to go into an indie games studio, work for a major games publisher or commercialise your own games ideas.

For example, you’ll:

  • learn to think critically about games ideas.
  • gain an understanding of user-centre design and its importance in game development.
  • experience collaborative working, which is common in game & design studios.
  • try out different team roles to identify your strengths and interests.
  • conduct user testing with real-world user groups, using methodologies such as Agile and Lean UX
    pitch your work to industry at showcase events.
  • have the opportunity to attend gamejams, events and conferences in the third year that are relevant to your game design
    graduate with a portfolio website that you can use to promote your work.
  • In addition, a games specific business-oriented module in the second year will give you the tools you’ll need to exploit the commercial potential of your games ideas, covering practical aspects such as how to set up a freelance company and ways of funding projects.

Industry links

Our academics’ extensive links with games and design companies will expose you to industry perspectives, and help you to identify potential career paths and develop invaluable professional contacts. You’ll benefit from:

  • guest lectures followed by informal studio conversations with some of the industry’s leading top games writers, designers, programmers, digital storytellers, user interaction artists, and virtual reality innovators, many of whom run their own highly successful companies.
  • visits to games design companies in London, such as interactive design company Sennep and leading mobile games studio Ustwo.
  • showcasing your own game work at relevant expos both internally and externally such as Norwich Games Festival and others across the UK.
  • real company projects – for example, NATS (the UK’s air traffic control service) asked students to investigate whether games might help them educate the public about the challenges of flight path planning; students researched the issue and submitted ideas to NATS to feed into its decision making.

We also have close links and guest speakers from industry bodies, specifically, Women in Games, which promotes gender equality in the games industry and TIGA, the trade association and network for games designers and digital publishers.

Education informed by research

On the BA Games Design & Art our approach to research mirrors that of games design companies; we scan the horizon for new products and technologies and consider ways they can be applied in the world of games. In addition, as you’d expect within a Russell Group university, members of the teaching team conduct their own research, into areas including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, how games translate across nationalities and cultures, and the use of digital tools in education

Our academics are involved in the work of the Games Design Hub, a joint venture between WSA and the University of Southampton’s internationally respected Electronics and Computer Science department. The Hub focuses on the development of purposeful or ‘serious’ games, which are designed to help people do things better or encourage positive behaviour, and are increasingly being used in health, business and educational contexts.

Guest lectures by experts from across the School will expose you to the latest thinking in other subject areas that can inform your design thinking. Recent guest lecture topics have included the use of play within design processes, and luxury brands – a relevant topic in light of increasing brand placement within video games. 

Outstanding academics 

You’ll be taught by expert educators and designers with a wealth of professional and research experience.

  • Programme leader Adam Procter is a highly experienced design educator, having taught design in higher education for more than 15 years. He keeps his practice current by working with organisations to help foster digital design solutions in the form of games, apps, and how to improved user experience as a designer, researcher and practioner. A number of these projects are for global brands such as Deefax, Wiley, NATS, TKMaxx and FatFace. Adam is currently undertaking a practice based Web Science PhD investigating new types of digital tools to enhance design education.
  • James Stallwood is a developer for the Games Design Hub, liaising with commercial developers such as Codemasters and Matmi. He has a keen interest in the promotion of games for health and social causes, games for education, particularly in mathematics and the sciences, and games as a media for the arts.  His PhD was based on developing an artificial intelligence framework for non-player agent feedback in serious games.
  • Vanissa Wanick is a designer and games researcher for the Games Design Hub, coordinating collaborative work between cultural communities and games research around the world, in particular in Brazil. She has more than 8 eight years of experience as interface and interaction designer, working for many companies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Vanissa has interest in designing games for social causes, games for education and games user research, with special interest in the promotion of diversity in games. Her PhD thesis focused on the influence of cross-cultural consumer behaviour in advergame design.
  • Andy Lapham is an experienced educator and lecturer in interaction design and physical computing. His work focuses on the roles of design thinking and design research in visual and information design for digital devices. He writes code and has a career-long interest in enhancing learning experiences through digital technologies.
View the programme specification document for this course

Key Facts

An innovative, creative programme with the academic rigour you’d expect of a Russell Group degree.

Combines the artistic and technical aspects of games design, incorporating illustration, character design and storytelling as well as coding and digital production skills.

Crosses the spectrum of games and play, from board games to virtual reality games.

Explores emerging fields such as purposeful or ‘serious’ games.

Learn in a studio environment that reflects professional practice in the indie games sector.

Taught by expert educators and researchers with professional games design experience.

A small, close-knit student group, enabling a high level of academic support.

