Game Design and Production

Push the boundaries of games making by studying a Game Design and Production degree in the city that spawned Grand Theft Auto.

Course detail

Start Date

September

Duration

4 years

Award Title

BA (Hons)

UCAS Code

G452

Why study Abertay's BA (Hons) in Game Design and Production?

Learn to harness your creativity and get set to push the boundaries of games making by studying in the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design. Get your degree from one of the most prestigious game design schools in the world.

Developed for creative and technically minded people with a desire to become a key part of the games industry, this degree is designed to make you work-ready, teaching you game concept and asset creation, game prototyping, and production and leadership skills.

As a student on this programme, you will:  

  • Work alongside artists, programmers and audio specialists in small development teams to design and develop computer games
  • Study the historical context and fundamentals of game design, interaction and narrative theory
  • Develop professional skills in level design, concept development, project management and entrepreneurship
  • Learn how interactive entertainment products are designed, developed and marketed

You’ll be encouraged to work creatively and professionally as a game designer, communicating concepts through prototypes, game assets, documentation and presentations, in addition to honing your communication and management skills through multidisciplinary projects.

This course gained an impressive 96% Overall Student Satisfaction rating in the 2020 National Student Survey and Abertay University ranked in the top three Scottish Universities for Student Satisfaction.  

Abertay is widely regarded as THE place to study for a games degree. But don't just take it from us:

  • Sunday Times UK University of the Year 2020 for Teaching Quality.
  • Guardian University Guide 2020 Top 10 in the UK for Student Satisfaction with TeachingCourse and Feedback.
  • National Student Survey 2020 Top 10 UK Universities for Student Satisfaction
  • Princeton Review 2020 best in Europe for Video Games Education for the 5th year in a row.

 

Always-On Online Open Day

We aim to immerse you in student life here at Abertay and give you a true feel for our courses and our amazing academic community.

Experience our Always-On Open Day anytime for a mix of:

  • Subject and course presentations and videos.

  • Campus tours, info on applying, funding, student support and accommodation.

  • What the city of Dundee is like to live in.

Take time to soak it all in.

SEE ONLINE OPEN DAY

 

An Abertay Student on a yellow coloured background

How the Course Works

 

Learning and Assessment

A large part of the course revolves around making games and building a portfolio that demonstrates your skills and specific area of creative practice.

You’ll spend around 15 hours per week in lectures, tutorials and practical activities, with the remainder of your time spent in self-directed learning.

Lectures, tutorials and practical activities increase your understanding of game design and production, and allow you to develop competencies in technological, theoretical and collaborative work.

During first and second year, your work will mostly be assessed through practical coursework, presentations and reflective essays.

In later years, taught module assessment is by a mixture of critical essays and coursework. Project modules are assessed through the submission of conceptual work, design solutions, interactive media products and project reports.

The final year dissertation and project allows you to focus on a specific topic within design and production, and develop a specialist area of expertise.

Entry Requirements

Please visit our Entry from College pages for suitable College courses.

Republic of Ireland applicants, click on the UK tabs and scroll down to find your Entry Requirements.

See information about studying and applying to Abertay for International students.

Qualification Type Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
Higher (standard entry) AABB
Higher (minimum entry) We may make you an offer at the minimum entry grades if you meet the criteria. Find out if you're eligible for minimum entry (see below). BBB
A-Level BBC
Irish Highers H2H2H3H3
International Baccalaureate 30 Points
BTEC Extended Diploma DDM Business, Creative Media Production, IT
HNC/HND - Our Entry from College pages list approved HNC/HND courses
Qualification Type Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
HND - Our Entry from College pages list approved HNC/HND courses

Not sure if you're eligible for entry?

If you have the potential and motivation to study at university, regardless of your background or personal circumstances, we welcome your application.

We understand some people have faced extra challenges before applying to university, which is why we consider the background in which your academic grades have been achieved when making an offer.

If you expect to receive passes in three Scottish Highers (grades A-C) and have either ...

  • been in care
  • participated in a targeted aspiration-raising programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, or Aspire North
  • no family background of going to university
  • attended a school or lived in an area where not many people go to university

... we encourage you to submit an application.

Your Journey Starts Here

At Abertay, we enjoy an international reputation for excellence in computer games education. This stems from our unique student experience, which places you in a simulated workplace that promotes innovative game creation.

About Your Modules

All modules shown are indicative and reflect course content for the current academic year. Modules are reviewed annually and may be subject to change. If you receive an offer to study with us we will send you a Programme document  that sets out exactly which modules you can expect to take as part of your Abertay University degree programme. Please see Terms and Conditions for more information.

Modules

Year 1 Core Modules

You must study and pass all five core modules

Brief description

This module will provide students with an introduction to the games industry by engaging them with developing, pitching, and communicating game concepts, and by requiring them to consider gameplay principles, game development practices, and game production.

Indicative content: 

  • History of Games and the Games Industry: Fundamentals of play, board and card games, early digital games, emergence of a professional digital games industry, the role of the game designer, the role of the game producer.
  • The Nature of Digital Games: Gameplay, game genres, game platforms, audiences.
  • The Structure of the Games Industry: Developers, software tools and middleware providers, publishers, hardware manufacturers, distributors and retail outlets.
  • Documentation and Communication: High concept, X meets Y, pitching, visualising concepts, communicating gameplay, developing a game design proposal.
  • An Introduction to Game Project Management: Overview of project management methodologies employed in digital game production, discussion of production planning materials, consideration of the business case, the scope baseline, the schedule baseline, work breakdown, cost breakdown, risk register.

Brief description

This module will introduce you to the processes and pipelines used to develop 2D and 3D assets for games. While the module will involve working with a range of digital art packages and graphics types, you will also learn about visual style development and asset implementation in game engines. This knowledge will enable you to: work alongside Game Artists more effectively; assist with the development of pipelines for art production; and effectively coordinate game projects that involve the management of art production.

Indicative content:

  • Visual research: Collecting and collating visual research materials such as photography, illustration, film and other media, existing game products and franchises.
  • Visual style development and communication: Developing style guides/ art bibles that clearly communicate the desired visual style of a game product.
  • Pipelines and platforms: Understanding the diversity of software used within game art pipelines, and the importance of considering game engines and target devices.
  • 2D graphics: Creating and editing 2D graphics for games, including both raster and vector graphics.
  • 3D graphics: An introduction to 3D modelling and texturing for games.
  • Animation: Understanding how to create and implement animated game assets.
  • User interfaces: Understanding the theories and best practices for UI design and implementation in games.
  • Professionalism: Presenting game art portfolios that show an awareness of best practices and employer expectations.

Brief description

The module provides an introduction to computational thinking for students who want to work in the games industry. This module is for students who require knowledge of programming for their game design practice, but who are not primarily programmers and who have limited or no previous experience in programming.

Indicative content:

  • Introduction: An introduction to fundamental concepts of programming.
  • Expressions, variables and statements: Use and syntax of basic programming mechanisms.
  • Conditionals: Checking conditions and changing the behaviour of a programme accordingly.
  • Repetition and Loops: Repeating code within a programme.
  • Functions: Create functions to perform tasks and operations within a programme.
  • Data structures: Introduce the concept of organising the data within a programme through the use of basic data structures such as lists (arrays) and dictionaries (associative arrays).
  • Classes: Write and use programme components that encapsulate data and functionality together.
  • Modules: Use independently developed modules (libraries) to create additional functionality within a programme.
  • Files: Create and use data stored in external files.
  • Engines: Demonstrate an awareness of available game engines and their applications.

Brief description

Introduction to the quality assurance process and user experience design. Gain practical experience in key software tools and techniques.

Indicative content:

  • Introduction to QA and User Experience: Why is testing necessary? What is testing? General testing principles. How testing relates to design.
  • QA in the Games Industry: The different types of testing: Functionality, Certification, Localisation, Focus, etc. What are the industry trends?
  • Game Testing Processes: Planning, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Execution and Reporting of the Test Process.
  • Documenting Game Quality: Design and implement test plans, test cases and bug reports for a computer game using common software packages.
  • Measuring Game Quality: Design and implement bug metrics and project indicators to measure project quality for games using a common software packages.
  • Game Testing Software and Tools: Defect Tracking, Version Control and the Build Process. The evolution of test engineering and automation techniques.
  • Game Submissions Process: How games projects are submitted and released with reference to Publishers and Platform Holders; PC, Console TRC/TCRs; Mobile and Web.
  • Designing a User Experience: The importance of user-centric design in computer development, designing for different user audiences.
  • Iterating on Design: How you incorporate focus testing and user feedback back into the project, an exercise in prioritisation and time management.

