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MA Games Design

Start date
September 2019
Course length
1 year 3 months full-time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

Course summary

Rooted in experimental practice, MA Games Design will equip you with both the technical and critical skills to produce a broad portfolio of innovative game prototypes.

About this course

The course will enable you to understand and articulate the unique value of game experience to an increasingly interested design industry. You will explore concepts such as goal, challenge and obstacle in relation to game design.

You'll also examine how games design principles are being used more generally and how these ideas impact upon our increasingly digital culture.

Reasons to apply

  • Freedom to explore through practice: respond to live briefs, learn through creating and find your unique position between coding and making.
  • Experiences beyond the screen: make games in the widest sense – including physical, experiential, critical and socially-reflective games across both digital and non-digital – and discover the possibilities of playable experiences.
  • Connect with industry: engage with gaming industry professionals and plug-in to contemporary design practices through our range of guest lectures, events, trips, and visits to conferences.
  • Develop your portfolio: create finished products, exhibit work and graduate with a high quality and diverse portfolio that will prepare you for a career in the games, interaction and wider design industries.
  • Collaborate beyond the boundaries of games design: work with animators, interaction designers, sound artists, graphic designers, filmmakers across UAL’s diverse network of artists, designers, makers and communicators.

Open evenings

The next Open Evening for this course will be on Thursday 6 December.

Book your place

Course details

MA Games Design critically examines the concept of play in relation to the practice of games design. You will produce playable prototype gaming experiences and use games design as a means to test critical ideas from broader culture.

The course is particularly interested in how games design principles are being used more generally and how these ideas impact upon our increasingly digital culture. MA Games Design will enable you to understand and articulate the unique value of game experience to an increasingly interested design industry and allow you to understand the value of your game experience prototypes.

Building on LCC's resources, in digital, time-based and interactive media, alongside printmaking, graphic design and visual communication, the course encourages experimental and reflective practice that echoes the cross media nature of the design, communication and media industries.

The course also supports progression to research at MPhil/PhD level as well as to advanced self-directed experimental practice.

Course units

Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves six units, totalling 180 credits.

You will respond to briefs that are set to test your learning, in the units described below:

Autumn, term one

Units summary:

  • Design and Prototyping (40 credits)
  • Understanding Gaming Experience (20 credits)

In Term One, students explore a range of both technical and conceptual approaches to games design and development and work with a range of technologies by producing playable prototypes.

Students will engage in critical study that significantly expands their understanding of what gaming experience is and how it operates at both the level of the individual and society. This phase is the technical and conceptual basis for the subsequent phases of the course.

Spring, term two

Units summary:

  • Critical Play and Experimental Development (40 credits)
  • Collaborative Unit (20 credits)

In Term Two, students specifically develop games that reflect the critical context set out in Term One and test these issues through the design and production of critical games.

This practice is underpinned by a programme that gives students the technical skills to be able to experiment widely with various games design technologies and platforms when prototyping their critical games. Term Two specifically contains a cross-College collaborative unit.

Summer, term three

Units summary:

  • Critical Play and Experimental Development (continued)
  • Final Major Project and Thesis (60 credits)

In Term Three, students synthesise the knowledge, skills and experience from the first two terms of the course in the production of a self-directed project and associated thesis.

Autumn, term four

Units summary:

  • Final Major Project and Thesis (continued)

If you are unable to continue or decide to exit the course, there are two possible exit awards. A Postgraduate Certificate will be awarded on successful completion of the first 60 credits and a Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded on successful completion of the first 120 credits.

Learning and teaching methods

  • Lectures and large group learning
  • Workshop and seminar learning
  • Academic tutorials
  • Individual and group critiques
  • Individual project work
  • Self-directed learning
  • Assessed assignments
  • Technical workshops
  • Demonstrations

Assessment methods

  • The Portfolio of Work: This contains creative design and associated developmental artefacts produced in the process of engaging with set design briefs. This will also include live research and development blog and/or sketchbook documenting your iterative design and development process and any other specific elements required by the unit.
  • Prepared writing: This includes academic writing i.e. thesis and dissertations, reports, critical and reflective writing any other specific forms required by the unit.
  • Crits and presentations: Oral presentation and personal presentations of creative work are used in formative assessments on all studio units in the course to ensure you are confident about your work and get the benefit of seeing the work of your peers in a critical context.

Course structure

The information outlined is an indicative structure of the course. Whilst we will aim to deliver the course as described on this page, there may be situations where it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, for example because of regulatory requirements or operational efficiencies, before or after enrolment. If this occurs, we will communicate all major changes to all applicants and students who have either applied or enrolled on the course.

Please note that due to staff research agreements or availability, not all of the optional modules listed may be available every year.

In addition, the provision of course options which depend upon the availability of specialist teaching, or on a placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed. Please check this element of the course with the course team before making a decision to apply.

Webpage updates

We will update this webpage from time to time with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact a member of the course team.


