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BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts

BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts video
  • Late
  • UCAS Code:
  • Institution:
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

In order to take advantage of new approaches to learning and teaching, as well as developments in industry to benefit our students we regularly review all of our courses. This course is currently going through this process and we will update this page in April 2017 to give you full information about what we will be offering once the review process has concluded.

From blockbuster movies to multi-million-dollar video franchises, computer animation is a big business, which is why the Computer Animation Arts course at Bournemouth University is second to none. Not only will we cultivate your artistic passion, but our expert lecturers will provide you with an education in theory and design principles, as well as giving you practical experience in the production of computer animation and visual effects.

As well as developing your creative talents, this course will encourage you to examine the aesthetic qualities behind computer animation and show you how to utilise this in your work. It’s this unique blend of theory, design and production that makes this course stand out, as it provides you with all of the knowledge and hands-on experience you need to get ahead in the field of computer animation and visual effects, whether you want to focus on feature film, games or animation.

85% of last year’s students agree our staff are good at explaining things – why come and meet us

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Key information

Next start date:

September, 2017


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


3 years (or 4 years including a minimum 30-week placement). Full-time

Relevant subjects:

Any other creative, visual or technical subject.

Required subjects:

One creative subject such as Fine Art or Graphic Design, Media Design or Photography.

Entry requirements:

For 2017 entry (we will use the new UCAS tariff): 120 to 128 tariff points from 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications including 40 points from one required subject. BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM. For more information check out our 2017 entry requirements page

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component or equivalent. For more information check out our International entry requirements page

Course details

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.

Year 1

Core units

  • Introduction to Production tools: This unit aims to introduce the students to the principles and practices of software tools used in the production of 3D computer animation and visual effects.
  • Cinematography and Acquisition 1: The aim of this unit is to develop the theoretical, practical and applied knowledge of cinematography and camera acquisition practices.

In order to pass this unit, you will be required to earn a Safe Handling Certification (SISO Passport). The Safe Handling Certification allows you to check out and use university equipment and is awarded to students who have attended 3/5 (60%) workshops during the course of the unit, it is recognition that you are deemed competent (from both a technical and a health and safety perspective) to use the equipment and facilities required for this unit and for other units in the program.

  • Moving Image Theory 1: The unit will present a historical trajectory of the development of different types of animation and the moving image from its earliest form until the onset of digital related technologies.
  • Creative & Aesthetic Design: You'll study and practice drawing, perspective, colour theory, composition, form and shape language relating to character and production design.
  • Design for Production 1: You'll hone your design skills with a focus on 2D and 3D production techniques.
  • Production Practice 1: This unit introduces you to more specific character rigging and animation tools, techniques and practices.

Year 2

Core units

  • Group Project: As part of a team you'll develop a short visual sequence, plus gain advanced CG skills and learn new techniques.
  • Cinematography and Acquisition 2: The aim of this unit is to develop the theoretical, practical and applied knowledge and understanding of cinematography and camera acquisition practices for digital effects.
  • Moving Image Theory 2: The unit continues its historical narrative by identifying a break in visual culture with the advent of the computer, drawing parallels between the impact of the camera and that of the computer upon theoretical discourses on the image.
  • Personal Inquiry: Here you'll focus on a specialist area of practice, a generalist project or a complementary skill/technique that will benefit your on going development.
  • Design for Production 2: You'll learn how to develop a style bible and supporting material with an emphasis on all aspects of production design for a game, visual effects or an animation production.
  • Production Practice 2: The aim of this unit is to introduce you to more specific visual effects, character modelling, rigging and animation tools, techniques and practices.

Year 3

Optional 30 week (minimum) work placement.

Year 3/4

Core units

  • Major Project & Report: This unit marks the culmination of production work and acts as the integrating component of techniques taught to you throughout your three years of study; forming an important part of your portfolio and show-reel.
  • Innovations: This unit aims to encourage you to actively engage in exploring the potential of the computer in the evolution and development of new modes of creative expression.
  • Masterclass: You'll be exposed to advanced production issues of professional practice, gaining the theoretical and practical knowledge of specialist computer graphics techniques.
  • Production Practice 3: You'll be introduced to specific visual effects, and character modelling, rigging and animation tools, techniques and practices.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

Contact hours

The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during each year of this course. This is an interdisciplinary programme and you will be taught through a mixture of lectures, tutorials, workshops, seminars and screenings. The type of units taught can be classified in three broad categories, (a) technical, (b) production, and (c) art theory and practice. The technical units cover the principles and techniques required to understand and master the technology used in computer animation and games. The production unit’s deal with the craft skills, the production pipeline, and required systems and tools needed in the production of computer animated sequences or games. Art-based subjects provide the required practical skills in traditional media such as life-drawing, photography, sculptural practice, and knowledge of the visual aesthetic principles and practices for computer generated images placing these within a historical and aesthetic context.

