• CollegeCSM
  • Start dateSeptember 2018
  • Course length2 years (60 weeks)

MA Character Animation

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. Frequent visiting lecturers from industry 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 high employment rate after the course and our award-winning students are working 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
  • Over 80 per cent of our graduates find employment in the animation industry. They work 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.

MA Character Animation showreel 2017

Showreel of Year One animation work

Showreel by Yukai Du, MA Character Animation alumna

Former Course Leader Birgitta Hosea talks gives a retrospective of her work at CSM for Adobe education.

<b>Carlos Fraiha, alum</b>

It has helped me to learn more about my craft, to really immerse myself in it for a year, and make several contacts that have been invaluable to my professional career after the course.

Carlos Fraiha, alum

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 Drama Centre London enabling unrivalled 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
  • Wide-ranging commercial and creative partners in London and beyond
  • 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.

Course outline

MA Character Animation aims to develop both creative and technical skills. Learning to animate is about much more than software. At the core of engaging and effective animation is an understanding of motion, characterisation and the portrayal of performance. Our hands-on, practical approach focuses on creating innovative animated characters that can move convincingly and perform with emotional and psychological nuance. The curriculum covers motion analysis and performance based animation, from the simplest bouncing ball techniques to movement in animals, acting in humans and the representation of speech.

Lectures and critiques deliver a programme of rigorous enquiry into key areas of the theory and context of character animation. Established links with the other courses in our School of Performance mean this postgraduate course offers an unparalleled application of performance methodologies to the practice of animation. Because animation is the representation of performance, the MA Character Animation course team strongly believes that all animators benefit from a study of movement and acting. As a result, MA Character Animation emphasises the analysis of characterisation through acting and the study of motion through drawing. Drawing is an important part of the course - animation classes are supported by life drawing workshops and drawing field trips. You'll also have workshops in relevant software techniques.

Throughout the postgraduate course you'll be expected to extend your present knowledge and understanding and apply them to new areas of professional practice. You'll keep a blog from the start of the course in which you document your work and reflect on your progress. Working as an animator demands professional skills - you'll be encouraged to develop your experience in problem solving, project management, planning, and communication while working both collaboratively and independently.

We encourage a networking environment through collaborative team projects, simulated work placements, group critiques, and an industry-based mentoring programme that gives you continuous external input. You'll also benefit from regular visits from practitioners in all aspects of production and live projects with external agencies. Our goal is to help you become a reflective, innovative practitioner able to locate yourself within the animation industry.

Unit One: Character and Movement Analysis 

Unit One is an intensively taught period of 20 weeks that is designed to advance your core understanding of character animation principles. Animation techniques will be comprehensively covered and applied to traditional pencil-drawn, 2D and 3D digital techniques in a series of short creative exercises. The critical analysis of motion, including the articulation of movement, anatomy, timing, weight and effort will be supported by contextual studies in life drawing, acting, animation history and theory. 

Unit Two: Characterisation studies (60 credits)

Unit Two is designed to enable you to build a narrative based effective real character performance and for you to become a self-sufficient, critical practitioner, confident to pursue your own goals. The unit focuses on two longer narrative driven character performance pieces which are designed to bring together the formation of strong character performance through narrative action and sound.

Unit Three: Final Project (60 credits)

Unit Three is designed to enable you to self-direct a longer narrative character project film. You will devise your own narrative and develop a proposal for a self-directed micro short film that you can complete as an individual or in a team, by negotiation with staff.

Teaching staff and resources

Our MA Character Animation staff team consists of experienced professionals who continue to work as consultants and freelancers in the animation, multimedia and software industries. MA Character Animation also encourages a networking community by maintaining links with ex-students, many of whom are now in high-profile employment.

MA Character Animation benefits hugely from being in the heart of London, a thriving international centre for innovative design, the production of commercials, and post-production special effects. Advertising agencies and film companies come from all over the world to have creative work done here.

MA Character Animation Programme Specification 2018/19 (PDF, 346)

Industry collaborations

Based in London near the animation and post-production facilities of Soho, MA Character Animation has close links with the industry. Live projects with external agencies have included Cartoon Network, the National Theatre Archive, and the National Gallery.

Through lectures, demonstrations and workshops by working professionals, as well as through its successful mentor scheme, MA Character Animation maintains and values its links with the animation industry. We are committed to ensuring it remains commercially and artistically relevant in a volatile and fast-moving field.

MA Character Animation works closely with industry to ensure our graduates have the creativity, professionalism and specialist technical skills required for employment.