Extensive exposure to industry through guest lectures, studio visits to companies in London such as Ustwo and Sennep, and live projects with organisation .such as National Air Traffic Control, IBM and Royal Society of Public Health.

Students have successfully secured internships and jobs in game development at Manga High, Sennep.

Related Staff Member

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

GCSEs:
QualificationGrade
GCSEWinchester School of Art requires all applicants to achieve at least a Grade 4 (taken in England) or a Grade C (where taken in Northern Ireland or Wales) in English and Mathematics. If you are taking an alternative qualification please contact our admissions team via ugapply.FBL@southampton.ac.uk
A Levels:
QualificationGrade
GCE A-level

Grades BBB, including an art/design/media/humanities/creative IT based subject

IB:
QualificationGrade
International Baccalaureate30 points including 16 at a higher level        
Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art & Design)

Pass

BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design or Games Design

DDM (Distinction Distinction Merit)

Other qualifications will be considered on an individual basis.

Contact us for further information.

Selection process:
Intake:
25

WSA will offer a place to any applicant who can show evidence of ability and background adequate to undertake the course. Our admissions requirement is normally defined on the basis of A levels, but equivalent qualifications are accepted. UK applicants are recruited through presentation of a relevant portfolio of their work at interview and evidence of recent study. For overseas students, we accept a variety of qualifications and applicants will need to provide us with an emailed portfolio when prompted.

Applications should be made via UCAS. Applicants who meet our minimum entry requirements will be invited to attend an individual portfolio interview. We conduct portfolio interviews from December onwards.

Equal consideration deadline: 15 January. 

For the most up-to-date admission information, please check the UCAS website

Year 2 entry: if you have professional experience, or credit through prior learning at another institution, you may be eligible to use this experience against some of the programme requirements for period of study. You will need to present evidence that you have met the learning outcomes of the programme. Full details can be found in the University's Policy on the Recognition of Prior Learning.

International / EU applicants

English Language requirements

International and EU students must also comply with the University of Southampton's English language entry requirement for this course, which is to achieve IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each component, or equivalent. Please see English language entry requirements for further details of English tests that we accept.

If you don’t meet our English language entry requirements for direct entry onto any of our BA programmes, you could be eligible to study on one of the University’s English language pre-sessional programmes at the Centre for Language Studies. For more information please visit Winchester School of Art Undergraduate Pre-sessional Programmes.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not currently meet our entry requirements may be able to join this course on successful completion of our International Foundation Year. Find out more about the Foundation Year.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Modules

Typical course content

You will study a range of compulsory and optional modules.

Part 1

Throughout the programme a key focus will be thinking through and applying what you are learning to ideas and practices in the games studio or an alternative art and design setting.

In part 1, through Games Design Practice, you will be equipped with the central software tools (e.g., Photoshop) and skills for working in the games studio. Research & Communication Skills will focus on introducing you to a range of study and written communication skills appropriate to games design and art, e.g. library research skills and e-communications.

Games Design Production allows you to gain additional insight into processes within games development and encourages you to understand the various games disciplines and roles within games development studios of various sizes and complexity. Contemporary Issues in Games, Art and Design will develop your theoretical, conceptual, and study skills from both intellectual and practitioner’s perspectives, and provide you with an introduction to the nature and context of contemporary games art and design.

Part 2

Games Design and Games Development 1 allow you to become increasingly familiar with games documentation, research, asset building skills, and the practical knowledge required to develop a game.

At this level you will select a theoretical or career-focussed module that complements your programme from a list of options. All students will review and reflect on their work at the end of part 2 in the Reflective Journal 2 module. This will equip you with the self-analysis necessary to develop your independent working in part 3.

Part 3

The modules in part 3 enable you to develop your games design and art skills to a higher theoretical and professional level through working competently as an independent learner and practitioner.

The Reflective Journal encourages you to detail your efforts in Games Development 2 and to reflect on your chosen optional module and other studies through the programme. The Final Major Project allows you to develop games design and art work for exposure to an audience, for example, through a games exhibition of a designed game.

In this programme there are two 45 CATS (22.5 ECTS) modules and two 15 CATS (7.5 ECTS) modules in each part. A 45 CATS (22.5 ECTS) module contributes 37.5% and a 15 CATS (7.5 ECTS) module contributes 12.5% to the total mark at the end of each part.

Credits

Modules in this programme are either 45 CATS (22.5 ECTS), or 15 CATS (7.5 ECTS). The programme is worth 360 CATS (180 ECTS) with each level of study worth 120 CATS (60 ECTS).

 

 

Year 1

Semester One
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
Semester Two
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.

Year 2

Optional core

Select one from:

Introduction to Art of Marketing and Branding

Introduction to Visual Culture

Introduction to Design Futures

Introduction to Business for the Creative Industries

Introduction to Writing for the Creative Industries

Introduction to Digital Practices and Theory

Semester One
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
ARTD2084Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
45
Semester Two
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
ARTD2085Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
45

Or

ARTD2033Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
45
ARTD2034Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
15

Year 3

Semester One
Optional core

You must study the same option module in Part 3 as you did in part 2:

Art of Marketing and Branding

Visual Culture

Design Futures

Business for the Creative Industries

Writing to Publication

Optional
ARTD3033Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
15
ARTD3031Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
15
ARTD3036Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
15
ARTD3053Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
15
ARTD3050Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
15
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
ARTD3043Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
45
Semester Two
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
ARTD3044Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
45
ARTD3028Credit[?]
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
15

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

NameYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternational
BA (Hons) Games Design and Art2018Full-time£9,250£16,536
View the full list of course fees

Funding

Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

TypeDescription
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationary items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.).
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts and reading lists these should generally be available in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentSome protective equipment as well as art/design material is supplied by the University. Students will work with various materials as suited to their individual projects. These materials will be sourced and purchased by the students themselves.
Printing and copyingIn most cases, written coursework such as essays; projects; dissertations are submitted online and by hard copy. The costs of printing a hard copy for submission of such coursework will be the responsibility of the student. Practice based projects require printing and photocopying in order to present research, development and present outcomes. These costs vary from student to student and project to project. A list of the University printing costs can be found on the University Website. https://www.southampton.ac.uk/isolutions/students/printing
PlacementsInformation on costs associated with Industry Placements and Study Exchanges can be found in the FTD Industry Placement Handbook as it is dependent upon the destination and other variables.
FieldworkSome modules may include optional visits to museums, galleries, etc. You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.
TravelThe Student’s Union provide a mini free bus service which runs every 2 hours between the Winchester Campus and the Highfield Campus. Students are responsible for all other daily travel expenses.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

Career Opportunities

Because of our strong networks and the excellent reputation of the course, companies often approach us seeking students for internship opportunities. In addition, our students have also been successful in arranging their own internships, often thanks to our external connections. These opportunities can lead to exciting project work and employment opportunities. For example:

  • one student undertook a summer internship as a games designer and artist for the Royal Society of Public Health, where she created a prototype for a gamified healthcare app.
  • following an internship with the digital maths platform MangaHigh, another student is now working as a developer there, having had one of her games ideas commissioned.
  • All students have the opportunity to take advantage of the University’s Year in Employment programme, which offers a year’s work placement following the second year of the degree course.  

When you graduate you’ll be ready to take forward your own games ideas or work for a games design and development company. Potential roles include games designer, concept artist, animator, level editor, project manager, UX or UI (user experience or user interaction) designer, app designer or project manager.

Learning & Assessment

The course is mainly studio-based, with an emphasis on hands-on collaborative project work. In addition you’ll learn through practical workshops, lectures, seminars and one-to-one tutorials. Guest lectures and visits to games design studios will give you additional insights into industry issues, while visits to museums such as the Design Museum in London offer new perspectives on design thinking. Regular feedback from your tutors and peers will help you to keep your studies on track.

Digital learning tools are embedded into the course; for example we use online collaboration platforms, polling software and instant message systems to work collaboratively and feedback, we capture videos of seminars and workshops to support learning. You’ll also create your own web-based portfolio.

You’ll be assessed on your coursework, which will include portfolios showing evidence of the development of your studio work and final project, and written assignments such as reflective and journalistic pieces.

Support for students

We intentionally keep student numbers on this course low in order to provide the best possible learning experience. You’ll become part of a close-knit community of games designers and artists. Tutors will get to know you as an individual and you’ll receive plenty of informal support and guidance on a day-to-day basis, in addition to your timetabled one-to-one tutorial time. Our expert technicians are also available to help you get the most from the School’s equipment and facilities.

Every student has a personal academic tutor who can offer advice and support on course-related matters and any other issue that might arise during your time with us. You’ll also have access to the wide range of student services offered by the University and the Students’ Union.

Breakdown of study time and assessment

Proportion of time spent in scheduled learning, teaching and independent study
Learning, teaching and assessment stage123
Scheduled learning & teaching study29%27%27%
Independent study71%73%73%
Placement study0%0%0%
Proportion of assessment by method
Learning, teaching and assessment stage123
Written exam assessment0%0%0%
Practical exam assessment0%0%0%
Coursework assessment100%100%100%

Study Locations

Winchester campus

Winchester campus

Winchester School of Art is set in pleasant, green surroundings close ...Find out more

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