Northumbria university undergraduate programme specification

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Please note that from January 2005

  • Where a programme is delivered in more than one mode:

    • a full Programme Specification is completed for what is deemed to be the main mode

    • details of other modes (part-time, franchise deliveries etc.) are entered onto a Delivery Supplement which is attached to the main document

    • one or more delivery supplements may be included at the time of validation, or added when an additional mode of delivery is subsequently approved.

  • Any changes made to an approved Programme Specification are indicated on a Log of Changes sheet, and appended.

Sections 1-10 below indicate all modes of delivery and attendance, with the main mode highlighted by the use of bold type; sections 11-20 refer to the main mode of delivery.

Programme Title and Award

BSc (Honours) Computer Games Software Engineering

UCAS or other Admissions Code

G453 BSc GC4

Northumbria Programme Code(s) please indicate the programme code(s) for the main delivery in bold

21SEDT-N, CGS1 – Computer Games Software Engineering


Mode(s) of Delivery please indicate the main mode of delivery in bold



Distance Learning



Mode(s) of Attendance please indicate the main delivery in bold







Other please specify

Location(s) of Delivery if other than Northumbria


Collaborative Provision if applicable






Partner Institution(s)

Date(s) of Approval/Review

Validated 2003 (revised June 07, March 09, March 2010, 2011). Reviewed August 2014


QAA Subject Benchmark Group



PSRB accreditation if applicable


Sections 11 – 20 relate to the main delivery as indicated in bold above.


Educational Aims of the Programme Specified in terms of the general intentions of the programme and its distinctive characteristics; these should be consistent with any relevant benchmark and with the Mission of the University.

The computer games industry is strong and thriving within the UK and the continuing expansion of the home entertainment market is expected to continue this trend for the foreseeable future. This new course has been developed in close consultation with industry representatives and will provide a challenging but enjoyable programme of study.
The programme combines computer programming and mathematical disciplines with aspects of games design and software engineering to produce highly skilled graduates seeking a career within the games programming industry. The main programme threads are programming, mathematics, games design, hardware systems' architecture, multimedia and object-oriented modelling. These threads are complemented by modules on AI, HCI, , databases and professional issues; and by project modules. Students on the course will also have access to option modules at level 5 and 6.
Within the computer games industry there are 2 main job threads: artist and programmer. This is a strongly vocational programme aimed at the potential programmers, and the focus of learning reflects this. The student will also encounter issues faced by other roles in the industry, and by the industry as a whole.
This vocational flavour has been reached by close consultation with representatives of the industry, examination of other games-related degree programmes in the UK, and examination of the subject strengths within the computing division. There are a growing number of games-related degree programmes on offer, some are design-oriented, some are general courses, and a few are vocationally oriented to the programmer role, as this programme is. There is an opportunity here to draw on the distinctive strengths of a computing division allied within the School of Informatics with the Maths & Stats division to provide a focused, distinctive and sought-after programme.
In addition to addressing the question "what does the industry want" the question "what does the industry need" has been examined. Elements of project management and object-oriented software engineering have been included to enhance the student's all-round abilities, and enable graduates of this programme to address weaknesses within the industry's traditional approach to the game development process.
It is recognised that not all graduates will gain employment in the games industry, and so a solid grounding in computing is provided. Graduates from this degree as it should be able to find employment in many areas of computing, but would be particularly well suited to scientific computing and physical modelling situations.
This specialist programme is designed to complement the provision of the existing, more general computing programmes provided by the computing division. By addressing a distinctive specialist area within computing it is hoped that the reputation of the School, and the University as a whole will be enhanced. It is expected that this programme will always be considered a specialist provision. It is hoped that this programme will gain a reputation of quality within the games industry and among prospective students.


How Students are Supported in their Learning/Employability/Career Development e.g. curriculum design, personal development plans, placements, fieldwork, practical projects.

As is stated in section 5 (above) this is a strongly vocational programme. The curriculum was designed by a committee which included a representative of the games industry, and with reference to the IGDA academic framework. IGDA - the International Game Developer's Association - is the foremost professional body of the games industry world-wide.
Therefore the whole design of this programme is geared towards employability within the industry, and this aim has been consider at all stages, and all levels of the programme design process. In addition to the core teaching it is anticipated that visiting speakers from the industry will be invited.
Students will be expected to engage in an industrial placement year between levels 5 and 6.
Students will work on a range of practical projects, including the final dissertation, and a games case project in the final year. These are designed to help students face the situation of computer game development as realistically as possible, helping them prepare for employment. These will include using some of the same development tools as the industry uses, real game development projects, and the production of realistic documentation.

Currently IGDA does not have a system of programme accreditation. It is anticipated that it is likely to do so in the future, and at such time accreditation will be sought for this programme.

Use of independent learning will enable students to take responsibility for their own continued and sustainable professional development.
Careers advice and information concerning further research is available to all students.
Placement preparation takes place in module CM0558 Project Management & Professional Skills which covers appropriate topics. Further support is offered by the Placements Office.

Learning Outcomes of Programme Specified in terms of performance capabilities to be shown on completion of the programme/pathway. Please identify numerically to correspond to the map of learning outcomes in section 18.

