Animation and Games Art with Integrated Foundation Year BA (Hons)

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Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Animation and Games Art course, with an integrated foundation year. Develop skills in animation & games art. Gain expertise in industry-standard software. Realise your dream of working on the next big animated movie or game!

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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 both traditional and new techniques, learning key digital skills in 2D and 3D as well as the core principles of character-led animation.

You'll have the opportunity to work on industry-led briefs and entries for festivals and competitions such as Encounters, RTS awards, 11Second Club 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?

  • Gives a strong foundation in traditional animation principles while also teaching key digital skills in both 2D and 3D
  • Our graduates are working in the film, VFX, games and television industries on projects including Grand Theft Auto, Hey Duggee, Miffy, Corpse Bridge, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.
  • Our industry contacts provide opportunities to work on live briefs
  • You’ll have the creative freedom to work in any medium and technique allowing you to find and develop your personal style
  • 'World-leading' research in Art and Design, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)

New Sunderland Culture logo

A city brimming with creative potential

Offering a year-round programme of exhibitions, events and performances, Sunderland Culture brings big-name artists from the worlds of contemporary visual arts, glass, ceramics and performance to the city, alongside showcasing the best and most exciting local talent. There is a huge range of opportunities for students to visit the venues, take part in events and get involved in the programme. Learn more about Sunderland Culture.

Student work

Course structure

In the first year – the foundation year – you will study five modules; a module about the foundations of art, design, performance and media production, an essential study skills module, a foundation project module, practical numeracy skills, and an introduction to creative practice module. After completion of this foundation, you will then move onto the Animation and Games Art honours degree course.

In your second 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 your third 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. 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. 

View more student work in our student galleries.

Foundation Year

The Creative Industries: Arts, Design, Performance, Media Production Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:

  • Foundations of Art, Design, Performance and Media Production (40 credits)
  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Foundation Project (20 credits)
  • Practical Numeracy Skills (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Creative Practice (20 credits)


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

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.

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.

More about BA (Hons) Animation and Games Art with Integrated Foundation Year at Sunderland

Discover more articles
  • The University provides generous studio spaces, well-equipped workshops and excellent facilities for Animation and Games Art.
    • Personal studio space for each student
    • HTC VIVE and Oculus headsets for VR work
    • Motion capture suite
    • Shadow Motion Capture system
    • Green screen TV Studio
    • Digital design suite with 24 Macs and Wacom Cintiqs
    • Industry standard sound recording studios and editing facilities
    • 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

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

    • You also have access to industry standard sound recording and editing facilities.
    Animation facilities
  • The University provides generous studio spaces, well-equipped workshops and excellent facilities for design students.

    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)
  • 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
  • Map and directions


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.

See the Virtual Tour for a 360 view of our facilities.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2020, the foundation year will be £5,000.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

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.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

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


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 Cartoon Saloon, 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. 

Creative Industries Week

Creative Industries week gives everyone in Arts and Creative the opportunity participate in a range of projects, workshops, talks, industry visits and career events. This exciting week encourages interdisciplinary working, broadens your experience, to build your confidence and help develop your career path.

Meet the students

  • 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 the team

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