Level 6

Animation BA (Hons)

Duration Age Group Study Start Cost Available Locations
£8000 per year * Centre for Digital Technologies – Basildon
Duration Age Group Study Start Cost Available Locations
£8000 per year * Centre for Digital Technologies – Basildon
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Course code: W615

Please note: This course description was updated 03-07-2023

BA (Hons) Animation, a three-year duration programme, is delivered at Level 4 to 6. This course is an innovative, inventive, and enthusing programme designed to prepare students for a career in animation and the creative industries with a strong focus on character design and animation production. In the rapidly changing media environment, new technologies are constantly revolutionizing how animation is created, understood, and experienced.

Why study this degree at University Centre South Essex?

Study at our state of the art technology campus in the heart of Basildon Town Centre.

You will work with industry-standard equipment and software including:

  • ftrack and ftrack review.
  • Green Screen Room and Recording Studio.
  • Maya and blender.
  • Toon Boom Harmony and Storyboard Pro.

The course includes script writing and life drawing sessions.

Excellent industry recognised speakers Fraser McLean, Andy Wyatt, Jennifer Kidd.

You will get the choice of trips to local landmarks such as Hadleigh Castle and Southend-on-Sea with a trip or two into London for animation festivals.

You will also embark on a trip in the third year to LA, Tokyo, New York, Stuttgart or New Zealand (this is self-funded and not part of your degree fees).


Animation has diversified and is now found everywhere in a wide range of areas including animated film, visual effects, children’s animation, web design and games design. These increase the demands on the graduate to not only command a virtuoso dexterity with the tools of animation but to also be an auteur, boasting originality in design and creative ideas. The philosophy of BA (Hons) Animation at UCSE is that your animation education will be built on the three corner stones of creativity, technical expertise and contextual theory.

The industry requires quality content in the form of images and words, with directors such as Sylvain Chomet, Domee Shi and Kemp Powers showing that animation is just as viable as live-action. BA (Hons) Animation is for students who are passionate about animation, who may not want to be just animators, but are interested in background design, character design and script writing. BA (Hons) Animation will provide the skills to become an innovative communicator and observer – central to the industry's future.

BA (Hons) Animation aims to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to be ready for the animation industry. The programme helps you to develop skills in script writing, character design, background design, visual communication, digital design, animation processes and story writing.

The programme has a commitment to work-related learning in the form of work experience, live projects, competitions, vocational projects and placements within the specialist area of animation. There also exists the opportunity to collaborate with other programmes within the College, which will allow you to develop a range of generic skills ready for employment.

Entry Requirements

You will need a minimum of 64 UCAS points from one or more of the following:

  • A Levels
  • T Levels
  • BTEC/UAL Extended Diploma
  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Or equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • And English GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*-C) 

This list is not exhaustive, other qualifications may be considered. Entry to this course will also be determined by the quality of your application, looking primarily at your portfolio/showreel of work,
personal statement and reference.

Course Structure

Year one (Level 4) units

Your first year provides an interdisciplinary approach to animation, with a broad, practical and theoretical grounding in digital media production techniques. The focus of the first year is to develop foundation skills in 2D and 3D animation. You will develop a number of short experimental animations which will develop your understanding of industry standard software packages, animation techniques and storytelling. You will also work on a complete animation production, applying the skills learnt and refining your technique. These modules will help you to develop an awareness of animation and its uses in the context of contemporary society as you acquire skills in communication, presentation, teamwork, problem-solving, leadership and project management. Production 1 and other material will be displayed in an end of year show.

  • AN101 Theory as Practice 1

Proposal and Essay writing within an animated context. This unit offers an introduction to the study of historical and contemporary visual and cultural contexts. These will be explored through analysis of visual texts, examining how intentions are signified by the artist and received by the audience (core unit across creative portfolio).

  • AN102 Animation & Art Fundamentals

This unit builds upon the framework of AN101 Theory as Practice 1 and introduces practical elements of the course. This unit covers animators and artists researched in AN101 Theory as Practice 1 that have influenced contemporary productions.

  • AN103 Storytelling

This unit covers the initial processes in the animation production pipeline: ideas generation and scriptwriting. This unit is directly linked to AN102 Animation & Art Fundamentals and AN104 Pre-Production 1. The aim of all three units is to prepare students for the expectations of freelance and industry and where their specialities may flourish.

  • AN104 Pre-Production 1

This is the final part of the production pipeline units and ends with an extensive look at the pre-production pipeline and techniques from Matte Painting to Modelling. Students will work with 2D and 3D techniques to create their projects that begin development in script writing up to animation production.

