Computer Games Art BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year)




Develop art skills relevant to the fast-moving computer games industry by studying our full-time Computer Games Art degree at ARU in Cambridge, accredited by TIGA. Get support to find work placements, and study Computer Games modules designed with the help of gaming industry professionals. Discover how you can use visual research, creative experimentation and technical development to forge a career as a computer games artist.

Full description


We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

ARM, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Frontier and Just Flight have recently offered internships and work opportunities to our students.

Find out more about our placements and work experience, or the faculty's employability support.

The skills and knowledge you’ll learn on our Computer Games Art course will not only help you get a career in the gaming industry, but are also in demand across other sectors including film and television production, marketing, advertising, web design, production and broadcast media.

The management skills you’ll pick up can be transferred to project management roles in many different industries.

Our industry partners not only provide expert speakers for the course – they also get involved with our annual festival Brains Eden, co-organised by local gaming network Games Eden. This four-day event includes:

  • a 48-hour games Jam, in which teams of students and major studio reps compete to create a  game
  • a series of talks that bring together the education and game development communities
  • exhibitions of student and industry work
  • a Careers Clinic
  • an awards event for teams taking part (games students from Sweden, France, Spain, Holland and Belgium and the UK).

This course is based in Cambridge, where 18% of the UK gaming industry is based (source:

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Art and Design
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in art, design and related courses. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. Students will be introduced to practical art and design skills including developing skills of visual storytelling, image-making both in traditional and digital media, visual language and communication, formulating an independent creative response to a broad range of subject matter. Students will also be introduced to the fundamentals of design from a creative perspective, and to some of the key ideas/movements dominating art, design and culture, during the past few centuries. Students will work extensively in groups and collaboratively, with students from art and design, architecture and engineering pathways. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Composition and Style; Creative Workshops 1; Approach to Design; Critical and Contextual Studies; Creative Workshops 2; Specialist Project.

Year one, core modules

  • Introduction to Computer Games Arts
    This module will introduce you to the central skills and processes of a computer games artist, where creative vision and digital technology meet. You'll need to balance technical concerns with an appreciation of what makes moving and static images work. By setting a series of challenging briefs, the module will develop your awareness and working knowledge of how 2D and 3D images are constructed and read. With each brief you'll encounter exercises and seminars relating to the technologies and formats you are using. For instance, as you build models you will learn about 3D modelling in the light of other artists' interpretations of space, composition and use of colour. In short, as your digital 3D pieces grow, you will be called on to problem-solve by turning not only to technological fixes but also to creative interpretations of art techniques.
  • Concept Art and Drawing for Computer Games
    On this broad creative drawing module, you'll explore life drawing, location drawing, experimental mark-making, storyboarding and the development of concept art for computer games. As well as being introduced to the formal aspects of drawing, you'll develop an understanding of the relevance of traditional media and observational techniques in relation to computer games arts. Through experimentation with varied approaches to mark-making and focused ways of image creation, you'll explore how drawing and concept art can enhance and inform your project work in digital media. You'll attend sessions at the Cambridge School of Art, on location at museums and at a variety of destinations of visual interest, including a series of workshop projects in which you'll explore observational drawing, drawing techniques and concept art development. These will allow you to investigate composition, form, light, texture and colour.
  • Computer Games Art
    This module will continue to develop your awareness and working knowledge of how images are constructed and read by setting a series of challenging projects that will place more emphasis on the moving image and interactive computer-generated environments. Progressing on from 'Introduction to Computer Games Arts', your digital work will become more refined, with a stronger emphasis and expectation placed on accuracy of expression. With each brief, you'll encounter exercises and seminars relating to the technologies and formats you are using. For instance, as you build models you will learn about 3D modelling in the light of other artists' interpretations of space, drawing and use of colour. You'll work both individually and in groups on project briefs that will raise challenges occurring in computer games development. You'll need to problem-solve technological issues and also develop creative responses and interpretations in your project work.
  • Digital Compositing
    On this module, you'll be introduced to what could be described as Vertical Editing - the layering and manipulation of images to create a unified final seamless image, a technique that originates from the early days of film. You'll discover techniques that will allow you to select and layer parts of disparate images in order to create new scenes and new spaces. Compositors take 3D images, text, bitmap and vector files and, in many cases, use their skill to give a uniform look, so it might be imagined that all these disparate elements have always existed together. If you've seen a Hollywood Blockbuster movie you've seen the compositor at work, but more often than not, this work is invisible. Wire removal, colour correction, keying and de-graining are skills you will not notice if the compositor has been successful. You'll explore basic compositing and, as you create new composites, you'll use creative judgement to determine if these new images are believable, and what aesthetic conventions are supporting them.

