Animation MA

Why choose this course?

The MA Animation programme at Kingston School of Art takes a creative and director-led approach to interdisciplinary moving image production. This course will equip you with the skills and attributes to thrive in a professional environment shaped by rapid cultural and technological change. It will introduce you to a wide range of interlinked and adaptable technologies and methods including 2D and 3D animation, virtual reality and augmented reality. You will use animation methods to interpret knowledge, stories, ideas and data into visual or experiential outputs that communicate complexity with empathy.

MA Animation supports the development of an individual practice informed by a culture that values research and collaboration. Research is seen as integral to the act of critical making through experimentation with physical, digital and virtual tools and technologies embracing a diverse range of multidisciplinary approaches.

Through tutorials, lectures, seminars, workshops and research projects, you will gain the critical tools, knowledge and confidence needed to contribute to the development of the subject and its practice. Every student will have the opportunity to complete an extended research project, typically a film.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2023
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2023
Part time 2 years September 2023
Location Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston

  • You will be given creative agency to develop an individual and critical approach to advanced animation practice.
  • An interdisciplinary approach is valued and promoted through shared modules and collaborative projects that ask you to look beyond disciplinary limits.
  • The curriculum is designed to support you gain 'Future Skills' and attributes such as creative problem solving, reasoning, and emotional intelligence.

The Art School Experience

As part of Kingston School of Art, students on this course benefit from joining a creative community where collaborative working and critical practice are encouraged.

Our workshops and studios are open to all disciplines – enabling students and staff to work together, share ideas and explore multi-disciplinary making.

Two students collaborate on a design project.

What you will study

Through tutorials, field trips, lectures, seminars, workshops and research projects, you will gain the technical skills, critical tools, knowledge and confidence needed to contribute to the development of the subject and its practice. You will be asked to examine your own practice and identify existing practice-based research methods, which will then be developed by introducing discipline specific notions of rigour, originality, ethics, positioning and inclusivity. Modules have been designed and aligned to ensure that students are able to make intellectual links between practice, critical theory and real-world scenarios. In doing so, this programme prioritises the development of an individual practitioner and their creative work.

There is an emphasis on independent and self-directed learning where students are given autonomy to develop a practice that supports their aspirations and ambitions. Skills in critical reflection and analysis provide you with the tools necessary to make decisions about you practice and learning trajectory. Students are provided with the opportunity to initiate, propose, and realise an Extended Research Project (Capstone Project), typically a film, that is ambitious in scale and scope. Studio modules include development of animation skills, concepts and practice through project work and utilise the studio as a site for making. Reading modules focus on critical and contextual theory or issues and positioning practice critically. Presentation modules orientate students within a professional landscape and include preparation for employment through development of future skills and career planning. The three Studio modules are specific to MA Animation and the Reading and Presenting modules are shared with MA Illustration and MA Graphic Design programmes.

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1

Optional placement year

Core modules

Studio: Critical Making for Animation

30 credits

This module introduces critical making for animators. We explore how image, time and sound can be orchestrated to research, interpret, communicate, and evoke audience response. You will be introduced to new material-based media and digital approaches to animation practice that will enable to you critically challenge your existing animation practice.

Throughout this module you will be encouraged to play, interrogate, and make connections, through a process of un-learning to build confidence and develop individual and innovative approaches to practice-based research, animation direction and animated film making. You will gain necessary critical awareness and practical understanding of animation processes, film languages, and approaches to image making as well as considering how your moving images are experienced culturally, temporally and spatially.

As part of personal and professional development, collaboration is integrated into the curriculum alongside a supportive studio culture where knowledge is shared and risk taking encouraged. Critical reflection is presented as key to the development of a robust research practice and necessary to inform practical decision making.

Reading: Critical Positions

30 credits

This module introduces ways of theorising contemporary and historical design to enable you to locate your practice within wider professional, social and political contexts and an interdisciplinary framework. You will investigate key current issues within design and participate in urgent critical debates, developing a theoretical and conceptual vocabulary with which to position what you do as a practitioner.

You will not only develop your understanding of design theory and histories but critically examine different ways of knowing about, and through, design. You are encouraged to question established norms and challenge Eurocentric models of knowledge production, engaging with discourses of decolonisation, design pedagogy, sustainability, participation, accessibility, speculation and design for social change. Exploring a range of different research methods will support you to reflect on your own position, values and ethics as a researcher, and to articulate how that underpins your practice.