  • AN105 Production 1

This unit consists of the planning and execution of a live brief in a medium of the student’s choosing. This may take the form of an 11 second animation, an animation to poetry or a motion graphics industry lead brief.

Year two (Level 5) units

The second year focuses in on specialist modules to build upon the broad practical and theoretical knowledge gained in year one. The focus is on skills-based and professional practices, alongside working with external clients on live projects. Your skills will be expanded in a variety of contexts, for differing media and audiences in all genres of animation practice. Additionally, you will be able to explore career development opportunities in animation and the creative industries. Production 2 and other material will be displayed in an end of year show.

  • AN201 Theory as Practice 2

Proposal and Essay writing within an animated context. This unit builds on the knowledge and techniques gained from AN101 Theory as Practice 1. It aims to encourage independence in choosing a personal area of study and exploration of a wide variety of research methodologies, theories and sources that will be completed in AN301 Theory as Practice 3 (core unit across creative portfolio).

  • AN202 Creative Industry Practices

This unit aims to put all of what has been learned so far within an industry context and sets a precedent for AN302 Creative Industry Brief. Industry practices will be critically analysed and presented in a digital practices portfolio with the coursework culminating in an in-studio industry scenario with a ‘real life’ client.

  • AN203 Performance & VFX

To build on AN102 Animation & Art Fundamentals, AN203 Performance & VFX expands on the acting, filmic and VFX aspects of the industry. The study and analysis of VFX software and techniques aims to promote their use within student’s productions in AN204 Pre-Production 2 and AN205 Production 2.

  • AN204 Pre-Production 2

Alongside AN203 Performance & VFX, AN204 Pre-Production 2 will develop the students understanding of animation as a narrative device through a series of themed mini briefs. Students will then choose one mini brief to take forwards to complete as a short animation in AN205 Production 2.

  • AN205 Production 2

To conclude AN204 Pre-Production 2, an animation must be completed within the boundaries set in the accompanying briefs and mini briefs. 3 separate mini projects will lead to one choice to take forward to become a final animation. This final animation will be presented in an end of year show scenario.

Year three (Level 6) units

The third year of the programme will allow you to apply the skills and ideas you have developed in the previous two years to your own practice. The focus is on developing independent ventures, supporting a degree project (AN303 Pre-Production 3 and AN304 Production 3) and dissertation (AN301 Theory as Practice 3) as the culmination of your practical and theoretical learning. You will complete a substantial piece of animation work that will be displayed in an exhibition to help you gain employment or further academic study opportunities. You will produce a professional animation portfolio that is to be supported by advanced research into critical theory and the work of contemporary practitioners. The professional practice module supports your transfer into employment or higher study.

  • AN301 Theory as Practice 3

Proposal and Dissertation writing within an animated context. This unit provides the opportunity to develop a critical awareness, undertake in-depth research and to form a sustainable argument for an area of investigation. An avenue of research will be taken that underpins knowledge within the application of practical work and for future employment or post-graduate study (core unit across creative portfolio).

  • AN302 Creative Industry Brief

This unit aims to build on the framework set by AN202 Creative Industry Practices with a ‘real life’ client and portfolio documenting the project from genesis to synthesis. A personal website and accompanying social media accounts will be created alongside this project to encourage personal and individual promotion.

  • AN303 Pre-Production 3

This unit aims to encourage creative independence and provide a platform to integrate the knowledge, skills and understanding gained so far within the creative industries. This will result in the completion of an extended body of work. The outcomes will form a final presentation and proposal to be completed in AN304 Production 3.

  • AN304 Production 3

This unit aims to build on the final presentation and proposal in AN303 Pre-Production 3. An extended body of work will be produced as a final outcome that will continue to encourage creative independence. This final outcome will be evaluated and displayed in an end of year show that will help to develop a finality to the course and build on the presentation skills developed in AN205 Production 2.

Guest speakers

A series of guest speakers are included as part of the programme and will occur throughout the year. Previous guests have included:

  • Andy Wyatt, director at Animation Associates, Toon Boom Channel Partner – UK and Ireland and Animation Advisor for OOglies.
  • Ben Allen, Freelance Motion Graphics, Illustrator and Cartoonist and Animator at Curveball Media.
  • Bobby Chiu, Founder and Creative Director of Imaginism Studios.
  • Frazer Maclean, founder of Penciltown Animation, effects assistant for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and author of Setting the Scene.
  • Jennifer Kidd, director at Scale Model Studios (SMS), third assistant director for Isle of Dogs and part of the Puppet Department at Trampires Limited.
  • Jessie Ilham, Senior Designer/Animator/Rig Artist at Flix Facilities, Online Trainer at Toon Boom Animation and Art Director/Lead 2D Comp/FX Atist and 2D Rigging/Breakdown Supervisor/Toon Boom Trainer at Blue Zoo Animation Studios.
  • Joe Bumpus, Technical Supervisor for Sweatbox at DNEG Animation, Facial Capture Artist at Industrial Light & Magic and Artist (Creature FX/Technical Animation) at Moving Picture Company.

