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Animation - BDes (Hons) - Video

Animation at Ulster is a studio focused, highly creative course, specialising in computer animation for games, VFX, feature and TV animation.

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Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations

  • HBO - Game of Thrones
  • Jam Media
  • Northern Regional College
  • NI Screen
  • Carbon Ocean
  • Fire and Blood Production

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles

  • Character Animator
  • Concept Artist
  • Modeller
  • Storyboard Artist
  • Technical Director
  • Visual FX Artist


In this section

Animation at Ulster is a studio focused, highly creative course, specialising in computer animation for games, VFX, feature and TV animation.


Animation has become in integral part of the film, television, games and design industries – from Jurassic Park to Avatar, Angry Birds to Call of Duty, Xbox to mobile. The field of animation has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. With new distribution methods and technologies, your work will have many paths to reach a worldwide audience.

During the course you will study drawing, the principles of animation and design, storytelling and narrative, design and the history, practice and theory of screen production. You will gain an understanding of creative and technical process using industry standard software in order to create interactive designs and computer animations.

As animation is a highly collaborative environment you will learn the principles and practices through teamwork, while developing your individual professional practice. The course enables you to enter the industry with a range of exciting and rapidly evolving platforms as well as facilitating numerous opportunities for employment in a rapidly growing area at an international level.

This course aims to provide you with specialist knowledge and skills necessary to develop and adapt your chosen career in the diverse creative practices associated with animation. The course aims to contribute, through the education of its students as adaptive and resilient designers, writers and thinkers, to the local, national and international practice of design in its current and future forms.

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About this course

In this section


BDes Hons Animation aims to provide you with specialist knowledge and skills necessary to develop and adapt your chosen career in the diverse creative practices associated with interactive design and animation. The course aims to contribute, through the education of its students as adaptive and resilient designers, writers and thinkers, to the local, national and international practice of design in its current and future forms.

The aims of the course are to:

  • Enable you to acquire a high degree of knowledge, understanding and experience through the practice of animation; and to acquire a high level of practical, conceptual and aesthetic skills and the critical means to integrate them in design problem-solving;
  • Enable you to pursue a high level of intellectual enquiry, independence, and critical awareness through academic conventions and through the creative practice of animation;
  • Offer the opportunity to work collaboratively, on live projects, industry generated initiative and competitions, in order to gain essential work based learning experience and develop the transferable skills essential to succeed in the creative industries;
  • Enable you to acquire experiences, skills and knowledge appropriate to the professional contexts of design interaction and animation.

For students on the Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) International (DPP) programme:

  • Enhance an understanding of professional Practice;
  • Develop personal and professional skills.

For students on the Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS) programme:

  • Enhance an understanding of another cultural educational environment;
  • Develop self-reliance and independence.

Structure & content

You will work both collaboratively and individually in an immersive studio environment on a wide range of animation based projects. Students will have the opportunity to develop your own specialist skills or study a range of areas to develop a wider understanding of the subject.

First year provides you with the opportunity to work together on a range of projects designed to introduce them to the broad range of artistic and technical opportunities within the subject area. Creative problem solving and visual thinking are central in year one where you develop new world concepts, which become fertile ground for design thinking and creative experimentation. Students develop the skills and thinking to create 3D computer animated films and interactive designs using the latest industry standard technologies.

Second year will cultivate an environment where each student can experience a wide range of facets within the spectrum of animation. Greater emphasis will be placed on the individual’s role within teamwork, mirroring the collaborative nature of the digital creative industries. You are encouraged to become increasingly aware of your strengths and how they align to roles and opportunities within industry.

After successful completion of Year 2 you can opt to undertake a placement year. Many students avail of this exciting and valuable opportunity and see a great benefit when they return to study in their Final year.

The final year focuses on students building a body of work in preparation for entry to the professional arena - this usually takes form through the development of a range of skills on both individual and group projects. Opportunities exist to embrace group projects to develop innovative outcomes with potential for commercialisation beyond the course through the Masters pathways on offer, which potentially integrate with the undergraduate programme.

The final year also engages students with a range of industry led projects and international competitions designed to showcase your abilities on a world stage amongst your peers. These include D&AD Young Blood; YCN (Young Creatives Network); ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) and other competitions as appropriate.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Find out more about placement awards


Attendance is largley studio based, four days per week with 15 hours staff contact time and 35 hours self directed study per week.

Animation is based on a modular structure with four modules in each year of study. You are encouraged to take an optional placement year between years two and three. Over the duration of the course you will develop your knowledge of the creative, technical, theoretical and historical contexts which have led the evolution of a dynamic and innovative animation industry.