Brief description

In recent years, the democratisation of games technologies has made entry into game development easier and cheaper, resulting in a broader range of creative and experimental games that explore ethical, social, and cultural issues. As the breadth of game themes and topics expands, there is a growing need for game designers to demonstrate an awareness of pertinent theories, concepts, and models that could inform their practice. This module is designed to introduce you to game studies as a meta-discipline. Learn how to analyse and critique games and interactive media.

Indicative content:

  • Theories of play and games: The important theories of play, and games most often cited in game scholarship.
  • Critical theory and analysis: Theories for the analysis of cultural forms, including aesthetic theory and reception theory, useful for the analysis and criticism of games.
  • Histories of games: Various models of game history, from technological and techno-social through genre-specific and conceptual histories.
  • Culture and politics of games: Contemporary issues in representation and inclusion in cultures of digital gaming.

Years 1 and 2 Elective Modules

You must study and pass one elective module of your choosing

Brief description

Introduction of the concept of smart cities - hard infrastructure, social capital including local skills and community institutions, and digital technologies to fuel sustainable economic development and provide an attractive environment for all.

Module content:

  • Social impacts

There is an overall need for theoretical and methodological plurality in how we assess the impact and value of future cities in terms for individual and societal well−being. Gaps in our understanding relate to the complex ways individuals and groups engage with built and natural settings, the cultural goods and consequent benefits that may arise and the inequalities associated with these cultural benefits.

  • Security

Different types of cyber-attacks that could be launched against a Smart City. Impact of cyber-attacks. Approaches to securing the smart grid and critical infrastructure, i.e. improving cyber resilience.

  • Sustainable urban food production

Includes the long established allotments movement to large-scale projects based on sustainability throughout the food chain. Urban food production includes the long established allotments movement. The demand for urban growing also responds to the densification and intensification of living areas, due to population rise, migration and demographic aging with lower housing and ‘garden’ space standards placing greater importance on collective production.

  • Energy, waste and water

At present, water and wastewater facilities are often the largest and most energy intensive responsibilities owned and operated by local governments, representing up to 35% of municipal energy use. Future cities will need to utilise more sustainable methods of water and wastewater management and renewable energy production.

  • Digital technologies

​Digital technologies will play a major role in creating sustainable and resilient cities offering a vehicle for more inclusive decision−making process and promoting dialog amongst architects, urban planners, the public and technologists.

Brief description

Develop a range of skills, knowledge and techniques within the natural, technological and social sciences relevant to the study of environmental sustainability and life in the twenty-first century. Understand the critical issues that confront humanity and begin to discern appropriate responses.

Module content:

The challenge of sustainable development
Problems associated with life in the 21st Century and the relationship to scientific provisionalism and uncertainty.

The genesis of sustainable development concept
Developments associated with the Club of Rome are outlined while Limits to Growth and the Tragedy of the Commons.

Evolution of sustainable development
The Reo Summit and Suitability, and Policy Developments thereof.

Scientific inquiry and sustainable development
Controversial issues like climate change, oil peak, and food production and the role of science in helping delimit them as problematic.

Mainstreaming sustainability
Sustainability and Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience, as individual and social concerns, and their role in transformation.

Communicating sustainability
Human well-being, Environmental Justice, Environmental Policy and the practicalities of Sustainability in Scotland.

Sustainable development in practice
Community Empowerment associated with Land Reform. Energy Production and Food Production in Tayside.

Ethics and sustainability policy
Active citizenship and globalisation.

Innovating locally, transforming globally
Transformations required to embrace Sustainability.

Active relationship for sustainable futures
Thinking globally, acting locally.

Brief description

How lifestyle can affect physical and mental well-being. Reflect on your own lifestyle choices and how to incorporate good health behaviours into your life.

Module content:

  • Sleep and stress
    The impact of sleep and stress on health and performance. Completion of sleep diaries and questionnaires related to sleep patterns and stress.
     
  • Physical activity
    Current physical activity recommendations, components of physical fitness.
     
  • Physical inactivity
    Understanding why people are inactive. The link between physical inactivity, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
     
  • Physical activity and mental well-being
    The effects of physical activity on mental well-being.
     
  • The effect of carbohydrate consumption and exercise on blood glucose
    Measurement and recording of blood glucose in response to the carbohydrate ingestion and exercise.
     
  • Simple health and fitness testing
    Measurement and recording of data. Tests will include blood pressure, strength, endurance and flexibility. Data will be compared with normative values for these tests.

Brief description

Develop critical thinking skills that form the basis for progression across the academic disciplines of the university. Learn how to recognise, construct, evaluate, criticise and defend different forms of argument.


Module content:

•    Potential 'timeless' debates 
Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: e.g. existence of God; privacy and civil society; private property; money as source of 'evil'; nature/nurture; free speech; pornography; capital punishment; prostitution; animal experimentation; meaning of justice; abortion; affirmative action; just war; trade union power; good life/good political community; human nature; monarchy; value of democracy; meaning of equality; citizenship rights.

•    Potential 'timely' debates
Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: eg, Scottish independence, academic freedom; drug legalisation; drug use in sport; immigration; free health care; war on terror; EU membership; euthanasia; progressive taxation; race and gender discrimination; gay marriage; human rights; politics/sport; global warming; internet censorship; nuclear power; education league tables; nuclear weapons; GM agriculture; religion; cloning; fair trade; value of contemporary culture.

•    Critical thinking seminars
Follow-up discursive discipline specific seminar sessions led by teaching staff on topics covered in formal debates. Learn to identify types of argument presented, evaluate perspectives and to reflect upon their own reasoning processes and value assumptions. The debates and seminars facilitate a foundation for the acquisition of graduate attributes.

•    WEB CT Wiki discussion forum
Work in small groups to write a short 800 word indicative "Thinking Summary" online Wiki of the arguments presented in each debate. These summaries will be constructed by each designated Thinking Group of three students using the Wiki facility on Blackboard which will facilitate further discussion on the moderated WEB CT discussion forum.

Brief description

The social, managerial, economic, political, and technical challenges and opportunities associated with emerging renewable energy innovation, production, supply and consumption.


Module content:

•    Renewable energy non-technical challenges and opportunities
Social and political challenges and opportunities of renewable energy production supply and consumption. Economic and environmental challenges of renewable energy production supply and consumption. Strategic and managerial challenges of renewable energy production supply and consumption.


•    Renewable energy technological challenges and opportunities
Geotechnical, Geophysical and Hydrographic information; Knowledge of sources of hydrographic information and interpretation of published charts. Forces on structures; Appreciation of the various forces acting on marine structures. Technical limitations and challenges of energy distribution systems and energy storage. Current technological development trend, collaborative innovation in renewable energy.

Brief description

An understanding of the concepts of tolerance, and the importance of making sound ethical decisions. Develop the qualities, characteristics and skills to meet the aspiration for Abertay graduates to become global and active citizens. 

Module content:

•    Introduction to equality and ethics legislation 

•    Diversity competence and moral/ethical reasoning 
Inclusiveness, equal opportunities, positive action, reasonable adjustment.

•    Attributes for the workplace and for global citizenship.

•    Reflective practice 
Application of models of reflective practice.

•    Contemporary issues

Brief description

Learn how to adjust language to suit context. Analyse a range of linguistic issues, including “proper English”, how language can be used to create moral panics, and the ethics of communication.

Module content:

•    “Good English”
The role of standardisation, dialect and idiolect − how we choose language to reflect our identities and our role in a speech or discourse community.

Language and influence
How the media constructs narratives to persuade or inform the audience (and how to tell the difference).

Creating a narrative across genres
The conventions, freedoms and limitations of different forms; using these forms in new ways.

Narrative changes over time
How authors reinvent old stories to reflect current concerns.

Technical writing
The use and manipulation of data; hearing the author's voice; critiquing "bad science".

The ethics of communication
 (Electronic) media and ownership, attribution and theft.

Brief description

“Personal” digital safety to make computer security fun, practical and eye-opening.  Learn the base knowledge that will continue to be relevant to future generations of devices.

Module content:

•    Current state of computer security
An overview including legal aspects.

•    Cyber-attacks, vulnerabilities and threats
Malware, Network attacks (denial of service, packet sniffing etc.), bots and rootkits. How the bad guys can obtain your password.

•    Information leakage
Recovery and forensics recovering deleted or corrupted files. What your browser knows about you. Web browser forensics.

•    Securing networks, accounts and devices
Defence against malware, honeypots, Secure protocols, intrusion detection, Password security, Mobile device security.

