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BA (Hons) Computer Animation Technical Arts

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This course is a development of the Computer Visualisation and Animation course which ran for over 20 years, producing graduates who now work all over the world, as technical directors/artists, software producers and games developers in some of the leading animation and production houses, software houses, and computer game and digital media companies. This includes graduates who've gone on to win Oscars such as Mark Ardington. ​

The course is taught within our National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) and combines the study of art, animation techniques, applied maths and computing needed to satisfy the demands of modern (computer animation, film, VFX and games) production. 

It is a unique 50/50 mix of art and science, reflecting practice relevant to the production of computer graphics and animation for a range of industries and applications. Once you finish the course you’ll be able to create art and animation using computer code and can describe technical ideas using film and animation. This course is accredited by Creative Skillset, joining the ranks of the top creative training and education providers this country has to offer. 

BU graduates who studied in this subject area were typically earning £23,000 after three years, this is 32% higher than all graduates who studied this subject. Join us on live chat now to find out more, or register to meet us at an open day.

Find out more by watching a webinar about the course.  

Statistics shown are taken from Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO 2017).

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


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


Creative Skillset

Required subjects:

One creative subject such as: Fine Art, Graphic Design or Photography and one technical subject such as: Maths, Computing or Physics

Entry requirements:

For 2018 entry: 120 - 128 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent in required subjects (40 points in 1 required subject). BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM in a required subject. For more information check out our 2018 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

Level 4

Core units

  • Introduction to Production Tools: Employing the principles and practices of software tools, you will complete an effective, realistic, visual effects and computer animation project.
  • Programming Principles: this unit provides an introduction to computing and programming concepts that are the foundation of software development. They are introduced in a manner that demonstrates their relevance and application to computer graphics, animation, games and visual effects production.
  • Visual Narrative & Design: the fundamental building blocks that enable you to conceive, present and generate pre-production material. The unit also covers the principles and techniques of storytelling through scriptwriting and storyboarding.
  • Technical Arts Production: An introduction to the roles of technical animators and technical artists. The unit combines life drawing studies, computer animation production and scripting.
  • Mathematics for Computer Graphics: Key mathematical methods in the context of computer graphics, animation and games.
  • Moving Image Theory & Practice: Lectures will include film screenings as a basis for discussions of the theory & perspectives in moving image studies and practices in filmmaking.

Level 5

Core units

  • Visual Studies: You will start with the fundamental building blocks to understand, conceive, present and generate original visual images , image sequences or concepts inspired from observation in nature. You will also address the wider context of 3D animation content generation with in the production pipeline process of animated features and computer games.
  •  Advanced Mathematics for Computer Graphics: The more advanced, specialist mathematical and algorithmic techniques for computer graphics  and animation.
  • Computing for Graphics & Animation: Introducing you to Object Oriented Programming (OOP) and the functional concepts that are commonly used in computer graphics and animation.
  • Group Project: You will work as part of a team in the conception, planning, management and presentation of a piece of work that demonstrates your technical and creative skills.

Option units (choose 2)

  • Character Rigging: Providing you with the fundamental skills for rigging characters for animation. You will produce a short artefact in the form of a reusable rigging tool or rig.
  • Visual Effects Acquisition: Gain a range of practical skills, including camera operation, lighting, tracking and set survey, and become familiar with the procedures and protocols for safely setting up and executing live action studio or location shoots.
  • Personal Inquiry: You will be able to focus on developing a specialist area of practice, or a complementary skill or technique that will benefit your career aspirations.
  • Real Time Graphics Systems: Using state-of-the-art game engines, you will be introduced to the fundamental principles of real-time graphics engines.
  • Technical Effects:  Looking at visual effects technical effects creation and integration pipeline, you will be introduced to areas of technical effects such as rigid body dynamics, particle systems, fluid dynamic systems, fire and smoke simulation, and character effects systems like fur and cloth.
  • Lighting & Rendering: This unit will further your knowledge of lighting and rendering for visual effects.
  • Advanced Animation Techniques: an in depth exploration of the advanced technologies in character animation such as rigging, muscle modelling and deformation, skinning, facial expression tracking and animation, motion capture and synthesis, gesture, hair and cloth simulation, crowd animation and other state-of-the-art topics.
  • Principles of Rendering: This unit introduces modern image synthesis techniques from fundamental principles of the interaction of light with reflective geometry. You will apply principles of light, colour and reflectance in the design of shaders for both off-line and real-time applications.
  • Advanced Moving Image Theory & Practice: This unit will advance your knowledge of theories and practice in moving image studies and film making.

