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Games Courses at the University of Portsmouth

Below you will find detailed information about all of the games courses at the University of Portsmouth. You can find in-depth FAQs and documentation that should answer many of the questions that prospective students and their families may have. You can contact the appropriate course leaders via their email addresses provided if you need any further information.

BSc(Hons) Computer Games Technology

Course Leader: Mr. Gavin Wade (gavin.wade@port.ac.uk)

The course consists of game design, programming, graphics and project management strands so that you can tailor it to suit your interests. All students attend the game design and project management strands in the first year, then in the second year specialise in game programming, game graphics, or game design.

The game design strand teaches the design of game play mechanisms, game prototyping, testing and evaluation, and game genre histories and definitions.

The project management enables you to develop an awareness of the business pressures on creative endeavours and also further develop your teamworking skills. You will also have the opportunity to learn about project management and game development methodologies.

In the programming strand you study the programming languages (focussing on C++) used in the games industry, as well as undertaking console development using PlayStation 4 Development Kits.

In the graphics strand you learn to use industry standard software tools, including 3D Studio Max, ZBrush, and Substance, you will study level and character building, and character animation. You will also have the opportunity to use our industry standard Motion Capture studio to capture your own animation data.

By working with game developers we ensure that the course teaches skills that are relevant to the games industry, though these skills also have uses in other media industries.

Frequently Asked Questions
> Is this course right for me?
It will be very helpful to you if you have a high level of enthusiasm for games and gaming culture. You need to be very interested in the whole area, as the degree requires a high level of engagement and involvement with both content and peers. For the major themes (graphics and programming), an interest in graphics and/or programming would be beneficial. It will help you if you have already experimented with graphics and programming. It doesn't matter if you have no experience of either area, but pre-existing interest/experimentation in these areas may help to indicate if the degree will be right for you.

> What specific skills do I need when I start the course?
You will need a passion for the area, and be willing and motivated to work individually and in teams.

Being passionate means being serious about your interest and your approach to the course. Are you always first in line to buy the latest new game? Do you devour gaming magazines and games websites looking for the latest trends and ideas? Do you seek information about games culture so 'keep up' with the latest developments and to maintain your awareness of the industry? Do you like to be at the cutting edge of gaming tools, platforms and trends? Can you name the key companies and individuals in the UK games scene?

You do not need any specific technical skills before starting the course - although this will obviously help you to advance more quickly. You do need to come to the course with an existing high level of interest and engagement with the industry as a whole.

> What supporting evidence do I need in my application?
At present you don't need a showreel and we will not be interviewing candidates for a place. This may change in future. Decisions concerning entry will be based on the UCAS entry requirements. These can be found here.

> Can I change course after I start if I decide it isn't right for me?
We make every effort to accommodate change based on clear and informed decisions involving career concerns or ideas. However, changing course is not something that should be undertaken lightly for obvious reasons. It is very difficult to change course mid-year because of the work already missed. Students would have to demonstrate existing qualifications or skills that match the requirements of that missed work. Students are always encouraged to restart on a newly chosen course. In addition, courses may already be full precluding any transfer. Finally, unit credits from one course may not count on another and students may not begin a course if they are failing units from their original course: they have to withdraw and be reconsidered for another degree.

> Do you offer direct entry to the second or third years?
At present there are no prerequisite units for entry to the course at level 2. If you want to change into the course at these levels you will need to demonstrate proficiency in C++ (for programming specialisation), or animation production software (3D Studio Max) and bitmap/vector editing software (for graphics specialisation). Direct entry students are all considered on a case-by-case basis.

> On completion of the course, what will I be able to do/make?
By the end of year one you will have worked on a small game demo adapting existing, or creating your own, code and graphics. You will be starting to acquire specialist programming and graphics skills.

By the end of year two you will be able to design multiple games in different genres and for different platforms. You will also have a good understanding of the process of setting up your own limited company. You will continue to build on the skills you have been acquiring in character and environment development.

By the end of your third year, you will have worked in a year-long project team to produce a game or real-time application for a client. If you have been following the programming strand, you will also have developed specialist programming skills (DirectX, Physics, Artificial Intelligence). You will now have the skills to be able to write your own game, program on consoles and have a high level understanding of AI and rendering. If you have been following the graphics strand, you will have developed specialist animation and modelling skills and you will be able to incorporate your characters/environments into your own game. You may have also chosen to specialise in other optional areas, such as Virtual Reality, Game Production, Games Research, or Player Psychology.

