Game Development (Programming) MSc

Why choose this course?

This course, one of a suite of digital media courses, enables you to study professional digital media practice in a microstudio environment with a focus on the programming skills necessary for the field of games development. Through a student-centred project-based curriculum, you will work as a games programmer to develop your specialist skills while working as part of an interdisciplinary team with students from across the full programme.

  • This course has been developed in consultation with our industry panel, and we are an educational partner of Sony Interactive Entertainment through PlayStation First. We are also an active member of TIGA, the games industry's representative body.
  • This course has been designed to utilise the best digital media expertise and resources from across the University, and will prepare you for employment in the digital media industry, where teams of specialists work together to develop and author innovative digital media projects.
Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year January 2021
September 2021
Full time 2 years including professional placement January 2021
September 2021
Part time 2 years January 2021
September 2021
Location Penrhyn Road and Kingston School of Art at Knights Park

2020/21 entry

If you are planning to join this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021), please view the information about changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19.

 

Continuing students

Students who are continuing their studies with Kingston University in 2020/21 should refer to their Course Handbook for information about specific changes that have been, or may be, made to their course or modules being delivered in 2020/21. Course Handbooks are located within the Canvas Course page.

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • This course focuses on the programming skills for games developing. You will practise these skills using first-class facilities, such as our gaming PCs, development consoles and VR and AR kit.
  • Kingston University is an active member of The Independent Game Developers' Association (TIGA), the games industry's representative body, and this course has been developed in consultation with industry.
  • Kingston is an educational partner of Sony Interactive Entertainment through PlayStation First. You will be able to learn to develop games for the PlayStation 4. 

Sony PlayStation First

PlayStation First programme

Kingston University is an educational partner of Sony through PlayStation First. Through this partnership you will have the opportunity to learn how to develop games for the PlayStation 4 as part of this course.

What you will study

You will design and create computer games, alone and in teams, using industry-standard production management tools and techniques that stimulate a professional environment of collaboration to deliver a product on time. You will also develop vertical-slice prototypes using new technologies, such as computer vision and stereoscopy, and will learn how to present yourself to potential employers through your professional presence and portfolio.

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Teaching on this course usually takes place in two separate specific week blocks (Monday to Friday 9am–5pm). For further details please contact secpgstudentoffice@kingston.ac.uk.

For a student to go on placement they are required to pass every module first time with no reassessments.

Modules

Core modules

Digital Studio Practice

30 credits

You will work with a multidisciplinary group of students as appropriate for your course (User Experience Design MSc, Game Development (Design) MA, Game Development (Programming) MSc and Computer Animation MA); involved with the digital media production process in response to a project brief developed in consultation with the industry panel and/or research staff. Projects concern contemporary platforms, such as iPhone, Android, Windows, Playstation, Xbox and Next Generation controllers and innovative input devices. You also develop a professional profile (online CV/portfolio) fitting for your role and intended destination which you maintain throughout the course.

  • Coursework: report, prototype, and presentation (group and individual)
  • Schedule: allow one weekday per week in the first semester
  • Staff: course staff
Media Specialist Practice

30 credits

This flexible module gives each you the chance to develop your unique interpretation of professional practice that captures your specific interests or niche within your course field.

  • Possible specialisms for User Experience Design include: information architecture, web prototyping (Javascript, HTML, CSS etc), mobile-user testing, remote user research, visual design, interaction design, content strategy, service design, branded Ux and information design.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Programming) include: tools and plug ins; pathfinding algorithms; graphics programming; physics; game server backends; traffic/flocking/crowd AI.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Design) include: concepts; mechanics; levels, narrative; gameplay; world and system design; interface and navigation; casual, serious and game studies.
  • Possible specialisms for Computer Animation include: storyboarding; character development; visual narrative; match moving; lighting; art; environments; levels and props; motion capture; rigging; particles, dynamics and fluids; tools and plug ins.
  • Coursework: design report, artefact (video, prototype, design documentation, or empirical data as appropriate), presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one weekday per week in the second semester
  • Staff: course staff
3D Game Programming

