Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

B.A. Honours in Animation

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by:
Final award: BA (Honours)
Programme title: BA (Honours) Animation
UCAS code:

W615

Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s):
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Stuart Bennett (Acting Principal)
Date of production/revision: Nov’16

External summary

Animation is one of the few media that will allow students to create worlds, populate them, 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, hopefully both.

Studying Animation at Edinburgh will enable students to explore the fundamental principles of the discipline, and to engage with the full spectrum of production methodologies. These cover the classical forms of drawn and filmed animation, including our extensive stop frame facilities, as well as more industrially applicable CGI techniques for 2D and 3D animation and compositing, as well as distributed rendering on our render farm. There is an aligned variety in the content of our students' films with established abstract and narrative forms coexisting with emergent forms such as animated documentary and ultrashort film.

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

Educational aims of programme

The main programme aims are:

  • To promote a commitment to excellence as the prevailing standard for each activity within Animation;
  • To develop in students the ability to research and generate ideas relevant to the solution of Animation problems through specialist subject provision;
  • To develop in students a strong visual vocabulary in order to externalise ideas;
  • To develop in students a spirit of initiative and adventure both in developing their own work and in serving their client(s)/audiences;
  • To develop in students the capacity for both independent and group enquiry and research at a level expected of first degree study;
  • To develop students’ ability to make informed value judgements by which to assess their work and the work of others;
  • To develop in students sufficient manual skills and technical knowledge to control production processes related to Animation;
  • To develop in students the communications skills, both verbal and written, appropriate to their studio work;
  • To develop students’ understanding of the cultural, historical, commercial and professional contexts of Animation;
  • To develop students’ understanding of the ethical and professional principles involved within Animation.
  • To improve the exploration, curiosity, ambition, depth and breadth of creative practice in a systematic and insightful manner;
  • To encourage students to conceptualise and review their creative process and take incisive control over the direction of their practice;
  • To critically evaluate and employ contemporary debates regarding practice-based research, practice-led research and cognate creative methodologies;
  • To provide students with requisite knowledge and research skills to creatively contextualise their practice and imaginatively demonstrate its wider validity;
  • To continually meet the rapidly changing needs, expectations, aspirations and experiences of today’s graduate students by improving their professional attributes.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

Students will be expected to demonstrate a knowledge of:

  • key theories, practices, contexts and debates in relation to Animation.
  • a range of appropriate creative methods, techniques and approaches in response to Animation project briefs.
  • contemporary creative practice and user/audience needs.
  • appropriate methodologies and strategies for the professional presentation, distribution and documentation of work
  • the use of a range of appropriate materials, methodologies and strategies in relation to individual Animation practice.

Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • issues-based approaches to creative and intellectual endeavour
  • the appropriate use of materials and processes and their development through transparent iterative methodologies
  • how practitioners personally conceptualise briefs.
  • the philosophical and professional context for the discipline
  • the role of the evaluation of original creative concepts in response to research findings through critical assessment

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Graduates in Animation will be expected to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of:

  • a range of appropriate research methods.
  • the use of a variety of practical and theoretical approaches to demonstrate an investigation of set and personally initiated research themes
  • critical enquiry that leads to the visual, verbal and written communication of ideas in an analytical manner.
  • the role of critical analysis and reflective appraisal in the context of set research themes.
  • issues arising from research and its role in challenging established precepts and assumptions

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Graduates in Animation will be able to:

  • adopt a broad-ranging and flexible approach to study, identifying their own learning needs and pursuing activities designed to meet these needs in increasingly autonomous ways.
  • with minimal guidance,  manage their own learning using a wide range of resources appropriate to subject/profession,  seeking and making effective use of feedback.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Graduates in Animation will be able to:

  • communicate in a clear structured and concise way, in writing and orally, in formal academic and professional styles.
  • confidently communicate, present and demonstrate ideas, both formally and informally, in a variety of contexts at the threshold of professional practise.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Graduates in Animation will be able to:

  • clearly demonstrate an ability to independently define and analyse self-initiated project proposals for specific design contexts.
  • confidently select and apply a range of facts, concepts and elements in a cohesive, independent manner to produce new solutions to both externally set, and self-initiated proposals.
  • confidently apply their own criteria and support independent judgements in a fully autonomous way.
  • be increasingly independent, confident and flexible in identifying and defining complex problems and in the application of methods appropriate to their solution, at the threshold of professional practice.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

The range of technical and practical skills which may be acquired in the programme, both analogue and digital, is potentially very wide. Students have considerable choice in how they build their technical and practical skill set which is developed over their period of study.

