- Start dateSeptember 2018
- Course length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
MA Games Design
Rooted in experimental practice, MA Games Design will equip you with both the technical and critical skills to produce a broad portfolio of innovative game prototypes.
About this course
The course will enable you to understand and articulate the unique value of game experience to an increasingly interested design industry. You will explore concepts such as goal, challenge and obstacle in relation to game design.
You'll also examine how games design principles are being used more generally and how these ideas impact upon our increasingly digital culture.
Reasons to apply
- Freedom to explore through practice: respond to live briefs, learn through creating and find your unique position between coding and making.
- Experiences beyond the screen: make games in the widest sense – including physical, experiential, critical and socially-reflective games across both digital and non-digital – and discover the possibilities of playable experiences.
- Connect with industry: engage with gaming industry professionals and plug-in to contemporary design practices through our range of guest lectures, events, trips, and visits to conferences.
- Develop your portfolio: create finished products, exhibit work and graduate with a high quality and diverse portfolio that will prepare you for a career in the games, interaction and wider design industries.
- Collaborate beyond the boundaries of games design: work with animators, interaction designers, sound artists, graphic designers, filmmakers across UAL’s diverse network of artists, designers, makers and communicators.
Student films and profiles
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MA Games Design critically examines the concept of play in relation to the practice of games design. You will produce playable prototype gaming experiences and use games design as a means to test critical ideas from broader culture.
The course is particularly interested in how games design principles are being used more generally and how these ideas impact upon our increasingly digital culture. MA Games Design will enable you to understand and articulate the unique value of game experience to an increasingly interested design industry and allow you to understand the value of your game experience prototypes.
Building on LCC's resources, in digital, time-based and interactive media, alongside printmaking, graphic design and visual communication, the course encourages experimental and reflective practice that echoes the cross media nature of the design, communication and media industries.
The course also supports progression to research at MPhil/PhD level as well as to advanced self-directed experimental practice.
Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves six units, totalling 180 credits.
You will respond to briefs that are set to test your learning, in the units described below:
Autumn, Term One
- Design and Prototyping (40 credits)
- Understanding Gaming Experience (20 credits)
In Term One, students explore a range of both technical and conceptual approaches to games design and development and work with a range of technologies by producing playable prototypes.
Students will engage in critical study that significantly expands their understanding of what gaming experience is and how it operates at both the level of the individual and society. This phase is the technical and conceptual basis for the subsequent phases of the course.
Spring, Term Two
- Critical Play and Experimental Development (40 credits)
- Collaborative Unit (20 credits)
In Term Two, students specifically develop games that reflect the critical context set out in Term One and test these issues through the design and production of critical games.
This practice is underpinned by a programme that gives students the technical skills to be able to experiment widely with various games design technologies and platforms when prototyping their critical games. Term Two specifically contains a cross-College collaborative unit.
Summer, Term Three
- Critical Play and Experimental Development (continued)
- Final Major Project and Thesis (60 credits)
In Term Three, students synthesise the knowledge, skills and experience from the first two terms of the course in the production of a self-directed project and associated thesis.
Autumn, Term Four
- Final Major Project and Thesis (continued)
If you are unable to continue or decide to exit the course, there are two possible exit awards. A Postgraduate Certificate will be awarded on successful completion of the first 60 credits and a Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded on successful completion of the first 120 credits.
The Digital Space is an open-plan, creative hub with computers set up with specialist software.
Discover the range of resources on offer to students studying Animation and Games Design.
A multi-purpose space with specialist hardware, that supports students in creative code and physical computing.
Visiting and Special Lecturers
Teaching on the course is also complemented by a range of visiting practitioners from the games and wider design industries. Previous and regular visiting lecturers have included:
- Marie Foulston & Kristian Volsing – Games curators for the V&A
- Mark Brown – Games journalist
- Henry Hoffman – Games designer
- Minkette – Games designer
- Holly Gramazio & Sophie Sampson – Games designers for Matheson Marcault
- Grant Howitt – Games designer
- Dr. Hannah Nicklin – Artist, writer, games designer and academic
- Dr. Kim Foale – Sound researcher and developer
- Jeremiah Ambrose – Digital arts researcher
- Berni Good – Cyber psychologist
- Rosa Carbo-Mascarell – Games designer and 3D modeller
How to apply
We ask all applicants to complete an online application and upload additional digital items, via the Apply now link, below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the course Entry Requirements section to learn about the application process and additional items you would need to supply.
All applications will be considered by the course team who will consider key elements when making a decision on your suitability to join the course:
- First, they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
- Secondly, they will review your personal statement, portfolio and study proposal
There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference.
REQUIRED INFORMATION FOR ALL POSTGRADUATE COURSE APPLICATIONS
You will need to enter the following information in the online application:
- Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
- Current and/or previous education and qualification details
- Employment history
- Personal statement
Before submitting your application, you will need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the application form. Once you have submitted the online application, we will send you a confirmation email.
Please note: if you’re an international applicant we will ask you for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).
EXTRA INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR APPLICATIONS TO THIS COURSE
You will be asked to supply:
- Study proposal/project proposal
After you have submitted your application, the course leader will then review your work and may invite you to interview or interview you via Skype, and will then make a decision on your application.
The admissions team will be in touch soon after that to let you know the outcome and to guide you through the next steps.