30 credits

The aims of this module are to equip you with the skills necessary to be able to create 3D computer games to a professional standard using appropriate game libraries and to develop problem-solving abilities in the relevant mathematics, physics and graphics techniques which underpin this.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • select and incorporate relevant mathematics and physics techniques in a games implementation;
  • describe and make use of rendering techniques to display 3D graphics primitives and handle images;
  • apply and code standard game elements such as camera, movement, skyboxes and terrains;
  • select and code using a range of game libraries and engines;
  • incorporate realistic behaviours and gameplay; and
  • develop reliable, tested games using industry-standard practices and techniques to schedule.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

30 credits

The module introduces fundamental concepts and methods in Machine Learning and Pattern Recognition, and discusses their applications in disciplines such as image and video analysis, computer games, information security, data science and mechatronics. Students are firstly introduced to classical methods, before they are taught modern state-of-the-art approaches. Then, they are exposed to applications related to their course. The module is taught in a practical fashion and therefore some knowledge of a programming language is required.

Digital Media Final Project

60 credits

The Digital Media Final Project, as a capstone project, consolidates the knowledge gained in earlier modules and is informed and supported by prior learning.

You will interpret the coursework into a practical solution and demonstrate skills in defining, analysing and developing a substantial solution to an individually defined design related problem. You will utilise an advanced understanding of contemporary digital media practice. The research and documentation of the project is an integral part of the submission; reflecting on the process, as well as the critical analysis and methodology of the research itself. The research will be conceptually integrated within the practical work. Individual project topics are expected to be wide ranging and provide the opportunity to fully investigate a practical situation, underpinned by a critical report on the work produced. Topics must allow the opportunity to position work with respect to business, social and cultural goals and identify and apply appropriate technology as a means of delivery.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Critically apply theoretical knowledge of design and evaluate contemporary discourse on the subject.
  • Demonstrate the application of design research methods in formulating concepts and ideas.
  • Originate design propositions through the application of appropriate design ideologies, research principles, methods, materials and technology, forms, means, actions or interventions.
  • Engage in the critical reflection of own work and in peer review related to the development and production of the major project, employing skills of evaluation, contextualisation and communication.
  • Disseminate the research process and outcomes of the final project with appropriate currency and consideration of audience.
Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a masters programme that incorporates an extended professional placement. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an appropriate working environment, and develops and enhances key employability and subject specific skills in their chosen discipline. Students may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for the major project or future career.

It is the responsibility of individual students to find and secure a suitable placement opportunity; this should not normally involve more than two placements which must be completed over a minimum period of 10 months and within a maximum of 12 months. The placement must be approved by the Course Leader, prior to commencement to ensure its suitability. Students seeking placements will have access to the standard placement preparation activities offered by Student Engagement and Enhancement (SEE) group.

Read more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to take the option of a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Tier 4 visa.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

Applicants are normally required to have a good honours degree in information technology, computer science, mathematics, physics or the academic equivalent.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate, either through qualifications or portfolio of works a solid understanding of digital media.

Exceptionally applicants may have no first degree but more than five years working in the field and/or a portfolio of works. In this case, there must be strong evidence that the applicant has the motivation to complete the course and the ability to work at this level. Experience in digital media or the games industry is particularly valuable.

International

In order to complete your programme successfully, it is important to have a good command of English and be able to apply this in an academic environment. Therefore, if you are a non-UK applicant* you will usually be required to provide certificated proof of English language competence before commencing your studies.

For this course you must pass IELTS academic test in English with an overall score of 6.5, with no element below 6.0, or meet the scores listed on the alternative online tests. Please note that we do not accept Standard XII as proof of Academic English.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements may be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

* Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Type of teaching and learning

Year 1

Year 1
  • Scheduled teaching: 280 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1520 hours

How you will be assessed

Type of assessment

Year 1

Year 1
  • Coursework: 100%

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation).

