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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

This Master’s in 3D computer animation is the perfect launch-pad for a career in a wide range of disciplines, including concept design, character and creature animation, modelling, lighting, rigging, texturing, compositing and simulation. This course will help you acquire the skills needed to work in a number of areas where computer animation is applied, including films, animated features, computer games, television production, commercials, illustration, scientific visualisation, flight simulation, virtual environments, architectural visualisations and interactive media.

We enjoy very strong links with industry, due largely to the ubiquity of NCCA graduates in the film, game and television industries. We host regular visiting practitioners lecture series where you'll be able to learn about the 2D and 3D industry from practicing artists and companies, as well as attend regular Masterclasses from professionals. Over the past five years we have attracted some of the best Visual Effects, Animation and Games studios from around the world to present to our students, find out more here.

We've created a professional studio environment where you'll be provided with your own workstation which is accessible 24/7. Facilities also include a full suite of industry standard 2D and 3D software, a full Motion Capture studio, a High-Definition Television Studio and a creative atmosphere in which collaboration with students from other Master’s courses provides a realistic setting to discover what it’s like working with other creative and technical people. View some of our student's work to see what you could be creating on this course.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year


Creative Skillset

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in any subject, or equivalent. 

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language: IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information see our full entry requirements

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.

Stage 1

Core units

  • Moving Image Theory: Containing the general image theory elements of the programme, this unit incorporates lectures on art, science, technology, digital cinematography, supporting screenings of films and animations, computer animation, digital effects and computer games.
  • Group Project: Working with students from all three postgraduate courses (MA3D, MA Digital Effects) you'll present a concept for a short animated piece.
  • Computer Animation Techniques: This unit aims to enable you to develop skills and knowledge in computer animation principles and practice. Software tools and best practice are underpinned by the theories introduced in the computer animation principles unit.
  • Computer Animation Principles: You'll investigate the underlying theories within computer graphics and animation, in parallel to the development of practical skills.
  • Computer Animation Principles & Techniques: You'll develop skills and knowledge in computer animation principles and practice, which will help to improve the quality of your productions. You'll also become conversant in the language, concepts and techniques relating to the course.
  • Personal Inquiry: You'll pursue research in areas that interest you. This begins at the start of term two, and is assessed at a research symposium in the middle of term three.
  • Master's Project: The focus of the fourth term is on completing the Master's component of your education. This project can be a standalone project or a continuation of the group project unit. In either case you can work alone or with other students. The year ends with a computer animation show, which gives you the opportunity to showcase your work to industry professionals and potential employers. View some of our students work to see what you could be creating on the course. 

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.

Download the programme specification for MA 3D Computer 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.

Selection criteria

For this course, you will need to provide a digital portfolio of your work with your completed application form.

Your portfolio should contain a full range of visual material which illustrates your talents and working methods. It is not essential to include 3D animated work. Successful candidates may then be called for an interview and expected to bring a full portfolio including both digital and traditional work, overseas students may be interviewed on the phone but must send examples of work.

The course leader has created a short video of student's portfolios who successfully gained entry onto the course. Please note that the 3D work in places is weak, as mentioned previously, this did not concern us. We are more interested in the ideas, observational skills and aesthetic appeal.

Our students come come from a broad background and age group. Applicants in the past have studied or worked in the field of fine art, illustration, painting, sculpture, graphic design, architecture, traditional animation, 3D visualisation, script writing, performance arts and photography. Computer knowledge is not a pre-requisite, neither is having worked in 3D before.  We are more concerned with your aesthetic and/or technical abilities.  

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon a postgraduate taught degree are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in any subject, or equivalent
  • A professional qualification or diploma recognised to be equivalent to an honours degree
  • Industrial experience deemed to be equivalent to an honours degree
  • A digital portfolio of your work must accompany your application
  • An interview may be required for this course.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the Future Students Enquiry Team for more information.

International entry requirements

  • ​IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our study postgraduate entry requirements page.


Graduates from our computer animation courses are highly sought after within the industry. Our alumni have worked on many high-profile projects, including movies such as Avatar, Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, Shrek, Guardians of Ga'hoole, the Harry Potter series, Sucker Punch, Happy Feet, Monsters vs Aliens, James Bond and Judge Dredd, among many others*.