Visiting and Special Lecturers

Teaching on the course is also complemented by a range of visiting practitioners from the games and wider design industries. Previous and regular visiting lecturers have included:

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

An applicant will normally be considered for admission if they have achieved an educational level equivalent to an honours degree in either games design, animation, illustration, visual communication or graphic design or closely related subject, and present a portfolio of image-led work and project proposal.

The course aims to appeal to art and design graduates who are interested in expanding their experience by investigating emerging areas of games design practice. However, we will consider applicants who have graduated from other related disciplines, or who have relevant industry experience.

Students applying to this course will be expected to demonstrate a specific interest in this area of study and should have a commitment to engaging with games design.

Coding experience

Entry onto the course requires that you have some experience of coding. This maybe HTML/CSS/JavaScript or others such as actionscript, Java, C++ etc. Your level of experience can be quite low, as we will upskill applicants where needed, but you need to be comfortable with learning code and understand key concepts such as 'for loops' and 'conditional if' statements.

This level of experience would have been gained by studying an undergraduate multimedia course in art and design, pre-university qualifications in computer science, multimedia and/or web authoring or advanced self-taught practice of coding through free services such as

Educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • Honours degree (named above);
  • Possession of equivalent qualifications;
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
  • Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.

Language requirements (International/EU)

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you let us know your English language test score in your application. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please indicate this in your application. When asked to upload a CV as part of your application, please include any information about your English test score.

  • IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is required, with a minimum of 5.5 in each of the four skills.
  • If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.

For further details regarding international admissions and advice please visit the International Applications page.

Selection criteria

Offers will be made based on the following selection criteria, which applicants are expected to demonstrate:

  • Sufficient prior knowledge and experience of and/or potential in games design and/or coding and design practice to be able to successfully complete the programme of study and have an academic or professional background in a relevant subject.
  • Knowledge of the world of visual culture and ability to engage in critical discussion.


Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.

Personal statement advice

You will be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Games Design. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate critical knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject, and a well-articulated rationale for joining the course.

The personal statement is a very important part of your application and should demonstrate to the course team that you are interested in Games Design and that you have thought very carefully about why you wish to study on the course.

Ensure that your personal statement it is well written, clear and free of any spelling mistakes. It is your chance to impress the course team by showing a strong interest in the subject, demonstrating what you feel you would bring to the course, your appreciation of what the course can offer you and how you feel it might help you in the future.

This can be demonstrated through work experience, previous studies and your personal experience.

Study proposal/project proposal advice (400 - 800 words)

You will be expected to outline an idea for your major project in your application. This should describe your area of interest, field of study and the particular focus of your intended project.

Your proposal should also include an overview of how you intend to go about producing the project and the methodology.

It is important to recognise that these ideas will inevitably develop and change across your year of study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage.

Portfolio and interview advice

All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic portfolio as part of their application.

Your portfolio must include (5-10 images):

  • Examples of image-led and visual work from either previous education or professional practice.
  • A minimum of five projects and self-initiated projects are also encouraged.
  • If you have links to web projects or media assets, please note these in your CV.

We are specifically looking to see strong evidence of design, interaction, coding or other relevant skills for games design. Please include, images, videos and ideally links to interactive and playable content. Where the content is not games related, please provide additional context for why you believe that it is relevant.

Not all applicants to this course come from a traditional ‘design’ background and therefore you may not have a developed portfolio of images. If this is the case, please submit any images that you feel demonstrate your creative ability. These could be concepts for games, game artefacts, illustrations or any other visually indicative content that you have produced.

Applicants shortlisted for interview will be invited for interview at the College, or via telephone or Skype, if you live outside of the UK.


Deferring an offer

If you are offered a place for 2019/20 but wish to defer to 2020/21, information on how to do this and who to contact can be found in your offer letter. Additionally, International applicants should pay the deposit in order to defer. In all cases, deferred places will be held for one year.

Making a deferred application (during 2018/19 for entry in 2020/21)

Home/EU applicants are permitted to make a deferred application. International applicants are not permitted to make a deferred application.

After you apply

After you’ve submitted your application, you’ll receive a confirmation email providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal. We’ll use this Portal to contact you to request any additional information, including inviting you to upload documents or book an interview, so please check it regularly.

Once we’ve reviewed and assessed your application, we’ll contact you via UCAS Track or the UAL Portal to let you know whether your application has been successful.

Fees & Funding

Home / EU fee

£9,500 (2018/19).

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments


Home/EU students whose chosen course is at a level equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already hold, would will be charged the fees shown above, plus an additional £1,100 (called the Equivalent or Lower Qualifications (ELQ) fee). Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are exempt from ELQ fees and will pay the original fee, regardless of the highest qualification held. For enquiries relating to ELQ fees, please complete this register your interest form.

International Fee

£19,350 (2018/19).

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. We strongly suggest you read the information on our Additional Costs page.


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.

Home / EU and international students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

Graduates of the course will be equipped to work in an increasingly technologically informed and interdisciplinary design world, with in-depth skills in the following areas: game design and production both 3D and 2D visual communication for games, narrative and sequential image making and time-based design as well as having a portfolio of personal work to enable you to seek work across the games sector.

A significant proportion of graduates of MA Games Design may also want to practice as commercial games designers.

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