MDes Games Design and Development

The course

Course type
Entry date

What do Roberta Williams, Shigeru Miyamoto, Amy Hennig, and Tim Schafer all have in common? They are world-renowned games designers.


Got questions about this programme?

Contact our enquiries team.


If you too are interested in a career in games design, our Master of Design (MDes) programme in Games Design and Development allows you to explore your own creativity, develop game ideas, and launch your own games. Computer Science at Heriot-Watt is ranked 6th in Scotland by The Complete University league tables (2021).

The programme is led by the experienced lecturer and multi-award winning indie developer of SOLAS 128, who brings his real-world experience into the Games Studio. Alongside this is a wealth of practical experience across the teaching team, in subjects such as design, HCI, and 3D Graphics.


Design your own games

The Master of Design (MDes) programme in Games Design and Development provides students with a unique opportunity to design and develop their own computer game to the highest industry standards while gaining hands-on experience with the product lifecycle, gathering technical and professional skills, and further practical entrepreneurship knowledge. It is the perfect stepping stone to enable students to smoothly transition to design and programming roles in the games industry.

Our Games Studio

This Masters degree benefits from the utilisation of our purpose-built Games Studio inside our £19m innovation and entrepreneurship GRID building.  As there are only a handful of universities worldwide capable of offering such design-led programmes, this studio will provide students with a unique mixture of practical supervised studio learning experience, technical know-how, and an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship approach to Games production.

Programme structure

This Masters degree aims to concentrate on delivering a practical learning experience where students will be able to design game ideas, program prototypes, and fully release/publish their own game concepts at the end of their studies. The structure of this Masters degree concentrates in three aspects of games development: design, programming and entrepreneurship. As so, this programme includes two studio-based courses which are aligned with the industrial games development life cycle. Furthermore, there are two entrepreneurial components to the programme to allow students to fully exploit their creations in industry or by launching their own spin-out bespoke indie studios.

September 2024 entry

The deadline for applications from UK students is 30 August 2024. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by 2 August 2024.

Course content

Semester 1 and 2

Core courses
  • Games Design & Pre-Production
  • Entrepreneurship & Creativity
  • Games Production & Playtesting
  • Entrepreneurial Venturing
  • Masters Project in Games (Semester 3)
Optional courses
  • 3D Graphics and Animation
  • Industrial Programming
  • Advanced Interaction Design
  • Advanced Software Engineering

Semester 3

The MDes project itself is undertaken in semester 3 as defined by the Masters Project in Games and it allows students the opportunity to finalise their Master's game design ideas, further develop their games, and release/publish their Master's work.

Entry requirements

An honours degree in an appropriate discipline (e.g. Computer Science, Electrical Engineering Mathematics) with programming as a component of their degree or equivalent at the 2:2 level.

Reasonable experience in programming and University level Maths, and some familiarity with games is preferable.

English language requirements

Important: If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we'll need to see evidence of your English language ability.

The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5 (with no component under 6.0).

We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master's programme:

  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)


Tuition fees for entry
Status Full-time
UK £10600
Overseas £24496


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.