•    Human aspects of cyber security 
The Psychology of Hackers, Social Engineering, identity theft, Usability vs security.

•    Breaking the code
An introduction to cryptography, Encryption and Decryption, public and private keys, the key exchange problem.

•    History of cryptography 
The Caesar cipher, polyalphabetic ciphers, the Playfair cipher, the role of Enigma and the Bletchley Park cryptographers in WWII.

•    Computers and Crypto Diffie-Hellman and RSA encryption
Phil Zimmerman and “Pretty Good Protection". Quantum Cryptography – Provably unbreakable information hiding. Mathematical Underpinnings – Large prime numbers and why they matter.

•    Steganography
 A picture's worth a thousand words when you're hiding the wood in the trees.

•    The law, society and cryptography 
Why you can be imprisoned for forgetting your password. The Civil Liberties Arguments for and against strong-crypto. International perspectives on information hiding, information freedom, the right to privacy and the conflicts between these. Are unbreakable cyphers an unqualified “good thing”?

Brief description

Develop perspectives on the key challenges faced by humankind such as environmental change, pollution, food security, energy provision, conflicts, terrorism, emerging diseases, and changing demographics. Understand the overwhelming complexity of the problems and the need for interdisciplinary approaches to create solutions.

Module content:

  • Interdisciplinary research
    Introductory lectures will discuss the definitions, methods, benefits, challenges, and drawbacks of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches and the role of public policy influencing research
     
  • Global challenges
    Challenges from different disciplines. Examples include: Climate Change: causes and impact; Serious Games: science and application of visualization and games; Global Security: valuing ecosystems: balancing policy, economics and environment; Contemporary Challenges to Healthy Living; Food Security: global threats and local needs; Energy Poverty: space travel.

Brief description

Design an activity to communicate and present scientific principles to primary school children. Learn about working as a group and how to communicate complex ideas.

Module content:

Developing a science communication activity
Target audience, sources of information to identify suitable activities (CfE documentation etc.), health and safety, issues around working with specific groups, accessibility, ethics, costing and sustainability.

The landscape of engagement and current practice
Types of public engagement activities, target audiences, funding, role of learned societies, universities and other bodies. Public engagement in Dundee and Tayside.

Brief description

Develop the knowledge and awareness required to make good career decisions and the skills and confidence to successfully navigate each stage of the recruitment process for graduate jobs.

Module content:

  • Developing self-awareness
    Profiling of personal strengths, values and priorities in relation to career choice.
     
  • Developing opportunity awareness
    Generating career ideas based on your personal profile; Exploring the range of graduate opportunities within job sectors of interest; Reviewing occupations that are directly related to your own subject discipline.
     
  • Developing a career action plan
    Matching your personal profile with best fit opportunities in the job market; Creating a timeline of actions to improve your prospects of meeting your aim.
  • Developing job seeking skills
    Sourcing suitable job opportunities - both advertised and unadvertised; Creating a professional image online; Identifying the skills and qualities employers look for in graduates; Learning how to produce targeted applications for specific job roles; Practising the presentation of your strengths and motivations in face to face selection activities.

Brief description

Learn about natural disaster such as landslides and flooding, structural disasters such as the Tay Rail Bridge and the system of critical infrastructure (such as road, rail, air and shipping transport networks, power grid, gas and water networks, health system) that constitute the backbone of modern societies.

Module content:

•    Overview of the scope and the content of concept of critical infrastructure failure during natural disasters and resilience against such failures
The consequences of geophysical, hydrological and meteorological disasters on critical infrastructure and critical infrastructure protection capabilities against natural disasters. Interdependencies of critical infrastructures during large disasters, presents a brief review of current research being done in this field, and presents a methodology to address interdependencies.


•    The identification of the vulnerabilities of the critical systems
The critical systems upon which modern society, economy, and polity depend. The identification of the vulnerabilities of these systems threats that might exploit these vulnerabilities. The effort to develop techniques to mitigate these vulnerabilities through improved design.


•     Flooding in Scotland
General overview of fluvial, pluvial and coastal flooding, the structural, economic and societal impact and responses to flooding. Resources will include historical examples, current policies and information (including SEPA flood maps). Case study (with virtual/actual field visit?) the Perth Floods of 1990 and 1993 and the Perth flood defence scheme*


•    Landslide origins, types and mitigations
General overview what landslides are, why they happen and what can be done to prevent them.


•    Structural failure
An example such as why the Tay Bridge failed and what it meant for the Forth Rail Bridge.


•    Reports and investigations
The role of reports in accident and disaster investigations in creating informative reports; case studies of accidents, disasters, learning from history, learning from case studies, learning from common law

Brief description

Introduction to the skills and knowledge needed to launch a small business successfully. This module will define and help you acquire the personal and professional skills needed to develop a professional career and/or to succeed as entrepreneurs in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Module content:

  • Understanding entrepreneurship.
     
  • Generating successful business ideas.
     
  • Environmental scanning.
     
  • Developing a credible business plan that includes evaluating business ideas.
     
  • Presenting the business idea.

Brief description

An understanding of some of the processes involved in food production. Discuss common misconceptions and ideas which present the food and nutritional industries in a bad light.


Module content:

•    Student led investigations
Student led investigations of the different sectors within the food and drink industry including: prebiotics – and the controversy surrounding the term; if barbequing is a healthy cooking method; and exposing the celebrity chef - common Myths about cooking.


•    Consumerism
Does the food industry listen to us? Understanding consumer and sensory science to better understand why you buy the products you buy.  How food/public health is reported by the media? The French paradox / Mediterranean diet.


•    Future of food
Ethical food production and the future of foods, and what’s waste got to do with it?


•    Debunking myths
Debunking food myths, more science than science fiction in our food today, like the science behind getting sauce out of a bottle and what to drink – Whisky or Beer?


•    Facts from fiction
Finding facts from fiction, investigating the three-second rule – should I eat things that have fallen on the floor? What’s so super about super-foods? Fat or sugar: Which is worse?

Brief description

Learn how we approach and understand mental health, from historic, social, therapeutic, and individual perspectives. Explore questions such as ‘what is madness?’, ‘how does society position people with mental illness?’, and ‘how do we best respond to challenges to our mental health?’

Module content:

  • Historical and cultural perspective on mental illness
    How do we ‘think’ about mental health, and mental ill health?
     
  • Diagnosis and the anti-psychiatry movement
    Who holds the power to decide what is normal in terms of psychological well-being and behaviour?
     
  • Gender, culture and mental health
    How gendered cultural expectations and representations influence how we respond to mental health issues.
     
  • Media representations
    The impact of film and literature on attitudes and understandings of mental health.
     
  • Resilience, treatment and recovery
    Common mental health problems in the UK, treatment and management, and frameworks for enhancing well-being and resilience.

Brief description

An introduction to the wide range of disciplines in forensic investigation. Learn how crimes are investigated from the moment of reporting through to the presentation of the evidence in court. A hypothetical case study provides an over-arching framework in which to explore the critical aspects of forensic investigations. It involves not only physical and electronic evidence, but also statements from witnesses, suspects and victims which requires cross discipline collaboration of professionals.


Module content:

Crime scene investigation
How a crime scene is examined in the context of incomplete contextual information and to avoid loss or contamination of evidence and the maximising of the value of evidential material.

Media involvement
Positive and negative effects of the media/public interest in the crime.

Forensic biology
Examination and evidential value of body fluids, DNA, hairs and fibres.

Forensic chemistry
Analysis for drugs, toxicological analysis, firearms, explosives, and trace evidence.

Digital sources
Evidence from CCT, mobile phones, computer hardware, on−line behaviour.

Forensic reasoning and practice
An introduction to forensic problem solving, thinking styles, case assessment and interpretation.

Psychology of witnesses and suspects
False confessions, offender profiling, effects and avoidance of cognitive bias in forensic science through process design.

Year 2 Core Modules

You must study and pass all five core modules

Brief description

Introduction to the knowledge, processes and techniques to formulate and explore effective, innovative game ideas with consideration for the structure of both gameplay and narrative design. 

Indicative content: 

  • Game Genre Mechanics: Deconstructing core components of popular game genres.
  • Constructs of Gameplay: What is gameplay and how is this broken down and communicated within the game design.
  • Design Documents and Artefacts: Physical prototypes, visual documentation, technical design, capturing requirements.
  • Game Design Process: Conceptualisation, iteration, phases of workflow, alternative approaches.
  • Narrative Theory for Game Design: Themes, narrative structures, characters, storyboarding, animatics, scripts.
  • Experimental Approaches: Exploring emergent practices and methods for innovative game design.
  • Visualisation and Digital Techniques: Utilising digital techniques to produce gameplay and narrative previsualisation, developing rudimentary digital prototypes.
  • Audience and Cultural Engagement: Discussing the role of audience and exploring cultural aspects of game design.