Graduates in Animation will be able to:

  • clearly demonstrate confidence, independence and professionalism in the application of software/hardware to specific contexts.
  • clearly demonstrate appropriately personalised use and application of information retrieval and networked communications within specific contexts

Programme structure and features

Programme structure The programme follows a well-defined structure in which, in common with other programmes in the Design sector, only the results from the final year of study are used in calculating the degree award.

1st Year

Course ref

Course title

SCQF credits

SCQF level

DESI07042

Design Studio 1

40

7

DESI07032

Design Research 1

40

7

DESI07022

Design Collaboration 1

20

7

DESI07012

Design Context 1

20

7

 

120

 

Exit Award: Certificate of Higher Education (120 credits)

2nd Year

Course ref

Course title

SCQF credits

SCQF level

DESI08049

Design Studio 2

40

 8

DESI08040

Design Research 2

40

8

DESI08030

Design Collaboration 2

20

8

 

DESI08051

DESI08052

DESI08053

DESI08054

Design Context 2 (choose one from the following)

Visual Narratives

Design & Society

Modernism & After

Issues in Contemporary Cinema

20

20

20

20

                   8

                   8

                   8

                   8                

 

120

 

Exit Award: Diploma of Higher Education (240 credits)

3rd Year (Semester 1)

Course ref

Course title

SCQF credits

SCQF level

DESI09081

Design Externality 3 Major

40

9

DESI09026

Design Research & Context 3

20

9

 

OR

 

 

DESI09070

Design Externality 3 Minor

20

9

DESI09026

Design Research & Context 3

20

9

 

plus 20-credit elective

20

8 or 9

 

OR

 

 

DESI09068

Design Externality 3 Work-Based Placement

40

9

DESI09027

Research & Context 3

20

9

3rd Year (Semester 2)

DESI09069

Design Externality 3 Major

40

9

DESI09030

Design Research & Context 3

20

9

 

OR

 

 

DESI09045

Design Externality 3 Minor

20

9

DESI09030

Design Research & Context 3

20

9

 

plus 20-credit elective

20

8 or 9

 

OR

 

 

DESI09098

Design Externality 3 Work-Based Placement

40

9

DESI09031

Research & Context 3

20

9

 

120

 

Exit Award: Batchelor of Arts (360 credits)

4th Year

Course ref

Course title

SCQF credits

SCQF level

DESI10051

Design Studio 4

40

10

DESI10044

Design Research

40

10

DESI10036

Professional Design Practice

20

10

DESI10006

Design Context 4

20

10

 

 

120

 

Exit Award: Batchelor of Arts with Honours (480 credits)

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

.The student journey in Animation is characterised by sequential, experiential and iterative learning and pedagogically follows a constructivist model, subscribing to the view that: knowledge and understanding are not acquired passively but in an active manner through personal experience and experiential activities; and that learning is based on problem solving and/or an exploration of a particular line of enquiry and active engagement with ideas.

The third year is the main focus for student choice, where students are expected to propose a study plan comprising a portfolio of externally-facing activities which may typically include periods of exchange, internship, electives, live projects or competitions.

Our model of teaching and learning follows the same pattern through all 4 years of study, practical projects are the route to develop the students’ understanding of how to animate, lectures and seminars within animation are the methods used to develop the students’ understanding of the theory and history of animation, Design and Screen Cultures use lectures and seminars to educate the students about Animation’s place within the broader context of art and design history and theory. Live projects are our primary tool for developing the students’ professional practice and social responsibility, the design journal is the teaching method we used to develop the students’ reflective abilities and the means to apply criticality to their own practice. The final year involves presenting their work to representatives from industry, responding to their feedback and criticism to develop final projects for large audiences.

