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Higher National Certificate in Computer Game Design
Department of Art & Multimedia Design

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Award   Higher National Certificate  HNC Course Title   Computer Game Design
UCAS Code   354G Award Level   QCF 4
Start Dates   September and January Study Mode  Part-Time [2 years]
Awarding Body  Pearson BTEC
  1. Entry Requirements
  2. Course Overview
  3. Course Structure
  4. Course Content
  5. Progression
  6. Professional Recognition
  7. Fees
  8. Apply Online

Course Overview

BTEC Higher National Certificate in Computer Game Design is a specialist vocational programme, linked to professional body requirements and with a strong work related emphasis.

This innovative course, derived from professional standards and principles, will allow you to develop a range of practical skills for the design of computer games. It provides a wide range of transferable skills, such as problem solving, negotiating, critical analysis and project management.

The course adopts a hands-on approach, encouraging you to be creative and imaginative. You will be encouraged to think in terms of generating, developing and implementing real-life games design projects to understand how modules studied integrate with industrial practice. You explore topics in ideas generation, principles and techniques of game design, computer platforms, storytelling, research and creative media.

You will be taught through a combination of practical laboratory sessions and seminars. Your studies will be supported by trips to trade exhibitions, career fairs and guest speakers from the industry.  

This course is assessed through practical game design projects, reports, group work, case studies, presentations and written reports.

General Entry Requirements

    If you are under 21 years of age at the start of the course, you must have at least one of the following:

    • At least one GCE A-level pass. In addition, you should have appropriate supporting passes at GCSE (including English and Maths at grade C or above) or Key Skills Level 2 qualifications in communication, IT and Application of Number or equivalent.
    • A Level 3 qualification such as: BTEC level 3 Diploma, National Diploma, Advanced GNVQ/NVQ, AVCE/VCE, Foundation Certificate in a relevant subject
    • Access to Higher Education in a relevant subject
    • Advanced Modern Apprenticeship with Level 3 qualifications in a relevant subject
    • Baccalaureate/International Baccalaureate
    • An equivalent foreign qualification
    • Any other level 3 qualification in a relevant subject

    If you are over 21 years of age, you may demonstrate a more varied profile of achievement that is likely to include relevant work experience and/or achievement of a range of professional qualifications in their work sector.


Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificates are well-established and internationally recognised qualifications to offering graduates progression directly to employment. On successful completion of this course, you will be able to apply for work as a game designer within the games, film and TV production industries.  

You can also study further for a Higher National Diploma in Computer Game Design or a bachelor degree.

Professional Recognition

Pearson BTEC qualifications are nationally and internationally recognised by employers and professional organisations. This recognition is a way for students to prepare for jobs and careers in their chosen field through membership of relevant professional bodies. The Higher National Certificate in Computer Game Design has the support of Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the creative media sector.

Course Structure

    To qualify for the Higher National Certificate in Creative Media Production (Computer Game Design) students must complete 8 units and achieve a minimum of 120 credits. The course must contain a minimum of 65 credits at level 4.

Year 1
HNCM 001 Contextual Studies for Creative Media Production - 4415
HNCM 002 Research Techniques for Creative Media Production - 4415
HNCM 009Practical Skills for Computer Game Design - 4415
HNCM 014Computer Game Studies - 4415
HNCM 048Computer Game Platform Fundamentals - 4415
HNCM 051Computer Game Storytelling Techniques - 4415
HNCM 052Ideas Generation for Computer Games - 4415
HNCM 075Computer Game Design Techniques - 5515

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for Part-Time Programmes - 2013/2014

Study Programme Yearly Fees
UK/EU Students
Yearly Fees
International Students
Foundation Diploma £1,687.50 £2,493.00 2 years
Higher National Certificate
(excludes Engineering)
£2,730.00 £2,975.00 2 years
Higher National Diploma
(excludes Engineering)
£3,640.00 £3,967.00 3 years
Higher National Certificate
£2,730.00 £3,300.00 2 years
Higher National Diploma
£3,640.00 £4,400.00 3 years
Postgraduate Diploma £1,993.00 £2,820.00 2 years
Postgraduate Standard Diploma £2,360.00 £3,350.00 1 year
Top up degree programmes
New/Current Students
(excluding Enginneering)
£2,730.00 £2,975.00 2 years
Top up degree programmes
New/Current Students
£2,730.00 £3,300.00 2 years

Important Notes

  • The above tuition fees do not include textbooks, study materials or accommodation fees.
  • 5% discount is offered to self-paying students who settle the annual tuition fees in full before the start of the course. This discount applies only when the annual fee is £4000.00+.
  • Administrative charges of £100.00 or £150.00 apply to payments by installments (please refer to payment policy for details).
  • Additional fees per module apply to re-assessments and re-take modules.
  • A graduation fee of £200.00 will be charged to all students attending the Graduation Ceremony.Students who do not wish to attend their Graduation Ceremony will be charged £30
    £200 graduation certification fee, depending on the award and additional services requested (eg apostille, international postage, notary public certification, etc). These charges are due on the final year of study.