Brief description

Introduction to the 3D game art pipeline. gain the knowledge and skills required to design and build your own 3D assets for games.

Indicative content: 

  • Software skills: Work with a range of 2D, 3D, and game engine tools to produce 3D game assets.
  • Polygon modelling: Use polygon modelling tools to build 3D assets for games.
  • Curves and NURBS modelling: Create polygon models for games using curves and NURBS modelling tools.
  • UV mapping: Create and edit UV layouts for 3D models.
  • Materials: Learn to select, edit, and apply materials to 3D models in both 3D software and in game engines.
  • Texture production: Use 2D graphics packages to build textures and texture sets for 3D game models.
  • 3D painting: Create texture maps using 3D painting packages and techniques.
  • Sculpting: Use sculpting packages/tools to create high poly detail and generate advanced texture maps.
  • Lighting: Apply theories of colour and light to 3D game scenes.
  • Modular production: Learn to create modular 3D assets appropriate for the production of game scenes.

Brief description

Develop skills in the use of game engines with an emphasis on the creation of game content and levels underpinned by level design theory and practice.

Indicative content:

  • Terminology and concepts: Common aspects and features of game engines.
  • Editing systems: Creating custom geometry, terrain etc. with in-engine tools.
  • Scripting game logic: Adding interaction to a level.
  • AI and pathing: Pathing techniques and movement logic.
  • Physics: Creating custom physics interactions.
  • Interface: Creating and editing user interfaces.
  • Content: Importing art and audio content.
  • Cameras: Working with cameras, animating and switching between cameras, cut-scenes.
  • Spatial and lighting design: Considering appropriate theories for spatial layout, composition, lighting etc.
  • User experience: Considering the user journey, playtesting, iteration.

Brief description

Operating at the intersection of graphic design, interaction design, programming, and psychology, User Interface (UI) designers hold significant responsibility within game development teams and digital design studios. Develop your practical and technical skills in UI design, along with your applied knowledge and understanding of underpinning theories and methodologies.

Indicative content: 

  • UX and UI: Considering user experience and the intersection with user interfaces. Examining the role of UX/UI designers in industry.
  • Interaction design: Discussing methodologies of interaction design and associated design disciplines such as human-computer interaction (HCI), user-centred design (UCD) and human factors.
  • Accessibility and inclusive design: Considering audience diversity and the need to design and develop accessible interfaces.
  • Game UI and menus: Diegetic, non-diegetic, meta, and spatial UI. Structuring menus for consistency, clarity, and effective communication with players.
  • Graphic design for interfaces: Graphic design principles and visual style considerations; skeuomorphism, flat design, hierarchy, composition.
  • Feedback: Interface animation, visual feedback, and audio feedback.
  • Controllers: Controller selection/design, control mapping, communicating controls to players.
  • Platforms: Understanding platforms - including mobile, console, PC, online, VR/AR/MR – and how platform selection interacts with UX and UI design.

Brief description

The processes and purposes of designing and developing a piece of interactive entertainment.

Indicative content: 

  • Historical Overview: How games have been designed, prominent genres, styles and techniques.
  • Concept and Communication: Conceptualising and communicating ideas, scoping requirements, giving and receiving critique.
  • Design Process: Establishing a process, proposing solutions, iteration and documentation.
  • Core Design: Working up the concept, graphics, features, setting, story, objectives, levels.
  • The Development Team: Roles and responsibilities, scheduling and milestones, inclusive and supportive working.
  • Rules and Mechanics: Implementing choices, interactivity, strategies, motivation and reward, balancing gameplay.
  • Look and Feel: Establishing a style, ambience, colour and mood, sound effects, and music.
  • Cultural and Commercial Awareness: Designing for an audience, markets, genres and platforms.

Years 1 and 2 Elective Modules

You must study and pass one elective module of your choosing

Brief description

Introduction of the concept of smart cities - hard infrastructure, social capital including local skills and community institutions, and digital technologies to fuel sustainable economic development and provide an attractive environment for all.

Module content:

  • Social impacts

There is an overall need for theoretical and methodological plurality in how we assess the impact and value of future cities in terms for individual and societal well−being. Gaps in our understanding relate to the complex ways individuals and groups engage with built and natural settings, the cultural goods and consequent benefits that may arise and the inequalities associated with these cultural benefits.

  • Security

Different types of cyber-attacks that could be launched against a Smart City. Impact of cyber-attacks. Approaches to securing the smart grid and critical infrastructure, i.e. improving cyber resilience.

  • Sustainable urban food production

Includes the long established allotments movement to large-scale projects based on sustainability throughout the food chain. Urban food production includes the long established allotments movement. The demand for urban growing also responds to the densification and intensification of living areas, due to population rise, migration and demographic aging with lower housing and ‘garden’ space standards placing greater importance on collective production.

  • Energy, waste and water

At present, water and wastewater facilities are often the largest and most energy intensive responsibilities owned and operated by local governments, representing up to 35% of municipal energy use. Future cities will need to utilise more sustainable methods of water and wastewater management and renewable energy production.

  • Digital technologies

​Digital technologies will play a major role in creating sustainable and resilient cities offering a vehicle for more inclusive decision−making process and promoting dialog amongst architects, urban planners, the public and technologists.

Brief description

Develop a range of skills, knowledge and techniques within the natural, technological and social sciences relevant to the study of environmental sustainability and life in the twenty-first century. Understand the critical issues that confront humanity and begin to discern appropriate responses.

Module content:

The challenge of sustainable development
Problems associated with life in the 21st Century and the relationship to scientific provisionalism and uncertainty.

The genesis of sustainable development concept
Developments associated with the Club of Rome are outlined while Limits to Growth and the Tragedy of the Commons.

Evolution of sustainable development
The Reo Summit and Suitability, and Policy Developments thereof.

Scientific inquiry and sustainable development
Controversial issues like climate change, oil peak, and food production and the role of science in helping delimit them as problematic.

Mainstreaming sustainability
Sustainability and Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience, as individual and social concerns, and their role in transformation.

Communicating sustainability
Human well-being, Environmental Justice, Environmental Policy and the practicalities of Sustainability in Scotland.

Sustainable development in practice
Community Empowerment associated with Land Reform. Energy Production and Food Production in Tayside.

Ethics and sustainability policy
Active citizenship and globalisation.

Innovating locally, transforming globally
Transformations required to embrace Sustainability.

Active relationship for sustainable futures
Thinking globally, acting locally.

Brief description

How lifestyle can affect physical and mental well-being. Reflect on your own lifestyle choices and how to incorporate good health behaviours into your life.

Module content:

  • Sleep and stress
    The impact of sleep and stress on health and performance. Completion of sleep diaries and questionnaires related to sleep patterns and stress.
     
  • Physical activity
    Current physical activity recommendations, components of physical fitness.
     
  • Physical inactivity
    Understanding why people are inactive. The link between physical inactivity, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
     
  • Physical activity and mental well-being
    The effects of physical activity on mental well-being.
     
  • The effect of carbohydrate consumption and exercise on blood glucose
    Measurement and recording of blood glucose in response to the carbohydrate ingestion and exercise.
     
  • Simple health and fitness testing
    Measurement and recording of data. Tests will include blood pressure, strength, endurance and flexibility. Data will be compared with normative values for these tests.

Brief description

Develop critical thinking skills that form the basis for progression across the academic disciplines of the university. Learn how to recognise, construct, evaluate, criticise and defend different forms of argument.


Module content:

•    Potential 'timeless' debates 
Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: e.g. existence of God; privacy and civil society; private property; money as source of 'evil'; nature/nurture; free speech; pornography; capital punishment; prostitution; animal experimentation; meaning of justice; abortion; affirmative action; just war; trade union power; good life/good political community; human nature; monarchy; value of democracy; meaning of equality; citizenship rights.

•    Potential 'timely' debates
Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: eg, Scottish independence, academic freedom; drug legalisation; drug use in sport; immigration; free health care; war on terror; EU membership; euthanasia; progressive taxation; race and gender discrimination; gay marriage; human rights; politics/sport; global warming; internet censorship; nuclear power; education league tables; nuclear weapons; GM agriculture; religion; cloning; fair trade; value of contemporary culture.

