Games design courses in Scotland: 8 universities where you can study video games including Abertay
Scotland is home to Abertay University, the first institution in the world to offer degrees in video games.
For more than 20 years Scotland has been a hub of video game innovation, from the development of titles such as Grand Theft Auto to being the first country in the world to offer university degrees on the subject.
As the industry evolves and increases in value, there is an ever-increasing number of people looking to get involved.
And as the development of a 4,000-seat esports arena in Dundee progresses, here are undergraduate courses related to the games industry on offer in Scotland.
In 1997 Abertay launched their degree in video games becoming the first university in the world to do so.
In the years since it has been joined by a number of prestigious institutions, yet Abertay has been able to maintain its reputation among the world’s best. It was most recently recognised by the Princeton Review as the top in the UK and among the top 25 in the world for game design.
It is also one of the only TIGA-accredited universities in Scotland, the trade association which represents the UK’s games industry, with courses designed to produce graduates with industry relevant skills.
Computer Arts BA (Hons)
This four-year course will help students develop their skills and understanding of digital arts and design, including subjects such as animation, 3D modelling and concept development. It has partnerships with PlayStation.First and Unreal Engine.
Computer Game Applications Development BSc (Hons)
If you want to create and script games, this four-year course is worth considering. It will teach you script game mechanics and programming tools, artificial intelligence for games, network programming, interface design all while using industry standard game engines and technology. Students will receive a mix of both industry and academic experience to prepare them for life after university.
Computer Games Technology BSc (Hons)
If you’re interested in studying and developing the engines which make games work, this course will teach everything from games programming to games hardware. It will be delivered by experts who have worked on titles including Grand Theft Auto with modules to help prepare you for working in the game industry.
Game Design and Production BA (Hons)
For both creative and technically minded students, this is another four year course designed to make people work-ready. From game concepts and asset creation, to game prototyping and production and leadership skills you will study the context and fundamentals of game design while developing professional industry skills and learning how interactive products are created from start to finish.
Edinburgh Napier University
One of the largest higher education institutions in Scotland, Edinburgh Napier offers a selection of courses relevant to the games industry. It is the ninth best university in Scotland according to the 2023 Times Good University Guide.
Games Development BSc (Hons)
With the opportunity to take on a yearlong industry work placement during your third year of studies, this is another course which focuses on producing work-ready graduates. Students can expect to develop their knowledge of the general games industry but also software engineering to provide a wide range of career paths. This course is accredited by ScreenSkills, an industry-led skills body for the screen industries including games.
Animation for Games BSc (Hons)
While this course is for undergraduates, it is available only for year 3 and 4 entry. If it is of interest, however, entry requirements include a HND in a related subject such as computer animation or games development. It will focus on portfolio development alongside the development of both theoretical and practical skills such as 3D modelling, scripting and visual effects storytelling.
Sound Design BSc (Hons)
While not technically a games-specific degree, Napier’s Sound Design course can allow for collaborations with those on courses such as games development. Game sound design can make or break a title and could be of interest for those who perhaps don’t have the same passion for programming.
Glasgow Caledonian University
Despite its relatively young age, Glasgow Caledonian is among the top ten universities in Scotland. Formed from The Queen’s College and Glasgow Polytechnic in 1993 it has a wide range of industry links and placement opportunities available.
3D Animation and Visualisation with pathways for Games and VFX BSc (Hons)
A course which aims to instil graduates with a mix of creative and technical skills to boost employability, students will learn about 3D modelling, digital sculpting, surfacing and texturing, rigging, rendering and more. Another ScreenSkills accredited degree, during year 3 students will be able to choose between VFX and games modules to best suit their future goals.
Games Development BSc (Hons)
During year one of this ScreenSkills accredited course, students will be taught the foundations of creating games using technology such as the Unity and Unreal games engines. However, from year two onward students can specialise in either games design or games software development. Those interested in games design will be able to focus on portfolio development and modules such as games narrative, user psychology and more, while those in the software development stream will develop their expertise in AI, C++ and network game development.
Glasgow School of Art
Perhaps not the institution one would first associate with video games, Glasgow School of Art offer a course on the subject in their School of Innovation and Technology.
Games and Virtual Reality BSc (Hons)
Offered as a pathway of the institution’s Immersive Systems Design course, students will develop their theoretical and practical understanding of the tools and techniques needed to design and evaluate new immersive systems for digital platforms. The specialist Games and Virtual Reality pathway will teach the technical skills needed for the VR market, alongside an understanding of user experience and how software and hardware interact with game design.
Heriot-Watt offers two different courses which could benefit those looking to study games, but with a wider subject range and specialist pathways for those interested in the industry.
Computer Science (Games Programming) BSc (Hons)
Not solely a games development course, instead this Heriot-Watt course is designed to educate students on constructing robust and usable systems to build the next generation of software.
Computer Systems (Games Programming) BSc (Hons)
Likewise, the Computer Systems (Games Programming) course aims to build a solid foundation and understanding of systems before expanding and allowing for students to select modules based on their interests.
Not a traditional university, SAE is a creative media institution which offers two-year degree programmes which blend vocational and academic learning to build the practical skills of graduates. Its courses range from audio production and the music business to content creation and games programming.
Game Art & Animation Degree BA/BSc (Hons)
This course promises to teach animation from 2D fundamentals to environment design using industry standard tools. Students will learn in a studio-based environment producing real-world projects and developing their portfolios while developing their character animation, visual storytelling, modelling and graphics skills.
Games Programming Degree BSc (Hons)
Likewise students on the Games Programming course will be taught using industry-standard software packages such as Unreal Engine 4, Unity3D, C++ and C#. The studio environment will allow students to work collaboratively across disciplines such as film and audio while developing real world projects and portfolios with the opportunity for work experience in industry.
University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)
The University of the Highlands and the Islands (UHI) is an integrated university which encompasses both further and higher education across 12 institutions. UHI has multiple campuses across the Highlands and Islands in Inverness, Perth, Elgin, the Isle of Skye, Fort William, Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides.
Interactive Media BSc (Hons)
UHI’s course looks to give students a professional grounding in the development of interactive and digital media products such as websites, mobile apps, software applications and interactive installations. It can be studied in several of its campuses which includes Shetland and Moray. Students on this course will be instructed in areas from graphic design and animation to video and audio production, with the opportunity to work with external clients on industry projects.
University of the West of Scotland
The second and final Scottish university to be TIGA-accredited, the University of the West of Scotland has been ranked in the top 150 of universities worldwide under 50 years old by the Times Higher Education guide.
With its relevant courses based in Paisley here is what prospective students should know.
Computer Animation Arts BSc
Mainly practical and project based, students on the Computer Animation Arts course will spend four years at the University’s Paisley campus learning about animation techniques. It combines traditional and digital animation to teach skills which can be applied widely, from computer games to animation to allow students to specialise in their chosen area.
Computer Games Development BSc
Also based on the Paisley campus this course aims to teach students all about the games development life-cycle using both practical and theoretical perspectives. It is an industry driven course and as such has strong connections with studios such as Axis Animation and Dovetail Games, with a focus on portfolio development, work placements and potential internships to prepare students for the workforce.
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