Start dates

  • September 2019
How to apply

Teaching and learning assessment

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor

- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement

- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.

Attendance and Independent Study

As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.

The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.


Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.

Calculation of the Final Award

The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

The World of Animation

Year: 1

This module introduces students to a range of concepts and theories required to gain a comprehensive understanding of animation in a broader context, as well as its impact and effects. This enables students to develop their independent thinking skills, communication skills via informed debate and writing and presentation skills. The module also offers an introduction to the study skills essential for undergraduate learning and encourages students' reflective practice.

Animation Studio

Year: 1

This module introduces the core themes of animation giving students a strong knowledge base upon which to build the skills necessary to succeed, both in the animation industry and on the course. On completion students will have grown as artists and personally through collaboration with both their peers and staff.

3D Digital Literacy

Year: 1

This module is all about understanding 3D computer graphic theory, methodologies and practice in design & making. The animation world discourse and animation studio modules from first semester lay the foundations for this module, where theory, reflection & practice are explored. Using 3D terminology & history as a starting point we explore how to design and construct 3D digital art in the context of animation. We consider concept designs and how users approach collaborative work through practical group projects. Alongside this we develop our students understanding of gathering, organising and assimilating information and research, the module looks at how this might be visually interpreted in a variety of ways.

The completion of this module helps form sound design practices going into 2nd year.

Animated Narratives

Year: 1

The design pathways module provides an important foundation in the methods of exploring the impact linear and non-linear narrative has had in the development of interaction and animation and how it will effect future design evolutions within the discipline of design for interaction and animation. There is a strong emphasis on the development of storyboards, and previsualisations for information and animation based content as a vehicle for exploration and discovery.

Year two

Animation Discourse

Year: 2

Students complete this module having obtained a clear understanding of how the various practices and processes of animation are discussed both critically and academically. Students also gain a wider perspective on the numerous and often overlooked concerns facing practitioners in this field. In addition to this, students build on previous level 4 "critical skills" development while concurrently preparing for level 6 "Animation Dissertation/Report".

Animation Strategies

Year: 2

This module looks to build on skills & learning outcomes obtained from first year. Team-based projects and workshops will enable students to develop their ability to deal with design for animation as an abstract concept where there is no single given or prescribed "solution". They will demonstrate their ability to construct original ideas from their exploration of the problem/s that also involves a level of risk-taking and experimentation. The depth, range and quality of their thinking and reflection will be evidenced through the documentation of their working processes. Students will be encouraged to look at a wide range of possible outcomes and be encouraged to engage with relevant contexts. The module offers essential study skills in 3D design and animation that will help them throughout 2nd year.

Animation for the Creative Industries

Year: 2

With the creative skills gained in the Animation Strategies module, this studio based module expands and focuses on prototyping, evaluation and refinement of design for animation within the creative industries.

Students will inform their practice through directly witnessing and experiencing aspects of behaviour in the real world as a way of inspiring and informing design decisions.

On completion, students will refine their understanding of the creative and technical requirements of design for animation within a team-based context, preparing them to progress confidently to projects with greater scope. Team development and feedback will increase student awareness of their combined strengths and how they will shape their future. Further to this, students who have completed all modules will be able to look at Industry Placement, International Academic Studies or progression to final year.

Professional Practice

Year: 2

In this module you will conduct a work placement in a professional area of design or animation. You will reflect upon and evaluate your expereince in an illustrated written report. you will establish methods of documenting work in professional forms of portfolio, presentqation talk, statement and cv. you will acquire and extend knowledge of the wider professional fields of design and animation. It is related to the workplace and aspect of professionalism and employability, linking with level 5 modules and development through to level 6.

Year three


Year: 3

This module is optional

This is an optional placement year for students who have completed Level 5 prior to the final year of study. The placement must be a minimum of 25 weeks duration and can be in a broad range of Art/Professional practice. A programme of work is agreed by the student, the Placement Tutor and the Placement Partner and usually takes place in Europe with respect to the relevant health and safety and disability regulations.(SENDO). The placement is designed to increase experience of workshop/studio/communal and technical practice, while broadening and enhancing the student`s social, personal and professional development. Upon successful completion of the placement year the student is awarded a Diploma in Professional Studies (DPP) or a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPPI) International upon graduation from the course.

International Academic Studies

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Year four

Animation Dissertation/Report

Year: 4


The module is text-based and facilitates a broader understanding of the context of animation practice and the broader themes using theoretical debates and analytical methodologies.