•    Critical thinking seminars
Follow-up discursive discipline specific seminar sessions led by teaching staff on topics covered in formal debates. Learn to identify types of argument presented, evaluate perspectives and to reflect upon their own reasoning processes and value assumptions. The debates and seminars facilitate a foundation for the acquisition of graduate attributes.

•    WEB CT Wiki discussion forum
Work in small groups to write a short 800 word indicative "Thinking Summary" online Wiki of the arguments presented in each debate. These summaries will be constructed by each designated Thinking Group of three students using the Wiki facility on Blackboard which will facilitate further discussion on the moderated WEB CT discussion forum.

Brief description

The social, managerial, economic, political, and technical challenges and opportunities associated with emerging renewable energy innovation, production, supply and consumption.


Module content:

•    Renewable energy non-technical challenges and opportunities
Social and political challenges and opportunities of renewable energy production supply and consumption. Economic and environmental challenges of renewable energy production supply and consumption. Strategic and managerial challenges of renewable energy production supply and consumption.


•    Renewable energy technological challenges and opportunities
Geotechnical, Geophysical and Hydrographic information; Knowledge of sources of hydrographic information and interpretation of published charts. Forces on structures; Appreciation of the various forces acting on marine structures. Technical limitations and challenges of energy distribution systems and energy storage. Current technological development trend, collaborative innovation in renewable energy.

Brief description

An understanding of the concepts of tolerance, and the importance of making sound ethical decisions. Develop the qualities, characteristics and skills to meet the aspiration for Abertay graduates to become global and active citizens. 

Module content:

•    Introduction to equality and ethics legislation 

•    Diversity competence and moral/ethical reasoning 
Inclusiveness, equal opportunities, positive action, reasonable adjustment.

•    Attributes for the workplace and for global citizenship.

•    Reflective practice 
Application of models of reflective practice.

•    Contemporary issues

Brief description

Learn how to adjust language to suit context. Analyse a range of linguistic issues, including “proper English”, how language can be used to create moral panics, and the ethics of communication.

Module content:

•    “Good English”
The role of standardisation, dialect and idiolect − how we choose language to reflect our identities and our role in a speech or discourse community.

Language and influence
How the media constructs narratives to persuade or inform the audience (and how to tell the difference).

Creating a narrative across genres
The conventions, freedoms and limitations of different forms; using these forms in new ways.

Narrative changes over time
How authors reinvent old stories to reflect current concerns.

Technical writing
The use and manipulation of data; hearing the author's voice; critiquing "bad science".

The ethics of communication
 (Electronic) media and ownership, attribution and theft.

Brief description

“Personal” digital safety to make computer security fun, practical and eye-opening.  Learn the base knowledge that will continue to be relevant to future generations of devices.

Module content:

•    Current state of computer security
An overview including legal aspects.

•    Cyber-attacks, vulnerabilities and threats
Malware, Network attacks (denial of service, packet sniffing etc.), bots and rootkits. How the bad guys can obtain your password.

•    Information leakage
Recovery and forensics recovering deleted or corrupted files. What your browser knows about you. Web browser forensics.

•    Securing networks, accounts and devices
Defence against malware, honeypots, Secure protocols, intrusion detection, Password security, Mobile device security.

•    Human aspects of cyber security 
The Psychology of Hackers, Social Engineering, identity theft, Usability vs security.

•    Breaking the code
An introduction to cryptography, Encryption and Decryption, public and private keys, the key exchange problem.

•    History of cryptography 
The Caesar cipher, polyalphabetic ciphers, the Playfair cipher, the role of Enigma and the Bletchley Park cryptographers in WWII.

•    Computers and Crypto Diffie-Hellman and RSA encryption
Phil Zimmerman and “Pretty Good Protection". Quantum Cryptography – Provably unbreakable information hiding. Mathematical Underpinnings – Large prime numbers and why they matter.

•    Steganography
 A picture's worth a thousand words when you're hiding the wood in the trees.

•    The law, society and cryptography 
Why you can be imprisoned for forgetting your password. The Civil Liberties Arguments for and against strong-crypto. International perspectives on information hiding, information freedom, the right to privacy and the conflicts between these. Are unbreakable cyphers an unqualified “good thing”?

Brief description

Develop perspectives on the key challenges faced by humankind such as environmental change, pollution, food security, energy provision, conflicts, terrorism, emerging diseases, and changing demographics. Understand the overwhelming complexity of the problems and the need for interdisciplinary approaches to create solutions.

Module content:

  • Interdisciplinary research
    Introductory lectures will discuss the definitions, methods, benefits, challenges, and drawbacks of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches and the role of public policy influencing research
     
  • Global challenges
    Challenges from different disciplines. Examples include: Climate Change: causes and impact; Serious Games: science and application of visualization and games; Global Security: valuing ecosystems: balancing policy, economics and environment; Contemporary Challenges to Healthy Living; Food Security: global threats and local needs; Energy Poverty: space travel.

Brief description

Design an activity to communicate and present scientific principles to primary school children. Learn about working as a group and how to communicate complex ideas.

Module content:

Developing a science communication activity
Target audience, sources of information to identify suitable activities (CfE documentation etc.), health and safety, issues around working with specific groups, accessibility, ethics, costing and sustainability.

The landscape of engagement and current practice
Types of public engagement activities, target audiences, funding, role of learned societies, universities and other bodies. Public engagement in Dundee and Tayside.

Brief description

Develop the knowledge and awareness required to make good career decisions and the skills and confidence to successfully navigate each stage of the recruitment process for graduate jobs.

Module content:

  • Developing self-awareness
    Profiling of personal strengths, values and priorities in relation to career choice.
     
  • Developing opportunity awareness
    Generating career ideas based on your personal profile; Exploring the range of graduate opportunities within job sectors of interest; Reviewing occupations that are directly related to your own subject discipline.
     
  • Developing a career action plan
    Matching your personal profile with best fit opportunities in the job market; Creating a timeline of actions to improve your prospects of meeting your aim.
  • Developing job seeking skills
    Sourcing suitable job opportunities - both advertised and unadvertised; Creating a professional image online; Identifying the skills and qualities employers look for in graduates; Learning how to produce targeted applications for specific job roles; Practising the presentation of your strengths and motivations in face to face selection activities.

Brief description

Learn about natural disaster such as landslides and flooding, structural disasters such as the Tay Rail Bridge and the system of critical infrastructure (such as road, rail, air and shipping transport networks, power grid, gas and water networks, health system) that constitute the backbone of modern societies.

Module content:

•    Overview of the scope and the content of concept of critical infrastructure failure during natural disasters and resilience against such failures
The consequences of geophysical, hydrological and meteorological disasters on critical infrastructure and critical infrastructure protection capabilities against natural disasters. Interdependencies of critical infrastructures during large disasters, presents a brief review of current research being done in this field, and presents a methodology to address interdependencies.


•    The identification of the vulnerabilities of the critical systems
The critical systems upon which modern society, economy, and polity depend. The identification of the vulnerabilities of these systems threats that might exploit these vulnerabilities. The effort to develop techniques to mitigate these vulnerabilities through improved design.


•     Flooding in Scotland
General overview of fluvial, pluvial and coastal flooding, the structural, economic and societal impact and responses to flooding. Resources will include historical examples, current policies and information (including SEPA flood maps). Case study (with virtual/actual field visit?) the Perth Floods of 1990 and 1993 and the Perth flood defence scheme*


•    Landslide origins, types and mitigations
General overview what landslides are, why they happen and what can be done to prevent them.


•    Structural failure
An example such as why the Tay Bridge failed and what it meant for the Forth Rail Bridge.


•    Reports and investigations
The role of reports in accident and disaster investigations in creating informative reports; case studies of accidents, disasters, learning from history, learning from case studies, learning from common law

Brief description

Introduction to the skills and knowledge needed to launch a small business successfully. This module will define and help you acquire the personal and professional skills needed to develop a professional career and/or to succeed as entrepreneurs in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Module content:

  • Understanding entrepreneurship.
     
  • Generating successful business ideas.
     
  • Environmental scanning.
     
  • Developing a credible business plan that includes evaluating business ideas.
     
  • Presenting the business idea.

Brief description

An understanding of some of the processes involved in food production. Discuss common misconceptions and ideas which present the food and nutritional industries in a bad light.


Module content:

•    Student led investigations
Student led investigations of the different sectors within the food and drink industry including: prebiotics – and the controversy surrounding the term; if barbequing is a healthy cooking method; and exposing the celebrity chef - common Myths about cooking.


