SOMERSET COLLEGE OF ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY
This South West England college punches well above its weight
B ased in Taunton, in the heart of South West England, Somerset College may be relatively small, but it’s gaining momentum year by year. It has expanded its course offerings over the period the college has been active in games – you can now complete a full degree here without needing to top up elsewhere – and it’s built up its available tools and technology at the same time. We speak to Sam Batten, the curriculum area manager for ICT for Somerset, about this increasingly popular centre for high-level learning. What game-related subjects can be studied at Somerset College? We have a large and growing cohort of students, from those 16 to 18 year olds studying our Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma programmes in Creative Media Production – which is game development – to our higher education provision of a FdSc in Computer Games Technology and BSc (Hons) top up year in Computer Games Technology. All students are taught by experienced and highly qualified staff in well-resourced classrooms that use up-todate industry software. Somerset isn’t traditionally thought of as a development hub – how does your work fit into the industry? Close links with the industry are essential, as well as keeping a very close eye on developments in the gaming community. It is imperative that we know the sector well and are aware of coming trends in order to provide students with the relevant and most appropriate knowledge and skillsets so they can be successful. The guest speakers we invite in to Somerset College from the industry provide excellent opportunities for students and lecturers alike to learn more about the sector, and all of our lecturing staff spend up to five days a year in the industry to ensure that our course is closely aligned with what developers are looking for from a graduate. How is this reflected in the tools available to your students? Our game students have access to a wide range of professional-standard tools, such as Unity Pro, Autodesk products, Adobe products and a range of game engines and mobile app development tools. All are given full instruction as to how to design and develop games utilising
these particular tools. How has the resurgence of bedroom coding influenced your courses? We offer training for our degree students in developing their professional practice and in enhancing their skills and knowledge if they want to set up their own business or enter the industry on a freelance basis. Past and current students have been involved in setting up and running their own indie development units, and many of our students work on side projects in order to develop their skills. The South West of England is a real hub for micro-developer units and small and medium enterprises relating to the creative industries, and we actively support our students if they wish to pursue this direction as a career.
“CLOSE LINKS WITH THE INDUSTRY ARE ESSENTIAL, AS WELL AS KEEPING A VERY CLOSE EYE ON DEVELOPMENTS”
As well as finding roles working in established developers and setting up their own studios, graduates from Somerset’s various videogame courses have also gone on to work for the BBC, and in special effects