Level 6

Core units

  • Final major project & dissertation: This unit is the culmination of your studies. Working as either an individual or in a group, you must produce a significant body of work (typically a short animation, game or software artefact). This must be accompanied by a dissertation demonstrating your ability to communicate evidence of problem solving.
  • Master Class: You will undertake an industry set and supervised brief, in which you demonstrate your chosen area of specialism. 
  • Research & Development Project: Choose an academic, practice based or production oriented project to produce a research paper or industry-standard professional report.

Level 6

Option units (choose 1)

  • Digital Fabrication: Providing you with hands-on experience of 3D printing technology and its applications in art and design.
  • CG & Animation for Cultural Heritage: This unit will investigate the different forms of cultural heritage and the ways in which computer graphics and animation techniques and methods can be applied in their interpretation and preservation. We will cover their application to interactive visualisation such as virtual museum exhibits and also HCI and 3D printing.
  • Non-fiction Animation: Explore, consider or challenge non-fiction animation, documentaries and live-action film at on-campus screenings.
  • Digital Matte Painting: Develop different techniques for creating photo-realistic digital environments and apply them to 2D, 2.5D and 3D digital matte painting.
  • Computer Vision & Image Processing: This unit introduces you to the fundamental concepts of computer vision and image processing.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

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. As this is an interdisciplinary programme you are taught through a mixture of lectures, workshops tutorials, 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.

Guided independent study will supplement scheduled learning and teaching activities across all three years.The final year has a practice-based focus, with less lecture and workshop contact time.

Year 1 – 36% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 432 hours
  • Independent learning: 768 hours

Year 2 – 29.3% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 352 hours
  • Independent learning: 848 hours

Year 3 - Placement

Year 4 - 11.8% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 141 hours
  • Independent learning: 1059 hours

How you will be assessed

You will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, and you will also undertake group work and written exams. The assessment methods for each unit can be found on the programme profile in the programme specification for your course. As an indication, 76% of the most popular units on a similar course in 2016/17 were assessed by coursework.

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 Technical 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)
  • Goemerics (rendering technology)

How long is the placement?

If you choose the four year course option, you will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study and you must complete a minimim 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 students’ experiences.

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

We are looking for applicants who can:

  • Demonstrate both intellectual and creative abilities
  • Have a passion for the discipline of computer animation
  • Show an understanding of the animation, visual effects or games industry
  • Have a strong mathematical and creative background
  • Be able to produce a strong portfolio of art work from still life to photography
  • Demonstrate good written and oral communication skills.

You must possess both a good mathematical and artistic ability, and show a keen interest in the world of animation, visual effects and/or computer games production. You should have an understanding of how the industry works and the job roles within it. Most of all you must be a passionate, creative innovator with a strong imagination. You should also have an understanding of computers; some students may already have basic programming skills, however this is not an essential requirement.

IT Skills

The entire process of computer animation production is underpinned by technology. The visual and technological aspects of the field are inseparable. To produce visual work in the field does not necessarily require a deep-rooted understanding of technological issues.

However, the ethos of the course, and one of the aspects that commands respect from employers of its graduates, is that a greater understanding of the technologies underpinning the visuals contributes to the practitioner's ability to produce work more effectively.

A desire to understand and develop a command of technology is of great benefit to any candidate for the course. While the majority of graduates tend to enter the computer animation, visual effects and games industries industry as visual artists, some specialise as software producers during the course, but in all cases a strong grasp of technological issues affecting computer animation and digital media production is a hallmark of the course's graduates.

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.


We invite applicants who present the academic qualifications we require in their UCAS form to attend an interview day in order to demonstrate the practical skills required to excel in this discipline. 

You will also be interviewed by a member of the teaching team to discuss our courses, and also to give you an opportunity to present and discuss your portfolio. Portfolios could include, but are not limited to:

  • Observational studies in any medium - Still life, environments (interior, exterior, architectural studies, perspective studies), lighting studies, colour studies, anatomy studies
  • Sketchbook and works demonstrating self-motivated study and research. We need to see work that the applicant has done outside of their studies and courses, and can discuss with keen interest and enthusiasm
  • Life drawing
  • An appropriate application of detail. Adding detail to artwork should not be at the expense of strong form and structure
  • Work that demonstrates creativity and proficiency in composition, form, structure, colour and design, in both 2D or 3D.  For example - character design, environment design, illustration, graphic design, product design, media design, photography, sculpture
  • A showreel of moving image work (but this is not essential).