They have also been involved with the animation for a range of computer games, such as Grand Theft Auto, Crysis 2 and Fable II. Our graduates have worked for a number of the world's top VFX and computer games studios, including Pixar, DreamWorks, EA Games and Sony Picture Image Works*.

In 2016, we had two graduates collect awards for their work:

In February 2011 and 2015, NCCA graduate Andy Lockley was awarded an Oscar for his role as Visual Effects Supervisor on the Christopher Nolan film 'Inception' and ‘Interstellar’ respectfully; whilst a number of our graduates who also worked on the film shared in the celebrations. 

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.

You will be ready for various roles within the 3D computer animation sector when you complete your course. Some of our 3D Computer Animation graduates are undertaking roles such as:

  • 3D artist
  • Artist
  • Software developer
  • Character animator
  • Technical animator

Industries worked in:

  • Animation
  • Gaming
  • Film
  • TV

Studios graduates have worked at:

  • Framestore
  • Double Negative
  • MPC
  • Outpost VFX
  • Blue-Zoo Animation
  • The Foundry
  • Creative Assembly 
  • Union VFX
  • Jellyfish Pictures
  • Playground Games
  • Weta Digital 
  • Rock Paper Film 
  • Method 
  • EA
  • Fortune Fish 
  • TT Games/Travellers Tales
  • Random 42
  • Animal Logic
  • Frontier Developments 
  • Darkside Studio 
  • Axis Animation 
  • Illumination MacGuff
  • Free Radical Design 
  • Aardman Animations 
  • Lionhead Studios 
  • The Mill 
  • Glassworks  
  • Industrial Industrial and Magic
  • Pixar and DreamWorks
  • Illoura VFX
  • Cinesite
  • Ninja Theory
  • Sony Cambridge
  • Sony Liverpool
  • Rock Star North
  • Codemasters
  • Criterion Games 

Survey on Bournemouth University Alumni Facebook Page (2016). 

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

*All information shown has been taken from Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) or BU institutional data unless otherwise stated.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the 3D computer 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.

Adam Twycross

Adam runs the National Centre for Computer Animation’s (NCCA) MA programme in 3D computer animation where he teaches fundamentals of design, modelling techniques for production, human anatomy, Maya and ZBrush. Specialising as a 3D modeller, Adam’s production credits include the Xbox 360 game Disneyland Adventures and the Games Workshop graphic novel Macragge’s Honour.

He is part of the team behind the BFX Festival and is currently researching the development of British comics. Adam has been interviewed for various news outlets discussing animated films, UK film and television production, education in animation, tax breaks for the games industry, and the BFX Festival.

Sofronis Efstathiou

Before becoming Joint Programme Leader of the MA in 3D Computer Animation, Sofronis worked in the Film and Games industry for Animal Logic (based in Sydney, Australia) and Microsoft’s Lionhead Studios (UK) on projects such as "Happy Feet", "300" and "Fable 2", training artists and production staff on projects that would go on to win an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Games BAFTA. 

Sofronis (aka Saf) teaches fundamental of design, rigging, advanced animation processes and toolsets, shaders, lighting; a variety of 2D and 3D tools such as Autodesk’s Maya and a host of professional third-party tools.

Sofronis has worked with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe whilst also designing a 2D Animation curriculum with twofour 54 tadreeb and Turner Broadcast Systems, for the rollout of a course in Abu Dhabi that closely mirrors the Cartoon Networks production pipeline. Having proposed and developed a new Bournemouth festival and VFX/Animation competition with colleagues at Bournemouth University, Sofronis is now the BFX Festival Director, an event that attracts some of the world’s very best film, VFX, computer games and animation studios -

Adam Redford

Adam graduated from the National Centre for Computer Animation in 2006 with a Master of Arts degree in Digital Effects.  He then went on to work in the feature film visual effects industry in London for six years, during which time he worked on a number of successful and award winning films including Gravity, Harry Potter, Narnia, Prince of Persia, John Carter, Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, and Sweeny Todd amongst others.  He is now leading the BA (Hons) Visual Effects undergraduate degree at the National Centre for Computer Animation.

Paul Champion

Paul brings over a decade of experience as a professional CG trainer and digital artist to the role of NCCA and BFX competition demonstrator.

