Skip to main content

BSc (Hons) Software Development for Animation, Games and Effects

BSc (Hons) Software Development for Animation Games and Effects 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.

Our Software Development for Animation, Games & Effects degree is very different from its run of the mill computer science rivals, as it sets out to fully and unapologetically immerse you in the exciting fields of computer graphics and production processes. Working on cross-disciplinary collaborations with other artists and technical directors, you'll gain invaluable hands-on-experience that won't only help you develop the techniques and skills needed to excel in your discipline, but will also teach you to better appreciate and work effectively in other aspects of the production pipeline.

What's more you'll build on a solid base of mathematics and computer science theory, as well as applying software development techniques to a wide range of topics, such as modelling, rendering and natural phenomena simulation, ultimately enriching you with the theory, practical skillset and experience needed to succeed in this industry. 91% of our final year students thought they got the support and advice they needed – why not come and meet us to 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


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


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

Relevant subjects:

Any other creative, visual, mathematical or computing subject.

Required subjects:

Two technical subjects 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. 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

  • Decoding Art: By uncovering the scientific and technical principles from Art History and Classical Painting, as well as higher-level aesthetics of Computer Graphics technology, we'll make a bridge between Art and Science. This bridge will help you with your project work, and to have good conversations with other students from art backgrounds.
  • Introduction to Production Tools: You'll learn about the software tools used for producing 3D computer animation and visual effects, and work on a 3D animation and visual effects project to a set brief.
  • Discrete Mathematics: You'll learn how discrete mathematics are used in computing, computer animation and computer games.
  • Fundamentals of Computer Science: The topics covered in this unit include a short history of computing, algorithmic techniques, data structures and databases, automata and Turing machines, computer hardware design and a brief introduction to operating systems.
  • Principles and Practice of Programming: This unit will teach you about the programming and algorithms needed to develop software for games, films and effects. You'll learn about tools and techniques used for problem-solving and gain transferable skills to help you pick up computer programming techniques regardless of the language being used.
  • Mathematical Methods: You'll learn how maths and physics are used in Computer Games and Computer Animation.

Year 2

Core units

  • Effects Production Tools: You'll develop an in-depth understanding of computer graphics tools to produce animation effects by using industry standard software.
  • Group Project: In a group, you'll develop creative skills by producing a short visual sequence. You'll be taught more advanced CG skills to help you develop and research ideas.
  • Programming Paradigms: Programming paradigms are commonly used in computer graphics and animation. You'll learn why these are relevant and how to use them for solving particular problems.
  • 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 shaders.
  • Shape Modelling for Computer Graphics: An introduction to shape modelling that's regularly used in advanced computer graphics algorithms. You'll learn about the unity between representations and techniques relating to shapes of different dimensionality. There will be compulsory maths content in this unit.
  • Principles of Software Engineering and Operating Systems: Here you'll develop an engineering perspective on what you learnt in your first year, be introduced to operating system basics and learn how to network.

Year 3

Optional minimum 30 week work placement

Year 3/4 (final year)

Core units

  • Major Project & Report: The end of your production work, where you'll merge the techniques you've been taught throughout your three years of study. You'll show your technical, creative and professional skills. Your project should be of a high enough quality to be entered or presented in international and national festivals and conferences.
  • Research and Development Project: You'll work professionally in a research and development team in an academic setting, getting opportunities to improve your academic communication skills and advice for pursuing postgraduate research at the end of the course.
  • Simulation Techniques for Animation: An opportunity to develop your understanding of basic theories involved in animation system development, such as geometrical deformation, kinematics, dynamics and mechanics. You'll also gain an understanding of common techniques used in animation systems, such as character animation and natural phenomena simulation, along with problem-solving and technique development skills.
  • Advanced Programming: This unit looks at advanced and optimal software development techniques, you'll develop professionalism and proficiency for this discipline.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision: There are two objectives in this unit. One is to introduce you to the AI techniques that are relevant for the generating behaviour for autonomous agents in virtual environments. The other is to introduce you to methods for creating artificial vision systems, an important component for embodied agents.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

The emphasis of this course is in guided independent learning, which helps you develop into a self-motivated learner. When not attending lectures and seminars, you will be expected to read around the subject. Your typical week’s activities will include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments. The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during each year of this course.

Year 1 – 37% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 463 hours
  • Independent learning: 737 hours

Year 2 – 40% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 410 hours
  • Independent learning: 790 hours

Year 3/4 – 20% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 242 hours
  • Independent learning: 958 hours

56% of the course is assessed by coursework

  • Year 1: 33%
  • Year 2: 52%
  • Year 3/4: 83%

Throughout the course you will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, but you will also undertake group work and written exams.

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 BSc (Hons) Software Development for Animation, Games and Effects.

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.

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.

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 help and support to ensure you achieve a rewarding and satisfying placement. What’s more, you can also choose to undertake your placement abroad, giving you the opportunity to develop yourself personally, academically, and professionally and gain skills to help you stand out in the job market.

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. Why not read about some of our students’ experiences?

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? 

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 for the whole 30-weeks 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.

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

For BSc (Hons) Software Development for Animation, Games and Effects, we are looking for applicants who can:

  • Demonstrate a strong mathematical and technical background
  • Demonstrate both intellectual and creative abilities
  • Show an understanding of the animation industry
  • Demonstrate good written and oral communication skills.

Students on this course must have a strong background in maths and computing. Students will also have a proven ability to work in groups and individually.

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.


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 a Maths and Logic tests, as well as show your portfolio of software development/creative work, if you have one. Providing a portfolio isn't essential.

If you do have a portfolio, make sure it contains any software developed and any computer generated visual work relevant to animation or to games that you have produced so far. You can also include any of your visual work, for example, photography, video, concept drawings, etc. that demonstrates your interests in animation and games.

Find out more information about what to expect during your interview.

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.

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. 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, 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 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 Course: 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, Distinction in addition to an A-Level to achieve the overall tariff.
  • 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 to achieve the overall tariff.

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

Cambridge Pre-U: 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.


We have a great deal of experience in preparing people for work in the computer animation, games and effects industry, with many of our graduates going to work on some of the world's top films and computer games. You can follow in their footsteps, with this course providing you with the theoretical, mathematical and software development techniques you need to thrive in this exciting industry.

Our courses are well regarded within the sector and 86% of our students are in work or further study within six months of finishing their course, with an average salary of £25,000 per year*. Among the companies our graduates work for are Industrial Light and Magic, and Dreamworks.

The main roles for graduates within the animation, games and effects industry, are:

  • Software developer
  • Software engineer.

Due to the fast-paced nature of this sector, there is plenty of scope to progress your career and try new things, whether in relation to film production, games development or digital effects.

Industries worked in

  • Software development
  • Computer animation and production
  • Games industry
  • Film industry.

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.

Dr Eike Anderson

Since 2012 I have been a Senior Lecturer in Game Development at the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA), where I also lectured between 2001 and 2008 while completing my PhD. I am the Programme Leader for the BSc (Hons) Software Development for Animation, Games and Effects undergraduate programme.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and member of the ACM, ACM SIGGRAPH and the Eurographics Association.

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.

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.

What our students say

Tom Becque

The course combined the logical thinking and technical skills associated with computer science, with the ability to also be creative.

Hear from our staff

Eike Anderson

Students have to work together in production based group projects and have to rely on each other’s expertise and talent for the success of their project.

Additional information

Fees and funding

Fees and funding

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

Open day walking courtyard

Open Days

Discover what makes our Open Days so enjoyable and useful – and register to attend one of our events.

Omolola Fagbule

International students

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