Industry Report:

This module requires students to make an analysis of industry standards or procedures, and to identify and justify how their own studio practice fit into an emerging or established field. The analysis takes the form of a professionally produced industry research report. The students led nature of this module, through researching and writing a dissertation or industry report, will develop intellectual confidence and self-expression.

Creative Futures

Year: 4

Graduates seeking careers within the highly competitive animation industry require the ability to promote themselves professionally through many diverse channels. This module prepares the students self-branding appropriate to the animation industry using both traditional and digital methods.

Major Project

Year: 4

This module is project-based. It consists of a major piece of design work whose topic is chosen by the student under the supervision of the module coordinator. The major project will form a major part in the student's portfolio of work and is the culmination of the course. This 80 credit module spans two semesters and allows for ambition, risk-taking and continuity, which is reflective of practice in the professional field. This will prepare you for the rigours of postgraduate study and industry practice.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

A level

The A Level requirement for this course is BCC - BBB.

Applicants can satisfy the requirement for one of the A level grades (or equivalent) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University.

Applied General Qualifications

The BTEC Extended Diploma requirement for this course is based on an overall BTEC award profile of DMM (to include a minimum of 7 distinctions) - DDM (to include a minimum of 9 distinctions).

Irish Leaving Certificate

The Irish Leaving Certificate requirement for this course is H3, H3, H3, H4, H4 – H3, H3, H3, H3, H3 and English Language at grade O4 or above.

Scottish Highers

The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is CCCCC - BBBCC.

Scottish Advanced Highers

The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is CDD - CCC.

International Baccalaureate

Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum 24 points (12 at higher level).

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Successful completion of Access Course with an average mark of between 65% - 70%.


GCSE Profile to include English Language at minimum grade C.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Additional Entry Requirements

Submission of a satisfactory portfolio.

We look at the portfolio as a body of work that can take many forms including but not limited to your digital images, 3D files, games development and movies. What we are looking for are examples of your work that best demonstrate your suitability to the field of animation. We see many great examples of finished work and we want to see more, but we are really interested in the way you got there, your creative processes, sketchbooks and works in progress. Put your best work first.

While a formal qualification in Art & Design will not be required, an interest in art and design in general will be expected. Applicants MAY be interviewed prior to entry. For Animation the portfolio requirement is somewhat different to other Art & Design subjects. Many of our applicants and students are working with a wide range of 2D & 3D digital media, traditional media, technical design and computer sciences.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:

  • HBO - Game of Thrones
  • Jam Media
  • Northern Regional College
  • NI Screen
  • Carbon Ocean
  • Fire and Blood Production

Job roles

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:

  • Character Animator
  • Concept Artist
  • Modeller
  • Storyboard Artist
  • Technical Director
  • Visual FX Artist

Career options

Graduates with skills in computer animation have many well-paid career opportunities available to them. Students have been working on projects such as VFX on "Game of Thrones" for HBO and concept art for 16 South here in Belfast as well as many other companies in both animation production and video games.

Work placement / study abroad

Students are strongly encouraged to undertake an optional work placement and/or take advantage of the excellent study abroad programe leading to the award of a Diploma in Professional Practice or Diploma in International Academic Studies. The DPP is generally European-based and studio orientated. The DIAS allows for further study at an institution in either Europe or in the USA, under the Erasmus scheme, the Study USA scheme or the Year abroad scheme. You will obtain the appropriate award in addition to your degree's classification on successful completion of your Final Year.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.


How to apply Request a prospectus

Applications for full time undergraduate courses are made through UCAS.

Applicants may be selected through interview and/ or portfolio submission.


Start dates

  • September 2019

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (per year)

Important notice - fees information Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees

Northern Ireland & EU:

England, Scotland, Wales
and the Islands:

£9,250.00  Discounts available

£14,060.00  Scholarships available

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Discounts for student from England, Scotland and Wales:

You have three discount options to choose from:

£2,000 discount on tuition fees. £1,000 discount on tuition fees

  • Plus £1,000 towards accommodation
  • Plus £500 towards travel

£1,000 discount on tuition fees

  • Open to all new international (non-EU) entrants on the first year of a full-time undergraduate course delivered on one of our Northern Ireland campuses, commencing September 2018.


£2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee.

  • Information on other scholarships available to international students

  • Other awards and prizes:

Information provided is for guidance only as scholarship details are subject to change - please refer to the source website for up-to-date and accurate information.

Additional mandatory costs

Students purchase materials for their own coursework.

Consumable workshop contribution of up to £100 is optional and contributes to materials used by students.

Field trips may incur additional costs.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


Course Director: Alec Parkin
T: +44 28 9536 7272

Student Services Centre

T: +44 (0)28 9536 7202


For more information visit

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Belfast School of Art


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