Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

BA Animation

UCAS code: W615

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing BA Animation

Our multiple award-winning programme differs radically from most animation programmes in that we teach the full spectrum of production methods. You will learn about 2D and 3D techniques, using both cameras and CGI, as well as puppet based stop-frame. You will work individually or in a team to make films, documentaries and installations. Our students have previously won awards at Annecy, the Royal Television Society (RTS), the BAFTAs and the Emmys.

Animation is becoming increasingly ubiquitous and animators are becoming more sought after by employers. From the animated icons on your phone, the visual effects on the latest feature films, and the interactive worlds and characters on games consoles, to multi-million-view viral web animations; all of this is the work of animators.

Here at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) you will be taught in a uniquely broad way, synthesising classical animation technique with innovative technologies that results in a distinctive digital/analogue hybrid.

Animation is one of the few media that will allow you to create worlds, populate them, and develop consistent systems of cause and effect (moral, ethical and physical). These are the resources that animators use to either inform an audience for social and commercial purpose, or to immerse them in a compelling narrative - often both.

Hand-in-hand with the development of your practical skill base, you will also develop your critical awareness of the medium and its associated industries. You will also be able to contextualise your practice and maximise your chances for employment within a continually diversifying range of opportunities within the field.

Integrated with the practical studio work, Design & Screen Cultures courses provide a contextual and theoretical understanding of the holistic nature of contemporary design and screen studies.

Year 1

You will be introduced to the theoretical and contextual aspects of design through a series of lectures and seminars. Studio based projects will introduce you to the fundamentals of animation by way of short sequential projects, longer projects will deal with collaborative work with other disciplines, and you will attend regular life drawing classes to develop skills in research and observation.

In Design & Screen Cultures you will address the key histories and theories of design. This year is about moving things.

You will be able to take up to 40 credits of option courses, either within ECA, or across the wider College. These are subject to availability but offer the flexibility to construct a suite of courses that reflects your interests and enhances your main study.

Year 2

This year focuses on taking the basic theories, practices and technical instruction that has informed your learning till now, and expanding them to include character, emotion, fact, narrative and sound. Projects become slightly longer and your animated output will become subtler, and more considered. This year is about moving expressively.

Again, alongside Design & Screen Cultures courses, you will be able to choose option courses, subject to availability.

Year 3

This year has as its emphasis, the role of animation as a provided service, students will be required to participate in a series of live projects working with people outside the usual College environment, be they commercial and business interests, creative professionals, charities, public bodies, or researchers. This year is about moving somebody else.

Alongside Design & Screen Cultures courses, option courses are available from within the wider College and opportunities for study abroad help broaden your understanding of the discipline.

Year 4

The final year is where you showcase your learning via the devices of an extended project that will be screened to the public, and a written dissertation.

Your final project will be negotiated with programme staff, presented to guests from the animation industry for discussion and critique, and will be a sustained and complex production. This year is about moving the masses.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2018/19)

Our facilities

The animation studio facilities include a CAT 6 LAN for lossless file transfer between cameras and editing suites, a render farm supporting parallel processing of After Effects, Maya and 3DS Max jobs, three rostrum cameras, and a fully equipped stopframe studio allowing simultaneous production of multiple stopframe films.


Placements are not a requirement of the Animation programme, but where the opportunity arises then the programme staff will advise and support you in these extracurricular activities. Placements are possible within the Year 3 course Animation For Clients.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad in semester two of Year 3.

Guaranteed study abroad funding for students required to complete a year abroad

How will I learn?

The majority of design teaching and learning is through involvement in a range of experiential courses situated in a studio environment. Conceptual, material and technical issues are explored through seminars, workshops, lectures, tutorials and critiques.

Research, critical thinking and study of the visual, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative design practice are regarded as essential to your development, elements of which are taught through Design & Screen Cultures courses. This also involves participation in exhibitions, competitions, collaborations and live industry projects.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment is continuous throughout the year, aiming to give you meaningful feedback and to encourage experimentation in the studio and beyond.

Formative assessment for compulsory courses is through a mix of verbal and written modes such as portfolio, presentations and essays. There is a mid-session review, usually at the mid-point of any given course you study.

Summative assessment at the end of all the courses you take is informed by your academic and creative progress and performance throughout.