Year 1 – 25% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 441 hours
  • Independent learning: 759 hours

Year 2 – 22% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 305 hours
  • Independent learning: 895 hours

Year 3/4 - 15% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 121.5 hours
  • Independent learning: 1078.5 hours

90% of the course is assessed by coursework

  • Year 1: 100%
  • Year 2: 87%
  • Year 3/4: 83%

The majority of your work will be assessed by practical assignments, but assessment is also made via coursework and written exams as well.

Practical projects are often group or team based allowing for student collaboration, emulating the dynamic and collaborative nature of computer animation and games production process.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

View the programme specification for BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Placement opportunities

At BU, we recognise that placements are extremely valuable and can give you a head start when it comes to your future career; therefore we now offer every new student the opportunity to undertake a work placement as part of their course.

We will provide a great deal of support to help you find the most appropriate work placement for the subject you’re studying and the career you’re interested in, which means you could be based anywhere in the UK, or even overseas.

A placement should be a highly rewarding experience for you and the employing company and we do our best to ensure that everyone involved feels that they have got the most that they can from the experience.

The benefits to you as a placement student are many. You will have the chance to:

  • Put the theory learnt throughout the course into professional practice
  • Enhance your study and help you decide on subject options (where appropriate)
  • Learn a wide range of skills such as time management, problem solving and team work (all of these are important to succeed in any career)
  • Make contacts, as it is not uncommon for our students to be offered permanent positions to return to after graduating
  • Gain a real insight into how the industry operates in roles that would be almost impossible to achieve for an outsider
  • Many of our students, during their placement, are given responsibilities normally associated with graduate trainees.

Our students have previously worked for:

  • Bluezoon (animation)
  • Microsoft Rare (games)
  • Electronic Arts (games)
  • Geomerics (rendering technology)

How long is the placement? 

You will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study and you must complete a minimum of 30 weeks. However, your work placement doesn't have to be with the same employer and, in the animation industry, it's often more common that you'll find a placement for around three months at a time, allowing you to gain experience with several organisations during the year. This is largely due to the timeframes many production studios work to.

Find out more about placements and our student experiences here.

Software and production tools

Our aim is to prepare you for work in the computer games and animation industry, which is why we regularly update our software to give you access to the production tools used by the professionals. On the standard build, we have the following installed:

  • Autodesk Maya, Mudbox and MotionBuilder
  • PIxologic ZBrush
  • Foundry Mari and Nuke
  • SideFX Houdini
  • Adobe Photoshop and Premier
  • Unreal Engine 4
  • Unity 5.

There are several plugins available, including RealFlow, VRay, Shotgun and Golaem. The software development tools we use are open source and/or freely available, and include g++, clang, CUDA, Qt 5 and SDL 2.

Your application

Background and experience

For BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts, we are looking for applicants who can:

  • Demonstrate both intellectual and creative abilities
  • Show an understanding of the animation industry
  • Have a strong technical drawing ability
  • Possess a strong awareness of the visual arts
  • Demonstrate good written and oral communication skills.

Students on this course must have a strong artistic ability and have a comprehensive portfolio of work, ranging from sketches and paintings to photography. Students will also have a proven ability to work creatively, in groups and individually.

We would encourage applicants who are interested in new ideas, can express themselves artistically, work well in groups and can demonstrate a wide range of interests.

Selection methods

We’ll use the UCAS applications to create a shortlist of candidates that we would like to find out more about. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your three main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.


As this course requires you to demonstrate practical and applicable skills in this particular subject, we invite applicants who present the necessary skills on their UCAS form to attend an interview day at Bournemouth University.

During this visit you will be asked to take tests in Maths, Logic and Life Drawing, as well as show your portfolio of art work.

Applicants should demonstrate a keen interest in areas of moving image/animation/visual effects. They should be prepared to talk through their portfolio and creative ideas. Find out more information about what to expect during your interview, as well as the kind of work we're looking for in a portfolio.

