Study Game Design at the University of Malta!

M.Sc. in Digital Games

Institute of Digital Games

The Institute of Digital Games is the centre for research and education in game design, game analysis, and game technology at the University of Malta.

Our work is at the forefront of innovative games research. We explore games and play, uncovering new playful and generative possibilities in game design and technology. We delve into everything games can teach us about ourselves.

Our multidisciplinary academic team spans computer science, literature, game design, philosophy, media studies, and social sciences.

Since the foundation of the institute in 2013, we have been involved in a number of funded research projects. Together, we have published over 130 academic publications including conference papers, journals articles, books, and book chapters.

The Institute of Digital Games was ranked among the top 25 post-graduate game design programs by the Princeton Review since 2017,  ranking at #16 in 2020.

The University of Malta

The University of Malta traces its origins to the founding of the Collegium Melitense which was set up in 1592. Today, it hosts over 11,000 students following full-time and part-time degree and diploma courses. The University of Malta is the highest teaching institution in Malta. It is publicly funded and its structures are in line with the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area. It strives to provide courses that are relevant to contemporary needs of the industry and employers.

Is this course for me?

The M.Sc. in Digital Games is a multi-disciplinary programme which will provide you, the student, with a deeper understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of game design. The Masters will refine your game design knowledge for you to get a job in the game industry and will also strengthen your research skills for you to pursue further studies on a PhD level. The Institute actively organises events and courses that allow for students to gain the practical experience that is essential to breaking into the industry. As a research institute there are a number of funding research positions available at the Institute itself. Our students have gone on to find employment at small indie studios as well as in large game studios such as CD Projekt RED and Creative Assembly.

The M.Sc. in Digital Games is a two-year programme taught by leading researchers in fields of game analysis, game design and game technology.

Students work on practical game development projects and apply techniques of game design to areas such as education and media. They also engage in critical game analysis and develop experiments with digital game technology.

Game design is the core of the programme and is taken by all students. In our game design classes, students learn the techniques and processes involved in conceptualizing and crafting a game and reflect on the socio-cultural roles and aspirations of game design. They explore game ideas, build and test prototypes and develop games by themselves or as part of a creative team.

Students choose to complement their study of game design with one of two streams: Game Analysis and Design or Game Technology and Design.

Game Analysis and Design Stream

This stream explores how the humanities (particularly philosophy, literature and cultural studies) help us to understand what games are, what they do and how we experience them. Students learn to employ theoretical and conceptual tools to critically analyse games, model player experiences and understand narrative in games.

  • Critical analysis of games
  • Model Plater experience
  • Game narrative

Game Technology and Design Stream

This stream engages with the technological aspects of games, together with related fields of computer science. Students learn the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue research in artificial and computational intelligence, machine learning, affective computing, procedural game content generation and computational game creativity. They also learn about game engines and graphics programming.[1]

  • Game engines and graphics
  • AI and computational Intelligence
  • Procedural content generation
  • Computational game creativity

[1] Students of this stream should have a background in computer science or engineering and experience with object-oriented programming languages.

Option to Focus on Research

The Institute offers the option to pursue a research M.Sc. This is intended for students with experience in professional game development or academic research. Students focus on a research question and develop a larger dissertation while following less taught courses.


1-year Postgraduate Diploma

Upon successful completion of the taught segment of the programme students may receive a postgraduate diploma. In terms of qualification level this is similar to a Master's degree. This could be a good option for students interested in going directly into industry without a strong interest in research.  


The 2-year M.Sc Programme

In the full programme, students fully engage with the processes of game design and creation, as well as logistical concerns such as project and business management. The degree culminates in producing a completely developed digital game or a theory-based dissertation. Ideal for in-depth exploration of topic and/or progression to PhD and further research.


Research Scholarships available

The University of Malta seeks to attract top quality students from countries outside the European Union/EEA for whom the University's Master by research and Ph.D. programmes may be beyond their financial reach. Tuition fee waivers of up to 100 per cent shall be awarded to deserving students.


Sign up to stay in touch!

Sign up to receive deadline reminders and updates about public events organised by the Institute of Digital Games. In addition to academic lectures, publications, new research we also have industry speakers from such places as Ubisoft and ZeniMax Online.  Our staff regularly appear on podcasts and release new game projects too! Subscribe below to learn about it all!

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Sylianos A

System Designer of Combat and AI in VR - Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe

"In the M.Sc. I got introduced to a different perspective than the usual 'game industry' approach which made me stand out from the crowd."

