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BA (Hons) Computer Visualisation & Animation

BA (Hons) Computer Visualisation and Animation video
  • UCAS Code:
    W280
  • Institution:
    B50
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

Welcome to one of the most established computer animation degrees in the UK. Not only are we one of the oldest, we're one of the greatest; as we place emphasis on the creative side of computer animation, combining traditional art disciplines like life drawing and cinematography with more technical subjects relevant to computing, like programming and applied maths.

This degree sees you split your time between computing and moving image studies, ultimately equipping you with skills in a range of disciplines and an enviable overview of the industry.

86% of last year’s students agree our staff are good at explaining things – why not and come and meet us and find out more.

*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, September 2018

Location:

Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus

Duration:

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

Accreditations:

Creative skillset

Relevant subjects:

Any other creative, visual, mathematical or computing subject

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 2017 entry (we will use the new UCAS tariff): 120 to 128 tariff points, from 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications, including 48 points from a 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

  • Computer Animation Production & Practice: You'll be taught about key pre-production materials of animated and interactive Computer Generated Imaging (CGI) projects, as well as storytelling techniques through scriptwriting and storyboarding.
  • Introduction to Production Tools: An introduction to the software tools used for producing 3D computer animation and visual effects. You'll work on a 3D animation and visual effects project to a set brief.
  • Cinematography and Acquisition 1: In this unit, you'll develop a basic theoretical and practical understanding of cinematography and camera 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 history of animation and moving images, from the invention of the camera to early computer and digital technologies. You'll learn about key animation scholars and consider the relationship between technology, practice and context.
  • Computing for Graphics: An introduction to computing and programming concepts that are commonly used in computer games, graphics and animation.
  • Mathematical Methods: You'll learn how maths and physics are used in Computer Games and Computer Animation.

Year 2

Core units

  • Group Project: In a group, you'll learn about the principles and practices of team work and develop more creative skills as you produce a short visual sequence. You'll learn about more advanced CG skills to help you develop and research ideas.
  • Computer Animation Specialist Production: An opportunity to personalise your style of work by completing a computer graphics project.
  • Visual Effects and Compositing Techniques: Principles and practices of visual effects and compositing that mirror industry standards in creating certain types of shots. You can study this further in your final year.
  • Computing for Animation: An introduction to Object Oriented Programming (OOP) and commonly-used concepts in computer graphics and animation.
  • Mathematics for Computer Graphics: You'll learn how key mathematics and algorithms are used for 2D and 3D computer graphics.

Option units (choose one)

  • Cinematography and Acquisition 2: You'll develop an advanced understanding of cinematography and camera practices for digital effects.
  • Principles of Rendering: There are similarities between rendering techniques that take hours (film) and less than a second (games). For example, both disciplines have rules governing light and colour. In this unit, you'll develop an understanding of rendering, and create new effects and shades. 
  • Moving Image Theory 2: Picking up from where the historical narrative of Moving Image Theory 1 left off, you'll learn about the development of different types of early computer animation and digital moving images. You'll compare the impacts of the camera and the computer on image theory, and learn about key post-modern theories and consider where they stand in light the advances made in contemporary moving images.

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.

Year 3

Optional 30 week (minimum) work placement.

Year 3/4

Core units

  • Major Project & Report: A production unit which runs throughout the academic year. It will give you the chance to use and merge the knowledge you've gained in an innovative and creative way, as an individual or as part of a group.
  • Innovations: You'll be encouraged to explore the potential of the computer in the evolution of creative expression. You'll be introduced to current approaches to experimentation in animation, effects, games and related disciplines, and to methods that can sometimes lead to innovative ideas and products.
  • Masterclass: Learn about the professional world of a digital media production house, the advanced production issues in professional practice and specialist computer graphics techniques.
  • Animation Systems Techniques: Merging what you learnt over the first two years of the course, you'll look at how computer animation systems are designed and used. You'll learn about more advanced mathematical and programming techniques used in developing computer animation system and use these to make 2D and 3D computer animation systems.

