Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
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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 multi-award-winning programme is different from most animation programmes because we teach a broad range of production methods.

You will learn about:

  • 2D and 3D techniques
  • using both cameras and CGI
  • puppet-based stop-frame and drawn animation

You will make animated films, documentaries and more, both individually and as a team.


Our students have won awards at:

  • Annecy
  • the RTS
  • the BAFTAs
  • the Emmys

Demand for animators

As animation becomes more popular, animators are increasingly wanted by employers.

You can see examples of animators' work everywhere, including:

  • animated icons on your phone
  • visual effects on the latest feature films
  • interactive worlds and characters on games consoles
  • multi-million-view viral web animations

How we teach

At Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) we teach in a unique way that combines classical animation technique with new technologies.

Animation is one of the few mediums you can use to create and populate worlds. You can also develop systems of cause and effect, including real world values such as:

  • morality
  • ethics
  • physicality

Animators use these resources to inform an audience for social and commercial purposes and to immerse them in a compelling story.

Contextualising your practice

Along with the development of your practical skill base, you will also:

  • develop your critical awareness of the medium and its associated industries
  • be able to contextualise your practice
  • improve your chances for employment within a continually expanding range of opportunities within the field
  • take Design and Screen Cultures courses, providing a contextual and theoretical understanding of the holistic nature of contemporary design and screen studies

Year 1

Year 1 is about moving things. You will:

  • be introduced to the theoretical, historical and contextual aspects of design through lectures and seminars
  • learn the basics of animation through short sequential studio-based projects
  • complete collaborative work with other disciplines through longer projects
  • attend regular life-drawing classes to develop skills in research and observation

Design and Screen Cultures

In Design and Screen Cultures, you will address the key histories and theories of design.

Optional courses

Optional courses may be available where your timetable allows.

Year 2

Year 2 is about moving expressively.

You will focus on taking the basic theories, practices and technical instruction that you have learned up until this point. These will be expanded to include:

  • character
  • emotion
  • fact
  • narrative
  • sound

Projects become slightly longer and your animated output will become subtler.

Optional courses

Alongside Design and Screen Cultures courses, you will be able to choose optional courses, subject to availability.

Year 3

Year 3 is about moving somebody else, with an emphasis on the role of animation as a provided service.

You will participate in a series of live projects, working with people outside the usual college environment such as:

  • commercial and business interests
  • creative professionals
  • charities
  • public bodies
  • researchers

In Design and Screen Cultures, you will develop further critical knowledge of a wider range of subjects.

Study abroad

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

Year 4

Your final year is about moving the public. You will:

  • showcase your learning through an extended project that will be screened to the public
  • complete a written dissertation

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.

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 (2023/24)

Our facilities

You will be based at Edinburgh College of Art's Lauriston Place campus. This campus has animation studio facilities that include:

  • a CAT 6 LAN for lossless file transfer between cameras and our department server
  • specialist editing suites
  • a 270+ core render farm supporting parallel processing of After Effects, Maya and 3DS Max jobs
  • multiple rostrum cameras

You will also have access to four fully equipped stop-frame studios, allowing simultaneous production of multiple stop-frame films.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at Edinburgh College of Art and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the Edinburgh College of Art


Placements are not a requirement of our Animation programme.

However, should the opportunity arise, we 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 2 of Year 3.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most design teaching and learning is through a range of experiential courses in a studio environment.

Conceptual, material and technical issues are explored through:

  • seminars
  • workshops
  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • critiques

Your development

We see research, critical thinking and study of the visual, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative design practice as essential to your development.

These elements are taught through Design and Screen Cultures courses.

This also involves participation in:

  • exhibitions
  • competitions
  • collaborations
  • live industry projects

Learning by doing

We place value on learning by doing. You become animators by animating.

Independent study is a vital element to develop:

  • your personal sustainability as a practitioner
  • your unique voice as an animator

How will I be assessed?

We use formative assessment throughout your study. This helps us give meaningful feedback and encourages experimentation in the studio and beyond.

Formative assessment for compulsory courses can include:

  • portfolio
  • presentations
  • 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:

  • academic progress
  • creative progress
  • performance throughout

Your course grades are calculated through this summative assessment plus a moderation process.

As an Animation student, you will have opportunities to work on live projects with industrial partners alongside your studies.

Where our graduates work

Our graduates 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

Increasing opportunities

The career options 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
  • pre-visualisation for film
  • 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
  • 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 portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

Animation portfolio brief

Portfolio guidance

(Revised 21 September 2023 to add link to portfolio brief.)

Important dates

  • 1 December 2023: portfolio submission site opens.
  • 31 January 2024: deadline for all applicants (including international applicants).
  • 6 February 2024 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: mini-portfolio submission deadline.

(Revised 30 August 2023 to add portfolio guidance and important dates.)

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.

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 with a Foundation Diploma will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the first year entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB, relevant HNC, 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.

A list of accepted HNDs, along with further information for adult returners, can be found on our adult returner page:

Adult returner applicants

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


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
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at 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: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

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, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

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 be required to pay the costs of:

  • accommodation
  • subsistence
  • travel costs

These activities are optional and usually restricted to the UK and Europe. This helps to keep costs down and ensures students who do not take part are not disadvantaged in their studies.

Materials and equipment

You will be expected to provide your own materials for drawing. Your materials costs will vary depending upon how you choose to complete 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 to consider buying a:

  • laptop (see our advice below)
  • pegbar (vital for consistent registration of your frames)
  • portable USB 3 HDD (for saving and rendering work to)
  • decent 3 button mouse (most apps work best with these)
  • Wacom Tablet
  • lightbox

Choosing a laptop

Although there are desktop computers widely and freely available at ECA, you will need a laptop if you want to continue working when you are not in the studio. You should consider either a:

  • high-end Mac, dual booted to run both a Windows or Mac operating system, enabling you to work with whatever software you want
  • good PC, with RAM and CPU speed as well as hard drive space, to which you can always add

We have no operating system preference within the programme.


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