START YOUR APPLICATION NOW
Applications are accepted and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.
The online application can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you press submit.
As you progress through the application process we will send you emails with important information, so do check your inbox regularly (and junk folder, just in case).
An applicant will normally be considered for admission if they have achieved an educational level equivalent to an honours degree in either games design, animation, illustration, visual communication or graphic design or closely related subject, and present a portfolio of image-led work and project proposal.
The course aims to appeal to art and design graduates who are interested in expanding their experience by investigating emerging areas of games design practice. However, we will consider applicants who have graduated from other related disciplines, or who have relevant industry experience.
Students applying to this course will be expected to demonstrate a specific interest in this area of study and should have a commitment to engaging with games design.
This level of experience would have been gained by studying an undergraduate multimedia course in art and design, pre-university qualifications in computer science, multimedia and/or web authoring or advanced self-taught practice of coding through free services such as codecademy.com.
Educational level may be demonstrated by:
- Honours degree (named above);
- Possession of equivalent qualifications;
- Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
- Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.
Language requirements (International/EU)
All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you let us know your English language test score in your application. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please indicate this in your application. When asked to upload a CV as part of your application, please include any information about your English test score.
- IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is required, with a minimum of 5.5 in each of the four skills.
- If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.
For further details regarding international admissions and advice please visit the International Applications page.
Offers will be made based on the following selection criteria, which applicants are expected to demonstrate:
- Sufficient prior knowledge and experience of and/or potential in games design and/or coding and design practice to be able to successfully complete the programme of study and have an academic or professional background in a relevant subject
- Knowledge of the world of visual culture and ability to engage in critical discussion
Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.
Personal statement advice
You will be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Games Design. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate critical knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject, and a well-articulated rationale for joining the course.
The personal statement is a very important part of your application and should demonstrate to the course team that you are interested in Games Design and that you have thought very carefully about why you wish to study on the course.
Ensure that your personal statement it is well written, clear and free of any spelling mistakes. It is your chance to impress the course team by showing a strong interest in the subject, demonstrating what you feel you would bring to the course, your appreciation of what the course can offer you and how you feel it might help you in the future.
This can be demonstrated through work experience, previous studies and your personal experience.
Study Proposal/Project Proposal advice (400 - 800 words)
You will be expected to outline an idea for your major project in your application. This should describe your area of interest, field of study and the particular focus of your intended project.
Your proposal should also include an overview of how you intend to go about producing the project and the methodology.
It is important to recognise that these ideas will inevitably develop and change across your year of study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage.
Portfolio and interview advice
All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic portfolio as part of their application.
Your portfolio must include (5-10 images):
- Examples of image-led and visual work from either previous education or professional practice
- A minimum of five projects and self-initiated projects are also encouraged
- If you have links to web projects or media assets, please note these in your CV
We are specifically looking to see strong evidence of design, interaction, coding or other relevant skills for games design. Please include, images, videos and ideally links to interactive and playable content. Where the content is not games related, please provide additional context for why you believe that it is relevant.
Not all applicants to this course come from a traditional ‘design’ background and therefore you may not have a developed portfolio of images. If this is the case, please submit any images that you feel demonstrate your creative ability. These could be concepts for games, game artefacts, illustrations or any other visually indicative content that you have produced.
Applicants shortlisted for interview will be invited for interview at the College, or via telephone or Skype, if you live outside of the UK.
Deferring an offer
If you are offered a place for 2018/19 but wish to defer to 2019/20, information on how to do this and who to contact can be found in your offer letter. Additionally, International applicants should pay the deposit in order to defer. In all cases, deferred places will be held for one year.
Making a deferred application (during 2018/19 for entry in 2019/20)
Home/EU applicants are permitted to make a deferred application. International applicants are not permitted to make a deferred application.
What happens next?
Successful applicants will be guided through the rest of our admissions stages and towards enrolment on the course.
Fees and funding
Home / EU fee
Home/EU students whose chosen course is at a level equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already hold, would will be charged the fees shown above, plus an additional £1,100 (called the Equivalent or Lower Qualifications (ELQ) fee). Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are exempt from ELQ fees and will pay the original fee, regardless of the highest qualification held. For enquiries relating to ELQ fees, please complete the course enquiry form.
In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. We strongly suggest you read the information on our Additional Costs page.
Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.
Scholarships and awards
A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.
Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.
Home / EU and International students
Funding opportunities available for this course:
Graduates of the course will be equipped to work in an increasingly technologically informed and interdisciplinary design world, with in-depth skills in the following areas: game design and production both 3D and 2D visual communication for games, narrative and sequential image making and time-based design as well as having a portfolio of personal work to enable you to seek work across the games sector.
A significant proportion of graduates of MA Games Design may also want to practice as commercial games designers.
UAL Jobs and Careers
UAL has a number of services and networks that hold regular workshops and careers fairs developed to help you establish and promote your career in the arts, design, or media. These include:
Careers and Employability are the University's dedicated careers and professional practice service. We help UAL students and graduates embark on their professional futures in the creative industries, find jobs, set up a business, and sell their work. We run events throughout the year on all aspects of the career journey.
Creative Opportunities jobs board helps graduates and students find job and internship opportunities and connect with organisations and companies in the creative sector. We post jobs and paid internships, part-time work, freelance contracts and full-time opportunities.