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  • Computer Animation MA

Computer Animation MA

Why choose this course?

This course enables students with some experience of 3D computer graphics to develop and enhance their abilities in the skills required by the computer animation and visual effects industries. It is one of a suite of digital media courses that enables you to study professional digital media practice in a studio environment and work as part of an interdisciplinary team with students from across the full programme.

Through a student-centred project-based curriculum, you will work to develop specialist skills such as character animation, character rigging, effects animation, modelling, texturing and lighting. Industry-focused learning will enable you to hone your specialist skills in a professional context. Work placements, real projects, internships and an industry mentoring scheme will also prepare you for entry into the fast-growing and highly competitive digital media arena.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road and Kingston School of Art at Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • Kingston University is an active member of The Independent Game Developers' Association (TIGA), the games industry's representative body, and the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA).
  • This course has been developed in consultation with an industry panel that includes representatives from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, DreamWorks and Samsung Design Europe.
  • You will use facilities that include editing suites, moving image studios, 3D workshops and Sony PlayStation developer kits.

Student work

See what our current Computer Animation MA students are creating in their classes here at Kingston University.

What you will study

You will learn clean modelling techniques, principles of animation, lighting, shading, texturing, rendering and compositing. You will create computer animation assets, both alone and in teams, using industry-standard production techniques that stimulate a professional environment of collaboration to deliver a product on time. You will also work as part of a team comprising students from different media disciplines, undertaking projects that have previously included use of brain-computer interface systems, computer vision and optical stereoscopic 3D, and you will learn how to present yourself to potential employers through your professional presence and portfolio.

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.

Teaching on this course usually takes place in 2 separate specific week blocks (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm). For further details please contact secpgstudentoffice@kingston.ac.uk.

Modules

Core modules

Digital Studio Practice

30 credits

You will work with a multidisciplinary group of students as appropriate for your course (User Experience Design MSc, Game Development (Design) MA, Game Development (Programming) MSc and Computer Animation MA); involved with the digital media production process in response to a project brief developed in consultation with the industry panel and/or research staff. Projects concern contemporary platforms, such as iPhone, Android, Windows, Playstation, Xbox and Next Generation controllers and innovative input devices. You also develop a professional profile (online CV/portfolio) fitting for your role and intended destination which you maintain throughout the course.

  • Coursework: report, prototype, and presentation (group and individual)
  • Schedule: allow one weekday per week in the first semester
  • Class size: approximately 20–30
  • Staff: course staff
Media Specialist Practice

30 credits

This flexible module gives each you the chance to develop your unique interpretation of professional practice that captures your specific interests or niche within your course field.

  • Possible specialisms for User Experience Design include: information architecture, web prototyping (Javascript, HTML, CSS etc), mobile-user testing, remote user research, visual design, interaction design, content strategy, service design, branded Ux and information design.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Programming) include: tools and plug ins; pathfinding algorithms; graphics programming; physics; game server backends; traffic/flocking/crowd AI.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Design) include: concepts; mechanics; levels, narrative; gameplay; world and system design; interface and navigation; casual, serious and game studies.
  • Possible specialisms for Computer Animation include: storyboarding; character development; visual narrative; match moving; lighting; art; environments; levels and props; motion capture; rigging; particles, dynamics and fluids; tools and plug ins.
  • Coursework: design report, artefact (video, prototype, design documentation, or empirical data as appropriate), presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one weekday per week in the second semester
  • Class size: approximately 20–30
  • Staff: course staff
Digital Media Final Project

60 credits

The Digital Media Final Project, as a capstone project, consolidates the knowledge gained in earlier modules and is informed and supported by prior learning.

