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Chris MackinApr 22, 2024 11:44:00 AM6 min read

All you need to know about our Access to HE Games Development diploma

Thinking of retraining in a new field, or maybe returning to education after a break? We break down our Access to HE Games Development diploma so that you can decide if it’s the right choice for you. 

The world of video games is an enticing one, and there are more ways than ever to train to become a professional and join this exciting industry. 

That being said, game development courses are quite a new addition to the education world, and for many, it’s only now that the prospect of gaining formal training in game development has been possible. 

Whether you’re retraining in a new field or pursuing a long-held passion, an Access to HE diploma is a fantastic first step towards a career in the game industry. 

If you’ve never encountered an Access to HE diploma before, these one-year courses are designed to condense the same level of learning you’d undertake on a two-year BTEC course, and equip you with the knowledge, skills and UCAS points to progress onto undergraduate study. 

This guide aims to alleviate any uncertainty around returning to education and help you feel more confident in whether this course is the right fit for you. We'll be looking at everything from how you will be taught and the skills you will gain, to the equipment you'll have access to and how you will be assessed. 

Our Access to HE diplomas are only available to students aged 19 years and over.

How will I learn on the Access to HE Games Development diploma?

Sketching on an iPad

This course offers vocational training, teaching you the technical skills needed to start a career in the game industry, while also laying the foundations for university-level education. 

Many of our students continue studying their respective subjects at university, but our diplomas provide enough UCAS points to choose an alternative route, like teaching, should you decide.  

There are no exams and you will be graded on work split across multiple different projects, which will cover key study areas that we will expand upon in the next section. 

Though the course is highly practical in how you will learn and create your projects, many modules will require you to also provide written work as part of your submissions.

The Access to HE Games Development diploma is available to study at our Bristol and Manchester campuses. 

What skills will I gain? 

A class of game development students at dBs Manchester

This diploma is designed to equip you with the fundamental skills needed to grow as a games development specialist. 

Over the course of the year, you will have the chance to study all manner of skills that cover the key roles within a game studio. This will include learning how to create 3D assets with softwares such as ZBrush, Blender and Maya; audio creation and implementation using middleware; growing your proficiency building worlds with Unity and Unreal Engine; building your understanding of the core concepts of game design, digital graphics and much more. 

You will also learn how to develop a career in the creative industries; exploring the evolution of the game industry, the impacts of emerging technologies, understanding the various sectors of employment, developing your skills in self-promotion and how to effectively network with other professionals.

All courses also have a focus on also developing your academic skills preparing you for university. 

You can find more detailed information about what you’ll study via the course page on our website

Can I work alongside this course? 

It's entirely possible to hold down a job alongside your studies on any of our Access to HE diploma courses. You will be timetabled for a total of 2.5 days a week and we do our best to provide the timetables as far in advance as possible to ensure you can commit to your work schedule. 

Our Facilities

One of our gaming PC rigs at dBs Manchester

Everything you need to learn will be provided for you at our centres. The majority of your lessons will take place in our high-spec PC suites where you will learn to use industry-standard softwares and game engines including Unity, Unreal, Maya, ZBrush, Blender, FMOD and many more. 

Complementing the software tools, you will have access to Wacom Intuos Pro tablets for digital art, Perception Neuron motion-capture suits and Quest 2 virtual reality headsets. 

While not as relevant to this diploma, our recording studios and production suites will also be available to you during your studies, so if you are also a keen music-maker, these will be at your disposal as well. 

All of these resources are all available to use outside of class time and there will be plenty of opportunities throughout the week where you can use the PC suites and studios for your projects. 

If you would like to purchase any of the software we teach with, let us know. As a student at dBs, you can take advantage of educational discounts from a variety of providers including Adobe, Autodesk and Maxon.

How to apply

Applying for our Access to Higher Education courses is a simple process. You can start your application by completing an application enquiry form on our website, dropping our admissions team an email at, or by giving us a call:

  • Bristol - 0117 325 9290
  • Manchester - 0161 552 6441

The admissions team will contact you for an informal chat and arrange an interview where you will be able to meet with the course leader, discuss any learning support needs or questions you may have and finalise your application.

We highly recommend booking a tour to see our centre in person, which can be done at any point in your application process and even before! You'll be shown around our state-of-the-art facilities and have the opportunity to get instant answers to any questions you might have.

Funding options

Our 19+ students are eligible to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to cover the course fees of an Access to HE diploma. This loan covers your tuition fees and is paid directly to Access Creative College, who validate our diploma level courses. 

If you’re a full-time UK Home student, you can get the full amount (£4,835) to cover your tuition fees. 

If you complete an undergraduate degree after completing an Access to HE course, Student Finance England will ‘write off’ the debt of the Advanced Learner Loan. This means you do not have to repay it. 

If you do not complete an undergraduate degree after completing an Access to HE course, you will have to pay back the loan. If you receive an Advanced Learner Loan for 2024/25 your yearly threshold will be £27,295. You will be required to repay 9% of your income over the threshold. If your income drops below this threshold the repayments will pause.

It’s important to state that you are not eligible for a maintenance loan, which is only available to undergraduate students. Our admissions and student support team can help you in this process.

You can check out the Fees and Funding page on our website for more details on the loan and some resources around managing your finances.

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Want to learn more about the Access to HE Games Development diploma? Head to the course page for an in-depth look.