•    Consumerism
Does the food industry listen to us? Understanding consumer and sensory science to better understand why you buy the products you buy.  How food/public health is reported by the media? The French paradox / Mediterranean diet.


•    Future of food
Ethical food production and the future of foods, and what’s waste got to do with it?


•    Debunking myths
Debunking food myths, more science than science fiction in our food today, like the science behind getting sauce out of a bottle and what to drink – Whisky or Beer?


•    Facts from fiction
Finding facts from fiction, investigating the three-second rule – should I eat things that have fallen on the floor? What’s so super about super-foods? Fat or sugar: Which is worse?

Brief description

Learn how we approach and understand mental health, from historic, social, therapeutic, and individual perspectives. Explore questions such as ‘what is madness?’, ‘how does society position people with mental illness?’, and ‘how do we best respond to challenges to our mental health?’

Module content:

  • Historical and cultural perspective on mental illness
    How do we ‘think’ about mental health, and mental ill health?
     
  • Diagnosis and the anti-psychiatry movement
    Who holds the power to decide what is normal in terms of psychological well-being and behaviour?
     
  • Gender, culture and mental health
    How gendered cultural expectations and representations influence how we respond to mental health issues.
     
  • Media representations
    The impact of film and literature on attitudes and understandings of mental health.
     
  • Resilience, treatment and recovery
    Common mental health problems in the UK, treatment and management, and frameworks for enhancing well-being and resilience.

Brief description

An introduction to the wide range of disciplines in forensic investigation. Learn how crimes are investigated from the moment of reporting through to the presentation of the evidence in court. A hypothetical case study provides an over-arching framework in which to explore the critical aspects of forensic investigations. It involves not only physical and electronic evidence, but also statements from witnesses, suspects and victims which requires cross discipline collaboration of professionals.
 

Module content:

Crime scene investigation
How a crime scene is examined in the context of incomplete contextual information and to avoid loss or contamination of evidence and the maximising of the value of evidential material.

Media involvement
Positive and negative effects of the media/public interest in the crime.

Forensic biology
Examination and evidential value of body fluids, DNA, hairs and fibres.

Forensic chemistry
Analysis for drugs, toxicological analysis, firearms, explosives, and trace evidence.

Digital sources
Evidence from CCT, mobile phones, computer hardware, on−line behaviour.

Forensic reasoning and practice
An introduction to forensic problem solving, thinking styles, case assessment and interpretation.

Psychology of witnesses and suspects
False confessions, offender profiling, effects and avoidance of cognitive bias in forensic science through process design.

Year 3 Core Modules

You must study and pass all three core modules

Brief description

This module develops an in-depth understanding of the issues around the production process and managing a creative team

Indicative content:

  • Leadership: Management styles, defining roles, responsibilities skills etc. of good managers, assertiveness, rapport, influence, leadership, management strategies.
  • Controlling Software Production: Programmers, code, data, version control, tools, software reviews, the mythical man-month, the principles of software engineering.
  • Controlling Asset Production: Analogue artworks, digital artwork conversion and creation, static imagery, time-based imagery, FMV, character design, look'n'feel. Importance of audio sound effects, ambient noise, music creation, capture, editing, editing, conversion, storage, size, reproduction, immersion.
  • Production Control: The project reporting mechanisms, planning, management, organisation, staffing, directing, controlling, project initiation, plans, budget, resources, inventories, termination, project management tools.
  • Human Factors: Building self-esteem, confidence, intra- and inter- team relationships, domain expertise, discontent, resolving conflict, managing performance.
  • Handling Criticism: Internal and external mechanisms for evaluation, the media cycle and handling reviews.
  • Team Dynamics: How teams operate and develop, relationships, stakeholders, reporting agreements, diversity as strength, goal-setting, identifying strengths and weaknesses.
  • Case Studies: How games and interactive media companies are managed. Variety of company structures and teams, value of analysis and post-mortems. Using games- related and non-games industry examples.
  • Managing Risk and Uncertainty: Identifying and managing risk in resources, processes and legal aspects. Quality assurance as part of production: planning, QA teams, outsourcing, costing, testing, alpha/beta/gold master stages.

Brief description

Work together on an interactive media project as part of a multidisciplinary team. Contribute to your team by taking on a professional role suited to your area of study. Expect to: communicate with clients and relevant stakeholders; participate in pitching and presentations; research and test technical pipelines; create project documentation and planning materials; and contribute to the iterative design and development of a final interactive prototype.

Indicative content:

  • Team Organisation and Management: Attend and participate in team meetings, keep meeting minutes, and assign roles and responsibilities; Identify and overcome team problems, understand conflicts and approaches to conflict resolution, and engage with team building.
  • Communication and Professionalism: Demonstrate the ability to communicate within the team, with tutors, with clients/mentors, and with other stakeholders in a professional and respectful manner.
  • Development Methodologies: Understand and apply appropriate development methodologies framed by the requirements of a project and balance of a team, e.g. agile, scrum, lean, spiral, feature-driven, waterfall/traditional.
  • Research and Concept Development: Research similar products and competitors; Research and interpret the product marketplace, considering platform, user profiles, costs, regional differences etc; Conduct visual and audio research; Iteratively develop design concepts in response to a given brief.
  • Technologies and Pipelines: Research software and hardware technologies; Develop a technical plan for game development; Research, develop, test and document production pipelines.
  • Style and Branding: Develop a brand for the team and the project; Research, develop, document, and communicate a defined visual and audio style; Produce marketing and promotional materials.
  • Pitching and Presentation: Use appropriate software, hardware, game engines, and other tools to deliver a working digital prototype; Engage with regular user testing to inform design iteration, demonstrating an appreciation of user experience.
  • Prototype Development, Testing, and Iteration: Use appropriate software, hardware, game engines, and other tools to deliver a working digital prototype; Engage with regular user testing to inform design iteration, demonstrating an appreciation of user experience.
  • Release Management: Manage the software development process using source control, defect tracking, and build processes.
  • Project Delivery: Consider the methods for delivering products to the market, including market cycles, digital distribution, and the publisher-developer relationship; Deliver a complete prototype with accompanying press kit.

Brief description

The field of game design encompasses a breadth of specialist roles and applications. Receive support to identify your own areas of interest and professional specialisation, taking into account factors such as game genres, audiences, platforms, technologies, and content. With tutor support, research game design practice and develop a personal development plan targeted at skill and portfolio development.

Indicative content:

  • Game design roles: Research game design and related roles across the games industry, e.g. gameplay design, systems design, technical design, mission/quest design, level design, environment art/design, character art/design, narrative design, cinematics design, lighting and VFX design, sound design, content design, UX/UI design, monetisation design, immersive experience design.
  • Games genres and audiences: Research how factors such as game genres and target audiences impact on approaches to game design, skills, and bodies of knowledge.
  • Game technologies and platforms: Consider game design for a breadth of devices, e.g. mobile/tablet, specialist console, PC/Mac, online, VR, AR, MR, performance, and analogue game design.
  • Bodies of knowledge: Develop an appreciation of the relevant bodies of knowledge to game design in general, and specialist roles and applications in particular. Produce and make use of reading lists that encompass not only literature in game design and game studies, but also other fields and disciplines that overlap with specialist areas of game design practice.
  • Skills audit: Undertake structured review of current skills as mapped to game design in general and to specific roles and applications of game design that are of personal interest. Use a skills audit to assist in planning for personal development, and for helping to shape and update your CV.
  • Personal development planning: Develop a PDP that frames your self-directed learning, encompassing technical and software tutorials, reading to support development of theoretical and conceptual knowledge, and ongoing applied practice to improve skills, abilities, and to enhance your portfolio.
  • Specialist portfolio: Review the portfolios of peers and professionals, and carry out an independent study project that will underpin the production of a portfolio targeted at a specialist game design role or application.
  • Self-assessment and peer feedback: Understand the need to engage with regular and honest self-assessment, and the value of regular sharing of work with peers and wider communities of practice.

Year 3 Option Modules

You must study and pass one pair of option modules of your choosing

Game Mechanics and System Design

Brief description

Develop the applied technical and creative skills necessary to design and script prototypes that demonstrate the functionality of game mechanics and systems. Learn to promote rapid prototyping as a useful evaluation tool and an essential part of the development process.