You will interpret the coursework into a practical solution and demonstrate skills in defining, analysing and developing a substantial solution to an individually defined design related problem. You will utilise an advanced understanding of contemporary digital media practice. The research and documentation of the project is an integral part of the submission; reflecting on the process, as well as the critical analysis and methodology of the research itself. The research will be conceptually integrated within the practical work. Individual project topics are expected to be wide ranging and provide the opportunity to fully investigate a practical situation, underpinned by a critical report on the work produced. Topics must allow the opportunity to position work with respect to business, social and cultural goals and identify and apply appropriate technology as a means of delivery.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Critically apply theoretical knowledge of design and evaluate contemporary discourse on the subject.
  • Demonstrate the application of design research methods in formulating concepts and ideas.
  • Originate design propositions through the application of appropriate design ideologies, research principles, methods, materials and technology, forms, means, actions or interventions.
  • Engage in the critical reflection of own work and in peer review related to the development and production of the major project, employing skills of evaluation, contextualisation and communication.
  • Disseminate the research process and outcomes of the final project with appropriate currency and consideration of audience.
Creation and Animation

30 credits

This module builds on prior competency in using 3D modelling and animation software to allow further development of 3D skills and to develop specialisms in areas such as animation, rigging, lighting and modelling. Observational drawing classes will provide an underpinning to the 3D modelling and animation techniques.

On successful completion, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a high proficiency with modelling in 3D at a level that allows for further independent learning.
  • Create complex organic forms to technical specifications.
  • Judge the most appropriate and efficient method for producing models for a different range of purposes.
  • Create believable animation based on observation and mimicry of live moving forms.
Perfecting the Look

30 credits

This module builds on prior competency in using 3D modelling and animation software. It develops your 3D skills further and enables you, by guided self-study, to develop specialisms in areas that affect the look of a scene. That could be a photo realistic look, or a stylised look that aims to promote an emotional response from the viewer. Content will include rendering techniques, illumination techniques and the combination of individual elements by means of compositing.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Make assessments of the technical requirements of a shot, to achieve particular look.
  • Successfully composite 3D assets into a live action scene, and composite together elements of a 3D rendered scene.
  • Evaluate the correct techniques required to evoke a particular mood or emotion in a still or moving image.
Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a Masters programme that incorporates an extended professional placement. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an appropriate working environment, and develops and enhances key employability and subject specific skills in their chosen discipline. Students may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for the major project or future career.

It is the responsibility of individual students to find and secure a suitable placement opportunity; this should not normally involve more than two placements which must be completed over a minimum period of 10 months and within a maximum of 12 months. The placement must be approved by the Course Leader, prior to commencement to ensure its suitability. Students seeking placements will have access to the standard placement preparation activities offered by Student Engagement and Enhancement (SEE) group.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Work placement scheme

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 tier 4 visa.

Invoicing on the placement courses occurs in two stages. The standard course fee is payable in Year 1 with the placement fee invoiced in Year 2. Therefore, students starting in September 2020 would therefore be charged the placement fee of £1,385 in September 2021. Students commencing the course in September 2021 will be invoiced the placement fee in 2022 (fee tbc).

This amount will only be charged to your account after you find a placement and are enrolled on the module. You will not be charged this fee if you do not manage to secure a work placement.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

A good BA(Hons) or BSc(Hons) degree or equivalent qualification in animation or a related subject which includes significant 3D computer graphic content, such as moving image, illustration, 3D design, computer-related design or architecture.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate, either through qualifications, work experience or portfolio of works, a solid understanding of digital media.

Applicants will normally be expected to have a show reel/portfolio of work which demonstrates the necessary aptitude, potential and skills required for entry to this course.

Exceptionally applicants may have no first degree but more than five years working in the field. In this case, there must be strong evidence that the applicant has the motivation to complete the course and the ability to work at this level. Experience in digital media, post production and animation is particularly valuable.

International

In order to complete your programme successfully, it is important to have a good command of English and be able to apply this in an academic environment. Therefore, if you are a non-UK applicant* you will usually be required to provide certificated proof of English language competence before commencing your studies.

For this course the minimum requirement is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking.

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

Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

* Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. 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

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Type of teaching and learning

Year 1

Year 1
  • Scheduled teaching: 280 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1520 hours

16% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity. Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

Type of assessment

Year 1

Year 1
  • Coursework: 100%

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.

