Animation and Games Art BA (Hons)

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Get the opportunity to develop skills in traditional and digital animation and games art. Gain expertise in industry-standard digital software. Realise your dream of working on the next big animated movie or game.  

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Overview

The animation, games and visual effects (VFX) industries are always searching for new talent. BA (Hons) Animation and Games Art allows you to explore and develop traditional animation techniques, key digital skills in 2D and 3D, and learn the core principles of character-led animation.

You'll be working on industry-led briefs and entries for festivals and competitions such as Encounters Film Festival and E4 Stings. It's all part of our commitment to help you become industry ready.

We place Animation and Games Art within the broader context of design to help you keep your career options open. You will also have the creative freedom and flexibility to develop your specific areas of interest, gaining transferable skills crucial for employability.

Why us?

  • Our graduates are working in the film, VFX, games and television industries on projects including The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Grand Theft Auto, Miffy, Hey Duggee and Corpse Bride
  • 'World-leading' research in Art and Design, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • Our Art and Design courses were ranked 2nd overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Art and Design courses were ranked 2nd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback, 2nd in the UK for Retention and Progression, and 3rd in the UK for Employability in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Cinematics and Photography courses (which include BA (Hons) Animation and Games Art) are ranked 9th in the UK for Learning resources and are in the top 25% for Organisation and management, Student voice and Overall satisfaction, according to the National Student Survey 2018
  • Gives a strong foundation in traditional animation principles while also teaching key digital skills in both 2D and 3D
  • Allows you the creative freedom to work in any medium and technique
  • Choose from a broad range of specialisms to take with you into industry

Course structure

Teaching is almost entirely practical and studio-based, supported by lectures, seminars and tutorials. Our academic team encourage you to express ideas and push the boundaries of creativity. Assessment is mainly through coursework. 

In the first year you will learn classical animation techniques and core digital skills. You will also learn about the broader context of design with students from other design subjects. In the second year you will be introduced to more advanced approaches such as 3D, character rigging and motion capture. In your final year you will build your portfolio, undertake a personal research project that will lead into your Final Major Project. You will exhibit your work at our Design Degree Show, which will be visited by industry experts and potential employers.

Part-time study

If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. All modules are taught during the day time and you will be studying alongside full-time students.

View our student galleries and live student work.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Introductory Classical, Digital and Performance Practice (60 credits)

Learn the fundamental principles of animation using traditional studio practices in 2D drawn animation through weekly character-based exercises. This will culminate in a short animated film that you will complete using ToonBoom Harmony software. You will also be introduced to the Adobe Creative Suite in a separate creative brief.

You will have weekly life drawing classes to enhance your figurative and imaginative drawing skills and engage in contextual and visual research to support and enhance your practical work.

  • Animation Techniques (40 credits)

Working in teams, you will create short sequences using a variety of traditional techniques such as Pixillation, direct animation, smudge n click, cut-out and stop motion, building on the principles and skills learnt in semester 1 and exploring visual storytelling further.

You will also produce a short film for a student-led competition and public screening to showcase your first year’s work.

You will continue to attend weekly life drawing classes looking at expressive and experimental drawing techniques.

You will also be introduced to 3D software and tools in a series of creative workshops and be given the opportunity to collaborate with BSc Game Development students and participate in local Game Jams.

  • Design Theory 1 (20 credits)

Through lectures and seminars, you will gain an understanding of the wider application of design theory and principles as well as having the opportunity to study the context, development and theories behind your own chosen specialism. You will be encouraged to debate and engage critically with the topics discussed.

 

Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Animated Performance – Dialogue (20 credits)

Building on the principles and skills learnt in Stage 1 using character-led animation, you will study animated performance and work with a number of pre-recorded sound clips in order to gain a thorough understand of staging, dialogue/lip sync and acting. You will draw directly into 2D digital software to complete the animated performance exercises using the Wacom Cintiqs.

  • Maya for Beginners (20 credits)

From weekly life drawing exercises to support your understanding of the human form you will look at modelling in 3D to create a model of your own design. You will then look at rigging, textures and lighting in the 3D environment.

There will be a choice of pre-rigged characters for you to animate and you will demonstrate skills and techniques learnt to give personality and weight to walk and run cycles using a variety of characters. You will work with the Motion capture suit to gain an understanding of its applications in character animation. You will also be introduced to Unity and VR workflows.