Unconditional offer scheme

Our Unconditional Offer Scheme seeks to reward exceptional applicants who are predicted to achieve top academic results. The scheme is offered to applicants on all courses who are predicted AAA at A-level/triple Distinction in BTEC Extended Diploma, or above, or equivalent, subject to any course selection measures and meeting other entry criteria (i.e. required qualifications). What’s more we’ll recognise your achievement if you meet these grades with an Academic Excellence Scholarship from £1,500 when you arrive*.

We believe that unconditional offers will reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible. Excellent grades will become a part of applicants’ CVs and are also required for BU’s scholarships. International qualifications are considered in the scheme; however applicants must satisfy the English language requirements.

*Our scholarships are subject to terms, conditions and eligibility criteria, detailed on our scholarships pages.

2017 entry requirements

The new UCAS Tariff will be used for September 2017 entry.

The entry requirements for this course are 120 to 128 tariff points fom 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications including 40 points from one required subject. BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM.

UCAS have created a helpful calculator so you can calculate points to use for courses starting from September 2017 onwards.

Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies

GCSEs: This course requires a minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including Maths (grade B or 6) and English or equivalent qualifications.

Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.

Other qualifications

We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access to HE Diploma: BU welcomes Access to HE Diploma applicants. This course requires applicants to Pass the Access to HE Diploma (with 60 Credits - at least 45 at level 3, remainder at level 2 or equivalent).  Any combination of grades to meet the overall tariff is acceptable.

BTEC qualifications

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Distinction, Merit.
  • Diploma: This course requires a Distinction, Merit in addition to an A-level Grade B (normally in a required subject).
  • 90-credit Diploma: The 90-credit Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
  • Subsidiary Diploma: This course requires a Distinction in addition to two A-levels in relevant subjects to achieve the overall tariff.

A combination of BTEC qualifications to meet the overall course tariff is also acceptable.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: We welcome applicants studying the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma or a combination of Pre-U subjects and A-levels.

European Baccalaureate: Applicants are required to achieve a minimum score of 75% - 77%.

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): The IB Diploma is welcomed as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This course requires 31-32 points including 5 points from each of the 3 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish qualifications: Scottish Advanced Highers, Scottish Highers and other Scottish qualifications are all welcomed providing that your results meet the overall course tariff and include required subjects as appropriate.

Welsh Baccalaureate: The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma is welcomed alongside A-Levels or equivalent, to meet the overall course tariff.

OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Qualification: The OCR Extended Diploma or a combination of one Diploma plus one Introductory Diploma is acceptable for entry to this course.

Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Distinction, Merit.

Other combinations of OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications to meet the overall course tariff may be acceptable.

Extended Project Qualification: The grade achieved for the Extended Project may be taken into account when considering whether or not to accept a candidate who has marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer.

Deferred Entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.

International entry requirements

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.

We offer a number of preparatory programmes through the Bournemouth University International College. These courses offer you progression from High School in your home country to a Bachelor’s degree at BU.


Our computer animation courses are exceptionally well regarded within the industry and as a result, our graduates rarely struggle to find work once they finish their course - 80% of them are in work or further study within six months of graduating*.

During your degree you will have the opportunity to work with some of the UK's leading computer animation organisations, through the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA), and can make valuable contacts before you graduate.

Our NCCA graduates have gone on to work on some of the most successful films of the past decade, including Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Interstellar, Gravity and Alice in Wonderland to name just a few. Among the roles you can apply for once you graduate are:

  • Director
  • Environment artist
  • Concept artist
  • Character animator
  • Computer game designer
  • Roto artists
  • Special effects artist

Industries worked in

  • Film special effects
  • Computer game design
  • Animation production
  • Scientific visualisation
  • Graphics software implementation.

Further study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • Level I (Year 2) Aesthetics & Techniques – some subsidised Field Trips
  • Level I (Year 2) Design for Animation –  some subsidised Festival Attendance

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide.
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsided travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the students section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies (with or without attendance), you may be required to pay an additional fee of £1,500 per 20 credit unit. 

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Course changes

The table below indicates the latest changes to this course.

Date Changes to this course Where the change was made Unit
24/3/16 New formal requirement for unit Course details content

Cinematography and Acquisition 1

What our students say

Viktor Petrov

The university’s amazing facilities and outstanding student support have helped me fully prepare for working in the animation and visual effects industry.

Hear from our staff

Adam Redford

Computer Animation is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of creative endeavour and technical development. An exciting, fast-changing and rewarding area.

What former Prime Minister says:

David Cameron

Bournemouth University plays a very important part because its training of some of our digital effects specialists [and] because of many of our creative people – [are] an absolutely key part of this vital and growing industry.

Additional information

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