Digital Games Theory and Design MA
About the course
The video game industry is a vastly growing sector in both the UK and worldwide and the need for highly skilled and educated individuals is in high demand across the globe. With Brunel’s Digital Games Theory and Design MA programme, individuals will engage in, and experiment with, practical game design focussing on the process of devising the gameplay experience itself, including (but not limited to) the creation of rules, gameplay mechanics, narrative, world design and user experience, among many other aspects that make up the art of game design.
Coupled with a theoretical underpinning that focuses on the formal characteristics of games and analysis as well as the social and cultural contexts that shape the development of games, players, and society, this exciting programme offers students the opportunity to develop a range of skills that are required for success in today’s competitive job market.
Our programme is staffed with seasoned games designers and internationally published scholars who bring with them an extensive understanding of the nature of the video game industry, the importance of networks and the need for scholarly engagement in order to create innovative games for the future.
"I believe this award to be the best of its kind in the country, and continue to be both impressed and envious of the quality of students it attracts."
Professor Richard Bartle, University of Essex
- You will gain a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of the advanced academic study of digital games and the techniques and principles used in their design.
- You will be provided with the relevant expertise, teaching and learning environment to support your critical and creative engagement with issues at the cutting edge of analysing and designing digital games. You will contribute to the process of defining ‘game studies’ as a new academic discipline.
- You will develop skills and knowledge to gain employment in the digital games industry and make contributions to the development of innovative games that go beyond current markets.
- You will acquire the skills necessary to undertake doctoral level research.
Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)
The MA consists of compulsory modules, a typical selection can be found below. Modules can vary from year to year, but these offer a good idea of what we teach.
Each module will have a range of assessments; some practical, others written.
Game Design 1 (term 1, 30 credits) - practical group design projects (small); written evaluative case study 2000 words; assessed presentation
- Principles behind the rules and play of games.
- Detailed study of how games function to create experiences, including rule design, play, mechanics/structure, game balancing, social game interaction and the integration of textual strategies to create the gaming experience.
- A range of paper-based and/or digitally rendered designs trial ideas provide the focus for an evaluative case study, which is also presented orally.
Critical Approaches (term 1, 30 credits) - 2 x 3000 word essays
The course will:
- Define and contextualize key concepts that shape the interdisciplinary field of Game Studies.
- Provide detailed study of the different methodological approaches used in the study of games/videogames.
- Students will engage in developing a scholarly vocabulary used to critically evaluate videogames and their relation to and distinction from other media.
- Connections between the theoretical and practical understanding of games studies and design will be made throughout the course as applicable
Game Design 2 (term 2, 30 credits) - 1 x practical design project tailored to a specific platform (large); written evaluative case study 3000 words; assessed presentation
- Building on the work in Game Design I, students develop individually a design for a game for a particular platform (phone; PC; handheld, console etc). The game can be delivered in digital format for those with technical skills or as storyboard, character profiles, visual 'mood board'/style palette, sound-effects/music profiling. The project will demonstrate practical application of ideas explored in Critical Approaches to show a deep understanding of concepts of pleasure, genre, core game-play values, structure and rules.
Socio-Cultural Contexts (term 2, 30 credits) (1 x 6000 word essays)
Overall, this class provides:
- Context and framework for discussing the relationship between games, play, society, and culture.
- Analysis of contemporary demographic data about who plays games, why they play games and how they play games.
- Studies of the ways in which games influence culture through fandom, media panics, and virtual life.
- Studies of the ways in which culture influences the creation and development of games through economics/business models and gaming regulatory bodies.
Dissertation in Digital Games Design: Theory and Design - either 12,000-18,000 words or 8,000 words with practical component - delivered in either digital format or as a design document (term 3, 60 credits)
Students are expected to use the MA forum for discussions and are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular support activities such as game jams, local game related and networking events in order to practice the creative and technical skills developed throughout the programme and foster conversation and connections that are an invaluable part of the post-graduate experience.
Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.
Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel
and what you will learn on the course.
Upon graduating from Brunel’s MA Games Theory and Design programme, students have the potential to enter the games industry through a variety of jobs including (but not limited to) level designer, Q&A (Quality Assurance), project managers, game user research, etc. The programme may also be of interest to those already working in the industry who desire updating their creative and technical skills.
The programme also provides academic support to those who wish to continue on to doctoral studies in digital game research and pursue an academic career.
At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.
» More about Employability
Entry criteria 2018/19
- A 2:2 (or above) UK Honours degree ,or equivalent internationally recognised qualification, in arts; humanities; social sciences; multimedia; computing, or electrical engineering.
- Other subjects and qualifications with relevant games industry experience will be assessed on an individual basis and may also be considered.
Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.
International and EU entry requirements
If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions
This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.
English language requirements
- IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
- Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)
You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.
If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.
Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.
We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.
Assessment and feedback
Assessment is via a combination of practical games-making work, presentations and essays of varying length.
- Students will engage in, and experiment with, practical games creation, with workshops led by designers working in the industry, as well as explore a range of theories and concepts with which to analyse the values of games, play and pleasure.
- This programme offers a unique focus on practical games design, informed by theory that is not offered by any other university. It is not a software or graphics training programme.
- We have a team of experienced games researchers teaching on the programme, some of whom have played a pioneering role in making game studies a new academic discipline.
Fees and funding
Fees for 2018/19 entry
Additional course related costs
Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students
UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.
Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).