Year one, optional modules

  • Digital Sculpting
    This is a specialised creative digital sculpting module that explores development of concept character and assets for computer games. Also introducing the essential aspects of character generation, the module encourages you to develop an understanding of the relation between traditional hand drawing and 3D asset generation in relation to computer games arts. Through experimentation with varied approaches to character and asset production, you will explore strong set of digital tools to inform your creative game development skills. Sessions will utilise ZBrush and explore body, mass, texturing and detailing and refined asset presentation, providing a foundation for your later studies. For your assessment, you will demonstrate these skills by submitting an essay on a thematic subject.
  • Computer and Video Games Studies
    This module will introduce you to key theories and debates in the academic study of computer and video games. Starting from the history of the digital game and its relationship with older cultural forms, you'll learn about the key texts and arguments - including the foundational opposition between formal/rule-based and aesthetic/narrative approaches - for analysing computer and video games as cultural forms. You'll discover a range of approaches for examining computer and video games as material objects, including historical and archaeological approaches to gaming technology, and social and economic approaches to the distribution and consumption of games. Drawing on a range of work from computer and video game studies, you'll explore the concept of games as narrative forms, and contrast this with the study of graphics-led digital games. You'll analyse the practice of studying games as rule-systems or structures. You'll examine the relationship between digital games and other media (film, animation and television), allowing you to discuss the differences and similarities between active and passive media through the way in which space is configured in each form. You'll be assessed through a mid-semester assignment and an end-of-module essay.
  • English for Study 1 & 2
    These two modules are only available for International Students, and are worth 15 credits each. You'll focus on the advanced writing and organisational skills necessary for essays and other written assignments, including planning, paragraphing, and developing an argument. Your studies will have a particular emphasis on the importance of good academic practice, especially accurate referencing and the use of bibliographies. You'll also practise extracting key points from a variety of spoken or written texts and writing summaries, and develop your discussion skills so as to contribute confidently to seminars and tutorials, as well as receiving guidance about independent learning using the wide range of resources available in our University Library and Language Centre.

Year two, core modules

  • Advanced Computer Games Art
    This module offers you a sustained workshop-based opportunity to synthesise and develop digital computer graphic skills beyond those learned at Level 4. Sculptural modelling technology will be combined with techniques that will build on your earlier modelling work. You'll explore how to add further control in developing your artwork through intervention with scripts beyond the standard interface, and encouraged to creatively use forces, dynamics and particles in your computer graphic work. Further rendering and lighting techniques will expand the expressive range of your artwork. This module will build up your technical and artistic knowledge in the following areas: sculptural modelling; scripting; dynamics and particles; advanced rendering and lighting.
  • Character Rigging and Animation
    One of the challenges in successful 3D animation is character rigging: connecting the skin or surface of a character to the adjustable skeleton, which deforms that skin. In this module you need to communicate your ideas on how humans and creatures move, build skeletal rigs and create an animation. You need to show that the rig fulfils the technical demands an animator may place on it, and demonstrate an understanding of principles of 3D animation. The rigs you create should aim to be intuitively controllable. In this module you bind skeletons to meshes - with realistic and seamless deformation. You'll test and report on your rig and those of your team, working in groups and sharing skills where necessary. You’ll work with scripting. This module emphasises skeletal rigging rather than facial rigging. While it's possible to concentrate on facial set-ups, you first need to demonstrate you're adept at full character rigging. As part of this module, you may also collaborate with 3D artists to use some of their modules, with the module leader as arbiter.
  • Computer Games Development
    The computer game and visual effects industries involve a high level of collaboration across a range of disciplines. In this module you'll look at industry approaches to computer games development through team participation to create art assets for an interactive video game. You'll adopt industry production methods to simulate business conditions that test organisational, collaborative and creative skills. You'll be supplied with a game design brief, occasionally by an industry professional, which you'll discuss and develop with your team. Team roles and responsibilities will be assigned, and you'll maintain a personal project blog during the module to map your progress. The module introduces project management skills and commercial factors that are relevant to development teams in both the computer games and visual effects industries. The development pipeline for the project will be mapped out and you will be advised on best practice for structuring and developing the game set in the brief. Source control software is used to manage assets for the game project and regular development meetings track project progress.
  • Digital Practice
    On this module you will focus on developing your own preferred area of digital practice. This could, for example, be character animation, environment modelling, concept artwork or visual effects. Your personal research will feed into and expand your work, through an investigation of artists, theory and relevant computer graphic technical processes. Your research and development will be well documented and show the link between the broader professional context and your own work. You will contribute to class critiques and present your work in progress to the group, attending tutorials, industry lectures, studio discussions and workshops to support your development. By the end of the module, you will have developed a deeper understanding of your area of interest and be able to analyse its relevance to the broader context of the subject area. You will also have created an innovative portfolio of digital work that builds on your own self-directed research and experimentation.
  • Debates and Practices
    On this module, you'll explore the links between critical studies and practice, enriching your knowledge and developing your articulacy about your specialism, as well as drawing on wider perspectives in relation to your own work. You will focus particularly on debates about contemporary practice. Your studies will be seminar-based and, where appropriate and possible, held in the studio. In discussions, you'll engage with theory and history alongside your own developing ideas about contemporary production, with an open agenda that will respond to current events, work and interests.

