Computer games and animation

Turn your hobby into a career in this exciting industry of stories, characters, challenges, and rewards.

Whether you’re more Mario Kart or Call of Duty, gaming is the UK’s fastest growing entertainment industry, with digital purchases of games having overtaken film and music combined.

You could pursue a career in one of the 2,000 UK-based game design studios, as most graduates do, working your way up to senior developer, producer, or technical director. Or you could use your design, programming, coding, and engineering skills in the technology, media, marketing, entertainment, or computing sectors.

As an animator, you could bring your drawings and characters to life on screen in one of the UK’s animation hotspots like Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, London, or Manchester. Digital animation is also a key part of the Government’s funding plans for the creative sector, so the scene is constantly evolving. 

The impact you could make
  • Work as part of a creative team to design and build an innovative new computer game.
  • Capture people’s imagination by designing and developing your own video game, whether for fun or as your profession.
  • Create an animated story that tells children all about the history of an exciting venue or museum.
What you could study
  • Introduction to 3D computer animation
  • Character modelling and animation techniques
  • Story and scriptwriting
  • A.I. scripting for games
  • Algorithms and data structures
  • Computer games marketing
  • Indie game development
  • Experimental gameplay
  • Games engine creation
  • Theory of games design

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

Start your search now

Get your UCAS Hub

Your place to discover your options and research your future.

Sign up today
Example module
"The large game development modules are my favourite, since I can work in a team environment to make a game and improve my skills as a writer, not just through my own creativity but through working with others."
Second year game development student, Falmouth University
Example assignment
"My concept art assignment to create designs for a dark fantasy Wizard of Oz video game adaptation. I'm also really enjoying my honours project, I've had the freedom to make my own project: a visual novel focused on romance through an asexual/queer lens."
Fourth year computer arts student, Abertay University

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some computer games and animation courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.

Maths
Computing
Physics
IT
Media studies
Digital technology
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Computer coding
  • Design skills and knowledge
  • Computer systems and applications knowledge
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying computer games and animation. The following information is based on a typical programmer and software development professional role.

Available jobs
311,454 vacancies in past year
2.19% growth over next 8 years
Average salary
£44,245
Up to £78,249

Career options

Games

Computer games developer

Computer games tester

Animation
Animator
Design and development
Analysts

Forensic computer analyst

Systems analyst

Data scientist

What is a…. motion designer?

You may never have heard of a motion designer, or motion graphic designer, but they create moving artwork that’s used in TV, film, and on digital platforms. They use 3D modelling, animation, and visual effects to create eye-catching characters, scenes, and sequences for film studios, software companies, and advertising agencies. Many also work for themselves. Motion designers may also progress into things like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) design.

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study computer games and animation at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from computer games and animation applicants.
 

A levels
BBC
Scottish Highers
ABBBB
Vocational
BTEC DMM
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma or an SQCF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

Let's talk about... IT and digital apprenticeships

Study for a degree in IT and digital while earning at the same time. Listen to our brand new podcast on degree apprenticeships from our expert panel, hosted by Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton.

The expert view

Kate O’Connor, Executive Chair of Animation UK
This dynamic industry is a fusion of artistry and technology, and it's an ever-evolving field that constantly pushes the boundaries of innovation. For those considering a career in animation, you're not just creating characters and visuals: you are telling stories, and in developing your animation skills you can work in film, TV, advertising, corporate communications, games, and immersive tech. The future of animation is bright, and the opportunities are growing. It's an ever-changing and engaging field, with many different specialisms and job roles from production to design and art.

A day in the life of a Design Apprentice

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:

 

  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.
  5. Find out more

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around computer games and animation with the following.

  1. Careers in the games industry

    Watch this YouTube video from ScreenSkills about the ‘where, why, and what’ of careers in the games industry.
  2. How to become a games designer

    Watch this BBC Bitesize world of work video about how Rhianne became a video games designer.
  3. Animation UK

    Check out the news section of Animation UK’s website to keep up-to-date with industry news and events, and read articles on things like how recent animated movies were made.
  4. This is how podcast

    Listen to interviews with inspiring people who’ve carved a career in the gaming and digital industry, like Amrita, who's become a UX/UI designer with Rockstar Games.

Open Mic: Computer Science

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your computer games and animation journey.
Skills, experiences, and interests to mention
  • Really look at the detail of the course you’re applying to, as different courses will focus on different specialisms of game design and/or animation. Then tailor you statement towards the qualities they’re looking for, whether that’s a focus more on design or technical skills, or a combination of those.
  • Most game design and animation courses will be looking for people who are creative and innovative. What original projects or hobbies have you undertaken, such as making a short film or animation of your own, or designing your own game or coding? Or maybe you’ve taken a hobby like pottery, painting, or graphic design and put your own spin on it?
  • Technical skills, like analytics, data handling, and programming will also be important, so demonstrate you have an understanding of that through courses you’ve taken, or projects you’ve done inside or outside of school.
  • Can you also critique the work of an animator or game design company you like? Be specific about what you like about the drawing or design elements, what you think does and doesn’t work, and how you’d change it.
  • Demonstrate you can work with others and independently, as teamwork and self-direction will both likely be involved in any future jobs. Have you had a part-time job, or a sport or hobby, that involved both those skills?

Personal statement builder

Try our tool.

Get help structuring your statement.

Sign up today