The University of Abertay, Dundee aims to boost Scotland's share of the Pounds 45 billion European software market with a pioneering MSc in computer games and virtual reality.
The MSc in software engineering, which the university believes is a world first, has been developed in close liaison with industry leaders such as DMA Design, VirTech Software Ltd, GEC Marconi and VIS Interactive.
It has attracted 40 students from the United Kingdom, Malaysia, China, South Korea and Pakistan, and next year will see the launch of an honours BSc.
Course leader John Sutherland said UAD was building a unique Pounds 85,000 virtual laboratory equipped with the latest virtual reality hardware, most of which was either unavailable in Europe or only recently launched.
"This is supported by top-end PC-based graphics workstations and a variety of software for developing and evaluating virtual and games worlds,'' he said.
"Students' studies will include C++ programming, software development, 3-D graphics programming, virtual reality and visual and auditory psychology and physiology.'' David Jones, who developed DMA Design, best known for the chart-topping game Lemmings, graduated from UAD in computer science eight years ago. He said those years had seen the video game market turn into a multi billion dollar industry rivalling the movie industry.
"These courses will help companies like DMA fill their requirements for the future. As with any high technology industry, time is our greatest asset. Training people takes time and resources that could be spent in furthering our technology,'' he said.
"The proverbial chicken and egg situation arises. The initiative Abertay has shown in leading the UK with these courses will offer many companies a golden opportunity to recruit graduates of the highest calibre, and with the skills needed to let us maximise the opportunities available to us. I foresee a massive demand for these courses from both students and industry.''