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BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects

Qualification: BA (Hons)

UCAS code: W990

Study mode: Full-time

Location: High Wycombe

Our animation students are taught by leading industry professionals with impressive experience working on films such as Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion King, Robots and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Is this course for me?


If you enjoy animation, animated films and visual effects, this course will help to train you for a career in this exciting and expanding industry.

This course will provide you with industry-relevant training and skills whilst also introducing you to the core principles of creative film-making and visual storytelling. The UK has a globally competitive animation and vfx industry based in Soho, London, along with other centres of excellence such as Aardman Animation in Bristol. 

You will learn the vital practical and technical skills which provide a firm foundation for jobs in the animation and visual effects industry. We recognise that this is a technology-driven medium which also requires exceptional creative talent. You will have the opportunity to use the latest software, and graduate with a broad range of creative and technical skills.

The course will be particularly attractive for students who may want to explore a career in animation, working on films, TV, games, web animation, online & mobile content and advertising.   

Interact with us at our course blogFacebook page and check out our animation studio. Make sure to watch Alex Williams' showreel to discover more about this exciting course.

Discover our news e-flyer which outlines the unique aspects of this course and why Bucks is the University of choice for animation and visual effects.

What will this course cover?

This course provides a solid grounding for students who want to pursue careers in the animation, games and visual effects industry. The course is uniquely placed to offer a degree in animation with an emphasis on digital character and creature animation, taking advantage of established links with leading industry partners.

This course gives students practical digital skills training; contextual knowledge and understanding, and an appreciation of research methods. It also includes modules on creativity and enterprise; these will help prepare students to work both as employees and also as independent, self-reliant, freelance digital artists.

This course is focused on the present and future needs of a rapidly changing industry. The practical modules include research and design skills, video and audio training. Students will also learn modelling, rigging, texturing, lighting, digital cinematography, 3D digital graphics, design and drawing.

The purpose is to give aspiring animators and 3D artists a core understanding of the complete digital pipeline. By the end of the three years, students will be proficient character and creature animators with a broad range of complementary digital and creative skills.

In addition, students will also learn about contemporary film-making, independent film and video production and the economics of the industry. During the course students will create a website or blog and will build a portfolio of work which will ultimately be edited into a demo reel, which is of vital importance in finding employment.

Industry links

Throughout the course, visiting speakers, including animators, modellers, riggers and other visual effects artists will give students invaluable first-hand knowledge of the industry which will further help prepare students for their careers. Visiting speakers and tutors will be drawn from leading companies such as Cinesite, Framestore and MPC.

Students will also be encouraged to gain experience during their studies by, for example, taking short internships with animation and visual effects companies, and taking on small freelance projects.

Why choose this course?

Our animation students are taught by leading industry professionals with impressive experience in the animation workforce, providing an inspiring and creative learning experience for students. Students will also get a taste of Hollywood too from one the course tutors, Alex Williams, who has a career that spans twenty-five years in the animation industry. Alex has worked with Disney, Warner Bros, Fox, DreamWorks and Sony, with movie credits as an animator, designer and storyboard artist on the following films: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion King, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Iron Giant and the last three Harry Potter films.

Alex has taught animation at schools including CalArts, Gnomon, Escape Studios, The Animation Workshop, and many others - and he still finds time to write and draw the weekly cartoon strip, ‘Queen’s Counsel’, in The Times. Discover Alex’s showreel or discover his interview where he spoke to us about becoming an animator in today’s workforce. According to Alex, “It’s a great time to be an animator and, at Bucks, we are offering a superb opportunity to get the skills needed to build a career in this dynamic environment.”

Students will also gain from creative collaboration with complementary disciplines and departments on campus. These include students studying film and television production, audio and music production, dance, performing arts , games development, advertising management and digital communications and many more! Students will also have access to our impressive production studios and flagship Gateway building.

What are the modules?

In year one, students will learn a broad range of animation and digital skills.