Applicants should demonstrate a keen interest in areas of moving image/animation/visual effects. You should be prepared to talk through your 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.

Overseas applicants who meet the academic criteria but who are unable to attend an interview day, will be asked to submit a portfolio online for review and will also be asked to undertake an online interview with the teaching team and online tests if required.

Unconditional offer scheme

Applicants who are predicted to achieve strong academic results will be eligible for BU’s Unconditional Offer Scheme in recognition of their academic performance and potential to succeed at university. If you are selected for the scheme and commit to us as your firm choice of university, then we will match this commitment by making your offer unconditional, which will guarantee your place at BU.

You will receive a standard conditional offer based on the entry requirements for your course via UCAS Track and your offer letter – it will advise that you are eligible for the unconditional offer scheme. We will then update your offer to unconditional should you choose BU as your firm choice on UCAS Track. We believe that unconditional offers reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible, and we will reward you with an Academic Excellence scholarship of £1,000 in your first year if you achieve AAA or above at A-level or equivalent.

2018 entry requirements

We use the UCAS Tariff to show our entry requirements and will accept a combination of grades from your qualifications. You can use the UCAS calculator to see how your qualifications equate to tariff points.

The entry requirements for this course are 120 - 128 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent in required subjects (40 points in 1 required subject). BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM in a required subject.

Required subjects: One creative subject such as Fine Art, Graphic Design or Photography and one technical subject such as Maths, Computing or Physics. 40 points is required in either one of the creative or technical required subjects.   

Excluded subjects: General Studies

GCSEs: GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) 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, but is not limited to, 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 Future Students Enquiries Team 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 Future Students Enquiries Team – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access courses: 118 - 128 tariff points in a required subject with any combination of Distinction, Merit, Pass grades

BTEC qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Distinction, Merit (128 tariff points).
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff. 
  • BTEC National Foundation Diploma/90-credit Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent. 
  • BTEC National Extended Certificate/Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent. 

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: 120 - 128 tariff points including a minimum of 2 Principal Subjects in required subjects (52 points in 1 required subject).

Cambridge Technical qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Distinction, Merit (128 tariff points).
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff.
  • Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent. 
  • Introductory Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent. 

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 31 - 32 overall including grade H5 from 2 Higher Level subjects including grade H6 in a required subject

Scottish Advanced Highers: 120 - 128 tariff points including a minimum of 2 Advanced Highers in required subjects (48 points in 1 required subject).

Welsh Baccalaureate: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent. 

Extended Project Qualification: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by 2 A-levels or equivalent. 

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.

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:

  • Technical director (in computer animation and digital effects)
  • Technical artist (in computer games)
  • Visual artist
  • Software producer
  • Game developer
  • 3D artist
  • Visual effects tech developer

Our graduates work all over the world, and many are employed by the industry's leading animation and production houses, software houses, and computer game and digital media companies.

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.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the animation sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below.

Ari Sarafopoulos

No hidden extras

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

Level I (Year 2) Design for Animation 2 – 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.

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 Previous text

Entry requirements have changed to now be 40 points in one required subject, whereas previsouly we asked for 48 points in one required subject. 

GCSE maths requirements have changed from a grade B to C. 

2018 entry requirements 

120-128 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent, including 48 points in 1 required subject.

GCSE English grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) and GCSE Mathematics grade B (or grade 6 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.

20/12/2017 Changes to the programme specification. Unit changes in levels 4-6. N/A

After an annual review of the placement year tuition fee,  a price increase in line with current inflation, equating to 3% has been introduced.

Fees £790
05/10/2017 Applicants will no longer be required to undertake a maths or life drawing test at interview.  Your application

During this visit you will be required to discuss your portfolio of art work and may be asked to take tests in Maths and Life Drawing.


2018 entry requirements have changed to 120 - 128 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent in required subjects (48 points in 1 required subject). BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM in a required subject. 

Key facts and 2018 entry requirements

The entry requirements for this course are 120 tariff points, including 48 points from a required subject. BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM.


2018 GCSE entry requirements have changed to This course requires GCSE English grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) and GCSE Mathematics grade B (or grade 6 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.

2018 entry requirements

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


Entry requirements changed back to: 120-128 tariff points from 3 A-levels or equivalent including 40 points from one required subject.

Entry requirements for 2017

120 tariff points, from 3 A-levels or equivalent qualifications, including 48 points from a required subject.