  • Preproduction Practice (20 credits)

This module follows the preproduction pipeline for creating either a pitch bible for a children’s tv series or a Games Document for a 7-PEGI game. You will follow the process from visual and contextual research through concept art, story art, character design, environments, assets, linear and non-linear storytelling. You will create an animatic or walkthrough to demonstrate your concept’s viability. You will get to pitch your idea in a short presentation at the end of the module. You can work individually or as part of a creative team.

There will also be the chance for further collaborations with BSc Game Development students.

  • Animation for Music, Titles and Idents (40 credits)

You will get to create a music video for an artist of your own choosing either as part of a collaboration, or working alone. You will study the application of advanced After Effects – e.g. rotoscoping, tracking techniques, using green screen and keylight - and you can choose to apply any creative technique to your work. You will also explore the genre and contextual background to music and animation in film and games, to the title sequence as an art form as well as create an ident for yourself.

You will help to organise a showcase of your work at a public screening at the close of the academic year.

  • Design Theory 2 (20 credits)

Seminars and lectures will continue the study of the context, development and theories behind your own chosen specialism and support your practical work, helping you to focus on your choice of dissertation topic in Stage 3.

You will also continue weekly life drawing looking at environment and figurative drawing practice.

Final year (national level 6):

  • Applied Animation (20 credits)

You will work with a charity or other organisation in order to create an animation (or interactive piece) to highlight a campaign or social issue that is educational, informative, even therapeutic and will promote a good cause. You will treat this as a live brief and work to professional and ethical guidelines using any creative technique.

  • Professional Practice (20 credits)

You will work on a chosen live brief as well as a piece to showcase your skills and enhance your showreel/portfolio. Employability Day will enable you to meet successful alumni from this and other Design courses and hear about their experiences after graduating and tips on employability. You will create a Professional Engagement Document, which will show how you have interacted over the past two years with industry professionals either through placements, social media, visits to festivals and studios or other networking events. This module is aimed primarily at guiding you towards employment and looks at CV writing, interview techniques as well as the creative and technical skills required for your chosen specialism.

  • Dissertation (20 credits)

You will research an approach, concept or practice relevant to your specialism that is intended to support your practical work in your final major project. An example of this from a recent graduate was the study of Magic Realism, which directly fed into the narrative of their graduation film. You will demonstrate academic research methods, begun in Stage 1, to formulate a written piece of 6,000 words.

  • Final Major Project (60 credits)

You will build on the skills and knowledge, both technical and creative, that you have gained across all previous modules to create a piece of work that best reflects your specialism and will, hopefully, take you into professional employment. You can choose to work individually or as part of a team.

You will participate in helping to set up and exhibit your work in the final year Degree Show, which is open to the public and industry practitioners.

The David Puttnam Media Centre,
Sir Tom Cowie Campus,
St Peter's Way,
Sunderland,
SR6 0DD

54.911899,-1.372815

  • The University provides generous studio spaces, well-equipped workshops and excellent facilities for Animation and digital design.

    • A dedicated stop motion room with 3 portable workstations, each with Dragon Stop Motion software
    • Line-testing room with 6 rostrum cameras, a multiplane camera and light boxes for 2D work on paper, cut-out and other mixed media techniques
    • Two 16mm projectors for direct animation
    • Shadow Motion Capture system
    • Personal studio space for each student
    • HTC VIVE for VR work
    • Motion capture suite
    • Green screen TV Studio
    • Digital design suite with Macs and Wacom Cintiqs with Adobe Creative Suite Design Premium. 

    Software includes: Toon Boom, Harmony Premium, Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Illustrator and Photoshop, Pixologic Z brush and Unity. Our specialist technical staff, including qualified Adobe and Maya Certified Instructors, offer back-up and help in making the most of the software.

    Animation facilities
  • The University provides generous studio spaces, well-equipped workshops and excellent facilities for digital design.

    Within our digital design suites, there are Apple Macs, PCs, HTC VIVE VR and Wacom Cintiqs with Adobe Creative Suite Design Premium. This includes software such as ZBrush, Unity 3D, Maya, Blender, Cinema 4, Dreamweaver and Adobe Creative Suites. Our specialist technical staff, including qualified Adobe and Maya Certified Instructors, offer back-up and help in making the most of the software.