In year two, students will dig deeper into character and creature animation, becoming proficient and skilled, while learning a complement of creative and technical skills.

In year three students will be encouraged to work on short film projects, mimicking the team effort of an industry production. The goal is to make short films of high quality that can be successfully entered into international festivals and competitions.

Year one

  • CGI Foundation.
    This module introduces students to all the core vfx skills including polygon modelling, cameras & lenses, UV mapping & texturing, lighting & rendering, and compositing 3D objects into a photographic plate.
  • 2D Graphics & Animation
    This module focuses on motion graphics, animated text effects, and animated film & TV titles.
  • CGI Animation Foundation
    Here students will learn the foundations of animation principles, including locomotion, walk cycles, run cycles, weight and flexibility.
  • Previs & 3D Layout
    Previsualisation (“previs”) is one of the most exciting and growing areas of digital film-making. Students will learn design, storyboards, concept art, 3D layout, cameras, editing, sound effects, motion capture (“MoCap”) and directing.

Year two

  • Animation - Character Performance
    Here students will dig deeper into character animation and performance, learning acting, dialogue, lipsync and motion capture.
  • Animation - Animals & Creatures
    The creature animation module focuses on animating photo-realistic animals including quadrupeds, birds, insects, fish, monsters dinosaurs and other creatures.
  • Intermediate CGI Modelling & Rigging
    Here students will gain deeper expertise in the core skills of modelling, rigging, texturing and lighting.
  • CG VFX
    This module exmplores the CG (computer graphics) live action workflow, including dynamics, particles and fluids.

Year three

  • Short Film Project - Pre-Production
    The third and final year begins with a self-directed solo or group project - a short film. Students will complete a script, storyboards, visual development & design, and record voices into a full story reel or animatic. The goal is to produce quality work capable of entering and winning international student film festivals.
  • Short Film Project - Production
    This principle phase of the third year film project includes modelling, texturing, animation and lighting. Finally, students will add music and sound effects.
  • Digital Practice
    This vital final module involves preparing students for the all-important job market. Students will take a close look at the industry, complete a live project for a client, work on their website or blog and polish their demo reel to perfection.
  • Dissertation
    The final dissertation focuses on the theory and practice of the Short Film Project, exploring the ideas behind it and the challenges to completion.
  • Academic
    The course incorporates important academic elements, which will complement the practical modules. Academic studies will include Research Methods, Film Theory, Design, Media, Lifestyle & Culture.

Start date and attendance

Start date: September

Duration: Three years

Attendance: An average attendance of three days per week can be expected. Specific days and times of study vary and formal timetables are usually issued a month prior to your course start date. Please note that this information is intended as a guide and is subject to change.

What are the entry requirements?

Applicants will typically be A level students who achieve 200-240 UCAS points, or BTEC students with equivalent grades. Applicants must also have GCSE Maths and English at grade C or above, good artistic and technical skills and an interest in animation and visual effects.

For further details of our international English entry requirements, please visit our international pages.

How much does it cost?

For 2014 entry:
Full time Home and EU: £9,000
Full time International: £9,500

If you would like more information on fees and finance, please take a look at our fees and funding web page.

How to apply

Applications for full-time undergraduate courses must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Information on making an application through UCAS is available in our applications area.

Open days & prospectus

Our University Open Days are open to everyone and are a real opportunity to sample the Bucks experience. Visitors and their guests will have the opportunity to talk to our staff and our students, to find out more about our courses and to look round our facilities. Staff will also be on hand for advice and will deliver presentations on the application process and financing higher education. You can book onto an Open Day or if you would like to view an Open Day online, please see our Open Day video. Alternatively, take a virtual tour of our campus.

To request a prospectus, simply complete this request form or call 0800 0565 660.

How do I find out more?

Home and EU Enquiries
Tel: 0800 0565 660

Home and EU Admissions
Tel: 01494 605 060