Studio: Situating Practice for Animation

30 credits

As screen access increases globally, so too does animation and moving image's ability to pervade all aspects of our lives. Animators are uniquely positioned to utilise these growing opportunities to engage with diverse audiences and create meaningful works that communicate with empathy, offer alternative realities, and tell compelling stories. This module asks you to consider audience: who they are, what you have to say, how to communicate and where to find appropriate and relevant platforms in which to have these dialogues.

You will deepen your understanding of animation practice by exploring different approaches to interpreting content, storytelling, and world building. You will identify personal strengths and areas of interest in the development of an individual creative practice. In doing so you will be encouraged to consider where your practice sits within the fields of fiction, non-fiction or experimental moving image and their unique and distinct approaches to film language, critical theory, and research methodologies. This will enable you to (in negotiation with your tutors) produce a production plan for your Extended Research Project, a sustained and independent project that is realised in module Studio: Extended Research Project for Animation.

Presentation: Future Directions

30 credits

This module asks you to think about the role of the designer now and what it might be in the future. It takes the position that many of the jobs you may have in the future do not yet exist – it is you that will create them.

You will work on projects individually and collectively that ask you to communicate across disciplinary boundaries in diverse environments with hybrid ways of making and thinking drawn from different contexts, methods and philosophies. Real-world scenarios set by external partners will be examined through elective collaborative projects that situate your creative practice within the contemporary paradigms of precarity and uncertainty, providing a space to address issues such as climate literacy, design education and the future of work, and in doing so anticipate contexts for your practice within the cultural and creative industries and beyond.

Studio: Extended Research Project for Animation

60 credits

This module establishes an individual and situated animation practice through moving image production, direction and practice-based research. By assimilating the learning established so far you will have an individual critical position to animation production and establish a real-world context for your practice. You will be given creative agency to initiate and complete your self-directed and research project either individually or through collaboration with others. The Extended Research Project (capstone project) requires you to recognise, act on and engage in a range of transferable skills e.g., management of production schedules or the direction of collaborative partners.

You will consolidate your animation practice by taking part in the necessary aspects of professional animation production. This will include collaborative working whilst gaining confidence in storytelling, directing and animation skills, presenting and communicating ideas and the leadership and management of a film production.

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Student Route visa.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Module

Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a masters programme that incorporates professional placement learning, following completion of 120 credits. It provides you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to an appropriate working environment, and to develop and enhance key employability skills and subject-specific professional skills in your chosen subject. You may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for your subsequent major project module, and would be expected to use it to help inform your decisions about future careers.

Please note

Optional modules only run if there is enough demand. If we have an insufficient number of students interested in an optional module, that module will not be offered for this course.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

What you need to apply for this course

  • Applicants should have a 2:1 or above honours degree or equivalent qualification in illustration or animation or a related subject, such as fine art, graphic design, photography, printmaking, fashion or textiles.
  • A portfolio of work must accompany your application.

Portfolio guidance

We would like to understand more about you and your practice, as well as your aptitude and motivations for studying on this course. Your portfolio should demonstrate your strengths, abilities and experiences in sequential thinking, moving image, sound, narrative and storytelling. You may also want to include work that demonstrates your skills in other areas, such as image-making, written works (e.g. scripts) and 3D objects as well as engagement across other related disciplines and areas of interest. Consider including documentation of your research methodologies, intellectual engagement and project development.

Digital portfolio format requirements

  • A portfolio of 25-30 pages, landscape orientation and saved/uploaded as a PDF file.
  • Include project titles and a brief description of each project explaining your intentions and your individual involvement if presenting a group project.
  • Animation or moving image works should not exceed 15 mins in total and should be uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube – please supply these links in your portfolio and make sure they are active and work on all platforms.
  • Ensure that images are of a high quality and at least 72 dpi.

Prior learning – AP(E)L

Applicants with prior qualifications and learning may be exempt from appropriate parts of a course in accordance with the University's policy for the assessment of prior learning and prior experiential learning. Contact the faculty office for further information.

International

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from recognised majority English-speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

Students will benefit from a variety of different learning and teaching approaches including brief-led project work, workshops that encourage creative experimentation and individual critical reflection. MA Animation embraces this approach through a peer-led learning, collaborative approach to animation production and discussion groups and seminars. We take a dialogic and discursive approach to learning and teaching, through peer-led learning, collaborative approach to animation production and discussion groups and seminars as well as opportunities to co-construct the curriculum. An elective range of assessment strategies and methods allows students to take responsibility for their own learning.

Kingston School of Art has an established an ethos of Thinking Through Making, underpinned by a policy that supports equal access for all students to the 2D and 3D workshops. Students are encouraged to explore new and unfamiliar processes and techniques and use these to experiment and innovate within their own disciplines and individual creative practices

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, reading journal articles and books, and preparing for assessments. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.

