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MA Animation and Digital Effects

This course equips you with the high level practical and conceptual skills to develop a career within animation and visual effects. Projects are based on real world scenarios and encourage you to develop innovative and creative approaches across a range of applications, techniques and genre types. You use modern, industry-standard facilities to develop your skills and build a portfolio of work to showcase to employers.

Course length 12-36 Month(s)
Location City Campus

Course description

On this course you will experience a broad range of skills and techniques relating to a range of different areas within the animation and digital effects industries before choosing a specific area to specialise in. You then develop your skills and knowledge in that chosen area to become a multi-talented animation and digital effects artist.

You are supported in the production of creatively driven work to a professional standard and encouraged to challenge boundaries and think in original ways. You develop intellectual and critical approaches to creative tasks and production processes in animation and digital effects. The course provides an environment where you are enabled to work flexibly and independently within the diverse media industries.

We have up-to-date industry standard animation and digital compositing software and facilities allowing you to build your professional skill set throughout the course. You develop practical and conceptual skills in animation production through real world scenarios. You make and complete animations and digital effects to a high professional standard and develop a portfolio of work that showcases your skills to future employers.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

Typically you need a second class honours degree or above in a • traditional art • digital art • digital media • games design • multimedia or a related subject.

We expect you to be artistic and motivated to produce high quality animations and digital artwork. You must also demonstrate that you have an appropriate level of skill in art or animation by presenting previous work, show-reels or portfolios.

Overseas applicants from countries whose first language is not English must normally produce evidence of competence in English. An IELTS score of 6.0 with 5.5 in all skills (or equivalent) is the standard for non-native speakers of English. If your English language skill is currently below an IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English level.

If you do not have such academic qualifications we may consider your application individually, based on your personal, professional and work experience, and other formal qualifications. You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

Full time - September start - typically 12 months

Part time - September start - typically 36 months

Typical modules may include

Postgraduate certificate modules

3D fundamentals
This module gives you an introduction to industry standard 3D animation software packages such as 3ds Max and Maya, enabling you to produce high quality, professionally presented 3D artwork. During this module you develop fundamental skills in 3D modelling, texturing, lighting and rendering.

Acquisition and digital effects 1
In this module you develop your camera, lighting and operational skills. Application techniques follow within appropriate digital compositing software using industry practice data pipelines. Introductions to motion capture, motion control and other camera movement techniques are given at this stage to enable you to explore these notions as applied to cinema technologies. You also develop your conceptual skills, enabling you to make judgments and decisions about the design of digital effects environments against project brief criteria and workflows.

Observational drawing
Observational drawing is one of the fundamentals in developing high quality content for communicating creative concepts. In this module you build on your existing artistic skills to form a strong foundation, enabling you to produce high quality digital creative solutions.

Character animation
The aim of this module is to develop your character animation skills while also producing a substantial amount of material for your showreel. You apply appropriate animation methods, such as traditional animation techniques, acting and observational skills to produce convincing and lifelike character-based animations.

Postgraduate diploma core modules

Advanced animation techniques
The ability to produce realistic characters that move in a believable way is often crucial in modern film and animation production. This module provides you with the knowledge and skills required to model, rig and animate CG characters using a combination of keyframe, procedural and motion capture techniques.

Acquisition and digital effects 2
In this module you advance your skills in 2D image manipulation (compositing) and 3D computer animation effects. The professional use of cameras for acquisition and production of digital imagery for compositing with live action sequences is explored. More advanced methods of tracking camera movement from your own footage are covered, along with lighting simulation techniques. You will also develop and enhance your general skills in digital effects sequence design, production planning and scheduling, team-working and problem solving.

Communicating research
In this module you produce a journal article that critically analyses published research, industry publications and creative work in your chosen area of animation and/or digital effects. This module gives you an insight into the research tools, techniques and methods used in this discipline, giving you the critical, analytical and theoretical skills required for the completion of your final project.

Postgraduate diploma electives

Choose from either

Concept art
To develop visually stunning films and animations, it is essential that you have the skills to express your creative talents and ideas. In this module, you develop a series of visual products that portray concepts given in a design brief. For example, a series of still images or story boards that show ideas, themes and initial designs for characters, environments, sequences, animations or other artefacts.

Asset creation
Being able to virtually recreate the world around us not only relies on having the ability to generate 3D models but also the ability to recreate and visualise complex surface properties and lighting scenarios. This module focuses on photo-realistic asset creation for feature film and computer generated animations.

Masters modules

Masters animation project
You carry out an independent research and development project, and apply the methods and skills developed in other modules. This represents the culmination of the course, and enables you to demonstrate your skills and abilities by completing a substantial piece of work. It provides a significant contribution to your portfolio of work, which you can then use to show prospective employers.

  • coursework
  • dissertation


Careers exist in filmmaking professions, where everything from set designing to cinematography now involves or is entirely completed by computer-generated images, animation and digital compositing – all techniques you can develop on this course.

Continuing expansion of this area offers exciting and challenging career opportunities in • film and television production • game development • motion graphics • web content creation.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2016/17 academic year

Typically £6,300 for the course
Part-time study should be calculated pro rata.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are available across the majority of subject areas. Please note that for 13 month courses your loan will be paid to you over the duration of two years.

2017/18 academic year

Typically £6,400 for the course
Part-time study should be calculated pro rata.

International student

2016/17 academic year

Typically £12,500 for the course

2017/18 academic year

Typically £13,250 for the course

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

Complete the application form available at www.shu.ac.uk/study/form

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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