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

­You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which provides dedicated academic guidance and advice as well as the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes, therefore you may be taught alongside postgraduates from other courses.

Who teaches this course?

About Digital Media Kingston

This course is delivered by Digital Media Kingston.

Digital Media Kingston (DMK) is an interdisciplinary, collaborative project between the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, and School of Design at Kingston University. Its mission is to bring together creative expression, theoretical analysis, scientific rigour and technological innovation to underpin innovation and excellence in the computational arts.

The teaching element of the DMK project delivers a suite of four related courses: Computer Animation MA, Games Development (Design) MA, User Experience Design MSc, and Games Development (Programming) MSc. You will share the majority of your taught modules with students taking these digital media courses.

Postgraduate students may run or assist in lab sessions and may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Facilities

Here is the range of facilities available to you as a student at Kingston that will help you during your course.

Dedicated games laboratory

A key element to your success in this course is having access to the most up to date hardware and software for game design and creation. It includes the latest development software such as Visual Studio, Unreal, Unity and the Sony PhyreEngine as well as high-tech equipment such as i7 PCs with GTX1080 Graphics Cards and PlayStation 4 dev kits.

The Cave

Our new Centre For Augmented And Virtual Environments (CAVE) is a space where you can develop Virtual Reality apps for the PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and other VR technologies.

Other facilities

There is a wide range of other facilities at our Penrhyn Road campus, where this course is based. You will have access to a modern environment with the latest equipment including:

Computing laboratories

Fully equipped with fold-flat LCD screens, data-projection systems and high-spec processors.

State-of-the-art hardware and the latest software

Including:

  • Development software and tools - such as Unity 3D Professional, Unreal 4; Visual C++ and Visual Studio, Steam, Linux, Microsoft.net, Eclipse, UML and CASE tools
  • Oculus Rifts, Emotiv headsets, Kinect cameras, drones, PlayStation development kits, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Raspberry PIs high-end digital cameras (4K) support; and
  • A motion capture suit.

Subject libraries, online database subscriptions and resource materials

Our dedicated team of IT technicians support the labs and are always on hand to provide assistance.

Facilities

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MSc full time £9,200
  • MSc part time £5,060

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MSc full time £15,200
  • MSc part time £8,360

Fees for the optional placement year

If you choose to take a placement as part of this course, you will be invoiced for the placement fee in Year 2. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme and the costs for the placement year.


Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

What this course offers you

Game Development (Programming) MSc is part of the Digital Media Kingston suite of courses, providing students with a unique mixture of creative and technical skills.

Students will have access to first-class technical facilities such as state-of-the-art editing suites, moving image studios, 3D workshops and other specialist resources. These include a number of Sony developer kits. Students will be able to develop for this platform under an academic development agreement with Sony. In addition other software is available including Unity Pro, Unreal and Visual Studio for C++ development. Students also have access to a body modelling suit.

This industry-facing course aims to hone your workplace skills including:

  • team-work;
  • time management;
  • communication (oral, written and electronic);
  • data collection, review and synopsis; and
  • computing.

Input from industry practitioners and experts will add a valuable dimension to your studies, particularly though the games inKUbator which features regular industry speakers.There is also the opportunity to participate in Game James and Hackathons.

After you graduate

Graduates of this course are suited to jobs in the games and media industries, but the core skills you will learn are also excellent preparation for a wide range of computing careers. These include game programmer, AI programmer, VR game developer, VR developer, software engineer and technical programmer.

Links with business and industry

How we work with industry partners

Digital Media Kingston courses have been developed in consultation with an industry advisory board, which so far includes members of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, DreamWorks, the BFi, Alloy, The Other Media, Sunrise Software, Abelton Live, Tonic, Active Ingredient.

