Computer Games Art BA (Hons)

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

Cambridge

September

Overview

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

Careers

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: nesta.org.uk).

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

  • Concept Development and Digital Sculpting
    This is a specialised creative digital sculpting module in which you will explore the development of character concepts and assets for computer games. To introduce 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 computer games arts. Through experimentation with varied approaches to character and asset production, you will explore a significant range of digital tools as well as being introduced to the formal aspects of drawing to inform your creative game development skills. By experimenting with various approaches to mark-making and focused methods of image creation, you will explore how drawing and concept art can enhance and inform your project work in digital media. You will use digital sculpting tools and software to explore body, mass, texturing and detailing, and refined asset presentation.
  • Creative Research in Computer Games
    This module will introduce you to key theories and debates in the academic study of computer games and the entailing artistic development. Starting from the theory and history of the digital game and its relationship with older cultural forms, you will explore key texts and arguments - including the foundational opposition between formal/rule-based and aesthetic/narrative approaches - for analysing games as cultural forms. You will discover a range of approaches for examining 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 will explore the concept of games as narrative forms, and contrast these with the study of graphics-led digital games. We will also analyse the practice of studying games as rule-systems or structures: games are defined as belonging not to the tradition of literature and film but instead to that of computers, programming and software, and pre-digital games such as chess. We will 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. There will be an emphasis on developing academic skills that prepare you for contextual studies at higher levels. This module focuses on research skills that enable you to acquire relevant source materials and knowledge within media and entertainment.
  • Introduction to Computer Games Art
    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.
  • 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.

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 in Computer Games Art
    This module will give you the opportunity to further extend your chosen area of interest, building on work developed at Level 4 or first trimester of level 5. It enables you to reflect on existing work, and research ways to further develop it with a wide range of digital practice in order to engage in a sustained and focused period of creativity. You will consider the professional requirements of the subject specialism and identify practitioners relevant to your work. You will create a new body of work that reflects an awareness of the wider context of the subject discipline appropriate to your level of study. There will be tutorials, industry lectures, studio discussions and workshops to support your development in Computer Games and the full extent of its pipeline. By the end of this module you will have developed a deeper understanding of the full workflow of games art development and interdisciplinary approached to generating digital art work for computer games.

Year three, core modules

  • Major Project for Computer Games
    Depending on your specialism, you will undertake your Major Project individually or as member of a group. At the outset, you will prepare a demanding proposal for an independent creative project or work as a group to pitch a project idea, to be approved by your supervising tutor or course leader. Your project can run across two semesters or you can choose to focus on two projects for each semester. You will need to demonstrate your capacity to work to a planned schedule, research your options imaginatively, take account of current thinking on the issues your project raises, develop your work in convergent and divergent ways, respond positively to criticism and arrive at creative solutions. You will be expected to display, in both preparatory and finished work, an advanced understanding of the methods, techniques, materials and processes appropriate to the computer games and relevant industries.

Assessment

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?

Cambridge
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.

Facilities

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 2020/21 (per year)

£9,250

International students starting 2020/21 (per year)

£14,100

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

UK and EU students 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

International students

You can pay your tuition fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Scholarships

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

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 answers@anglia.ac.uk 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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UCAScode: W281

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