Year two, optional modules

  • Design for the Screen
    You’ll determine how designers collaborate with directors, cinematographers and costume designers to visually portray character, period, place, mood and quality in order to support and develop visual storytelling for the screen. You'll also consider the responsibilities of different roles in pre-production and look at how designers communicate and document collaborative decisions, how they get information to set, and the chain of communication through the art department. During the module, you’ll give presentations, watch and discuss selected screenings covering the material, and practice using the elements of mise-en-scène for a selected script. You’ll also examine different sorts of design typologies that will assist in your visual decisions and, ultimately, your collaborations with key creative members of screen production. At the end of the module, you’ll undertake the breakdown of a script to identify design potential, manipulating the elements of design (colour, texture, scale, lens and stock choices) and the languages of genre.
  • Business for the Creative Arts
    This module will introduce you to the practical tools needed to set yourself up in business in the creative arts, as a company, a partnership or a freelancer. You'll explore a sector of the creative industries, identifying potential opportunities within it and producing a basic business plan. Your emphasis will be on self-reflection, innovative thinking and communication skills, while the subjects that you'll cover include: the creative industries; developing and analysing a business idea; types of business model; assessing your market; ideas behind marketing; basic accounts; tax and legal issues; and planning for start-up. You'll be asked to translate these into practice by applying them to your own ideas, which will then become part of your own business plan. The module will be delivered through lectures, seminars, student presentations, critiques and workshops. Your formative assessment will involve presentations, while the summative assessment will be based on your critical evaluation of employment opportunities in a sector of the creative industries and your portfolio of work, including a business plan or employment strategy and supporting documents.
  • Writing for Sequential Images
    This module will give you an insight into common and alternative story structures and will enable you to build and create stories for sequential media, in particular picture books, graphic novels, animation and games. Central to this understanding and creation of a picture-based story is the combination of the handmade image and other modes of expression such as written text, sound, movement and interaction. You will gain insight into story structures and story development, character development, plotting and story-worlds. You will learn skills such as story development, adaptation, scripting, creative writing, dialogue and you will learn how to translate and adapt original material and existing texts into story treatments, scripts and storyboards for a range of visual media. The insight into story structures and story development and the linked creative and practical processes are addressed in a series of classes and seminars, where both traditional and alternative forms of visual narration and image-text relationships are explored. In workshops, exercises and set briefs you will be challenged to apply this knowledge and create story texts, scripts and storyboards. This will include the creation of work based on your own ideas. Ongoing critiques will formatively assess, analyse and evaluate your development; including the narrative quality, technical competency and appropriateness for purpose, within the given briefs requirements. Summative assessment will be based on your coursework, including research, analysis and development work, and the exercise and project outcomes.

Year three, core modules

  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.
  • Specialised Practice in Computer Games
    This module will allow you to further extend your chosen area of interest, building on the work you developed at Level 5. You'll reflect on your existing work, and research and clarify your intentions, to engage in a sustained and focused period of creativity. You'll consider the professional requirements of the subject specialism and identify practitioners relevant to your work, to create a new body of work that reflects an appropriate awareness of your discipline's context for Level 6 study. You'll need to manage your time efficiently, consider the value of teamwork against individual endeavour and ensure that any new work is achievable within the timeframe. At the start, you'll write up a Learning Agreement to be discussed and agreed with your Course Tutor. This short document should clarify and aid your programme of work at Level 6. You'll be assessed through your portfolio of completed digital work, together with your development work and research. Your portfolio will also contain the final element of Personal Development Planning.

