Announcing our New Masters in Virtual and Augmented Reality

I’m really excited to announce our new masters programme in Virtual and Augmented Reality (V/AR) at Goldsmiths, University of London, lead by Sylvia Xueni Pan.

This programme is the culmination of many years of collaboration between Syliva and myself, particular the MOOC specialisation that we developed with the University of London and Coursera. That showed us that there were a lot of people wanting to learn how to develop for VR and a masters is a perfect way to go deeper in that learning.

In this post I wanted to highlight some of the important ideas that went into the design of the programme.

Strong Art and Technology skills

We wanted our masters programme to build on the experience we have at Goldsmiths of developing people’s development skills. We have a long history of teaching world class game developers (our games programme started the year I joined, over 10 years ago now). Since most VR is based on game engines, at lot of the skills needed are the same.

Our games programmes have 2 main pathways, one for artists and designers and one for programmers, but they work closely together. In each, students develop solid skills in their domains. Having both pathways means that students can use the skills they are strong at and really specialise while working closely with students with other skills.

Students on the V/AR masters will share the same technical skills modules as our games students.

Interdisciplinarity

But technical skills are not enough, to make good VR or AR you really need to know the medium. That is hard because the medium is so new, there is no established grammar like those that exist for film and games.

It is a very different medium from anything before it and you need a wide range of knowledge and skills to create for it effectively. That means technical skills and artistic skills, but you also need to understand the psychology of immersive media, how it creates the sense that you are in another place.

That is why Goldsmiths is such a great place to study VR and AR. What struck me from the very beginning of my time at Goldsmiths was how they were always viewing technology within its human contexts and from the point of view of many disciplines. They were one of the first universities to take computing seriously as an artistic medium. Goldsmiths is a university where psychology, art, design, media and technology constantly rub shoulders.

That means is the perfect place to teach a masters that covers all aspects of a complex medium.

Cutting edge technology, with a history

VR and AR are very new mediums and most creators are struggling to understand how to use it effectively. There are a lot of artistic questions to still work out, but we aren’t completely in the dark, because both VR and AR have been around as technologies for many years, and many of us have been working on them in the lab for years before they became mainstream.

My colleagues teaching on the masters have long histories of VR research, including developing pioneering technologies. It often feels like the main stream still hasn’t caught up with some of the work we were doing decades ago.

There is a lot of research that we can share with you if you want to be a developer. That research can inform their practice in VR/AR and help develop your own unique take on the medium.

Many Applications

A lot of VR and AR is currently associated with games, and we love immersive games, but there is so much more that we can do with VR. My colleagues at Goldsmiths work on VR in a massive range of application areas including medicine, architecture, fine art, immersive theatre, music, mental health therapy, education, journalism… oh and games.

I’m looking forward to working with students on how to apply VR and AR to the things they are passionate about.

Making the future

VR and AR are the most exciting new developments in modern media and I am really excited about this opportunity to teach future creators, because they are going to be the people defining this new medium.

So, if that sounds like you, come and join us at Goldsmiths, not just to learn about VR and AR but to create their future.