Field trips

There are several field trips to relevant institutions including:

  • Colchester Zoo.
  • Hadleigh Castle.
  • VFX Festival in London.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum.

Live briefs

You will have the opportunity to build your portfolio through live briefs. Recent projects have included:

  • Music video shoot for Josh James of Eurovision fame.
  • Primary School Teaching for The National Gallery.
  • SEESOW Animation Project.
  • Short animation for YMCA Volunteer of the Year awards.
  • The Royal Society of Arts competition brief (Michaela Freeman).
  • Village Green Festival Anniversary Ident.

Contact hours

  • 13 hours per week, over three days (Life Drawing sessions are an extra 2 hours per week / 2 weeks).
  • One day will be dedicated to studio working for catch up and 1 to 1s.
  • Contact hours are spent in the studios featuring workshops and lectures.

Teaching & Learning


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops, which enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of the discipline of animation. You will use industry-standard PCs and the Creative Suite programs and have access to various facilities including the 3D, Printmaking & Photography studio (Luker Road campus). You will also have access to hardware such as the laser & vinyl cutters, 3D Printer and scanners. As an example in the first term at Level 4 you typically have around 13 hours contact time per week, typically consisting of:

  • Three / Four hours of lectures/seminars.
  • Six hours of workshops (including dedicated one-to-one tutorials when necessary).
  • Two / Three hours of Theory as Practice (either lecture or one-to-one tutorial).
  • One hour group tutorials.

Units are delivered through a variety of methods of teaching and learning. These will include:

  • Technical demonstrations - designed to provide essential inductions to print and graphics resources and to support the acquisition of essential skills.
  • Small group teaching - studio based group sessions which are led by a tutor.
  • Group critiques - will usually occur towards the end of a unit before assessment.
  • Individual tutorials - The tutor will ask key questions regarding your project and offer advice and suggestions regarding future development.
  • Independent research and studio practice - during the unit students are expected to follow up on suggested directions regarding project direction.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshops or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations. A range of excellent facilities, including the library, the Learning Resource Centre and the Forum, supports your independent learning.

Assessment & Feedback


Coursework is assessed in a range of different ways in order to accommodate a variety of learning styles and aptitudes including:

  • Portfolio and sketchbook submissions.
  • Group presentations.
  • Written essays.
  • Research folders.

There are no examinations.


You will receive formative feedback as part of your one-to-one sessions with your unit teachers. You will also receive summative feedback on all formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your unit leader tutor. Feedback can be given in a range of different ways in order to accommodate a variety of learning styles and aptitudes including group critiques, recorded verbal feedback and written feedback.

We aim to provide you with feedback within 20 working days of hand-in (for all formal studio based coursework assessment). For the third year Dissertation Unit you will receive feedback and grades at the same time as your Final Creative Output Unit.

Course Cost

Adult, full_time: £8000 per year

Fees are per academic year for Home/UK students.

The following course-related costs are included in the fees:

  • Guest speakers, visiting lecturers and industry focussed workshops will be included in your course over the three years.
  • Third Year students will have the opportunity to showcase their final year work at the end of their studies. This may be a local, national or online platform. Event/exhibition costs will be covered by the Faculty of HE. In the past this has included Vertex Conference. Students will be responsible for any additional costs associated with the production of their personal project (ie: printing, materials).
  • Annual £20 of printing credit per year.

Additional course costs can be found here

What Next...

You can progress to postgraduate study including:

  • 2D animator.
  • 2D illustrator.
  • 3D animator.
  • Character animator.
  • Foley artist.
  • MA Animation.
  • MA Character Animation.
  • MA Illustration and Visual Media.
  • MA Interaction Design Communication.
  • Production assistant.
  • Rigging artist.
  • Video editor.

Graduation destinations

The majority of our graduates find employment in film and TV production studios, advertising companies, publishing houses and web design firms. Studio start-ups also occur among our graduates as a direct result of the positive collaborative atmosphere on the programme.

Graduates have progressed to animation studios including:

  • BBC.
  • Blue Zoo Studios.
  • Cinesite.
  • DNEG.
  • Fox International Channels.
  • Industrial Light & Magic.
  • Moving Picture Company.
  • Nerve Studios.
  • Six Red Squares.