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MSc Computer Animation & Visual Effects

MSc Computer Animation and Visual Effects video
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

You are expected to come from a technical background (Computer Science, Physics, Maths, Engineering) with an existing knowledge of programming and the course will build upon this, providing you with a combination of artistic sensibilities, problem-solving and technical skills, which can be applied to the role of technical director within the animation and games industries. Technical directors often have to work alongside computer animators and resolve technical problems either by configuring existing software tools or designing new tools.

During your year-long study, you will develop your programming and scripting skills, and become familiar with special techniques and tools associated with computer animation. These skills are assessed in a variety of projects you will undertake during the year. Emphasis is placed on the use of industry standard hardware and software in the development of these techniques. Typical examples include the development of C++ programs to test new algorithms, the writing of shaders to support rendering, and the developing of scripts and tools to create new effects.

The academic aspects will provide you with a strong theoretical underpinning for the principal areas of study, including lecture series on computer graphics techniques, animation software development, principles of computer graphics, the fusion of art and technology, and personal research projects. You will also have the opportunity to collaborate with students on the other two Master’s courses in the Group Project. This format provides a realistic setting to discover what it’s like working with other creative people and working to a strict timescale.

The course attracts students from all over the world, giving it a strong interdisciplinary, international feel.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2016, September 2017

Location:

Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus

Duration:

1 year

Accreditations:

Creative Skillset

Relevant subjects:

Computer science, maths, physics

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree, 2:1 or above or equivalent. If English is not your first language you'll need 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.

The course is split into four terms, each lasting ten weeks. The first three terms are the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip), and the final term is the Master's term.​

Core units

  • Animation Software Engineering: This unit will build on your existing programming knowledge and teach C++ and Software engineering principles for computer graphics. We use Modern C++ and OpenGL for realtime graphics as well as the NCCA Graphics Library ngl.
  • CGI Tools: You will be introduced to the main software tools used on the course these are Maya and Houdini, lectures will also introduce the main artistic concepts such as composition and cinematography.
  • CGI Techniques: This unit provides a more in-depth look at the algorithms and techniques behind computer animation, you will be introduced to the main mathematical and algorithmic concepts behind computer graphics and animation.
  • Simulation and Rendering: This unit includes simulation elements such as fluid, smoke and FEA. The rendering section includes writing shaders using renderman as well as an in depth look at how different rendering engines work.
  • Personal Enquiry: You'll pursue research into areas that interest you and present the results of your findings to fellow students and staff at a research symposium.
  • Group Project: Working with students from all three postgraduate courses (MA3D, MA Digital Effects) you'll present a concept for a short animated piece.
  • Masters Project: The focus of fourth term is on completing the Master's component of your education. This can be a standalone project or the continuation and conclusion of another project. This project also includes a written thesis of approximately 5000 words and the year ends with a computer animation show, which gives you the opportunity to showcase your work to industry professionals and potential employers.

Suggested reading

What follows is a small list of books we recommend (all should be in the library so there is no need to purchase them).

  • Computer Animation Algorithms and Techniques, Rick Parent (2002), Morgan Kaufmann
  • OpenGL Programming Guide, Mason Woo et al (2001), Addison Wesley
  • Computer Graphics using OpenGL, F.S. Hill Jr. (3rd Edition), Prentice Hall
  • Essential Renderman Fast, Ian Stephenson (2nd Edition), Springer
  • Advanced Renderman, Apodaca & Gritz, Morgan Kaufmann
  • Texturing and Modelling a Procedural approach, (3rd Edition) Ebert et al, AP Professional.

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 MSc Computer Animation & Visual 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.

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For MSc Computer Animation and Visual Effects we are looking for applicants who:

  • Enjoy working collaboratively with other students and academics
  • Can focus their attention on more than one project at once
  • A strong knowledge of object oriented programming is preferred
  • Can adapt to varying demands/workloads
  • Ideally have done some work experience within this field.

Full entry requirements

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

  • A good Bachelors Honours degree, 2:1 or above, or equivalent.
  • For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the askBU Enquiry Service if you are in doubt.
  • An interview is 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 askBU Enquiry Service for more information.

International entry requirements

  • ​IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component 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.

Careers

Our computer animation courses are well regarded within the industry and based on previous years, the employment prospects for postgraduates are excellent.

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.

Most graduates find employment as technical directors or R&D developers in the film industry. A number of graduates have also found roles in computer games companies. Graduates have recently worked for companies such as:

  • Moving Picture Company (Troy, Batman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Kingdom of Heaven)
  • Double Negative (Batman Begins)
  • Framestore CFC
  • Cinesite
  • BBC.

Industries worked in

  • TV
  • Films
  • Gaming
  • Computer animation.

Further study

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

Resources

  • MSc Computer Animation and Visual Effects Studio: a 15-seat classroom based studio with a 1:1 student computer ratio. The studio is open 24/7 throughout the year apart from Christmas
  • Programme-specific Software: Centos Linux, Maya, Houdini and Renderman
  • Departmental Software: C++, OpenGL, Qt, Maya, Houdini, Renderman plus many more
  • Acquisition: Full Green Screen TV and MOCAP Studio, Portable Green and Blue Screens, Track & Jib, Location Survey Kits, 3D Scanner and Motion Capture Suite
  • Acquistion Cameras: Panasonic 101s and Canon 5Ds

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
  • 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
  • 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 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.

Additional information

Your career and development

Your career and development

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

International students

International students

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