Master's Programme in Game Design

120 credits

Do you want to develop a deeper understanding of games as expressive media? Would you like to study the social and cultural effects of games? This two-year Master´s Programme in Game Design prepares you to become a critical and informed voice in the field of games. Emphasis is put on games' societal impact with themes such as ethical game design, meaning-making, representation, inclusion and social justice.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Visby, 100%, On-campus, English

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Visby, 100%, On-campus, English

In the Master's Programme in Game Design at Uppsala University, Campus Gotland, our emphasis is on teaching active game literacy. The aim is for students to responsibly use games' expressive and conceptual potential and become aware of their impact on society.

Active game literacy means the ability to understand games deeply from a theoretical as well as a practical perspective. It includes being able to analyse existing games, design new play experiences, and gain insight into and awareness of the contexts in which games are created and played. Active game literacy also includes understanding how games can affect their players through rules, mechanics, themes, narrative and audio-visual design.

During the programme, you will investigate questions such as the following.

  • What needs to be considered for a game to resonate with its players?
  • How can games allow for the exploration of deep ideas and profound experiences?
  • What are dark design patterns?
  • What are the possibilities, but also the responsibilities, of a game designer?
  • How can game design specialists inform the way games are seen in, and impact, society?

Student profile

You do not need any previous game design, game development or programming experience to study the programme. You will be exposed to a wide range of theories and creative methods to aid in the development of your own perspective. If you come to us as - or are going on to become – a journalist, educator, artist, community organiser, activist, experience and exhibit designer or some other kind of creative industry professional, you will be able to use your newly developed active game literacy to inform your work.

You will study at Uppsala University's Campus Gotland, located in Visby on the island of Gotland, Sweden. The student group is small with a wide variety of nationalities.


The programme leads to the degree of Master of Arts (120 credits) with Game Design as the main field of study. After one year of study, it is possible to obtain a degree of Master of Arts (60 credits).

The Master's programme in Game Design consists of two academic years of full-time studies. The first two semesters contain compulsory courses on the advanced level in game design research and you will take the courses together with students enrolled in the one-year Master's programme in Game Design.

In the first semester, you will take an introductory course that gives you a review of current research and development work in game design and game studies, emphasising active, critical game literacy regarding the intersection of games and society. You will deepen your knowledge of conceptual game design approaches through practical, creative inquiries in the Game Design Studio course that follows. Parallel to the studio course, you will continue the in-depth, critical reflections on practices and contexts of game design in the course Games and Society.

During the first half of the second semester, you take two parallel courses. Critical Making is a theoretically informed, hands-on course, in which the discussion of games as pervasive media is central. In parallel, the course Advanced Game Design Research Methods allows you to develop the questions that interest you the most, in a research or design project. From here you can start working towards your master's thesis (fourth semester). During the later part of the semester, you will take the course Game Research Prototypes and Game Testing. This course allows you to dive deep into one design so that you can modulate and craft the experience of the players. You will learn how to test the game to understand if it works as planned and how it affects players emotionally.

The second year provides an opportunity for specialised study and you may deepen your interests through elective courses in the third semester. You can also choose to apply for an exchange programme, to study at one of our partner institutions.

The thesis concludes your studies during the fourth semester. It must be based on theoretical research, have a clear problem statement and be conducted in a methodologically sound, rigorous and ethical way. We encourage practice-based work and for this, the Department of Game Design has equipment and resources for you to use.

Study abroad

Exchange studies are best to carry out during the third semester. You can either apply to the University's central partner universities or the partner universities that collaborate with the Department.

Courses within the programme

​See the programme outline for courses within the programme.

The instruction in the programme combines seminars, lectures, hands-on game design workshops, project work (both in groups and individually), and design critiques through instructors and peers. New concepts and theories are introduced through poignant lectures and are, where appropriate, applied to practice. You are expected to show initiative and work independently to hone your academic and design skills and develop your identity and voice as a scholar, creator and game design researcher. You will learn a range of game design-relevant theories and methods. Furthermore, you will articulate your newfound knowledge in written and oral reports.

You will study at Uppsala University's Campus Gotland, located in Visby on the island of Gotland. The island is in the Baltic Sea between the mainland of Sweden and the Baltic States. Visby is the best-preserved Medieval town in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The language of instruction is exclusively English and you will study and collaborate with students from all over the world.

With our particular approach to the integration of theory and practice, we aim to strike a balance that opens up numerous career pathways for our students. Students can enter the game industry themselves, should they already come with a background in game development, or go the academic route. The skills and knowledge gained from the programme can be applied to all areas and professions that require effective, compelling communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.

This degree is best suited for those who use it as a complement to already existing skills or in an established profession where a deepened, critical, active game literacy - including games' expressive potential and impact on society - is of particular relevance.

Graduating from the Master's Programme in Game Design, you can harness the benefits of games and play to communicate important ideas, engage in further studies at the PhD level and/or shape the public conversation around this medium. This equips our alumni to act as consultants for the game industry as well as to contribute to an informed public conversation and more in-depth use of games as a medium.

Career support

During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career.