Module content:

  • Evolution of Gameplay Mechanics: Examine how the implementation of gameplay mechanics has changed over time.
  • Game Systems: Examine game systems and consider how the relationships between mechanics and variables are crafted to create a balanced gameplay experience.
  • Gameplay Analysis: Analyse existing implementations of game mechanics and systems.
  • Gameplay Mechanics Functional Analysis: Analyse and deconstruct game mechanics design into their component parts required for functional implementation.
  • Gameplay Implementation: Explore the range of tools and techniques available to implement gameplay in prototype games.
  • Iterative Development: Understand the development process of rapid game prototyping.
  • Evaluation Methods: Identify how gameplay implementation can be evaluated in terms of desired functionality and user experience.
  • Aesthetics: Consider the effect of aesthetics on gameplay implementation and how aesthetics can be used to enhance the user experience.
  • Game Balancing: Explore and implement techniques to balance individual elements of a gameplay prototype and examine the effect this has on the overall user experience.
  • Emergent Gameplay: Explore the techniques that can be applied to create emergent gameplay within prototype games.

Analytics and Data-Driven Game Design

Brief description

As games have moved more towards services, subscription models, and live online updates, the collection and analysis of player data is increasingly important to the games industry. Data is valuable not only for improving user experience and balancing gameplay, but also understanding player behaviours and driving profits for games companies. This module provides an introduction to player data collection and analysis as preparation for games and related creative industries that involve user research and product management.

Module content:

  • Tools: Reviewing available in-engine and third-party solutions for analytics.
  • Data visualisation and interpretation: Utilising dashboards to display and interpret data.
  • Statistics and analysis: Introduction to basic statistical methods for analysing data.
  • Player behaviours: Track and understand player behaviours.
  • Balance and retention: Adjust game design based on data analysis.
  • Ads: Integrating advertising into games.
  • Monetisation strategies: Sales models for games such as premium, freemium, and subscriptions.
  • Monetisation performance: Understanding metrics such as DAU and ARPDAU to track players and revenue.

Environment Art Production

Brief description

The creative and technical processes in the design and production of game environment art. Critique player engagement with and perception of these spaces with consideration for visual style, layout, and environmental storytelling. Gain experience in the conceptualisation, planning, modelling, texturing, and construction of game environments, which is particularly beneficial to those with an interest in progressing into game art roles.

Module content:

  • Visual research and concept design: Research real-world / fictional spaces and visual styles. Develop planning materials and concept designs in support of an environment art project.
  • Level design and player interaction: Apply knowledge from level design theory and user interaction and UX design to your understanding of environment art, layout, and navigation.
  • Spatial design: Consider architectural theories and principles when developing concepts for a virtual environment.
  • Environmental storytelling: Investigate how game worlds, spaces, and immersive environments create atmosphere and tell stories through layout, props, lighting, and textures.
  • 3D modelling: Design, build and unwrap 3D models appropriate for application in game engines. Consider sculpting and its application in game environment production.
  • Materials and maps: Paint texture maps and create complex materials for application to surfaces. Consider PBR.
  • Modular kits: Build and implement kits for modular environment design.
  • Environmental animation and movement: Consider how basic environmental animation can be implemented and connected to scripted player interactions.
  • Lighting: Apply static and dynamic lighting within your scenes. Understand light bakes and additional post-processing effects.
  • Game engines: Apply all of the above in-engine to demonstrate the ability to assemble environment art for presentation as part of a game product. Create builds and flythroughs to showcase your work.

Character Art Production

Brief description

Videogame character design with a focus on developing your technical and creative skills for character art production. Advance your proficiency with art production tools and pipelines commonly used in the games and entertainment industries for the visualisation of 3D characters.

Module content:

  • Visual Research: Conduct extensive research into existing characters, fashions, cultures, and other resources, developing ideas for use of form, shape, colour, and overall visual style.
  • Concept Development: Demonstrate an appreciation of game character design literature and the use of characters within games. Iteratively develop ideas and drawings for an original game character.
  • Sculpting: Use digital sculpting packages to develop character concepts and produce high-poly assets.
  • 3D Modelling: Use 3D modelling packages, tools, and techniques to build polygon-models.
  • UVs and Retopologisation: Rebuild meshes to develop new mesh layouts, edge flow, polygon density with a view to creating cleaner and more efficient models for games. Work with UV layouts for characters.
  • Painting: Use 2D/3D painting packages to produce textures for game characters.
  • Materials: Build advanced materials for characters, considering different types of materials used within a character asset (e.g. skin, hair, cloth, leather, metal etc.); consider use of PBR.
  • Presentation: Produce character video turnarounds and captured images of character assets implemented in-engine; present work in a manner consistent with professional practice.

Sound and Music for Games

Brief description

Introduction to the theory and practice of sound and music for games. Draw on examples from film and animation as well as games, to explore how sound design for screen media has developed over time, and how the demands of interactivity pose game sound designers a unique set of challenges. Explore the production approaches and workflows that underpin interactive audio design and the tools and technologies that enable its implementation in a game environment.

Module content:

  • Introduction: An overview of the history of sound and music in video games, from early 8-bit soundtracks generated by Programmable Sound Generators, through streaming Red-Book audio on CD to the latest multi-channel sample-based adaptive soundtracks.
  • Background: Modern soundtracks combine ideas from gaming, but also draw heavily on film soundtracks. We will examine the similarities and differences between the two, drawing conclusions on the roles and functions that sound and music play in a computer game.
  • Recording practice: We will introduce students to recording and production theory and practice, including microphone design, application and technique; digital recording theory and practice, and sound editing.
  • Adaptive sound: Students will explore the particular characteristics of adaptive sound design for interactive media, and how nuance and adaptability factors into the design and production process.
  • Application: What are the technologies and middleware systems that support dynamic audio effects for stereo, binaural and surround gaming systems and how do these affect the production process?
  • Technical constraints: What file formats and data compression techniques are available and what are the pros and cons of each? How do these impact on the end user experience?
  • Professional planning: Take a professional approach to project planning and management, including designing an audio design document, which details both the conceptual use of sound in a game, and its specific implementation and mechanics, and a complete sound asset list that details all of the sound elements that will be used.
  • Professional practice: Investigate the how sound production practice aligns with professional collaboration and development pipelines, including version control, file naming conventions and metadata, particularly with regard to automated processes for implementation and regionalisation, and identifying and protecting intellectual property.
  • Case studies and exemplars: Review and discuss case study examples that demonstrate how sound and music have been used in games across a range of different formats and platforms and at different periods in history.

Game Audio Implementation

Brief description

The real-time adaptive processes and structures that drive interactive sound effects and music in games. Investigate the different approaches that tools offer for real-time control of sound and music, and the processes through which pre-recorded sound assets are edited, tagged, implemented, and scripted to respond to player input.

Module content:

  • Technology: Compare and contrast middleware solutions, exploring functionality and options; Work with game engines, using scripting for event management and parameter control.
  • Interfacing: Explore the different ways that sound and music can be triggered and/or driven by game events, and the different ways that sound and music can either lead or react to player input.
  • Spatial audio: Discuss how spatial placement and reverberation help to create and characterise a sense of believable game space, and how this can be achieved within different sections and/or environments within the game.
  • Implementation: Explore the full implementation cycle of sound assets, and look at what’s involved in getting multiple layers of sound to function correctly in response to player input in a game.
  • Sound file management: Understanding differences in file formats and data encoding, and the artefacts that can be introduced can mean the difference between a soundtrack that behaves as it should, and hours of troubleshooting.
  • Profiling and troubleshooting: Explore the options available for measuring the performance of a games audio implementation. Investigate some of the common problems that affect game audio, and what solutions and/or workarounds exist.
  • Analysis: Analysing the use of sound and music in a computer game requires a particular set of analytical tools and an appreciation of context. Students will explore these notions and develop a framework for analysing interactive game-based audio.
  • Case studies and exemplars: Review and discuss case study examples that demonstrate how sound and music have been used in videogames across a range of different formats and platforms and at different periods in history.

Year 4 Core Modules

You must study and pass all four core modules

Brief description

Formulate a contextual, theoretical, and practical foundation in a self-selected area of professional practice and research. Evaluate existing research, texts, and projects with a view to developing a project proposal. Develop a portfolio of practical work pertinent to your own professional practice and selected Honours Project topic.