The course content of the Game Development (Programming) MSc has been developed in consultation with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and we have an academic agreement with them that allows students to develop for Sony PlayStation Portable. Together with them, we are also planning a 'buddy' scheme for students in production where a member of SCEE production staff can offer support and guidance to students in their final projects.

Some work placements, live projects and other opportunities will be available at the discretion of the Industry Panel for students on this course.

Changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19

Changes detailed here are for students joining this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021).

Course information (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Composition of the course

We do not anticipate making any changes to the composition of the course, i.e. the number of modules or credits in a year for part-time postgraduate courses, as a result of the pandemic.

In order to safeguard our students' health and safety and to minimise the risk of disruption to their studies, the University has postponed all Study Abroad programmes for outgoing students in the first teaching block of 2020/21 (from September 2020 to December 2020). The University will review this decision before the second teaching block and will take into account relevant government advice at that time.

Changes can be made to courses as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to the composition of the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Modules

We do not anticipate making any changes to module titles and summaries or to the availability of modules as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to modules as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to module titles and/or availability of modules will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Length of course

We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through and graduate from the course without delay.

In exceptional circumstances the sequence of learning and teaching activities may be changed, e.g. re-sequencing those modules that can be delivered more effectively under the current restrictions with those which would be more difficult to deliver, such as practical modules and placements.

Entry requirements (changes for 2020/21 entry)

We have not changed entry requirements as a result of the pandemic. However, the range of accepted alternatives have increased as has the way in which we select students, which now includes virtual interviews and online portfolios.

Entry requirements for international students

We have not changed entry requirements for international students as a result of the pandemic. However, in response to the pandemic, we now accept a much broader list of English language exams for entry to the course; the level of these exams remain the same.

Teaching (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes to the way the course will be delivered

Due to the current pandemic the course's teaching and learning activities will be delivered through both online and on-campus methods (blended learning) in 2020/21. In order to provide all students with a comparable on-campus experience, the University has committed to ensuring that all courses provide at least 30% of their teaching and learning activities on-campus.

While physical distancing measures remain in place, you will receive your learning and teaching via a blend of on-campus and on-line activities. Should your circumstances prevent your attendance at on-campus sessions, you will still be able to engage with your course in a way that allows you to progress. Where this is not possible, support will be available to consider what options are open to you.

Computer lab workshops and tutorials will be delivered through both on-campus teaching and as virtual online activities to meet the same learning outcomes in a socially-distanced manner, with no change in the total hours of delivery.

Changes to teaching in the event of a further lockdown or adjustments in government advice

The University will continue to closely monitor government announcements and advice in relation to the current pandemic and, where required, will take any necessary action in order to comply with such advice.

In the event that a further lockdown is enforced the University will aim to deliver the course fully online. This may require some additional changes being made to planned teaching and learning activities, including assessments. The majority of our courses are prepared to be delivered fully online if the situation requires it. Where the quality of the student experience may be compromised significantly, or the course is unable to be delivered fully online, the University may need to suspend the delivery of that course until a time that it can be delivered appropriately. Students will be supported in these situations to ensure they are able to make the right choices for their particular circumstances.

In the event that the current social distancing restrictions are fully lifted and the University is able to resume normal delivery of teaching and learning activities, courses will assess whether it is in the students' interest to resume normal delivery. In some cases it may be better to continue and complete modules under the planned blended delivery mode.

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for Year 1

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours will not be made as a result of the pandemic. However, it is possible that some adjustments might be made at module level, e.g. a few more scheduled activities, in order to help ensure student engagement with blended learning.

Any changes made to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

'Scheduled teaching' includes teaching that is online either live or recorded / on demand.

Timetable

Your individualised timetable for teaching block 1 (i.e. from September 2020 to December 2020) should be available by the end of August 2020. Timetables for teaching block 2 (i.e. from January 2021) will not be available until the autumn. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9am and 9pm. To accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing, we will need to maximise the time available for teaching. This means, we may have to use Wednesday afternoons and enrichment week for additional teaching slots. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.