Upon completion of the course, you will be a specialist in a specific area with a wealth of additional supporting skills and knowledge, allowing you to work flexibly within the games industry and surrounding creative industries.

> What is the workload like?
You will find your first year challenging as you learn to adapt to the university environment. There is an expectation that you will engage in a significant amount of self-directed research and learning to build upon the topics and skills focused on in lectures and workshops.

In your second and third year the workload will mean that you are encouraged to treat your degree as a full time job.

> Will I need my own computer and software?
The University of Portsmouth provides well-equipped up to date labs. We recommend that if you have a home computer you have access to a word processing programme and sign up for free student licenses to key software such as 3D Studio Max and Visual Studio.

If you are considering buying a computer for use at university then you might look at desktops as these will not only allow you to complete assignments but will also allow you to play the latest games. Laptops are very convenient, but you may find that laptops that are able to play the latest games are prohibitively expensive. If a computer is powerful enough to play the latest first person shooters and roleplaying games then it will be powerful enough for all your university work.

Students looking to take the graphics strand of the course may want to invest in dual graphics cards and/or more RAM (16gb or 32gb) to enable faster render times and smoother editing.

> What equipment and software will I use in the University?
We provide fully equipped labs that have 3D StudioMax, Photoshop, Visual Studio and other relevant software tools. You will also gain experience of packages including Substance, Maya, and ZBrush. You will have the opportunity to use a range of game development software, including Unity, Unreal 4, GameMaker Studio, and PlayStation 4 Development Kits. We also provide access to a range of games consoles and games and make available a full range of video and sound recording equipment. You may also have use of a Virtual Reality lab and associated equipment if necessary for your work. You will also have use of our industry standard Motion Capture facility.

> What building will I be based in/have lectures in?
The games labs and workshops are all located in Eldon Building. This is where many of your classes will be based. For some lectures, seminars, or tutorials that do not require specialist equipment, you may be located in other buildings around the Guildhall campus.

> What are the arrangements for taking an industrial placement year?
You can take a year out between your second and final years to gain work experience. It's a good idea to do this as it may help lead you to a job because the industry values experience in addition to skills. We will help you by giving you possible contacts for placements but you will need to be proactive in seeking and arranging your placement.

There is also an option to undertake a self-employed placement year in which you work independently or as a team with other students, usually in the format of an independent game development studio. This is a popular option with students and we have had some very successful companies in the past, some of which have continued to trade following the placement year.

> Will I get a job when I finish?
Industry experts have been closely involved in the development of the degree and our TIGA Accreditation is awarded in part for producing highly employable graduates with the skills wanted in the industry. Industry representatives maintain close links with the course to identify potential employees and frequently sponsor prizes for graduates each year. However, without a 'crystal ball' it is obviously impossible to tell whether or not you will get a job, but by doing the degree you give yourself the best chance of acquiring skills that are valued by the games industry.

> What will I earn as a graduate game developer/artist/designer/producer/etc.?
At the start of 2016, the average salary for a game developer was £33,800, based on the annual Develop survey.

Graduate roles are salaried approximately as per the Develop survey results below and will vary based on skill level and by company:

> Is this course worthwhile?
Yes, because although you are specialising in game technology knowledge and skills, these are transferable and will help establish you as a lifelong learner. The games industry is a large industry and working practices are constantly changing and evolving in line with changing technology. As new consoles are developed it is likely that larger teams will be needed by the industry and it is equally likely that while some lesser skilled jobs are completed offshore, higher skilled jobs (management, specialist design and programming) will attract a higher salary.

> What opportunities exist for postgraduate study and further research?
There are opportunities for MSc and PhD study on completion of undergraduate studies. You could go on to further develop your skills on our project based MSc Computer Games Technology course.