Indicative content:

  • Research Design for Games and Arts: Learn how research is designed, including: development of appropriate research questions/aims and objectives, the importance of analysing existing literature and knowledge, and understanding how research methods lead to new knowledge that is of value to your discipline, field, and other beneficiaries.
  • Project Definition, Scoping and Pitching: You will be shown examples of research in art, design, and media, and encouraged to consider research that you can carry out in your own self-defined area of practice (e.g. 3D Design, Animation, Game Design, Game Production, Illustration etc.) With tutor support, you will shape, scope, and plan a major Games & Arts Honours project based on your own interests, curiosity, and aspirations. 
  • Literature Review: Learn how to approach a systematic review of literature and other authoritative sources relevant to your research questions and project topic. Through analysis of the wider context of the proposed project, you will consider the state of the art in your field, and aim to situate your practice.
  • Practice Based Research: You will begin by focusing on practice-based research and understanding how to plan for and structure practice that will allow you to explore and address identified research questions.
  • Critical Theory: Engage with critical theory and consider how ideas and concepts drawn from your reading can inform your own approach to artistic, design, or production practice. 
  • Qualitative Research Methods for Games and Arts: You will learn about qualitative research methods and consider the value methods such as interviews and focus groups can have within the context of Games & Arts practice.
    Quantitative Research Methods for Games and Arts: You will learn about quantitative research methods and discuss how scientific methods such as surveys and experiments can be utilised in the context of Games & Arts practice. 
    Ethics and Data Management: Discuss the role of ethics in art and design practice, learn how to assess and manage risks, and develop skills in data collection and management in line with legal responsibilities.
    Independent Study and Portfolio Development: Engage with self-directed independent study, carrying out an extensive body of work over the course of the semester in support of your Honours Project topic. 
    Critical and Reflective Practice: Critique and reflect on your practice, drawing out strengths and weaknesses, identifying and developing research questions driven by practice, and evaluating skill gaps to be addressed.

Brief description

Engage critically with the creative industries. Expect to discuss the global marketplace for creative media, the development of business ideas, and the demonstrable knowledge, expertise, and planning expected by employers and investors. Consider which creative industries align with your own personal ambitions, and develop an understanding of how best to prepare a strategy for employability, freelance work, or start-up.

Indicative content:

  • The Creative Industries: Overview of a range of creative sectors, identifying sources of information. Discussion of professional structures, including: publishers and distributors, content developers, software tool developers and other suppliers, service and support suppliers, industry organisations, pressure groups, and government regulations.
  • Local, Regional, and Global Outlooks​: Cases of production from various industry developers, with reference to business practices, culture, and impact on the creative process.
  • People, Players and Populations​: An insight into current market research into games and their players, with discussion on how this data influences funding, development, and publishing
  • Marketing and Monetization​: Review of the marketplace including information on economic impact, comparative market sizes, and growth.
  • Interview Practices and Techniques​: Overview of interview practices and expectations, with reference to real-world examples.
  • Crunch Culture in the Creative IndustriesDefinitions and discourse on ‘crunch’ and its characteristics, with reference to personal, organisational, industrial, and societal consequences, personal and organisational ethics, and working practice.
  • Media Consumption and AddictionDiscourse and research on video game addiction and ethical practice, and its potential to impact game development, economics, and society.
  • Violence in Media​: Overview of violence in media, including interactive, audio-visual, and literary works. Research on the impact of media violence on society.
  • Stereotypes, Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation​: Overview of the current climate of games and the game industry, the importance of representation, and the impact of perpetuated stereotypes in society and culture.
  • Enterprise and Entrepreneurship​: Defining and clarifying professional goals, setting measurable and realistic targets, business planning, marketing and management tools, and the start-up process.

Brief description

This module challenges you to independently design, develop, and execute an extensive creative research project, underpinned by relevant critical theories, concepts, and practices within their specialist area of enquiry

Indicative content:

  • Independent Study: Demonstrate the ability to operate as an independent creative practitioner.
  • Project Management: Demonstrate the ability to manage a major project, setting milestones, managing time and resources, and identifying and mitigating risks.
  • Personal and Professional Development:
    Identifying and planning to address areas of personal and professional development through the execution of the creative project, with a view to delivering a portfolio of work that will support you as you take steps towards employment or entrepreneurship in the creative industries.
  • Supervision: Working with your supervisor according to a defined schedule and making maximum use of supervision time to seek guidance and feedback on progress.
  • Self Assessment: Committing to regular self-assessment of the quality of work and the progress being made. Demonstrating an ability to effectively and realistically critique your work in relation to your own expectations.
  • Peer Feedback: Embracing opportunities for peer feedback, through regular sharing of projects in the form of peer critiques, demo sessions, or play parties. Capturing and responding to feedback to enhance the quality of your work.
  • Community of Practice: Operating within a wider community of like-minded practitioners in Games & Arts. Striving to carry out project work in collaborative creative spaces and labs, to maximise opportunities for networking, sharing, and mutual support.
  • Presentation: Deliver a final project, presented in a manner that demonstrates professionalism and an understanding of expectations within your field of practice.

Brief description

Approach research as an active process of inquiry. Produce a dissertation that communicates your research process and findings.

Indicative content:

  • Dissertation Planning: Formalising the structure of your proposed dissertation argument, aligning research questions, existing knowledge, theory, and research method.
  • Library and Information Skills: Utilising library resources and services to carry out extensive and systematic literature searches, managing references, and applying appropriate citations and references in your written work.
  • Critical Reading: Carrying out independent, critical reading of key theoretical texts, research articles, and other texts relevant to the subject, discipline, or profession.
  • Research Context: Understanding and incorporating the wider research context and rationale into your argument, considering artistic and professional practice.
  • Analysis and Synthesis: Demonstrating rigour in the deconstruction and scrutiny of sources, data, and practice, and constructing a substantiated argument drawing upon your analysis.
  • Dissertation Format: Exploring different approaches to a dissertation guided by discipline, methods and audience.
  • Oral Presentation: Articulating your research through oral presentation.
  • Writing Skills: Demonstrating the ability to iteratively develop clear, precise and substantiated academic writing, and to utilise your writing skills to effectively communicate the findings of your research to an intended academic, artistic, or professional audience.

Fees and funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you depends on factors such as your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. 

More information

Find out about grants, bursaries, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs in our undergraduate fees and funding section.

 

Scholarships

We offer a range of scholarships to help support your studies with us.

As well as Abertay scholarships for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and international students, there are a range of corporate and philanthropic scholarships available. Some are course specific, many are not. There are some listed below or you can visit the Undergraduate scholarship pages.

Abertay International Scholarship

This is an award of up to £12,000 for prospective international undergraduate students.

Abertay rUK Scholarship

This is a £4000 award for prospective undergraduate students applying from England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The Robert Reid Bursary

Two £1,000 awards for students who have overcome challenges to attend university.

Ninja Kiwi

The Ninja Kiwi Scholarship is a one-year scholarship of £1,500 and is open to students who are entering Year 4 of Games courses.

Careers

We work closely with leading game developers such as 4J Studios, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft and Ubisoft, making graduates from this course highly employable within the games industry.

Previous Abertay graduates have found employment as:

  • Game designers
  • Associate producers
  • Quality assurance testers
  • Community managers

These roles are spread across a variety of projects, including AAA games, independent, mobile and online marketplaces. The production and leadership theme of the programme has also thrust entrepreneurial graduates towards forming their own companies in the games or media sectors.

 

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Choose Your Path

Small games studios to national and international media groups require talented individuals with expertise in team management, design and production control of new media products. The games industry offers long term career potential through its continued expansion.

Prospects have never been better, as it’s a growing and exciting industry, with a global demand for skilled development staff.

 

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Industry Links

There are excellent industrial links across all the games programmes at Abertay.

You’ll receive guest lectures and demonstrations from external companies as part of normal teaching. Abertay Game Lab also runs a series of special events and masterclasses with well-known local and international designers and developers. These are on offer to all students.

Female working on Desktop Computer

Dare Academy

Every year, we run the prestigious Dare Academy project, where teams of students are given a unique month-long summer hot-housing experience with games industry mentors to build and polish an industry-standard game.

We then showcase the games at EGX, the UK's biggest games event, and the top three teams are flown out to visit international games partners and to be profiled.

This is a unique offer for Abertay games students and it ensures you stand out from the crowd.

If you’re applying from overseas or from outside Scotland, we have scholarships available to make your studies more affordable.

Get inspired

Meet some of our Game Design and Production graduates and find out what they've gone on to do.

A picture of Arran Topalian smiling

Arran Topalian

Arran changed his career goals from history teacher to computer games designer. He now works at Mediatonic.

Find out more

A picture of Eilidh MacLeod standing with her hands in her pockets.

Eilidh Macleod

Eilidh works as a Games Designer at Fortitude Games.

Find out more

A photo of Natalie Clayton in front of a microphone

Natalie Clayton

Taking part in a TEDx event on campus helped Natalie's career fall into place.

Find out more

Unistats

Unistats collates comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Unistats dataset (formerly the Key Information Set (KIS)).