Short films created by MA Character Animation students have been nominated for prizes at:

  • Austin, Texas IFF Short Animation Award
  • BAF
  • Bitfilm Festival Germany
  • British Animation Awards
  • Cinanima Onda Curto Award, Portugal
  • CobraVision (ITV4)
  • Dervio International Animation Festival
  • Edinburgh IFF McLaren Award for British Animation
  • Festival Internazionale del Cinema d'Arte
  • Foyle Film Festival Animation Award
  • Junior Animator Award | MESH (Channel 4)
  • Microsoft Xbox Outstanding Student Award
  • Propeller TV Studentfest
  • Soho Rushes
  • Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Audience Prize
  • Virgin Media Shorts People's Choice.

Over 80 per cent of our graduates find employment in the animation industry, in London and beyond. They work 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.

Our graduates are employed by companies like Aldis Animation, BBC, Studio AKA, Cartoon Network, Chase Animation Studios, Cinesite, Dreamworks, EA Games, Flush Draw, Framestore, HRA, Michael Dudok de Wit, the Mill, Moving Picture Company, Richard Purdum Productions, Passion Pictures, Pesky, Saatchi & Saatchi, Slinky Pictures, Tiger Aspect, Tandem, Twelve Foot Nine, Uli Meyer Studios, Unit 9.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section.

Facilities

  • Image of a table with lights shining onto it in an animation studio

    Animation

    Find out more about our animation workshop

  • Image of a post-production workshop

    Post-production

    Find out more about our post-production workshop.

  • Image of a room full of computers.

    Digital Media

    Find out more about our digital media facility at King's Cross

Staff

Course Leader: Shaun Clark
Senior Lecturer: Steve Roberts
Associate Lecturer, Movement: Lydia Baksh
Associate Lecturer, Life Drawing: Dr Maryclare Foá

 

 

 

How to apply

2018/19 entry

You can apply to this course using our online application form – the link to this is below.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the Entry Requirements section further down this page to learn about the application process which includes detailed guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide later in the process.

When to apply

We recommend you apply by the end of May at the very latest to avoid disappointment. Your application will only be considered after you have successfully completed an online application, submitted required documents and a digital portfolio.

We reserve the right to close applications earlier than the deadline above subject to spaces available.

Required information for all postgraduate courses

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing the online application form: 

General information

  • Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses);
  • Current English language level;
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details;
  • Employment history. 

Personal statement

You’ll need to submit a short statement about why you want to study MA Character Animation. This gives us a picture of your interests and your suitability for our course. It should be between about 800-1000 words.  

Here are some tips for what you could include:

  • Why do you want to study MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins?
  • What have you done before and what do you know already? What are you good at?
  • What do you want to learn on the course? How do you think it will help you to develop your work?
  • In the second year, you will be making a 3 minute graduation film. What kind of film do you think you would like to make? We won’t hold you to this – you can change your mind later.

If you do not complete all the required information or upload the necessary documents, we will not be able to proceed with your application and portfolio review.

Start your application now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form. 

Apply to MA Character Animation

After you have successfully submitted your application online, you will receive an email confirming your application and providing your login details for the UAL Applicant Portal.  Please do log into your applicant portal as this is where we will send you important updates and requests, as well as allowing you to contact us with any questions you may have about your application.

What happens next

Portfolio Review

If you meet the entry requirements you will be invited to submit a digital portfolio (up to 20 pages) through UAL’s online portfolio review system. 

Following a review of your application and portfolio, you will either be invited for an interview or your application will be rejected via the UAL Applicant Portal.

Interview

  • If you currently live in the UK, you will be invited to attend an interview at college.
  • If you currently live outside the UK or unable to attend the interview in person, we can arrange a skype interview for you.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Applicant Portal.

Deferred entry

Please note that CSM does not accept application for deferred entry.

2018/19 entry

You can apply to this course using our online application form – the link to this is below.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the Entry Requirements section further down this page to learn about the application process which includes detailed guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide later in the process.

When to apply

We recommend you apply by the end of May at the very latest to avoid disappointment. Your application will only be considered after you have successfully completed an online application, submitted required documents and a digital portfolio.

We reserve the right to close applications earlier than the deadline above subject to spaces available.

Required information for all postgraduate courses

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing the online application form:

General Information

  • Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses);
  • Current English language level;
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details;
  • Employment history;

Personal statement

You’ll need to submit a short statement about why you want to study MA Character Animation. This gives us a picture of your interests and your suitability for our course. It should be between about 800-1000 words.  

Here are some tips for what you could include:

  • Why do you want to study MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins?
  • What have you done before and what do you know already? What are you good at?
  • What do you want to learn on the course? How do you think it will help you to develop your work?
  • In the second year, you will be making a 3 minute graduation film. What kind of film do you think you would like to make? We won’t hold you to this – you can change your mind later.

If you do not complete all the required information or upload the necessary documents, we will not be able to proceed with your application and portfolio review.

Start your application now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form. 

Apply to MA Character Animation

Alternatively, international applicants can apply through an overseas representative in your country.

