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MA Animation and Design

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  • Entry requirements
    Applicants will normally hold a good honours degree (at least 2:1 or above) in a art, design or media related discipline such as graphics, illustration, digital media, film and tv, media or three-dimensional studies, fine art. Practising professionals with vocational, rather than academic experience may be considered. We interview all suitably qualified applicants to ensure that the course is right for you and you are right for the course. We like to see evidence of your creative ability and experience which may range in various forms from Fine art work to comic book design. If you visit us for an interview, you will have a guided tour of the facility and, of course, can ask any questions you want. You may like to bring your relatives, friends, partners along for the tour part of the day. You may also like to come to one of our open days. We prefer to tell you decision, and how we regard your work, at the end of your interview. Among the qualities sought at the interview, which is usually informal, are evidence of your creative ability, passion for design, a desire to work hard, an eagerness to learn and an attitude to push the boundaries of creativeness and invention.
  • Academic Title
    Animation and Design
  • Course description
    The course is distinctive, in view of the fact that creativity and ideas can be developed in all types of animation such as cut-out, 3D stop frame model animation, clay animation, pixellation, Smudge'n'Click, 3D computer generated animation, 2D traditional animation, 2D computer generated animation, direct on film, cell animation and abstract and experimental techniques.

    It is the intention that the student can either specialise or mix their learned techniques, producing a more varied portfolio. For this reason, there has been a significant investment in new equipment and software, all of which is industry standard.

    Contextual studies in design theory will underpin the production of practical design work. Students are likely to develop their technical skills enormously during this course, but this will be through practice or tutorial support rather than formal software training.

    Course Content

    Stage 1
    Postgraduate Certificate (PgC) 60 credits

        * Animation and Design 1

    This sixty credit module initially provides an opportunity for students to research expand their knowledge and develop their animation skills. This will lead into and support the second part of the module where students are required to create a full proposal supported by preproduction work which will be created in stage three of their masters. The module covers both the practical and theoretical elements of the programme.

    Stage 2
    Postgraduate Diploma (PgD) 60 credits

        * Animation and Design 2

    This sixty credit module requires students to build upon and further develop the work that was carried out in stage one. At this stage students are encouraged to consolidate their own design philosophy approaches and design theories through practical explorations. Students are also expected to further explore and strengthen their research methodology appropriate to their chosen field of study.

    Stage 3
    Masters (MA) 60 credits

        * Animation and Design 3

    The practical outcomes of this module should fulfil the aims and objectives set out in the 'proposal' outlined at the end of stage one. The actual content of the work must reflect the findings relevant to the research.

    Teaching and Assessment

    A wide range of teaching and learning methods are incorporated in the programme, ranging from formal lectures and student led seminars, to group critiques and practical demonstrations.

    These are supported by a range of guest speakers from a wide spectrum of academic and design backgrounds. Assessment is through portfolio presentation or exhibition, seminar presentation, written essays and a dissertation.

    Work Experience

    It is expected that students will obtain an external mentor in their chosen area. Students are recommended to seek membership of appropriate professional bodies, such as the Chartered Society of Designers, ASIFA and BECTU though this is not a mandatory requirement.

    It is compulsory to attend the Bradford Animation Festival BAF (self funded).

    Career Opportunities

    Students following this course can look to be employed within the film, special effects, games, independent film and computer industries. Within each of these areas, job titles may include Background Artists, Character Designers, Keyframe/Inbetween Animators, Editors, Scriptwriters, Surfacers, Directors, Sound and Doping Technicians, Visual Effects Engineers, Idea Developers, Researchers, Scene Designers, Character and Background Developers, Storyboard Artists, Layout Artists, Ink and Painters, Clean-up people, Compositors, Programmers, Environmental Artists, Layout Artists, Modellers, Runners and Riggers.

    Recent Sunderland graduates are now working with world-renowned companies such as Aardman Animation ' the team behind Chicken Run

    Supplemental Information

    Contact Time:
    Normally Tuesday and Thursday 5-7pm plus tutorials and visiting speakers through the week.


    The course allows each student access to all equipment and software dedicated to the design courses. This offers the students the chance to acquire skills, needed to create all stages of their own animated vision. The priority is to empower the individual with technical confidence, enhance creativity, individualism and produce strong design skills.

    Each student is encouraged to evaluate and form their own decisions regarding aesthetics, structure, concept, style and process. The emphasis is on creativity and individuality.

    Therefore, student experience may range from abstract, experimental art to commercialisation, from narrative to non-narrative, from traditional to contemporary computer animation. There is definitely no house style.

    Students will be encouraged to research and produce ideas, push their own boundaries, express ideas effectively and successfully.

    The Art and Design library, lecture theatre and seminar room at the Ashburne site contains an excellent range of art and design related material, including CD-Rom's, slides, books and magazines, as well open access G3's and iMac computer facilities.

    We employ traditional methods of drawing alongside the technology, but in terms of technology, the course is one of the best equipped in the sector with extensive state-of-the-art facilities and constant updating of industry standard software.

    There are several main computer-teaching labs in The Design Centre, all equipped with the latest Apple Mac computers and all essential peripherals.

    Students have access to scanners, drawing tablets, a range of backup devices, laser printers, digital cameras, slide printer, slide scanners, large format A0 colour printer, and so on. There is also 24 hour x 7-day access to the mirror facilities at the award winning Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's. Teaching rooms have full data projector and other audio-visual facilities.

    There are also dedicated computer labs specifically for students on this course, again with up-to-date Macs and PCs for cross-platform work or for animation with Animo, Final Cut Pro, Maya etc, and numerous open access computer labs. The School has a policy of keeping up-to-date with software versions and works entirely with industry standard software throughout its many computer labs.

    The Animation and Design pre-production studios are well equipped with all essential equipment, from blue screens to recording studios, It is all here to assist you in making your idea a reality. Each student will be allocated a personal studio space and have access to all industry standard animation production house facilities.

    The traditional Model animators have access to all woodwork, model making and metalwork facilities. Students are encouraged to manufacture their own armatures with the assistance of specialised technicians and staff and build sets and characters within these areas. Filming of model animations take place in the 3D studio set up.

    The CGI animators have access to all our computer labs that contain industry standard packages such as Maya for modeling and animating. Your film can be rendered on our new render farm whilst you take a well earned rest.

    The experimental animators have access to a multi plane filming device, set up in a dedicated studio. Digital experimentation can take place utilising the digital Mac software.

    There are full traditional 2D, cell, ink and paint facilities or if the student prefers digital ink and paint packages such as Animo.

    There is also opportunity for students to work direct on film.

    Postproduction software is housed within the open access computer labs and accessible on all machines.

    A digital sound studio is available for sound manufacturing or doping.

    The Media Centre houses cutting edge technology in video, compositing and audio, and training is available for students in order to gain access to these high-end facilities.

    World Class Web/Design Tools

    The University of Sunderland provides access to the full Adobe/Microsoft suite of web/design applications on campus. Under our Education Partnership Agreement, Adobe/Microsoft tools are upgraded every time there is a new release, to ensure that our students have the very latest industry standard versions. Apply now for access to the latest versions of: Adobe/Microsoft (inc. Dream weaver, Flash, Fireworks, Freehand) Director (web content, DVD & CD Rom production tool) Also Authorware, Contribute, Breeze and others.

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