Option units (choose one)

  • Advanced VFX Techniques: The unit not only will strengthen the knowledge you gain in year 2 by reviewing and exploring more in depth the introduced bodies of knowledge, but will also develop new knowledge for other fundamental visual effects sub areas.
  • Simulation Techniques for Animation: This unit will equip you with an in depth understanding of the basic theories involved in animation system development, such as geometrical deformation, kinematics, dynamics, mechanics and other fundamental physics theories.

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 – 28% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 470 hours
  • Independent learning: 730 hours

Year 2 – 35% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 323 hours
  • Independent learning: 877 hours

Year 3 - Placement

Year 4 - 20% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 237.5 hours
  • Independent learning: 962.5 hours

78% of the course is assessed by coursework

  • Year 1: 75%
  • Year 2: 77%
  • Year 3/4: 83%

The majority of your work will be assessed by practical and written 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 Visualisation and Animation.

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 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 Visualisation and Animation, we are looking for applicants who can:

  • Demonstrate both intellectual and creative abilities
  • Show an understanding of the animation industry
  • Have a 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. You should have an understanding of how the animation industry works and the job roles within it. Most of all you must be creative innovators and have strong imaginations. 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 and digital media 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 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.

Interviews

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, from 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications, including 48 points from a 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 6 points from one Higher Level subject and 5 from the remaining 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.

Non-academic requirements

Visual creativity - traditional art skills

Practitioners of computer animation and the related fields say that graduates of the BA (Hons) Computer Visualisation & Animation course benefit enormously from the practice of traditional art skills. Traditional art skills play an important role in the curriculum of Year 1 of the course, they are integral in project planning and presentations throughout the three years of study, and are a requirement of many of the course’s major traditional employers. All candidates selected for interview will be expected to bring with them a portfolio consisting predominantly of traditional - i.e. non-digital - artwork. Artwork produced digitally may be included as appropriate, but should be of a quality that reflects your visual creative abilities displayed elsewhere in the portfolio.

Visual awareness

You should be aware not only of the application of computer animation and other forms of digital media within film, television and other areas, but should also be familiar with, and have a passion for, a broader spectrum of visual media. This might include a strong interest in traditional and modern art forms, photography, film, etc. The practice of computer animation and digital media production builds upon a broader and more mature tradition of visual media production, and awareness and understanding of the broader field contributes enormously to the quality of production in the digital realm.

Individual and teamwork

The ability to work in collaborative groups, ensuring that the end result is not compromised by differences of opinion, is central to professional practice in the field. We expect all our candidates to have strong personal vision but also the ability to work well in teams.

This is a skill demanded by employers. An integral part of the Year 2 curriculum requires group work in project production. In an intense and demanding course, team-work skills also contribute to the cross fertilisation of ideas and can often ease progress in areas other than project production.

Other

You may already possess a number of these skills, but if not, we will help you to develop them throughout the course.

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.

Careers

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. In fact, 80% of our students are working or studying within six months of finishing 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.

This course is accredited by Creative Skillset and carries the Creative Skillset Tick. In achieving the Creative Skillset Tick this course joins the ranks of the top creative training and education this country has to offer, you can be sure that it has undergone a rigorous assessment process conducted by experts working in the creative industries. The Tick is only given to those courses that have the strongest links with industry giving you the best possible chance of a successful career.

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) 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
  • 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
  • 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, 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

Ileana Stravoskiad

There are so many people from Bournemouth in the industry, people know that if you're a BU graduate they've got a good deal.

Hear from our staff

Dr Zhidong Xiao

This is one of the most established courses in the UK developed with many leading computer animation, digital special effects and computer game companies.

What our graduates think

Peter Matev

Our tutors were very supportive and provided useful weekly feedback, from initial concept and storyboarding right the way through to the final technical phases.

Additional information

Fees and funding

Fees and funding

Find out about fees and funding, including scholarships and bursaries.

applicant open days

Open Days

We give a warm welcome to anyone who comes to meet us and we love showing off our campuses and Bournemouth to prospective students and their families. 

International students

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.