After you have successfully submitted your application online, you will receive an email confirming your application and providing your login details for the UAL Applicant Portal.  Please do log into your applicant portal as this is where we will send you important updates and requests, as well as allowing you to contact us with any questions you may have about your application.

Immigration History Check (for International Applications only)

Whether you are applying through a UAL representative or direct application you will need to complete an Immigration History check. If you do not complete the Immigration History Check we will not be able to proceed with your application and portfolio review. 

What happens next 

Portfolio Review

If you meet the entry requirements you will be invited to submit a digital portfolio (up to 20 pages) through UAL’s online portfolio review system.

Following a review of your application and full portfolio, you will either be invited for an interview or your application will be rejected via the UAL Applicant Portal.

Interview

  • If you currently live in the UK, you will be invited to attend an interview at college.
  • If you currently live outside the UK or unable to attend the interview in person, we can arrange a skype interview for you.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Applicant Portal.

Deferred entry

Please note that CSM does not accept application for deferred entry.

Entry requirements

An applicant will be considered for admission who has already achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours Degree.

This educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • An Honours Degree or an equivalent academic qualification;
  • A professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours Degree;

Applicants who do not meet the standard course entry requirements may still be considered if the application demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might be demonstrated by:

  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
  • A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning that, taken together, can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required. Strong drawing skills (both of human beings and animals);
  • Strong design skills (composition of shots, depth, understanding of the representation of three dimensions).

English language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language you will be asked to provide evidence of your English language ability in order to apply for a visa, enrol, and start your course. The English language requirement for entry for this course is:

IELTS Academic 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each of the 4 skills (on one single test).

For further information visit the English Language requirements page.

 

What we look for

Selection criteria

We select applicants using the following criteria:

  • The quality of the applicant's observation;
  • Visualisation skills as evidenced in the portfolio;
  • The commitment and potential to realise your objectives within the timeframe of the postgraduate course.

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

Tuition fees for 2018/19: £5,000 per year.

Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

ELQ 

Home/EU students whose chosen course is at a level equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already hold, would will be charged the fees shown above, plus an additional £1,100 (called the 'ELQ' fee). Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are exempt from ELQ fees and will pay the original fee, regardless of the highest qualification held. If you have a query regarding the ELQ fee, please use our course enquiry form.

International fee

Tuition fees for 2018/19: £12,430 per year.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. Please read the information on our additional costs page.

Accommodation

Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarships search

Careers and alumni

Based in London near the animation and post-production facilities of Soho, MA Character Animation has close links with the industry. Live projects with external agencies have included Cartoon Network, the National Theatre Archive, The National Gallery, Children’s Society and The English National Opera House.

Through lectures, demonstrations and workshops by working professionals, as well as through its successful mentor scheme, MA Character Animation maintains and values its links with the animation industry. We are committed to ensuring it remains commercially and artistically relevant in a volatile and fast-moving field.

MA Character Animation works closely with industry to ensure our graduates have the creativity, professionalism and specialist technical skills required for employment.

Short films created by MA Character Animation students have been nominated for prizes at:

  • Austin, Texas IFF Short Animation Award
  • BAF
  • Bitfilm Festival Germany
  • British Animation Awards
  • Cinanima Onda Curto Award, Portugal
  • CobraVision (ITV4)
  • Dervio International Animation Festival
  • Edinburgh IFF McLaren Award for British Animation
  • Festival Internazionale del Cinema d'Arte
  • Foyle Film Festival Animation Award
  • Junior Animator Award | MESH (Channel 4)
  • Microsoft Xbox Outstanding Student Award
  • Propeller TV Studentfest
  • Soho Rushes
  • Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Audience Prize
  • Virgin Media Shorts People's Choice.


Over 80 per cent of our graduates find employment in the animation industry, in London and beyond. They work 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.

Our graduates are employed by companies like Aldis Animation, BBC, Studio AKA, Cartoon Network, Chase Animation Studios, Cinesite, Dreamworks, EA Games, Flush Draw, Framestore, HRA, Michael Dudok de Wit, the Mill, Moving Picture Company, Richard Purdum Productions, Passion Pictures, Pesky, Saatchi & Saatchi, Slinky Pictures, Tiger Aspect, Tandem, Twelve Foot Nine, Uli Meyer Studios, Unit 9.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section.

Alumni profiles

  • Image of four hand-drawn characters

    Daisy Jacobs

    Daisy Jacobs graduated in 2011, here she discusses her final graduate film ‘Don Justino de Neve’.

  • Red landscape with an illustrated tree done in black ink

    Chanon Treenet

    Chanon tells us about his work as an animator and why he chose to study MA Character Animation.

  • Photography of Carlos Fraiha

    Carlos Fraiha

    Since completing the course Carlos has worked for studios including The Mill, Partizan Lab, and Notion Digital/Passion Pictures.