What is the difference between Computer Games Development and Computer Science?
Both of these courses are similar in many ways but the Games Development course is tailored to developing the type of software needed within the games industry. The Computer Games Development degree contains some limited exposure to game design theory; however, the focus is very much of the programming aspects of game development. This allows for graduates to even find jobs across all forms of software development.
There are lots of Games degrees in universities across the UK – would they all be similar?
No, there are generally three types of Games degrees. The first is writing the actual story for the game, the second type is more the multimedia side of games development – so they would concentrate on how the game looks, whereas the third type is the Games degree that we offer, which is writing the software for the game in the first place. This is probably the most challenging of the three types and is the area where there is the biggest shortage of graduates within the gaming industry worldwide.
What if I am not sure which course to choose between Computer Games Development and the other computing degrees at Queen’s?
You have no need to worry! Computer Games Development, Computing and Information Technology, Computer Science and Software Engineering share a common core of modules in first year, so you may transfer between them at the end of first year, subject to the normal progression criteria. Students who do not hold an A-Level in Mathematics or Physics (or equivalent qualification) and wish to transfer to the Computer Games Development degree from these other degrees need to pass an additional Mathematics exam.
Just remember that Software and Electronic Systems Engineering and Business Information Technology do not share a common core of modules with the above courses in first year, so if you are trying to make up your mind between applying for Computer Games Development or one of these two courses, you may need to give it a bit more thought about which course you would prefer to do.
What is the above mentioned Mathematics exam like (to transfer into the Games development degree at the end of first year from another computing degree)?
It is of a similar standard to A-level maths, but with a much reduced scope. It covers both pure and applied maths and covers topics such as vectors and matrices, although, exploring how they can be applied. The maths that is tested covers the core concepts needed to think about and manipulate objects within 2D and 3D spaces, so the type of maths you would cover in the Games degree itself.
It’s advisable to do some revision for it. The exam is scheduled either over the Easter or Summer breaks – so not to get in the way of other term time activities. Students are able to select when they wish to take the exam – so it’s more up to the student as to when they feel ready.
The grades are quite high to get into the Computer Games Development degree. What happens if I don’t get the grades – would I need to apply for another computing degree as a back-up?
If you don’t get the grades you need to get directly onto the Games Development degree, but get the grades to do the BSc/BEng in Computer Science, then you will automatically be offered a place on this course. You don’t need to apply separately for that degree. You may then transfer on to the Games degree in second year, provided you meet the progression criteria – please see above.
What is a typical timetable for a first year Computer Games Development student?
Computer Games Development first year students study modules which includes topics such as multimedia, programming, computer architecture and the games design. Each semester students will have approximately 14 hours of class each week including lectures, practicals and tutorials. Students are encouraged to spend a lot of time on individual study and work on assignments and have meetings with their teams for group based assignments.
Would you have the opportunity to enter any competitions when undertaking the Games degree at Queen’s?
Yes, each year Queen’s enters teams in Ireland’s biggest gaming competition, the Games Fleadh in Tipperary. We have been very successful in these, taking home the top prize overall in 2012, as well as a number of other prizes.
Do Computer Games Development students complete a placement year?
Between Stage 3 and Stage 4 students undertake an optional full year’s paid industrial placement, the year of Professional Experience.
The placement year is an opportunity both to put into practice the principles leant to date in the course and gain practical experience in games design and development with an appropriate games development studio where possible. Students will receive assistance in obtaining a suitable placement.
What type of career opportunities are available for Computer Games Development graduates do?
On graduating with a MEng degree (and a year’s experience), graduates will be able to take jobs in the computer games industry or other computer-based creative industries. Graduates will also be fully equipped with a programming-oriented skill-set which will be highly attractive to software development positions within the wider software engineering industry.
In addition, the course will equip graduates to pursue research/further study in Computer Science and related disciplines.