It is probably best summarized as:

1. Make it move 2. Make it move expressively 3. Make it move to move somebody else 4. Make it move to move the masses

Feedback comes from:

Year 1 - Group crits (verbal peer feedback), individual tutorials (personal verbal staff feedback), formative assessment of projects (written staff feedforward), summative assessment of projects (written staff feedback).

Year 2 - Group crits (verbal peer feedback), individual tutorials (personal verbal staff feedback), formative assessment of projects (written staff feedforward), summative assessment of projects (written staff feedback).

Year 3 - Group crits (verbal peer feedback), individual tutorials (personal verbal staff feedback), formative assessment of projects (written staff feedforward), summative assessment of projects (written staff feedback), client appraisal of live projects, (customer feedback).

Year 4 - Group crits (verbal peer feedback), individual tutorials (personal verbal staff feedback), formative assessment of projects (written staff feedforward), summative assessment of projects (written staff feedback), invited industry guest focus group feedback for project proposals, (industry feedforward).

The animation department provides specialist facilities such as rostrum cameras, a dedicated stop frame studio, post production facilities, digital line testers, a 50 node render farm for Maya, 3DS Max, and After Effects jobs, a CAT 6 LAN for high speed transfers of files in uncompressed native formats from studio to post production. We also have lightboxes and a frightening amount of plasticine…

Assessment methods and strategies

For the majority of their studies students will not encounter prescriptive assessment where the absolute answers are known in advance of setting the assessed task. Assessment however is rigorous and robust and depends upon significant involvement of whole programme teams to ensure objectivity, accuracy, consistency and fairness to the students concerned.

Students receive regular formative feedback on their progress which is related directly to the published learning outcomes in their Course Descriptors and in their coursework material, such as project briefs and individual study plans; The grading of student work is undertaken with close reference to the published learning outcomes and assessment criteria, for the Course Descriptor and for the particular piece(s) of work being assessed; The method of assessment used is appropriate to the learning outcome(s) being assessed and the student’s performance for each individual learning outcome can be effectively examined and graded where a single method of assessment is used to examine more than one learning outcome; Students are made fully aware of how they are being assessed and what is being assessed, against the published criteria.

Career opportunities

The careers open to graduates include working in film, television, advertising and computer games and HCI industries. Our students leave to operate as independent and freelance animators, or to work full time for commercial studios, or to set up their own animated film companies. Animation at ECA benefits from a close working relationship with partners such as the Centre for the Moving Image and Scotland Loves Animation, resulting in regular visits by professional practitioners and college hosted industry events such as Education In Animation Day. Students are actively directed towards live projects and internships in their 3rd year to help them develop a sense of what it could feel like to be a jobbing animator, and professional animators are brought in to advise 4th year students on their final projects, all of which is designed to make the transition from college to industry as seamless as possible. Our Animation graduates have gone on to work in well-known companies such as Aardman Animations, Rockstar North, Laika, Tim Burton Productions, Island Records, Channel 4 and the BBC, as well as setting up companies such as Ko Lik Films.

Other items

Student/ Staff Liaison

Student representatives make a significant contribution to Programme Committees. They are responsible for canvassing the views of their fellow students on agenda items and, most importantly, informing them of the content and outcome of Programme Committee Meetings. Students are advised to make use of EUSA help in training for their role as representatives and in Committee procedures.

Student representatives are appointed annually. Invitations for nominations, seconded by at least two other students, are posted in the studio at the beginning of each year. A secret ballot is held if more than the requisite number of nominations is received by the closing date.

International Study/Exchange Programme

The School of Design believes that the addition of an international dimension to our degree programmes provides significant educational and social benefits for our students. We therefore encourage our students to participate in Erasmus and other international exchanges with approved partners, usually in Year 3 (Level 9).

Personal Tutors

All students are assigned a Personal Tutor on admission to the degree programme, who oversees the course of the student’s degree programme, offers advice on academic matters and should be the student’s first point of contact for course-related worries or concerns