Feedback summary

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

Class sizes

You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which provides dedicated academic guidance and advice as well as the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes therefore you may be taught alongside students who are on these courses within the School.

Who teaches this course?

Digital Media Kingston

This course is delivered by Digital Media Kingston.

Digital Media Kingston (DMK) is an interdisciplinary, collaborative project between the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, and School of Design at Kingston University. Its mission is to bring together creative expression, theoretical analysis, scientific rigour and technological innovation to underpin innovation and excellence in the computational arts.

The teaching element of the DMK project delivers a suite of four related courses: Computer Animation MA, Games Development (Design) MA, User Experience Design MSc, and Games Development (Programming) MSc. You will share the majority of your taught modules with students taking these digital media courses.

Postgraduate students may run or assist in lab sessions and may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Our modern teaching environment

The technical resources that are available to students on this suite of courses include:

  • games development suite
  • gyroscopic inertial motion system
  • media technology labs
  • digital media workshops (DMWs)
  • digital photography labs
  • premier filming space
  • post-production suite
  • animation suite
  • user studies equipment
  • sound recording suite.

Games development suite

The games development suite contains a number of Sony PlayStation Portable developer kits (PSP). Students will be able to develop for this platform under an academic development agreement with Sony. In addition students have access to Xboxes and Microsoft XNA Game Studio developer software. A number of other consoles are also available including Wiis and Sony Playstation 3. The lab is equipped with 3D graphics software such as Maya. You also have access to a body modelling suit.

Gyroscopic inertial motion system

The IGS-190-M mobile capture suit is one of the most mature gyroscopic inertial motion systems and features nineteen matchbox-sized gyros attached to individual straps on a flexible lycra suit. The gyros are the fastest in the market (at 1,200 deg/sec). Eight suits can be used simultaneously with a wireless range of over 100 metres radius and sensor resolution is 0.1 degree. Set-up time is approximately 15 minutes; the suite requires a small amount of calibration and time for the gyros to settle. The suite was purchased from Animazoo, a specialist in the area of motion capture with an IGS-190-M being used to animate the cartoon character 'The Crazy Frog' amongst many other cartoons and computer games.

Media technology labs

A multimedia and graphics studio that houses 39 Pentium 4 PCs all with DVD writers and our full graphics software which includes Maya complete, Adobe Production Studio, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Encore, Audition, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Combustion.

Digital media workshop

The digital media workshops provide a wide range of software and specialist technical support in the key areas of CAD, 2D and 3D design, digital imaging and processing, high-quality photographic printing, audio and video production, mono and colour printing (up to A3+), and large format plotting (up to B0+). All 132 computers in the digital media workshop are set up as dual boot workstations. This means that both the Windows XP and Macintosh OS X platforms are available on each machine. You are therefore able to choose the platform (PC or Mac) that you want to work with at any given time.

Digital photography labs

The professional photography suite includes two digital imaging areas providing 26 Mac Pro computers running Photoshop software for digital image development and high quality digital scanning. Professional quality digital printing, from A4 to A2 is also available. 

This area comprises a studio of 100 square metres and has all you need to record broadcast quality programming. The space has a 14-metre infinity cove painted white, heavy black curtains and an eight-metre professional film blue screen. The studio space has been built with flexibility in mind and any combination of setups can be accommodated within the area with regard to filming. The studio is equipped with three Panasonic HVX200 high definition cameras in a studio specification with matte boxes, dolly tripods and P2 16GB cards.

The lighting array consists of a Kino Flow system combining Image, Zip and Para Beam light fixtures with Dedo modelling spots. The whole array is controlled by a 64-channel DMX desk.

Post-production suite

The post-production suite comprises 10 top-of-the-range Macintosh computers, the majority of which are running the Intel CPU. They are all based on the Black Magic uncompressed broadcast system and are controlled by a central video server running the Apple XSan network. There is a massive 20 Terrabytes of storage and can stream up to 10 full HD streams across the network in real-time. At SD we can stream approximately 40 streams of video at once.