  1. Knowledge and Understanding

Students will be able to demonstrate specialist in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of:
A1: Object-oriented Software Engineering
A2: The application of Object-Oriented Software Engineering techniques to Computer Games Projects
A3: The design and specification of gameplay design for computer games projects
A4: The application of appropriate mathematics techniques for physics modelling, and graphical environment simulation.
A5: Artificial Intelligence systems for use in Computer Games Projects
A6: The use of multimedia in Computer Games Environments
A7: Programming and Program Design in Computer Games Projects
A8: Tools, methods and techniques used for the management of Computer Games Projects.
A9: The hardware for Computer Games, and the issues surrounding the hardware, and how these issues affect the development of Computer Games Projects
A10: A range of core computing subjects which are not covered by the above points, e.g. internet programming and databases.

  1. Intellectual Skills

Students will be able to:
B1: Apply knowledge and understanding to systematically identify and analyse complex problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature, and offer appropriate strategic solutions using a range of effective methods and tools.
B2: Critically examine, understand, apply, discuss and evaluate the philosophies, techniques, tools and methods relevant to a range of Computer Games Projects.
B3: Use evidence and criteria to integrate, evaluate, interpret, and synthesise information from a variety of data sources, discriminating between what is of primary importance, and what is of secondary value.
B4: Reflect on the professional, ethical. legal and sociological issues surrounding the development and use of Computer Games.
B5: Critically examine and understand the ways of defining, promoting, controlling and validating the attainment of quality in the field of Computer Games Software Engineering.
B6: Identify, plan and execute a significant individual project by conducting independent research and applying originality plus a range of specific skills and established techniques in research methodologies and literature reviewing.

  1. Practical Skills

Students will be able to:
C1: Apply a range of techniques, tools, and knowledge in the gameplay design, software design, construction and testing of high quality Computer Games Projects.
C2: Apply a range of techniques, tools, and knowledge to the management of Computer Games Projects, and the Software Engineering process involved.
C3: Apply a range of techniques, tools and knowledge in the development of products in other areas of core computing.

  1. Transferable/Key Skills

Students will be able to:
D1: Learn independently, enhancing their existing skills and developing new ones to a high level, enabling them to sustain their own continued professional development.
D2: Demonstrate creativity in problem solving and decision making in complex situations.
D3: Demonstrate creativity and imagination in design situations.
D4: Effectively and professionally communicate information, ideas, arguments, problems and solutions in both written and oral form to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
D5: Demonstrate initiative, personal responsibility, personal enterprise, self reliance and self direction, acting autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level.
D6: Manage their time and resources efficiently.
D7: Engage in critical self-appraisal of their own learning experience, personal strengths, limitations and performance.
D8: Demonstrate research skills at an appropriate level.
D9: Collaborate with other members of a software development team in an effective and professional manner.


Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy Specified to enable learners to achieve and demonstrate the above learning outcomes.

The programme aims to provide students with a wide range of learning opportunities in an exciting, challenging, stimulating and dynamic quality learning environment. The programme learning outcomes are aligned with module learning outcomes (see section 18) and the learning methods applied to address the module learning outcomes are specified in module descriptors. Students have a variety of learning opportunities including lectures, seminars, tutorials, practicals, research, case studies, online using Blackboard, guest / expert input and task based learning in guided and independent study modes. The variety includes methods for individual as well as group learning. Students will be encouraged to develop independent learning skills and techniques in Level 4 and these will be used increasingly in levels 5 and 6.
At all Levels much of the LEARNING and TEACHING take place via lectures supported by small-group seminars or computer laboratory sessions. Seminar time is used across levels for problem-solving, reinforcement of concepts, principles and techniques and for discussion of ideas and issues.
Lecturers are free to adopt teaching styles to suit the material delivered, and their own personalities and abilities, but IT, in particular the internet and intranet, will be used extensively to support lectures, seminars, laboratory work and independent learning.
Laboratory work is critical for the development of practical skills, such as programming, multimedia development, networking, and database design. Increasingly complex and varied development problems will be introduced in laboratory sessions both for learning and applying practical skills and for formative assessment.
Concepts, issues, techniques, tools and technologies are discussed, reinforced and extended through seminar activity. Increasingly over the levels, students are encouraged to become (self-)critical, reflective, and creative as professional application developers for the mobile computing industry. Seminars and laboratory sessions are key vehicles for developing these skills and providing opportunities for their use.
At levels 5 and 6 seminars and laboratory sessions involve increasingly more open-ended and complex problem domains. Students are expected to select and apply a range of different solutions to problems that they, themselves, will need to recognise and define from the given domain. Case studies and individual and group project activity will be used to develop these higher order skills with students increasingly working independently of staff.
Integration of the knowledge and skills developed on the course is both achieved through the taught modules themselves and through the project modules at level 6. These projects also provide a key focus for application of students' intellectual skills, developed in preceding and parallel modules. The professional placement in year 3, mandatory for full-time students, also helps to integrate, reinforce and develop further many of the skills and much of the knowledge introduced at levels 4 and 5.
Modules at all levels 2 hours contact per week per 10 points of module. Therefore a 20-point fat module will have 4 hours contact per week.
The Computer Games Case Project and Individual Project at level 6 are modules in which significant individual work is undertaken. In both, students work independently, largely self-managed, and with considerable control over choice of domain, direction and goals.
At all Levels ASSESSMENT of a module includes a mix of summative and formative elements. A key goal of the School is to avoid overloading student summative assessment. To that end, each learning outcome on a module is only summatively assessed once where possible. The form of summative assessment, and weightings, is specified by the Module Author, appropriate to the particular module, and may comprise coursework and/or examination. Normally, a 10-point module is summatively assessed by either a 2 hour examination or coursework (there may be more than one assignment per module depending upon the module content, however the student workload should not increase if this is the case), with one of the coursework components possibly being a 1 hour test.
The following table illustrates the typical balance of assessments

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