Undergraduate study - 2021 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 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

This year is about moving things.

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.

You will be able to take up to 60 credits of option courses, either within ECA, or across the wider College, subject to availability and discussion with your Personal Tutor and relevant course organisers. This offers you the flexibility to construct a suite of courses that reflects your interests and enhances your main study.

Year 2

This year is about moving expressively.

Year 2 focuses on taking the basic theories, practices and technical instruction that has informed your learning until now. These will be expanded to include character, emotion, fact, narrative and sound.

Projects become slightly longer and your animated output will become subtler, and more considered.

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

Year 3

This year is about moving somebody else.

The role of animation as a provided service is the emphasis of Year 3. Students will be required to participate in a series of live projects, working with people outside the usual College environment. These might include commercial and business interests, creative professionals, charities, public bodies, or researchers.

Alongside Design & Screen Cultures courses, option courses are available from within the wider College.

Opportunities for study abroad help broaden your understanding of the discipline.

Year 4

This year is about moving the masses.

The final year is where you showcase your learning via an extended project that will be screened to the public.

Your final project will be a sustained and complex production. It will be negotiated with programme staff, and presented to guests from the animation industry for discussion and critique.

You will also complete a written dissertation.

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 (2020/21)

Our facilities

The animation studio facilities include:

  • A CAT 6 LAN for lossless file transfer between cameras
  • Editing suites
  • A render farm supporting parallel processing of After Effects, Maya and 3DS Max jobs
  • Three rostrum cameras

You will also have access to 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.

What are my options for going 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 essential to your development. These elements 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 against learning outcomes, 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 against course learning outcomes. There is a mid-session review, usually at the mid-point of any course you study.

Summative assessment at the end of all courses is informed by your academic and creative progress and performance throughout. Your course grades calculated through this summative assessment plus a moderation process.

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 (2020/21)

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
  • Revisualisation

As well as the usual mix of film, television, advertising and music videos.

Many of the essential 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.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. 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.

Portfolio guidance

Important dates*

  • 1 December 2020: mini-portfolio submission site opens
  • 29 January 2021: UCAS has extended their application deadline to 6pm UK time on Friday 29 January. We have therefore moved our deadline for all UK applicants to the 29 January as well.
  • 9 February 2021 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: mini-portfolio submission deadline. This deadline has been extended in line with the UCAS date.
  • 30 June 2021: final deadline for UCAS applications from applicants from outside the UK and Ireland.

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 A (or DM plus B at A Level).
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate / Subsidiary Diploma with D plus two A Levels at 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.

*(Revised 25 September 2020 to add mini-portfolio deadlines. Revised 12 January 2021 to extend application and mini-portfolio deadlines.)

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 entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB etc). In some of our less competitive degrees it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A Level. These must have been achieved in one set of exams, at first attempt.

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.


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

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)

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 Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BA Animation

Additional costs

Field-based projects

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.

Materials and equipment

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 and your choice of materials.

The programme has access to all the equipment necessary for you to deliver your film projects, however, for convenience, independence, and your future career we would advise you consider purchasing the following equipment:

  • A laptop - Although there are computers widely and freely available at ECA, you will 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. You should look for 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 and rendering work to

  • A decent 3 button mouse - Maya works best with one of these, but so do most apps; Logitech devices 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