Course Structure Diagram 2015-2018 (.xls format)
Course Structure Diagram 2015-2018 (.pdf format)
View Detailed Unit Descriptors on Unit Database (search for 'games' and select 'courses')
View Course Page on Main University Website

BSc(Hons) Computer Games Enterprise

Course Leader: Mr. Ted Turnbull (ted.turnbull@port.ac.uk)

Computer Games Enterprise combines elements from the Computer Games Technology degree with entrepreneurial skills. In this degree you are taught the skills required to set up and run your own business or work in a management role in an existing business. You are also given the specialist game knowledge required to run a video game business, such as an indie game developer or game development support business.

The University of Portsmouth has extensive support for students wishing to set up their own business and students on this degree are encouraged to set up a business while studying. You may consider recruiting students from the Computer Games Technology degree to staff your new business.

Only a small number of students are accepted onto the Computer Games Enterprise course. On this course you work both with Computer Games Technology students on the gaming parts of the course and with other entrepreneurial students on the business components of this course. Visit the university's Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise to find out more about the support they offer entrepreneurs.

Frequently Asked Questions
> Is this course right for me?
It will be very helpful to you if you have a high level of enthusiasm for games and gaming culture. You need to be very interested in the whole area, as the degree requires a high level of engagement and involvement with both content and peers. For the major themes (graphics and programming), an interest in graphics and/or programming would be beneficial. The course provides opportunities to develop entrepreneurial, managerial and production skills which can be applied across the games industry.

While the course enables students to set up and run independent game development studios, it is not intended as an 'Indie Game Development' course specifically.
> What specific skills do I need when I start the course?
You will need a passion for the area, and be willing and motivated to work individually and in teams.

Being passionate means being serious about your interest and your approach to the course. Are you always first in line to buy the latest new game? Do you devour gaming magazines and games websites looking for the latest trends and ideas? Do you seek information about games culture so 'keep up' with the latest developments and to maintain your awareness of the industry? Do you like to be at the cutting edge of gaming tools, platforms and trends? Can you name the key companies and individuals in the UK games scene?

You do not need any specific technical skills before starting the course - although this will obviously help you to advance more quickly. You do need to come to the course with an existing high level of interest and engagement with the industry as a whole.

> What supporting evidence do I need in my application?
At present you don't need a showreel and we will not be interviewing candidates for a place. This may change in future. Decisions concerning entry will be based on the UCAS entry requirements. These can be found here.

> Can I change course after I start if I decide it isn't right for me?
We make every effort to accommodate change based on clear and informed decisions involving career concerns or ideas. However, changing course is not something that should be undertaken lightly for obvious reasons. It is very difficult to change course mid-year because of the work already missed. Students would have to demonstrate existing qualifications or skills that match the requirements of that missed work. Students are always encouraged to restart on a newly chosen course. In addition, courses may already be full precluding any transfer. Finally, unit credits from one course may not count on another and students may not begin a course if they are failing units from their original course: they have to withdraw and be reconsidered for another degree.

> Do you offer direct entry to the second or third years?
At present there are no prerequisite units for entry to the course at level 2. If you want to change into the course at these levels you will need to demonstrate proficiency in C++ (for programming specialisation), or animation production software (3D Studio Max) and bitmap/vector editing software (for graphics specialisation). Direct entry students are all considered on a case-by-case basis.

> On completion of the course, what will I be able to do/make?
By the end of year one you will have taken on the role of producer for a small game demo, working with the BSc (Hons) Computer Games Technology students adapting existing, or creating your own, code and graphics. You will be starting to acquire specialist programming and graphics skills alongside your developing enterprise skills.

By the end of year two you will be able to design multiple games in different genres and for different platforms, with an awareness of the business and commercial contexts of your design decisions. You will also have a good understanding of the process of setting up your own limited company and will have had the opportunity to commercialise your work if it has reached an appropriate degree of completion.

By the end of your third year, you will have had the opportunity to work in a year-long project team to produce a game or real-time application for a client. You will have completed specialist Game Production and Leadership units to further build your enterprising and entrepreneurial skills. You may have also chosen to specialise in other optional areas, such as Virtual Reality, Game Production, Games Research, or Player Psychology.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to work effectively as part of a small or large game development team, taking on project management, production, managerial or development roles. You may also be in a position to start your own company or to continue building one that you formed during the course.

> What is the workload like?
You will find your first year challenging as you learn to adapt to the university environment. There is an expectation that you will engage in a significant amount of self-directed research and learning to build upon the topics and skills focused on in lectures and workshops.

In your second and third year the workload will mean that you are encouraged to treat your degree as a full time job.

> Will I need my own computer and software?
The University of Portsmouth provides well-equipped up to date labs. We recommend that if you have a home computer you have access to a word processing programme and sign up for free student licenses to key software such as 3D Studio Max and Visual Studio.

If you are considering buying a computer for use at university then you might look at desktops as these will not only allow you to complete assignments but will also allow you to play the latest games. Laptops are very convenient, but you may find that laptops that are able to play the latest games are prohibitively expensive. If a computer is powerful enough to play the latest first person shooters and roleplaying games then it will be powerful enough for all your university work.

> What equipment and software will I use in the University?
We provide fully equipped labs that have 3D StudioMax, Photoshop, Visual Studio and other relevant software tools. You will also gain experience of packages including Substance, Maya, and ZBrush. You will have the opportunity to use a range of game development software, including Unity, Unreal 4, GameMaker Studio, and PlayStation 4 Development Kits. We also provide access to a range of games consoles and games and make available a full range of video and sound recording equipment. You may also have use of a Virtual Reality lab and associated equipment if necessary for your work. You will also have use of our industry standard Motion Capture facility.

> What building will I be based in/have lectures in?
The games labs and workshops are all located in Eldon Building. This is where many of your classes will be based. For some lectures, seminars, or tutorials that do not require specialist equipment, you may be located in other buildings around the Guildhall campus.

> What are the arrangements for taking an industrial placement year?
You can take a year out between your second and final years to gain work experience. It's a good idea to do this as it may help lead you to a job because the industry values experience in addition to skills. We will help you by giving you possible contacts for placements but you will need to be proactive in seeking and arranging your placement.

There is also an option to undertake a self-employed placement year in which you work independently or as a team with other students, usually in the format of an independent game development studio. This is a popular option with students and we have had some very successful companies in the past, some of which have continued to trade following the placement year.

> Will I get a job when I finish?
Industry experts have been closely involved in the development of the degree and our TIGA Accreditation is awarded in part for producing highly employable graduates with the skills wanted in the industry. Industry representatives maintain close links with the course to identify potential employees and frequently sponsor prizes for graduates each year. However, without a 'crystal ball' it is obviously impossible to tell whether or not you will get a job, but by doing the degree you give yourself the best chance of acquiring skills that are valued by the games industry.

> What will I earn as a graduate game developer/artist/designer/producer/etc.?
At the start of 2016, the average salary for a game developer was £33,800, based on the annual Develop survey.

Graduate roles are salaried approximately as per the Develop survey results below and will vary based on skill level and by company:

> Is this course worthwhile?
Yes, because although you are specialising in game technology knowledge and skills, these are transferable and will help establish you as a lifelong learner. The games industry is a large industry and working practices are constantly changing and evolving in line with changing technology. As new consoles are developed it is likely that larger teams will be needed by the industry and it is equally likely that while some lesser skilled jobs are completed offshore, higher skilled jobs (management, specialist design and programming) will attract a higher salary.

> What opportunities exist for postgraduate study and further research?
There are opportunities for MSc and PhD study on completion of undergraduate studies. You could go on to further develop your skills on our project based MSc Computer Games Technology course.

Course Structure Diagram 2015-2018 (.xls format)
Course Structure Diagram 2015-2018 (.pdf format)
View Detailed Unit Descriptors on Unit Database (search for 'games' and select 'courses')
View Course Page on Main University Website

MSc Computer Games Technology

Course Leader: Dr. Neil Dansey (neil.dansey@port.ac.uk)

Aspiring game programmers, artists, audio designers, game designers and producers are brought together on a single course where they work on projects to extend and develop a range of specialist game development and research skills.

This is a project based course supported by academics with backgrounds in the games industry and in games research, with games industry insider knowledge. The majority of the course content is made up of a single year-long research and development project split across three units. This is accompanied by research methods training and professional development units.

The course can be undertaken full-time over one year, or part-time over two years, making it appropriate both for recent graduates and for those looking to gain further qualifications alongside their job.

View Detailed Unit Descriptors on Unit Database (search for 'games' and select 'courses')
View Course Page on Main University Website