Introduction to Programming
In a nutshell
Throughout your studies, you will look at gaming and user interaction across a spectrum of related practices. The aim of the course is to provide you with a rounded exposure of the elements of interactive user content, building up your confidence in various specialisms as the course progresses.
You will work as part of a team in your final year to produce a prototype game, with modules looking at areas such as patents, copyrights and other means of legal protection as well as the economics and structure of the industry to enable you to learn the skills needed to take your product to market. In the most recent National Student Survey, 97% of students said they had had the right opportunities to work other students as part of their course (University of Salford analysis of unpublished NSS 2019 data).
Offering a unique mix of both the creative and technical, the course has become well known for developing technically savvy, creatively aware and future thinking professionals.
The industry experience module will provide an invaluable opportunity for you, not simply to put your academic, creative and technical knowledge and skills into practice in a relevant professional context, but also to acquire first-hand experience of organisational structures, practices and processes as well professional networks within the creative industries.
- Develop the skills you need to plan, prototype and produce computer games
- Gain fundamental and specialist knowledge in computer programming
- Learn how to think both creatively and technically
This is for you if...
You have a passion for creative and entertainment technologies
You have a clear aptitude for either computer science or art and design
You want to advance the field of computer games, not just replicate what has gone before
All about the course
In your first year, you will learn basic art and design processes and technical fundamentals of programming as well as the design and planning of creative games across platforms. You will learn how to solve problems using design theory through practice, investigate the emergent use of entertainment technologies and cover the fundamentals of 2D and 3D digital graphics. Theoretical modules cover the historical and social issues surrounding creative media, and project management skills are embedded across all modules.
Year two core modules build on the design, planning and prototyping of a game and agile development production skills, as well as covering narrative technologies. Elective modules allow you to further specialise in the areas covered in the first year, such as 2D/3D character and environment art and graphics, or a more in-depth programming knowledge and application. Work experience and placement opportunities are encouraged, building on the industry and external links the course provides. Placements are coordinated by students, in liaison with tutors and in close consultation with providers.
In the third year you will learn about patents, copyrights and other means of legal protection as well as the economics and structure of the industry. You will work as part of a team to produce a prototype game and undertake an individual portfolio (chosen from Programming; Art and Graphics; Sound and Music; Design). You will write a practice-based dissertation in the final year allowing you to combine the theoretical and practical work into a single project.
Within this module you will receive a solid introduction to the foundations of computer programming, you will study code structures and principles, you will prototype, test and bug fix. You will investigate flexible configurable systems and receive an introduction to games engines. If you have any kind of phobia towards computer science relax, this is about experience and understanding, and you will receive all the support you need to progress. If you are already familiar with programming, we have the expertise to help you develop to the next level at a more accelerated pace.
Within this module you will follow a Bauhaus model and engage and experiment with a number of creative processes and practices. You will be encouraged to develop your independent creative capabilities, you will learn about portraiture and life drawing, product and vehicle design, and you will get hands on in the workshop and build physical pieces. Throughout this module you will develop design skills and become confident communicating ideas. Even if you’re a programmer and have little prior artistic ability, it doesn’t matter, at this stage it’s about the experience and learning the subject area.
Design Theory Fundamentals
Within this module you will learn the fundamentals of games design, you will study the theory of play, rules and mechanic. You will investigate design methods and process, you will conceptualize and build board game prototypes, before testing and polishing toward a professional product. The module is rich and fast paced and lays the foundations for the design pathway across the next three years.
This module in essence is a continuation of the visual arts module in the first semester, in that it engages the same design methods and traditional arts practices. Only this time the final outputs will be digital. The module covers photographic theory, composition, digital image theory, image retouching, pixel and vector art, digital painting, graphical layout and an introduction to 3D modeling. The module is rich and fasted paced and the outputs are varied. Again if you are a programmer at heart this module offers a very supportive opportunity to understand more about digital arts methods, processes and pipelines.
