Bachelor of Design with Honours
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Belfast School of Art
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20
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.
A foundation diploma year gives you the opportunity to explore a range of art and design approaches and disciplines to help you choose your undergraduate specialism.
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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:
For students on the Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) International (DPP) programme:
For students on the Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS) programme:
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 2D and/or 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.
Diploma in Professional Practice DPP
Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS
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.
An appropriate blend of established and effective reaching delivery methods will be employed to enhance your learning experience and to achieve the learning outcomes of the course. Typically large group teaching will include lectures, studio practice, demonstrations and small group teaching will include seminars, teamwork /projects, critiques (feedback).
The Aims and Learning Outcomes of the BDes Hons Animation course will be achieved through a variety of teaching and learning methods, including:
Tutorials – 1-1 and team will help to develop communication skills and verbally process problems and tasks in hand. These are essential to support student learning and pastoral care.
Lectures – will impart essential information in traditional format. Case studies and the introduction of learning exercises within the lecture format will consolidate learning and introduce an opportunity for discussion and engagement. Guest lecturers from industry and academia will be invited throughout the programme to develop student engagement and understanding of the subject area.
Workshop and Studio Practice – will encourage the importance of problem solving, testing and refining, whilst also have the opportunity to learn new skills, ideas and approaches from experts in order to become experts within animation.
Practicals and Demonstrations – will introduce a process, technique or technologies to students by either a member of academic staff or a technician. They are a method employed to make you aware of the characteristics of transferable skills and technologies.
Critiques – will encourage effective communication, reflection, sharing of opinions, evaluation of information, skills and ideas and provide opportunities for peer learning.
Seminars – will encourage debate, reflexive thinking and good communication skills. They can facilitate deep learning: analysis, synthesis, evaluation of complex issues and construction of argument.
Teamwork projects – will be at the core of design for interaction and animation as both a tool for maximising creativity but also as a mirror for industry. Collaborative learning provides the platform on which independent learning is nurtured. Giving you the opportunity to gain confidence, become aware of your strengths, and develop your own ideas. Tutorials, workshops and seminars will provide academic staff and students opportunities to discuss team progress, dynamics and evaluate member activity. These will be particularly useful in Level 4 and Level 5 as they mirror current industrial studio practice, preventing isolation and assisting retention.
Blended learning – will offer the opportunity to consolidate and support face-to-face learning, communicate and share information with the wider cohort and develop essential digital skills. The course team will supplement and enhance module content including providing additional delivery of practical workshops, creating links to sources of further information, encourage online discussion groups the development of web based portfolios and continual use of the PDP, PACE, EDORT systems.
Diagnostic, formative and summative feedback – Diagnostic feedback is valuable in the very early stages of learning; it allows you to reflect throughout your learning rather than viewing it retrospectively. Ongoing formative feedback is given in tutorials, critiques and studio seminars in verbal form on a regular basis and is crucial to student progress. Formative feedback is also offered when part of the coursework is submitted for assessment during the semester. Summative feedback is presented after assessment in written and verbal forms and offers a chance for you to reflect on progress and achievement and to receive suggestions for future direction. The course team consider feedback crucial to both student and staff progress in that it:
The course ethos is based on the University, Faculty and School’s Teaching and Learning strategy. The course team aim to enhance the quality of the student learning experience by:
The University’s first year undergraduate teaching policy puts in place best practice for teachers and learners. The course team and the Level 4 year coordinator understand the importance of a fully integrated first year experience, which is evidenced by:
TEAMWORK PROJECTS – ASSESSMENT AND LEARNING
Throughout the programme you will engage in team based projects in which student performance will be measured both individually and as a product of the team product. Team projects will be assessed using a developing strategy as the students advance through each level.
In week one, semester one of each year you will engage in a team based creative problem solving workshop, where you will undertake a range of short projects. Throughout the processes of conceptualisation, refinement, evaluation, planning and production you will engage with each other through rotating teams, allowing both students and staff to identify individual strengths and good combinations. The resulting teams will serve as a baseline for initial assessed projects. Continuous evaluation of team dynamics and individual contributions will inform team selection for subsequent projects. Throughout the programme you will be encouraged to reflect on your performance within different team combinations and the subsequent effect on individual student performance and development.
As each brief is introduced the entire cohort will undertake an ideation process together, which will allow academic staff facilitate team development and identify possible concerns. Careful planning and communication during this process will encourage the development of even strength teams across the cohort and help prevent teams from foundering. Throughout the semester teams will be supported by academic staff, who will continuously observe team dynamics and member contribution, introducing strategies for development and management.
Assessment breakdown for teamwork projects, between team and individual assessment will be 75%, 25% respectively, at levels 4 & 5. This will allow sufficient individual student development as they identify your areas for specialisation, while maximizing student buy in to the team building processes. At level 6 however you will have become sufficiently specialized in their individual practice making individual contribution to the team product clearer and more assessable as it is in industry settings.
At level 4 student teams will deliver one product in addition to individual submission of a separate, individual piece of reflective work contributes to the individual’s mark. You will be provided with clear assessment criteria and supported through continuous guidance during tutorials, and workshop/seminars.
At level 5 you will have begun to gain some understanding of project management strategies enabling them to engage more creatively and productively with teamwork. Teams will delivery one product for one mark with peer assessment of contribution combined with individual reflection on personal contribution used to modify individual marks. You will be provided with clear peer assessment criteria and detail about how the assessment will operate and against what criteria. Academic staff will support team development through the facilitation of team management meetings during workshop/seminars, and tutorials.
At level 6 students will undertake teamwork in semester one which will take a similar shape to that experienced within level 5, but with increased autonomy. By this stage in your individual development, as well as your knowledge and expertise within your specialism, will reflect level 5/ 6 standards. Further team projects will reflect professional working conditions through the use of industry occupation titles and roles, enabling advanced understanding of your chosen profession. In semester two’s: Design Presentation and Reporting, and Major Project Module you will undertake either individual or team based projects. In the case of team-based projects, you will self-select team membership while negotiating project content and team size with academic staff. Assessment breakdown for teamwork projects, between team and individual assessment will be guided respectively, with teams limited to no more than four members.
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:
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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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.
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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
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) by Advanced HE - 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 2021-2022.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DDM
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DMM
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Introductory Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of M plus A Level Grades BC
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate (2016 Suite)
Award profile of M plus A Level Grades BC
104 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.
Overall profile is minimum 24 points (including 12 at higher level)
Overall profile of 60% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)
Overall profile of 12 credits at Distinction, 30 credits at Merit and 3 credits at Pass (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)
For full-time study, you must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass at Grade C/4 or above in English Language.
Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Communication will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE English.
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.
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.
Acceptable alternative qualifications include:
Pass HND with overall Merit to include 30 distinctions in level 5 credits/units may be specified.
Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 60 distinctions in level 4 credits/units may be specified.
You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met).
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Graduates from this course are now working for:
With this degree you could become:
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.
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.
Fees for entry in 2023/24 have not yet been set. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
£2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee.
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.
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.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.