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BA (Hons) - Animation and Visual Effects

Animation and visual effects (VFX) is a constantly evolving industry at the forefront of media output in the UK in film, television, and games industries.

This visual effects degree is built around core principles of inclusivity, storytelling and studio practice to enable engagement with an exciting, dynamic industry. With a vocational focus, our BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects is centred around developing industry skill set and technique, exploring research-informed creative industry practice, critical thinking, and graduate employability.

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Animation and Visual Effects cover image

Course Overview

On this animation and VFX degree course, you will gain practical experience of industrial workflows and methodologies as they relate to animation and visual effects. You will be shown the skills required to undertake self-directed research for the continued development of animation skills and for life-long learning should you choose to pursue postgraduate study after your degree.

Designed to build competency in the first level, specialisation in the second, and independence in the third, this animation and visual effects course will enable you to gain a job in animation or progress to further study.

The programme ensures you are fully prepared for the rapidly changing social and technological contexts in which you will work. A vital part of this is to equip you to make informed choices in your creative use of digital technology, in your professional practice, eventual careers in animation and VFX, and as lifelong, independent and interdependent learners.

On this course you will...

  • Gain knowledge and understanding of current professional production practices and technologies in the animation and visual effects industry, and a critical perspective that puts you in a position to shape the future of the creative industries.
  • Develop nascent interests, technical knowledge and skill set in animation and VFX, to a level that is consistent with a graduate profile of an emerging professional in the creative industries, or that will facilitate postgraduate study.
  • Leave with a portfolio of work from your VFX course, demonstrating technical proficiency, specialism, and skill set in computer animation and visual effects.
  • Have access to workshop and studio spaces for traditional animation production and physical, on-set and location production that require specific resources such as rostra and lighting.
  • Benefit from guest speakers and workshops, which offer added value to your learning experience, where you can share your work with professionals through workshop activities and screenings.
  • Gain experience in live brief and external work – engagement with enhanced professional experiences sometimes external to course and module delivery.

Course Structure

What you will learn

You will be encouraged to engage and respond to assessment briefs and other tasks, at every step of your academic journey, both critically and creatively.

At Level 4, the focus is on personal development skills, knowledge, and understanding. Level 5 has a focus on professional development skills, building confidence in practice, in line with industry and employer expectations. At Level 6 there is an increasingly tailored and personalised approach to learning, with a focus on employability and enterprise and graduate goals.

The course develops high-level, visual effects artists who have analytical, interpretative, written, and oral communication skills, and will embed project-management, research skills, team-working, leadership, and independent working, into a professional portfolio that you will be proud of.

Year one

We want you to engage in a series of core workshops and studio practice designed to introduce and develop key knowledge, technical skill set, and technique. Alongside this, and in definition of your production understanding, you will undertake a critical, contextual and historical studies module, and have the opportunity to work collaboratively on a media arts live project.

There is an emphasis for this year is on building enthusiasm and confidence, instilling a practical problem solving ethos and developing foundational craft based skill set. An interdisciplinary shared practice on bespoke proprietary technologies and production will help you build a holistic awareness of industry and a growing confidence in specialism, as well as highlight specific disciplinary choices. This will give you a better idea of the requirements and prerequisites of practice and broader, integrated, understanding of how to more effectively, and professionally complete work

  • Animation and VFX Piplines
    Gain a fundamental understanding of studio pipeline production (‘pipeline’ describing the various production workflows which will lead to a refined 3D artefact or asset for film).
  • Digital Narrative and Concept
    Develop and enhance the ‘generalist’ skills defined in AVFX4001, and to help you realise some of the fundamental practices to creating dynamic characters and construct interactive, engaging scenarios and on-screen action for your films.
  • Virtual Stagecraft
    Virtual stagecraft describes the process by which digital computer-generated imagery is used to manipulate and augment ‘real world’ footage filmed or photographed with a camera, animation, or CG constructed 3D. The module will look to build on learning in AVFX4102.
  • Cultural Contexts
    Introduction to the cultural, historical and social contexts in which creative work from a range of disciplines will be considered.
  • Collaborative Practice
    Work with other students to explore and practice the skills involved in creative collaboration. You will develop skills such as effective discussion and debate, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, team-working through working on a creative industry-relevant brief.
Year two

This year will look to develop ideation and conceptual skills and allow you to be experimental in production creation and thinking. It builds on the foundational practice of level 4 and will build your confidence while progressing skill set and technique.

In the second year, the development of key production skill set and research is in the refinement of practice and a growing appreciation, and identification of specialism interests. Modules may include external collaboration and live brief. Throughout the year you will work on an independent project (negotiated) in tandem with a critical ‘studio’ forum (tutor-led).

The focus on professional practice will support your production and conceptual thinking and help in your transition into independent research and preproduction for the final year project. This is an opportunity for you to build a practice that interests you and identify long-term plans. The course will turn production interest into expert knowledge.

  • Script, Storyboard & Previs
    A practical module that will introduce you to the concepts and technique in visual storytelling and preproduction for animation design and VFX; idea generation, previsualisation, scriptwriting and storyboarding for a range of screen media.
  • Experimental Narrative & Concept
    Explore and experiment with visual form and break down traditional ways of ‘making’ and conceptualising projects; it will allow you to evaluate approaches in the creation of animation and VFX, while challenging your understanding of industry convention, methodologies, and storytelling practices.
  • Animation and VFX Cinematography
    Prepare for the creative and professional challenges of ‘real-world’ practical effects and animation, and the digital acquisition of assets, props, scene artefact and production continuity recorded for 2D, 3D and CG composited production.
  • Shot to Screen
    An opportunity to work on a self-directed production, adapting a pre-existing story form into animated and digitally recreated scene; you will take pre-existing story narrative and make it anew.
  • Professional Development
Year three

The final year will look to tailor projects to your individual interests, specialism in practice and professional opportunities, supporting your thinking with high level technical skills and the development of industry level production outcomes - the final year of the course allows you to apply all the skills and learning from previous modules in creating the pre-production for a festival-ready film artefact based completely on your own ideas, aesthetic style, and technical skill set.

Modules will support your production, research and development, script and storyboard, and experimentation with advanced technique in definition of final major project – you will graduate with a professional level skill set, clear career goals and a comprehensive understanding of contemporary animation and VFX practice.

  • Research Brief
    Carry out research and preproduction for graduate production; consolidating all the learning from the course in the development of a research portfolio that will contextualise work and specialism.
  • Production Review
    Prepare for the creative and professional challenges of ‘pitching’ an elemental idea or production concept to a professional audience. You will undergo a ‘commissioning’ process, reflecting industry studio practice, where you will present production materials and outline the feasibility of projects.
  • Professional Studio Project
    Consolidate the practical and conceptual skills developed throughout the programme to create a project of your own. Develop a substantial and challenging screen based artefact that reflects contemporary thinking, industry practice and your discrete subject skill set(s).
  • Festivals & Exhibition
    Perfect the skills necessary to identify and successfully engage with the media industries post-graduation. apply the knowledge and experiences you have gained from your programme to entering your projects into festivals, competitions, and explore media related opportunities through exhibition.

Attend an Open Day at Cumbria

An Open Day is your opportunity to explore one of 5 campuses, meet your lecturers, and find out how the University of Cumbria could become your new home.

Take the next step towards achieving your dreams.
A student stands in front of a wall splattered with paint.