There is a mid-session review, usually at the mid-point of any given course you study. Summative assessment at the end of all the courses you take is informed by your academic and creative progress and performance throughout.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme details (2018/19)

While engaged in their studies students on the Animation programme have extensive opportunities to work on live projects with industrial partners. Animation students from ECA have gone on to work for Laika, Tim Burton, Aardman, Ko-Lik Films, Cartoon Saloon, Mackinnon & Saunders, Rock Star North, Channel 4, BBC 4, CBBC and CBeebies.

The career opportunities for animators are increasing each year, sometimes in surprising ways. There are opportunities for animators to work in visual effects, forensic animation, data visualisation, video games, architectural visualisation, motion graphics, projection mapping, previsualisation, as well as the usual mix of film, television, advertising and music videos.

Many of the ancillary skills such as storyboarding are now directly applicable to a range of design disciplines such as product design, user experience design, and even the design of roller coasters.

Typical offer

The typical offer is likely to be:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points (grades 655 at HL).

Access threshold

The access threshold for a contextual offer is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points (grades 655 at HL).

Find out more about access thresholds and contextual offers

Detailed requirements for all applicants

To be considered for an offer of a place all applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or ABBBB/AABB from S4-S6, with a minimum of BBB achieved in one year of S4-S6. National 5: English at Grade C.
  • A Levels: ABB. GCSEs: English at Grade C or 4.
  • IB: Award of Diploma with 34 points overall and grades 655 in HL subjects. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements


Applicants will be asked to submit a digital mini-portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process. The deadline for mini-portfolio submission is 12:00 noon GMT on Tuesday 29 January 2019 and late mini-portfolio submissions will not be accepted.

Portfolio guidance (PDF)

Important dates

  • 30 November 2018 : Mini-portfolio submissions site opens
  • 15 January 2019: UCAS deadline for Home/EU applicants
  • 29 January 2019 at 12:00 (midday): Mini-portfolio submission deadline
  • 30 June 2019: Final deadline for UCAS applications from applicants from outside the EU.

(Revised 3/8/2018 to provide more accurate information).

BTEC/UAL Diplomas

Applicants studying Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Art and Design will be considered for entry with the following:

  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma with DMM.
  • Pearson BTEC Diploma with MM plus one A Level at grade A (or DM plus B at A Level).
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate / Subsidiary Diploma with D plus two A Levels at grade B (or M plus AB at A Level).

Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design will be considered with Merit.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Entry to the second year is available. Successful completion of a Foundation Diploma (at Merit Grade), a relevant HND or equivalent is required. Applicants will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the minimum entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB etc). In some of our less competitive programmes it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A-level. These grades must have been achieved in a single first sitting.

You must provide evidence that your written and spoken English is at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT 92 or above with 20 in each section
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): Total 61 with at least 51 in each "Communicative Skills" section
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

About English language requirements


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 Grade C
  • SQA Standard Grade 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 Grade A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 Grade C
  • GCSE Grade C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level Grade 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Unistats data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BA Animation

Additional costs

You will be expected to provide your own consumable materials for drawing etc. Your materials costs will vary depending upon how you choose to fulfil the project briefs you are given, by which we mean your choice of materials. In the case of proposed study trips and individual field-based projects, you will usually be required to cover accommodation, subsistence and travel costs.

These activities are optional, and are usually restricted to the UK and the rest of Europe to keep costs down, and to ensure that the students who choose not to take part are in no way disadvantaged in their studies by that decision.

The programme has access to all the equipment necessary for you to deliver your film projects, however, for convenience, independence, and your future careers we would advise giving consideration to the purchase of the following equipment:

  • A laptop - Although there are computers widely and freely available at ECA you will at some point want to continue working when you aren't in the studio, and regardless of animation method, computers are essential labour savers. You should consider a high end Mac, dual booted to run both a Windows OS and a Mac OS, and this should enable you to work with whatever software you want. A good PC can be just as viable and we have no OS preference within the programme. Value RAM and CPU speed over and above hard drive space that can always be added to.

  • A pegbar – vital for consistent registration of your frames.

  • A portable USB 3 HDD –  for saving  & rendering work to.

  • A decent 3 button mouse – Maya works best with one of these, but so do most apps; Logitech are usually problem free and reliable.

  • A Wacom Tablet.

  • A lightbox.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding