- Character Animator
- Concept Artist
- Storyboard Artist
- Technical Director
- Visual FX Artist
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Animation at Ulster is a studio focused, highly creative course, specialising in computer animation for games, VFX, feature and TV animation.
Study Animation at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.
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.
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.
- September 2017
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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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.
The BTEC Extended Diploma requirement for this course is based on an overall BTEC award profile of DMM - DDM to include 15 merits.
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.
The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is CCCCC - BBBCC.
Scottish Advanced Highers
The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is CDD - CCC.
Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum 24 points (12 at higher level).
Access to Higher Education (HE)
Successful completion of Access Course with an average 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 will 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.
Teaching and learning assessment
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:
- Identifies and clarifies good performance
- Encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
- Give assessment choice (where appropriate)
- Encourages 'time and effort' on task
- Encourages interaction and dialogue (peer and teacher-learner)
- Provide opportunities to act on feedback
- Develop self-assessment and reflection
- Informs and shapes teaching
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:
- Providing a student-centred approach to teaching, learning and assessment
- Providing increased opportunities for small group teaching
- Providing a safe, yet challenging learning environment, that supports students to engage and learn with fellow students from diverse backgrounds and identities
- Providing courses and programmes which are scholarship-informed, and where appropriate, research-informed, and taught and supervised by those engaged in research and/or scholarship
- Focussing on assessment as a means of promoting student learning as well as providing evidence of that learning
- Developing personal tutoring/studies advice/peer mentoring systems which meet the needs of students
- Enhancing possibilities of EU and international exchanges and outreach for students
- Ensuring that learning resources in support of teaching and research degrees are accessible to all students
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:
- Induction (throughout the 1st Year)
- Attendance Monitoring
- Progressive study skills development
- Small group teaching
- Self & peer assessment
- Early & regular timely feedback.
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.
Careers & opportunities
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Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:
- Character Animator
- Concept Artist
- Storyboard Artist
- Technical Director
- Visual FX Artist
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.
Applications for full time undergraduate courses are made through UCAS
Suitably qualified applicants will be interviewed prior to entry where you will be required to present a body of work, displaying creative thinking in the form of a portfolio, showreel, or screen presentation.
.How to apply
- September 2017
Fees and funding
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Fees (per year)
- Northern Ireland & EU:
- England, Scotland & Wales:
- £12,890.00 - Please note that International tuition fees shown are for last year's entry.
Additional mandatory costs
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. 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: Conánn FitzPatrick
T: +44 (0) 28 9536 7435