Year three, optional modules

  • Research Project
    The Research Project will foster your independent study with the guidance of a tutor. You'll devise your own project that will reflect on/co-ordinate with/enhance your own studio work and interests, encouraging your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Seminars will give you a forum to learn from each other's research. You will also be supported by individual tutorials with a member of staff. The Research Project may include a variety of relevant topics, including reporting on your own work experience. You can illustrate it with photographs, drawings or video, discussing your approach with your assigned tutor. (30 credits)
  • Research Assignment
    The Research Assignment module will foster your independent study with the guidance of a Supervisor. You will negotiate a topic with your supervisor, and devise your own project to reflect on / co-ordinate with / enhance your studio work and interests, relying on your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Classes will provide a forum for all students to learn from each other's research, but you will also have opportunities for individual tutorials with a member of staff. Your Research Assignment may be illustrated with photographs, drawings, and video. You will be assessed by way of a 3000-word written assignment. (15 credits)
  • Working in the Creative Industries
    Gaining work experience enhances your employability, and work based learning offers you the chance to gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module gives you the opportunity to explore a working environment relevant to the industry you hope to build a career in. The module will encourage your self-managed learning, and aims to develop your personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. You can use the experience as a basis for directing and focussing your career plans, as well as inspiration for your final year projects. In association with your module tutor, you will identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of your placement, ensuring that the module learning outcomes can be achieved. You will also create a reflective report on your work experience, including: the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; your role(s) on the placement(s); an academic and vocational analysis; skills and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests). You will also be asked to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved. On completion of the placement, the employer will be asked to complete a Student Feedback package. The work placement(s) may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period of the placement will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module.
  • Academic English: Written Text
    In this module, you will develop a more sophisticated understanding of written text, in particular the linguistic and academic skills applied at university level study. The module will help you to advance your reading and writing skills in English to at least C1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, giving you enhanced communication skills and employability. The module focuses on advanced writing skills which will help you to both understand and produce a variety of academic texts. These texts can include essays and other written assignments, abstracts, proposals, literature reviews, annotated bibliographies and other academic text types. You will develop an awareness of genre and will improve your understanding of, and ability to produce, academic writing with appropriate formatting, register and style, coherence and cohesion features. Alongside a focus on analysing text you will increase your ability to write effectively, developing process writing skills such as planning, organising ideas, drafting, proofreading and editing academic work. You will also develop better writing outcomes, working on skills including constructing lines of argument, organising effective paragraphing and using evidence or supporting materials to exemplify content effectively. You will improve your ability to produce discursive text, looking at a range of academic topics such as global citizenship, sustainability, social justice and internationalisation. In addition, you will extend your understanding of aspects of academic practice including accurate referencing or citation and the use of bibliographies and will receive guidance about independent learning using the wide range of resources available in our University Library, VLE and Language Centre. In class, you will be expected to participate in pair and group work and to contribute to interactive learning tasks. You will also be required to undertake peer and self-assessment exercises and to reflect on your learning experience. You will be assessed on the basis of your coursework which will involve a variety of tasks including short writing tasks, academic summaries and an essay. Assessment on tasks in the earlier part of the module will allow you to improve your performance at the later stages.


For a full breakdown of module options and credits please view the module structure (pdf).

Modules are subject to change and availability.

You’ll show your progress through a combination of written and practical work.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

Using our creative expertise and industry connections in Cambridge and beyond, we create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.

At Cambridge School of Creative Industries, we believe in the importance of experimentation and risk-taking to create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.

Whether writing bestselling fiction, creating challenging documentaries or sharing a piano with people on the autism spectrum, the expertise of our staff goes far beyond teaching. Their research produces significant funding success, leading to important publications and international conferences.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Your course will have a new home in Compass House, which will extend our campus along East Road. You’ll have the latest technology at your fingertips and be able to collaborate with other students on innovative projects to hone your skills.


Your learning will take place on a dedicated suite of high-end PCs with graphics tablets, all running top of the range 3D modelling, animation and compositing software such as Maya, Motion Builder, 3DS Max, After Effects, Mudbox, ZBrush, and Unity 3D.

You’ll also have access to our motion capture equipment and an arsenal of HD cameras and Digital SLRs (for HDRI capture). All your work will be supported by our dedicated Computer Graphics Technical Officer.

Find out more about our facilities.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2019/20 or 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

Estimated cost of materials across the three years is £500

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Portfolio review

It is essential that you send us a digital portfolio for review.

For full information on how to prepare and submit your portfolio please visit our creative industries portfolios page.

Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

All tariff points must come from A levels. Points from AS levels cannot be counted towards the total tariff points required for entry to this course.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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