Animation suite

This suite consists of networked G5 Macintosh Power PCs with Dual 2.3 GHz processors, 2 Gigabytes RAM and a GeForce 6600 Graphics Card or a Radeon 9600XT graphics card running the industry-standard version of Maya. The Apple Xsan Server and Intel MAc Pro FailOver server have an Infortrend 15 TB disk array, QLogic 15 port Fibre switch, Fibre Optic Channel duplex AV data transfer with Netgear 24 port ethernet switch, Ethernet Meta data transfer and 48 port patch bay with 16 port fibre distribution interface.

User studies equipment

We have Morae usability testing software, a Tobii eye tracker and can accommodate one-on-one usability tests, focus groups and observational studies of collaborative work in a variety of settings. A range of computing devices are also available – mobile phones, touch screens, very large monitors etc.
Research vehicle website: we also operate a website for studying live web traffic (real online behaviour in context).

Sound recording studio

This area comprises a control room and an audio booth with talkback and video monitoring facilities. There is an extensive sound FX library and high-quality transducers suitable for high-quality voice and/or sound track recording. The studio is able to cater for both post- and pre-production sound to image work and runs with Final Cut Pro/Soundtrack Pro as its central engine.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MA full time £9,200
  • MA part time £5,060

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MA full time £14,500
  • MA part time £7,975

BAFTA Scholarship

Applicants to Computer Animation MA can apply for the BAFTA UK scholarship Programme, which is open to British citizens in need of financial assistance. Each successful BAFTA Scholar receives up to £12,000 towards their annual course fees, as well as mentoring support from a BAFTA member, and free access to BAFTA events around the UK.

In addition, three successful applicants will be awarded a Prince William Scholarship in Film, Games and Television, supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros., including a funded work placement within the Warner Bros.group of companies and other benefits.

What this course offers you

Computer Animation MA is part of the Digital Media Kingston suite of courses, providing students with a unique mixture of creative and technical skills.

Students will have access to first-class technical facilities such as state of the art editing suites, moving image studios, 3D workshops and other specialist resources including a number of Sony PlayStation developer kits. Students will be able to develop for this platform under an academic development agreement with Sony. In addition several other platforms and technologies are available, including access to a body modelling suit.

This industry-facing course aims to hone your workplace skills including:

  • team-work;
  • time management;
  • communication (oral, written and electronic);
  • data collection, review and synopsis; and computing.

Staff will be drawn from across the University including:

  • Kingston School of Art;
  • Faculty of Business and Social Sciences; and
  • Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing.

Input from industry practitioners and experts will add a valuable dimension to your studies.

Where this course will take you

The provided technical and creative skills provided by this Computer Animation course are applicable in areas related mainly to movie and game industry. Furthermore, advertisement, 3D printing, architectural design and web based modelling are areas that require skills and knowledge on modelling, texturing, rigging, animation, dynamics and compositing.

What our students say

There were very few courses that met my requirements, such as being part-time, at masters level, near London and in a very specialised field. I still wasn't sure if it was for me until I visited the campus for an open day and was impressed by the facilities and teaching staff who were passionate about the subject and had a vast range of professional experience.

Convincing my employer, The Royal Opera House, that this was the right course for my job, was easy given the reputation of Kingston University and the excellent information provided to us explaining what I would be learning.

Since starting the course I have developed my technical skills and creative process by absorbing everything I can in the time I am here, the results of which are evident in my every day work in my day job.

James Simpson, Computer Generated Imagery (3D) MA (part time)

How we work with industry partners

Digital Media Kingston courses have been developed in consultation with an industry advisory board, which so far includes members of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, DreamWorks, the BFi, Alloy, The Other Media, Sunrise Software, Abelton Live, Tonic, Active Ingredient.

Some work placements, live projects and other opportunities will be available at the discretion of the industry panel for students on this course.

Postgraduate study
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