    Design facilities
  • FabLab Sunderland offers a diverse range of specialist digital design and fabrication equipment. Based at the Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland city centre, it is a creative space where anyone can make (almost) anything. Our students gain free access to FabLab's machines which include:

    • Epilog laser cutter
    • ShopBot CNC router
    • The Roland Modela MDX-20 milling machine
    • Roland Vinyl cutter GS-24
    • Dimension 1200es Series 3D Printer – ABS plastic (large capacity 3D printer)
    • Ultimaker 2 (small scale 3D printer)
    • Ulitmaker 2 Extended (medium scale 3D printer)
    FabLab
  • The University Library has an exceptional collection of photography books and monographs and subscribes to a comprehensive range of academic journals and databases so you can access reliable and up-to-date information.

    A dedicated Academic Liaison Librarian supports students and staff in the arts, design and performing arts disciplines.

    The key resources for your course include:

    Discover: The Library’s multi-disciplinary search tool

    Art Full Text: A major resource for media and arts information

    JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’): Giving access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

    Lexis: A major resource on full-text newspaper articles and legal information

    Library Services - arts and design

Facilities

The David Puttnam Media Centre provides well-equipped facilities and industry-standard design software so it's easy to make a seamless transition from your studies to the workplace.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is


  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement


If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at admissions@sunderland.ac.uk for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Portfolio/Interview

If the above criteria is met you will be asked to attend an interview. For this interview please prepare a portfolio of work, which should be simply mounted and accompanied by preparatory work. Sketchbooks are an important feature of your preparatory work and should be included. Where possible, 3D and large 2D work should be photographed. Digital and screen-based work should be saved on a CD or memory stick.

If you are an international applicant, please supply your portfolio on a CD.

Suitable items for a portfolio include:

‡ Drawing: examples of observed drawing and exploratory drawing

‡ Projects: evidence of project work together with your sketchbooks and development work

‡ Self-initiated work: that you have done out of personal interest

‡ Research: examples of various forms of investigation undertaken for projects

‡ Writing: examples of reports, essays or journals

Fees and finance

The annual, full-time fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an international student

Tuition fees for part-time students are £6,935 per 120 credits. Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

W221casestudy
Hannah Potter, BA (Hons) Animation and Games Art graduate, CBBC Scream Street Shorts winner

Employment

Our graduates have gone on to work throughout the film, special effects, games, and television industries, and worked on projects including The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Grand Theft Auto, Creature Comforts, Miffy and Hey Duggee.

Recent employers have included:

  • Animation studios such as Blue Zoo, Aardman and Studio AKA
  • TV companies such as Cartoon Network, CBeebies and CITV
  • Games companies such as Rockstar, Ubisoft and Sumo Digital

Placements and visits

You will have opportunities to apply for internships and we actively encourage you to build up a compelling creative portfolio. We also encourage you to participate in competitions and award schemes.

In addition, our students are actively encouraged to attend annual animation festivals such as the Manchester Animation Festival (MAF), as well as visits to arts venues across the UK and in cities such as Barcelona, Amsterdam and New York.

Guest speakers

Through our links with industry we attract professionals in animation to come into the University and give talks. These help you gain valuable insights and contacts in the world of work.

Past visiting speakers include quadruple-BAFTA Award-winning Jardone Sage (CITV) - a graduate of the course, Curtis Jobling (creator of Bob the Builder), Susannah Shaw (Aardman), Barry Purves (Lord of the Rings), alumni and award-winning Catherine Salkeld (Story Artist and VR director at Blue Zoo Studios), and Andy Davies (Sony Games).

Work experience

All students studying on-campus undergraduate Animation and Games Art courses can take up a CV-enhancing work placement, a University-led industry initiative, or a professional and business development boot camp.

By the term placement, we mean we are offering you a taste of the industry which might last anything from two days to four weeks on a part-time basis. View an example of one of our students' work experience project completed on placement at The TV Agency.

  • Sunderland stood out by a mile because of their excellent facilities.
    Alex-Collier, Animation and Games art graduate

    Alex Collier

  • We got to make contacts in LA - that was really exciting!
    Catherine Skelald

    Catherine Salkeld

  • Thanks to the University, I now run my own UK based animation and design company.
    Rosario Rivas Leal

    Rosario Rivas Leal

Meet our academics

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