Tasked with helping budding digital artists improve their skills and efficiency he recognises and values the importance of inspiring and motivating students to challenge themselves when learning. Versed in a wide range of software and techniques used in production pipelines he harnesses that knowledge to guide, mentor, help and inspire students to overcome technical barriers, develop their ideas and strive to create their best work within deadline.

In a rapidly developing industry Paul keeps his knowledge base current by trialing new software features as they become available and is also part of the Autodesk Maya Beta testing Program.

Paula Callus 

Paula Callus is a senior lecturer at the National Centre of Computer Animation at Bournemouth University. She holds a PHD in "Sub-Saharan African Animation" from The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and has published on animation from this region. Previous experience includes educational consultancy and training for UNESCO's “Africa Animated” projects and compiling animation programs for various festivals such as Africa in Motion (Edinburgh), Cambridge African Film Festival, Meknes Animation Festival (Morroco), Africa at the Pictures (London).  ​


  • 24/7 access to your studio including a dedicated studio space with a highend workstation 

  • Their own Cintiq 13” HD

  • 2 x 24” Cintiqs in the studio

  • Access to Green Screen facility

  • Access to Mocap facility

  • Programme-specific Software: Maya, Mari, Z-Brush, Nuke, Adobe Creative Suite, Substance Painter, Marvellous Designer, Unreal Game Engine, Unity Game Engine, Advanced Skeleton, Ziva, Mudbox, Motionbuilder, V-Ray, Maxwell Renderer, Shotgun, RealFlow, Houdini Engine plus a host of plugins to aid production.

  • Cameras, lenses, tripods, sound recording devices and other resources associated with production.

  • Departmental Software: RC++, OpenGL, Qt, Maya, Houdini, Renderman plus many more

Guest speakers

Over the past five years we have attracted some of the best Visual Effects, Animation and Games studios from around the world to present to our students, including:

  • Disney Animation Studios - Moana, Big Hero Six, Frozen
  • Pixar - Monsters University, Toy Story
  • Framestore - Gravity, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • MPC - Alien: Covenant, Maleficent, The Jungle Book
  • Iloura - Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Animal Logic - The Lego Movie, Ninjango
  • Double Negative - Ex-Machina, Interstellar, Inception, Godzilla
  • The Mill - Chemical Brothers/Beck Music video, Cif advert
  • Illumination Mac Guff - Despicable Me, Minions
  • Frontier Development - Elite: Dangerous
  • Foundry 42/Cloud Imperium Games
  • Creative Assembly
  • Random 42
  • Blue Zoo
  • Microsoft
  • AMD
  • Glassworks
  • DreamWorks
  • Playground Games - Forza Horizons
  • Next Limit,
  • Golaem
  • Epic Games - Creators of the Unreal Game Engine
  • Chaos Group - V-Ray
  • Realise Studios
  • Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
  • Blue Sky Studios
  • Karrot Entertainment
  • Dave McKean - illustrator for Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
  • The Foundry
  • Media Molecule
  • Nvizible
  • Super Super Films
  • Amuzo
  • Axis Animation
  • Industrial Light & Magic - Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

No hidden extras

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 subsidised 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 additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee 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


Change to: A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in any subject, or equivalent. 

Key information,

Entry requirements.

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in any subject, or equivalent. An art portfolio or collection of creative work, a show reel and an interview will be required.


Change to: Successful candidates may then be called for an interview and expected to bring a full portfolio including both digital and traditional work, overseas students may be interviewed on the phone but must send examples of work.

Selection criteria.

Successful candidates will then be called for an interview and expected to bring a full portfolio including both digital and traditional work, overseas students may be interviewed on the phone but must send examples of work.


An interview may be required for this course.

Full entry requirements. An interview is required for this course.

What our students say

Emanuel Bonnici

The course is well connected with industry and prepares us for our future careers with visits from industry professionals who share their experiences with us.

Hear from our staff

Steve Harper

We take people from broad backgrounds and introduce them to the wonderful world of computer animation.

Hear from our alumni

Ahmad Habash

The World Health Organisation contacted me after seeing my graduation project and they told me yup, we just want you to do this film for us. That was how it happened.
Simon Phelps

Career development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

Purbeck House common room

International students

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