Workload

16% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity.

Type of learning and teaching

Type of learning and teaching
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 260 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1540 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 100%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 25 students. Seminars and reviews are usually 12 to 25 students and group tutorials usually 6 to 12 students. However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

You'll be taught by academics who are practising designers and researchers. There is also a regular programme of professional lectures and studio visits. Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Facilities

You will benefit from:

  • Well-equipped lecture theatres, seminar rooms and workshops
  • The library's extensive book and journal collection, including over 150,000 slides and visual references dating back to the 1600s
  • The dedicated Graduate Centre on campus – including IT facilities, seminar rooms and social spaces.

The University has its own on-site galleries, including:

There are also the following facilities to augment your studies:

Moving Image Workshop

This workshop provides students with access to a dedicated animation and motion graphics studio, for hand-drawn, stop-frame, 2D and 3D animation. Two post-production studios feature 14 edit suites and four edit stations, along with facilities that support editing and effects technology. Disc production and streaming facilities are also sited here. Filming facilities are complete with a large studio enabled for broadcast-quality filming, a range of film recording equipment, flexible lighting rigs and controls, and a cyclorama facility. There are also specialist sound recording facilities, including a control room and audio booth.

Digital Media Workshop

The Digital Media workshop gives students access to a wide range of current design related software with 128 iMac workstations for 2D and 3D design with two teaching rooms used for course specific software tutorials. Locally installed Adobe Suite CC 2017, Vectorworks and Microsoft office, with Avid Media Composer and Cinema 4D are available in selected teaching rooms. Digital printing facilities are also housed here, with large format scanners and two wide format printers for poster printing and large photography and canvas prints as well as standard A3 and A4 multi-functional printers with scanning, bypass and booklet printing capabilities.

Printmaking, letterpress and book arts

The printmaking and letterpress studios house extensive equipment across a diverse range of printing technologies, including intaglios, relief and screen printing. The workshop is also equipped with specialist technologies such as an A2 risograph, a darkroom for UV photographic applications like cyanotypes, Empson large format inject printers and a laser engraver. Letterpress and bookbinding equipment is found in the newly-opened Noble Press. The workshop offers a good range of tools and presses from the 19th century to the 1960s.

3D workshops

The 3D workshops comprise a ceramics studio, a metal workshop, model making, a plaster room, a forge and foundry, a welding bay and a woodworking mill. We also have a digital suite which houses digital equipment and a hackSpace with 3D printers, 3D scanners, CAD and Arduino stations. The hackSpace enables students to learn, explore, experiment, invent, innovate and transform the 2D into 3D, bringing ideas to life using cutting-edge technologies.

Photography workshop

There are two photographic studios for small and large photographic works, a digital imaging area for post-production, plus black-and-white and colour darkrooms.

The Eadweard Muybridge Immersive Lab

Our new Immersive Lab for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality technologies (VR, AR and XR) is based in Kingston School of Art and will be open to all KU students, researchers and staff from late 2022. Immersive technology brings with it huge potential for interdisciplinary, collaborative, and inclusive research as it is not affiliated with any one discipline or methodological approach. The Eadweard Muybridge Immersive Lab will accommodate 10 workspaces for students and researchers across KU, opening up new pedagogic, research funding and knowledge opportunities.

Fees for this course

2023/24 fees for this course

Home 2023/24

  • MA full time £10,900
  • MA part time £5,995

International 2023/24

  • MA full time £18,700
  • MA part time £10,285

Tuition fee information for future course years

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.

If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.

Fees for the optional placement year

If you choose to take a placement as part of this course, you will be invoiced for the placement fee in Year 2. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme and the costs for the placement year.

Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free Wi-Fi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.

Travel

Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

After you graduate

Graduates from the Illustration Animation Department permeate the animation industry all over the world.

  • They direct animation, motion graphics, adverts, pop promos and instructional educational films that engage hugely diverse audiences.
  • They are directors and showrunners on animated series for Netflix and Cartoon Network, Aardman, Nexus, Buck in New York and LA.
  • They start their own animation studios, such as Moth and Blink/BlinkInk, Catfish Collective or Arc. They also work together as small collectives often in turn employing our graduates.
  • They can be found in visual effects houses like Framestore and Moving Picture Company. By using interrelated skills they work not only as animators but also art directors/designers/storyboard artists for the live-action film industry.
  • They also teach and lead higher education initiatives, in the UK and internationally, that develop the potential of how visual moving image can contribute to global culture and societies.

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.