Class sizes

On-campus teaching may involve smaller class sizes in line with social distance requirements.

Assessment (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes can be made to modules, including how they are assessed, as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our modules up to date with current developments in that subject area. Due to the current restrictions in place, i.e. social distancing, it is anticipated that many formal on-campus examinations, including practical examinations, will be replaced with alternative assessments which can be completed online. These changes will be considered and approved through the University's processes to ensure that student assessments will be able to demonstrate they have achieved the expected learning outcomes. The approval process will also assess whether the change impacts the status of any professional body accreditation the course benefits from.

Any changes to the overall methods of assessment for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Staff (changes for 2020/21 entry)

No changes are expected to the general level of experience or status of staff involved in delivering the course.

As a result of the social distancing restrictions in place, on-campus teaching activities may need to be split into smaller groups which may require the support of teaching assistants and student mentors, who will be managed by experienced staff.

Fees, funding and additional costs (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Tuition fees

There will be no changes to published tuition fees for 2020/21.

Additional costs (e.g. field trips, materials, equipment, etc.)

As a result of the blended delivery of courses in 2020/21, where a significant proportion of the teaching will be done online, students will need a personal laptop or computer and access to the internet to participate in online teaching and learning activities. Students who are able to travel will have access to computers on campus, however, it should be noted that access to on-campus facilities will be restricted due to social distancing requirements.

The University is considering how best to provide support to students who do not have access to suitable hardware and software requirements and access to the internet. Identifying students who require this type of support is an important milestone for the University in our journey to ensure equity of access while we continue to deliver our blended approach. Information about the support that will be available will be provided to students during the induction period.

Funding

There will be no changes to any existing University funding arrangements for 2020/21. Currently there are no indications from the UK government that there will be any changes to government funding arrangements.

Fees and funding for international students

There will be no changes to published tuition fees or funding arrangements specifically relating to international students for 2020/21.

Work placements and field trips (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Placements (including work and clinical placements) and field trips included as part of the course will go ahead as planned. However, to ensure students are able to gain maximum value from these activities, it may be necessary to reschedule them to later in the year when current restrictions have been lifted. We acknowledge that this year it may be more difficult for students to secure appropriate placements. In those situations, students will be guided and supported through the various options that will be available to them, including switching courses or interrupting their studies until a time when they can complete their placement.

Any proposed changes to placements or field trips would go through University's agreed processes where the impact of the change will be carefully considered. Students will be advised of any changes that may become necessary and appropriate support will be available to students to guide them through the various options that may be available to them.

In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our students, the University will ensure that appropriate risk assessments are made before students are sent on a placement.

Courses which require placements or field trips to be completed in order to pass relevant modules will have contingency plans in place in the event that a placement or field trip cannot be completed due to another lockdown or more stringent social distancing measures.

Voluntary placements or field trips may be rescheduled, or, as a last resort, cancelled if it becomes difficult to deliver them and doing so is in the interest of the health and safety of our staff and students.

Award, qualification and accreditation (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Qualification

No changes will be made to the qualification awarded, e.g. MSc, as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to courses, including the qualification awarded (although very rare), as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area. Any changes made to the qualification awarded for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Additional (changes for 2020/21 entry)

International students

International students should maintain awareness of the UK government's and their home country's government advice on possible travel restrictions. The University will closely monitor advice and guidance published by the UK government and assess its impact on our international students. Appropriate advice and guidance will be provided as and when required.

Students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities

The University will ensure students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities are able to effectively engage with their studies remotely. For certain courses an inability to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities may not be in the students best interest, as it may impede their chances of succeeding in the course or lead to them receiving a poor learning experience. In such cases students will be advised and guided through the various options available to them, such as deferring their studies until they can engage fully with the course.