Several people over the past few years have asked me, "I want to study or do 'x' in Information Technology and / or Multimedia but I don't know what Degree I should be looking at to enrol in at Uni".
Typically, these people have been High School students that are going to graduate at the end of the year or in two years and they are trying to figure out what they want to study at University. Therefore what I'm going to cover in this article is a generalised version of the conversation I normally have with these students.
What University course should I be looking at? And what is the difference between Information Technology and Multimedia?
To answer these questions, we first need to look at how Information Technology and Multimedia are broken up.
Information Technology degrees cover the study of Software Systems, Information systems (databases and big data), how to program and Computer Networks & Security, Robotics, Embedded Systems, Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies. At the University I'm at, a lot of what used to be in Information Technology is now under the new Computer Science Degrees.
Multimedia Degrees focus on how do you design and create digital media. Multimedia and Arts Degrees can cover a lot of the same content and typically, Arts based degrees are more focused on just one area of Multimedia. However, I do strongly recommend doing a Multimedia Degree over an Arts Degree because employers value Multimedia Degrees much higher than Arts Degrees unless you're looking at doing Music Design or perhaps Graphic Design.
Multimedia Degrees can cover the following:
- Games design
- Pro Audio (Live and Studio)
- Application development (Mobile and Tablet)
- Web design
- User interface design
- Educational design
- Graphic Design
In general Multimedia has a much larger focused on how media looks and how users interact with media rather than how it's programmed or works under the hood.
Both Multimedia, Information Technology degrees also cover project management.
Ok so there only appears to be one or Two Degrees for Information Technology, Multimedia and Computer Science so how do you specialise?
Good question. In most universities your first year classes will all be introduction classes to various different topics. These classes are like a smorgasbord and let you explore the many different areas that you can later specialise in. These classes also provided all the base knowledge you'll need for to enrol in second and their year classes.
After these first-year classes, you can then choose a Major and a Minor which will contain several second and their year class that are tailored to the specific area you want to study. If you're enrolled in a double degree, you'll either have two Majors or one Major and Two Minors.
What should I study at high school?
In Australia, most Information Technology and Multimedia Degrees only require Maths A (Basic Maths) and English. However, if you want to do Information Technology at University then you probably should be doing the Information Processing Technology (IPT) class as an elective.
Likewise, Multimedia you probably should be doing Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Graphics classes as electives. While IPT, ICT and Graphics are not required to be eligible to enrol into an Information Technology or Multimedia Degree, it will make your first year much easier.
Most universities make the high school prerequisites subjects available with their degree descriptions and information. It's always best to check the official information provided by the university as to what classes you need to do in high school because universities do sometimes change the high school prerequisites.
Things to watch out for
Information Technology (the programming) has a lot of mathematics and while Maths A is normally the high school prerequisite for most Information Technology Degrees both Math B (intermediate maths - calculus and trigonometry) and maths C (advanced maths - abstract math) will have a lot more value both on a logic and problem solving level.
I'd recommend doing the hardest Math class you're capable of; providing you are still getting good grades. I found Math B changing and even required a tutor after a bad run of teachers during high school but I'm glad I persevered because the problem-solving skills I gained are often used when I'm programming. Remember programming requires a lot of logical and formulaic based math.
Information Communication Technology is not OP eligible in Queensland. Although this might have changed since 2012 so just check to make sure.
If you want to study Games Development of any sort than you really need to do both Information Technology and Multimedia Double degree. You'll want to study both Software Development (or another IT Major) and Games Design.
The games industry is cut throat and you need to be either exceedingly talented or have a lot of skills. The likelihood of any one landing a job in the games industry fresh out of university in Australia is insanely tiny.
The industry people, I've been lucky enough to have as guest lectures from both the Information Technology and Multimedia Industry always stress that they are looking to hire people who have both people skills and a good grouping of other useful skills. Also, if you can't get a job in the Games Industry you'll also want something to fall back on.