Entertainment Technology has two strands, firstly the study of entertainment technologies from the past, in the now, and in the future. The module aims to position your thinking and understanding of where you fit as a professional, not only in the games arena, but also in a wider digital, creative, media and cultural contexts. Within the second part of this module you will experiment and build entertainment prototypes in our maker space, using technologies suck as Raspberry Pi and Arduino to realise your ideas.
Design Practice Fundamentals
Within this module you will work in production teams to build your first 2D digital game. You will engage industry methods within an agile frame-work, to conceptulise, design and prototype and test your ideas. We aim to build product and the outputs at this stage are expected to reach a high standard. Groups will consist of individuals taking on different roles and we drive with a strong professional work ethic to achieve our goals.
Agile Production Management
Digital Narrative Technologies
Within this module you will learn the theory of storytelling and narrative and apply this knowledge through creative practice to a digital artifact. This process of understanding, applying and bridging traditional narrative from myth and legend, script and screen, to a contemporary immersive manifestation is designed to give you a broader understanding of narrative from a cultural perspective. The themes covered in the module will typically include: The Power, Importance and Origin of Story, Story Structures, The Hero’s Journey, The Power of Myth, Narration and Focalisation, The Art of Characterisation, Environmental Storytelling, Writing a Treatment, Storyboarding Techniques, Narrative and Emergent technologies, Immersion & Interactivity and Spatial Narratives.
Games Design Planning
Games Design Prototyping
You will also choose one of the following two optional modules
Games Engine Programming
Within this elective module you will specialise as a games engine programmer exploring fundamental game engine systems necessary to implement contemporary mechanics. The module goes deeper than the utilisation of function libraries, rather it aims to help you understand what goes on under the hood. Areas covered will typically include:
- Game design patterns
- Asset pipe-lining
- Methodologies to create standalone gaming applications
- Generic and universal issues in programming for 3D engines
- Programming objects and camera motions
- Collision detection and collision response
- Special effects systems
- Generative art
- Procedural drawing
- Inventory systems and offline storage/retrieval
- Game physics
- Game animation
- Introduction to network-based gaming.
Everything in this module feeds back directly into your group based game production work.
Digital Environment Art
Within this elective module you will be introduced to the processes and skills required to design, develop and deploy 3D virtual games environments. You will learn how to employ traditional design processes to conceive and plan for the construction of modular components that can be transposed into games engine technologies. The module will focus on the construction of well crafted, low detail, optimised 3D topology, it will develop fundamental 3D modelling and texturing skills.
Emphasis will be put on the quietly of the product, employing industry standards and production pipelines. Rather than being a technical training module, you will be expected to demonstrate a capability to engage technical tools alongside traditional creative processes. Everything in this module feeds back directly into your group based game production work.
In addition, you will choose one of the below optional modules
Advanced Games Engine Programming
This programming module continues to develop knowledge learned and applied in the first semester of the second year. You will again build an understanding of more complex underlying programming paradigms before apply these back to extend off the shelf games engines.
The topics covered in this module will typically include:
- Tool construction
- Advanced code systems: flocking, pathfinding and obstacle avoidance
- Knowledge of Open GL Shaders
- Local networks and global networking for online gaming
- Sound/audio programming
- Play analysis
- Security awareness
- Risk assessment
- Mobile application
- Deployment, testing and reporting
- Beta deployment and testing techniques.
Digital Character Art
Within this module you will learn to conceive, design, develop and animate 3D characters for real-time and pre-rendered applications. Persona and narrative will be considered as well as aesthetic and proportion, you will learn how to apply traditional art and design methods as they develop your ideas.
Focus will be put on the creation of elegant topology and form, students will first learn how to sculpt low polygon organic geometry before moving towards more complex sculptural tools. Students will investigate and apply texturing through contemporary tools and methods. Learning will culminate in the rigging and animation of a character with games ready animation sets.
Creative Artefact Production Planning
Within this module you will initially focus on the realities of the digital jobs market and creative industries. You will be encouraged to investigate the personas of practicing professionals and the structure of the company’s you identify as relevant to your career progression. Subsequent sessions will ask hard questions of your capability through a positive lens. This process is intended of identifying strengths and possible short falls before building a structured plan to develop capabilities and address any gaps.
You will be asked to develop a professional persona based on where you would like to be positioned in the coming years. All other learning and project elements will then be built around a persona statement. You will learn how to best communicate your persona and how to align work examples to support your personal statement.
You will learn how to best frame and distribute your evidence of capability in both a physical and digital format, and how to strategically plan a pathway into employment, which will include contingency. This module is designed to build awareness, a focused personal vision, capability and a road map into employment.
Practice Based Dissertation
Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.
What Will I Be Doing?
- Production-based modules are delivered primarily through workshops which integrate new material with practical support in the class.
- Underpinning theory modules are delivered through combined lecture/seminar sessions. Students will be provided with directed reading and be expected to use the contact sessions to clarify and discuss areas of particular interest or difficulty.
- Project work plays a key role in students achieving the intended learning outcomes.
You will be assessed through a variety of methods, including:
School of Arts and Media
The School of Arts and Media is the largest School at the University of Salford with more than 4,000 creative students. Across sites at MediaCityUK and the University's Peel Park campus, we offer a huge variety of courses, from fashion image making and styling, television and radio, creative writing and music to journalism, animation, design and performance.
This broad range of disciplines offers enhanced opportunities for specialist and interdisciplinary study, including collaborative work across subject areas.
This course benefits from our fantastic facilities at MediaCityUK. These include a five-camera HD TV studio, a three-camera HD TV studio and a digital performance studio with full green screen capability. There are two radio/audio recording studios, and 5.1 surround sound audio post production theatre, with Foley Booth. Audition v3 audio editing and Final Cut Pro and Avid software-enabled suites are throughout the building.
What about after uni?
Graduates from this course have gone to work in a variety of fields across the games industry, including level / game designer, 3D artist, tools / engine programmer and producer.
Previous students have gained positions with regional and international names such as, Rockstar, Travellers Takes, Sony, EA, Sega, Smashmouth Games, Namco, Blitz and Lamp Light Studios. The course also has strong connections with the BBC and across the digital industry.
The course involves industry partners on several levels ranging from guest lecturers, live briefs and placement opportunities.
What you need to know
Successful applicants should have strong academic records, a firm and clear motivation to succeed and a passion for creative and interactive media. The course offers a student-centred and creative learning environment, and we seek applicants who are interested in our project and practice-based curriculum. You should be able to articulate your interests in creative and interactive media, and present them to a wider audience. You should also be interested in developing an appreciation of both the technical and creative elements of games design and production, as both a specialist and as a core member of small production teams.
We are looking for individuals with aptitude in either art or technology, ideally both. A portfolio of relevant work in 2D/3D art, traditional art and game-related design, or evidence of engagement with creative programming and computer science will greatly benefit your application to the course.
As part of the application process you may be invited for an interview.
The interviews are informal and relaxed and give both parties the opportunity to meet, discuss the course and make the right decision.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS
International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.0, with no element below 5.5, is proof of this.
Please note: The entry criteria below are related to entry onto this course in the 2020/2021 academic year. If you’re interested in a future intake year, please check the course entry on UCAS.
English and maths GCSE grade C/grade 4 or above.
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
96 - 112 points
UCAS tariff points
96 - 112 points
BTEC National Diploma
Access to HE
96-112 UCAS Tariff points from Level 3 QAA approved Access programme
96 - 112 points
Irish Leaving Certificate
96 - 112 points
Pass in Diploma of at least 60%
Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)
We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.
There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home/EU||2020/21||£9,250per year|
|Full-time international||2020/21||£15,240per year|
You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.
Scholarships for international students 2020/21
If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our international scholarships worth up to £5,000. Our international scholarships include the Salford International Excellence Scholarship.
For more information go to International Scholarships.
All set? Let's apply
Course ID G470