Home Students

To be classified as a home student for the purpose of tuition fee payment:
  • you must be a British or EU national
  • you must have resided in the European Union for three years prior to the start of your course
The three year residence rule also applies to you if you have:
  • an indefinite leave to remain in the UK visa
  • a spouse/partner/dependent visa
  • any other visa which permits you to remain and work in the UK without any restrictions

Online Application

Note: Before you apply, please make sure you have access to your email, prepared document scans (picture, passport, other supporting documents)

Please click here to proceed with Online Application (opens in new window)

Contextual Studies for Creative Media Production - 4 [HNCM 001 ]

Unit type:Core

    This unit provides an opportunity for learners to undertake a study of the creative media in a chosen context. The unit will develop an appreciation of industry, products and audiences and the theoretical approaches used to analyse them. The unit requires the application of academic research and referencing methods which are appropriate for learners at this level of study. On completing this unit learners will have gained an understanding of general media theory which can then be applied and expanded upon in the specialist area of study or transferred to the wider context of the work environment to inform their own production work.

Research Techniques for Creative Media Production - 4 [HNCM 002 ]

Unit type:Core

    This unit will develop learners’ ability to use the research techniques required in the media industries and will provide them with the opportunity to develop production research skills to a professional level. Production research is crucial to all media products and is, in career terms, a key role in film, television and radio production teams, computer game design teams, and journalism. Learners will develop an understanding of the various types of research and sources of information. They will develop the ability to check the validity and accuracy of information and will also develop an understanding of legal issues such as copyright.

Practical Skills for Computer Game Design - 4 [HNCM 009]

Unit type:Core

    This unit introduces learners to the process of developing a computer game by taking it through its full production cycle. They will begin this process at a design stage, taking a concept and defining it in terms appropriate to the production of a computer game. Following this, learners will take a defined concept and transform it into a working prototype of a game. A variety of methods may be employed in both of these stages and it should be stressed that, during the design and prototyping stages, there is no requirement to use digital tools – any method or medium the tutor feels appropriate may be used here. Learners will build upon the skills acquired in the design and prototyping stages to build a functional computer game. In conjunction with this, they will continually evaluate the practical work by employing a number of testing and quality assurance methods.

Computer Game Studies - 4 [HNCM 014]

Unit type:Core

    In this unit, learners will explore the medium of computer games from a number of points of view. Beginning with an examination of the history of computer games, learners will then explore the relationship between games and the wider culture of which they form a part. Learners will also apply relevant theories to the analysis of specific computer games.

Computer Game Platform Fundamentals - 4 [HNCM 048]

Unit type:Specialist

    For employment in any role in the computer games industry, good technical knowledge is required, with awareness of the various game platforms and technologies. In order to communicate effectively with others, entrants to the games industry must be able to comprehend the technical language used to describe elements of game systems, and be able to recognise the limitations inherent in the choice of destination platform selected for any game title. To avoid making impossible demands of the specified platform, all those working in the industry must be aware of the function and purpose of each component of the modern interactive game system.

Computer Game Storytelling Techniques - 4 [HNCM 051]

Unit type:Specialist

    As games have become more and more mainstream entertainment and their development budgets have grown larger, the importance of good writing has also grown. Successful games are more than likely to have a solid story and lifelike characters to guide players through the game space while allowing them to have a personal game experience. This unit aims to provide learners with an appreciation of the underlying principles of storytelling and how they can enhance a player’s immersion in the game world. Learners will thus develop a sound understanding of game story writing strategies before applying them to their own interactive narratives. Learners will develop an understanding of how to use elements such as narration, dramatic tension, monologue and dialogue to serve the purposes of their game story and will apply their observations of human attitudes and emotions to the development of convincing characters for their game concept. Since this unit requires learners to exercise imaginative skills, it is appropriate that some critical self-reflective practice is undertaken. This professional skill will be of great value in any future career.

Ideas Generation for Computer Games - 4 [HNCM 052]

Unit type:Specialist

    The most difficult part of being a creative of any kind is ideas generation. This is a skill that it is necessary to develop and use in the creation of computer games. One technique many designers use is mind mapping to brainstorm and generate ideas. The loose and visual manner in which a mind map is created stimulates ideas better than linear note taking because it helps the brain make new connections and is an effective way to communicate to clients and team members while a project is in its concept phase. In this unit learners will originate ideas which fulfil communication objectives for game graphics, animation or game design. Learners will also be required to use a range of techniques to communicate their ideas on paper and they will be able to identify the cultural contexts in which their ideas work. Since this unit requires learners to exercise imaginative skills, it is appropriate that some critical self-reflective practice is undertaken. This professional skill will be of great value in any future career.

Computer Game Design Techniques - 5 [HNCM 075]

Unit type:Core

    Game design is the first stage in the development of a new computer game and in the highly competitive environment of the computer games industry it is a vital skill, requiring imagination, a thoroughly up-to-date understanding of the way games entertain and work as systems, and a profound knowledge of the market. This unit will provide learners with the skills to build a proposal for a game design by means of applied research. The focus is on building a project plan around a game design which learners will then develop into a working production. Learners will also develop the necessary skills for working collaboratively in a professional environment, including the presentation and communication skills needed to convey their ideas clearly to other team members.

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