United Kingdom
Dates flexible
Course Type
Postgraduate Course
Course Fee

Course Overview

Course summary:

Ideas for stories and characters, but not sure how to go about it?

Want to make your drawings move? MA Character Animation appeals to designers, artists, illustrators and others who want to learn how to animate. You don't need to have had much experience of making animation before.

This two-year course is very practical and will teach you all about how to make your characters do much more than move - you make them perform. You'll learn timing, software, storytelling, character design, film language, take weekly life drawing and acting lessons, as well as looking into historical and critical approaches to animation. From the three short films students create on the course, we have had many award winners at international festivals.

Our real-life briefs have come from the English National Opera, Old Operating Theatre Museum, Royal Shakespeare Company, Cartoon Network, National Gallery and the Children's Society. Past visits from the industry have include Shelley Page (Dreamworks), Philip Hunt (Studio AKA), Andy Blazdell (CelAction), Sue Tong (Illuminated Picture Company), Dave Anderson (Dog and Rabbit), Clare Jennings (Aardman/Laika Pictures), Joanna Quinn (Beryl Productions), Barry JC Purves, Osbert Parker, Daniel Greaves, Pete Bishop and Caroline Leaf.

We have a healthy employment rate after the course and our award-winning students have worked at Cartoon Network, Framestore, the Mill, BBC, Dreamworks, Industrial Light and Magic, Disney, etc. Two of our graduates have so far been nominated for Academy Awards for their animated short films - could the next one be you?

This course is part of the - Drama and Performance Programme.

Great reasons to apply:

  • MA Character Animation enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time
  • No previous animation experience needed - if you have shown us the potential to be an animator you'll have access to a comprehensive range of practical and technical workshops in animation techniques and supporting studies
  • Develop the performance of your animated characters - you'll benefit from links with Drama Centre London, with classes in performance techniques including Visual Storytelling, Acting and Movement Studies
  • You'll experience simulated work experience through team projects
  • You'll enjoy close links with the industry, including numerous high profile guest lecturers, and take part in live projects with external agencies, who have previously included the London Transport Museum, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Cartoon Network and the National Gallery
  • Short films created by students on the course have been nominated for prizes at numerous festivals and competitions including the British Animation Awards, Adobe Design Achievement Awards, Taiwan International Student Design Competition, Virgin Media Shorts and Soho Rushes
  • Many of our graduates find employment in the animation industry, in London and beyond. They have worked in Oscar-winning special effects teams on films such as Gladiator, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter; acclaimed television series like Walking with Dinosaurs and Charlie and Lola; commercials; award-winning websites; TV graphics and games.

Who should take this course

Anyone Interested.

Course content

Course details:

All applicants considered for September 2017 entry will be applying for the newly revalidated version of the course. Further detailed information will be published as it becomes available however the focus of the course remains the same.

Instead of trying to cover every aspect of a complex subject, this postgraduate course specialises in one area - animation of characters. You'll broaden and challenge your contextual awareness of animation while gaining advanced skills in communication, project management and technique.

MA Character Animation's distinctive features include:

  • Links with the drama courses within the programme enable the use of performance techniques through classes in Storytelling, Acting and Movement Studies
  • Classes in Animation History & Theory, Life Drawing and Anatomy that complement the technical animation curriculum
  • Simulated work experience through team projects, with input from industry professionals
  • An extensive alumni networking community

The course is supported and advised by Visiting Professor Shelley Page, Dreamworks.

About the course:

  • MA Character Animation lasts 60 weeks structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each (i.e. two academic years) in its ' extended full-time mode '.
  • MA Character Animation is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises 3 units. Unit 1 (60 credits) lasts 20 weeks. Unit 2 (60 credits) runs for 10 weeks in the first year and 10 weeks in the second year. Unit 3 (60 credits) runs for 20 weeks in the second year
  • All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA, but the classification of the award of MA derives from your mark for Unit 3 only. In exceptional circumstances, you may be able to exit successfully achieving 60 credits (Graduate Certificate) or 120 credits (Graduate Diploma).
  • We expect you to commit an average of 30 hours per week, within which your taught input will normally be scheduled over three days in first year and two days in second year. The course structure is intended to allow you to pursue your studies while also undertaking part-time work, internships or care responsibilities.

Course rationale:

From the internet and mobile phones to television commercials, games and special effects for blockbuster movies, animation is everywhere. The medium, which today takes many different forms, has permeated our visual culture.

Technologies used to create animation are evolving rapidly. The competitive nature of the software market means certain computer programmes dominate in one year before becoming obsolete the next. Against a backdrop of constantly changing industry standard software, MA Character Animation fosters a specialist, practice-based knowledge you can apply to different software packages, technical processes, creative approaches and distribution technologies in the future. Instead of focusing on a narrow range of software-specific skills, you'll build universal skills and contextual awareness of character animation.

Originally called the London Animation School, MA Character Animation grew out of an initiative by the Guild of British Animation, which represents the interests of many of the UK's top animation houses. Many existing courses, it was felt, failed to equip students with either the right skills or level of experience for swift assimilation into useful roles in the workplace. In partnership with Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, funding was raised from the Central London Training Enterprise Council (FOCUS TEC) to provide quality animation training.

Animation is a universal medium capable of communicating concepts and narratives without spoken language. A popular art form in a global marketplace, it appeals to all cultures, inviting them to apply their own visual and storytelling traditions. A feature and strength of MA Character Animation is that it attracts applicants from a wide range of practices and cultural backgrounds. About a quarter of students come from the UK, a further quarter from within the EU, while half are from outside Europe representing a wide range of nationalities. It adds up to an exciting opportunity to learn about other cultures and to develop international networks. You'll be encouraged to investigate and apply a range of different visual and storytelling traditions to your own work.

Fees & Funding:

Home/EU fee Tuition fees for 2019/20 -

About Course Provider

University of the Arts London (UAL) is Europe’s largest specialist art and design university. Its unique creative community is made up of six renowned Colleges, each with its own world-class reputation: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Arts.

UAL is the world’s sixth best University for Art and Design in the QS World University Rankings 2018. Offering an extensive range of courses in art, design, fashion, communication and performing arts, UAL is the main talent pipeline to the UK’s creative industries.

Home to a diverse community of over 18,000 students from 129 countries, UAL has a track record for launching and furthering careers. Our graduates can be found in every part and at every level of the creative and cultural sectors, from heads of global business to self-employed practitioners, and on shortlists for awards ranging from the Turner Prize to the Oscars.

Building on UAL’s association with some of the most original thinkers in the arts, students and staff are inspired to challenge convention, generate new ideas and nurture talent. Home to award-winning staff and students for more than a century, UAL’s Colleges are at the forefront of learning, creativity and practice in their specialist subjects. This close-knit College structure offers opportunities for learning and enquiry for people at all stages of their creative development.

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