Malta and the Institute

Faculty Achievements


  • Best Paper Award: N. Yannakakis, R. Cowie, and C. Busso, “The Ordinal Nature of Emotions,”in Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII), 2017.
  • IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing -- Most Influential Paper Award: G. N. Yannakakis and J. Togelius, “Experience-Driven Procedural Content Generation,” IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, vol. 2, issue 3, pp. 147-161, 2011. (Selected from 168 papers published during the 5 first years of the journal.), 2015
  • Best Paper Award: A. Liapis, C. Holmgard, G. N. Yannakakis, and J. Togelius, “Procedural Personas as Critics for Dungeon Generation,” in Proceedings of Applications of Evolutionary Computation, 2015.
  • Stibo-Foundation Award for doctoral studies for the doctoral work of Christoffer P. Holmgaard.
  • Best Paper Award: A. Liapis, G. N. Yannakakis, and J. Togelius, ``Designer Modeling for Sentient Sketchbook,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games, 2014. IEEE.

Research Excellence

  • FP7 Marie Curie CIG AutoGameDesign project ranks 1st out of 1102 grant proposals across all disciplines with an evaluation score of 97.2 out of 100, 2014.

Game Awards

    • European Learning Game of 2013 Award: The SIREN Game. Games and Learning Alliance (GALA) Network of Excellence, 2013. (Rilla Khaled was the lead designer of the game; Georgios Yannakakis and Antonios Liapis contributed to the design).
    • Nominated for a Webby Award - Games Category in 2014, an Experimental Award at SXSW Interactive in 2014 and an Innovation Award at the Festival Du Cinema Nouveau, Montreal, in 201: Will Love Tear Us Apart; Gordon Calleja was Game Designer, Creative Director, Writer and Costantino Oliva was Project Manager
    • Finalist for ION Awards 2021 - Construction BOOM! Stefano Gauleni was game designer, Jasper Schellekens and Daniel Vella contributed to design and development.
    • Winner Judge's Choice and People's Choice UK Games Expo 2021 - Excavation Earth - Gordon Calleja contributed to design with Dávid Turczi and Wai Yee of Might Boards

    Selected Research Projects

    Cutting edge game design research is core to the offering of the Institute of Digital Games. Click on the logo to find out more about each project.

    FAQs about applications process

    Special note: We have currently switched to remote lecturing during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it seems likely that by October 2020 we will have made sufficient progress to open the UM again, we have remote tools available should they be necessary and classes are currently proceeding as planned.

    What documents do I need to submit in my application?

    Applicants should submit their CV, a letter of motivation and a portfolio of recent works demonstrating their experience and/or substantial talent and motivation with their application.

    Applicants who have completed their secondary education overseas are obliged to satisfy the University’s English Language requirement by presenting a Secure English Language Test (SELT) result at the required levels. 

    What should I include in my portfolio?

    The M.Sc. is multi-disciplinary and open to a broad range of backgrounds. Therefore, the requirements for the portfolio are quite broad. It is essentially your opportunity to show what you've done related to games and what you can contribute. Portfolios submitted to us range from finished video games, to music composed for video games, from essays about immersion in video games to vlogs and Twitch steams with video game reviews. Even documents detailing a number of game mechanics is a valid inclusion in your portfolio. Please be as clear as possible and provide visual aids where appropriate.

    What are the minimum qualifications and educational background required to apply for the course?

    The Course is multidisciplinary as Game Design can be approached from a number of different angles and is therefore available to a wide range of backgrounds. The Course shall be open to applicants in possession of a Bachelor degree from  the University of Malta or from a university recognised by Senate for the purpose, in the areas of Information Technology, Engineering, Communications, the Humanities, the Social Sciences, or in any other area which the Board deems as appropriate.

    For more detailed information pertaining to admission and progression requirements please refer to the bye-laws for the course available here.

    How much does it cost?

    Local/EU/EEA Applicants:Annual Enrollment Fee: Eur 400
    Non-EU/Non-EEA Applicants:Fee per academic year: Eur 13,400

    What is the application deadline?
    Promising candidates will be offered a spot in the programme!

    Application Deadline -  21 July at 14:00 European Central Time.

    Can I join in the Spring Semester?

    Unfortunately not. The programme is packed with content and we need to build upon your previous knowledge. Jumping to the middle of the programme will leave you with too many gaps in knowledge to learn effectively.

    Is there a part-time option available?

    Yes. However, there are no evening lectures. The lectures take place usually between 10h00 and 18h00 on weekdays. You have approximately 16 hours of lectures per week.

    This M.Sc. sounds great, but I'm not able to start right now. What should I do?

    We've got you covered. If you subscribe to our Application Process email list you'll receive reminders when the applications open and the various deadlines. If you subscribe to our Newsletter, you'll receive updates on our research, such as published articles, ongoing events and projects, and other activities organised by the Institute. You can get to know us even before you start your M.Sc. 

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