Virtual reality is a term that has become increasingly used over the last eighteen years after a boom in research in the late 1980s and 1990s. Films such as The Lawnmower Man and The Matrix depict a world where nothing is quite as it seems, worlds that have been 'created' as alternatives to the real world we know. Virtual reality is a technology which in essence allows the user to interact with a computer-simulated environment, usually through visual and sensory experiences on a screen, although not completely like the films mentioned before try to make us believe.
Virtual reality is no longer the stuff of science fiction however. The technologies are used in abundance in computer games, the medical sciences, by architects and product designers and to train pilots. It is hoped that in the not-too-distant future, virtual reality will be more integrated into daily life. Sony have already patented an idea which may lead to the beaming of ultrasonic waves into the brain to recreate our senses, to what end remains to be seen.
There are a few specialist courses in virtual reality, these are listed below, and there may be some more generic software/computing degrees that offer the subject as a module.
Example Areas of Study
There are a few virtual reality courses available at higher education institutions in the UK and Scotland and the modules that you may study will differ between them. The list below will give you an idea of the type of subjects you may study.
- Digital modelling
- Computer-aided design
- Three-dimensional design
- Meta language (XML and HTML)
- Software development
- Computer systems
- Transgenerational design
- Human-computer interaction
- Media computing
- Virtual environments
- Virtual reality design
- Java programming
- Spatial culture
- Design and emotion
- Development and implementation
- Vision and cultural studies
- Sound and moving images
- Creative methodologies
- Video production
- Web design
- Communicating with images
- Computer architecture
- Morphing signals
- Real-time systems
- Artificial intelligence
Some career possibilities
Graduates from these degrees have pursued careers in areas such as design and product creation, architecture, television and film production, the computer games industry, interior design, animation, urban planning, exhibition design and web design. There are some postgraduate study options available in areas such as virtual environments and cybernetics.
What do I need to get on a course?
Entry requirements for courses in virtual reality vary from institution to institution but the list below will give you an idea of the grades and qualifications that you may require:
- UCAS Tariff: 160-260 points
- A-levels: CCC-BCC
- SQA Highers: CCC-CCCC
- SQA Advanced Highers: CC-CCC
- HNC/D: in software engineering or computing subject
- BTEC National Diploma: MMM-DMM in a relevant subject
- International Baccalaureate: 24-30 points
- European Baccalaureate: 60-70%
For your application or interview the following may be useful:
- Most of these courses have a strong creative element so a demonstrable interest in the creative arts and technology would be an advantage.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk