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Postgraduate

MA Character Animation

An animated character with blonde hair blowing in the wind

College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
September 2022
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

Ideas for stories and characters, but not sure how to make them move?

MA Character Animation is for designers, artists and illustrators who want to learn how to animate. This course is part of the Performance programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

Performance focus: Unlike other animation courses, MA Character Animation specialises in animated character performance rather than the operation of specific software packages. The course is designed for a broad cohort who want to specialise in figurative work and apply movement psychology in a performance-led approach to animation.

Practical skills: You will acquire high-level core animation skills. You don’t need previous animation experience as you will develop a deep understanding of creative and technical approaches to character performance.

Industry connection: You will work on live projects with external clients as well as experiencing crits with animation professionals offering unique viewpoints on professional practice.

Life drawing for animation: You will study life drawing with a professional tutor and animator to improve your understanding of anatomy, form and gesture.

Collaboration: You will be encouraged to work both individually and co-operatively, preparing you for professional practice. There are opportunities for students from across the Performance programme to work together.

Open days

There are currently no open days scheduled for this course, please check back at a later date.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

MA Character Animation showreel

Rishabh Arora

Year One showreel

Cheuk Kwan Lai - Journey

Siobhan Smith - Stitch

Daisy Jacobs - Don Justino de Neve

Yukai Du - Way Out

Há Dias Assim - Days Like This

Walid Abouljoud - The Old Operating Theatre

Jiamin Liu - Near and Far

Graduate Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Graduate Showcase

  • Graduate Showcase: Natalja Ropotova
    Natalja Ropotova, 2021 MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • LEGS - A short film by Kat Miles
    LEGS - A short film by Kat Miles, Kat Miles, 2021 MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • AMAL - Graduation Film
    AMAL - Graduation Film, Aaya Al-Shamahi, 2021 MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • The black hole
    The black hole, Lingbo Shangguan, 2021 MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Navels
    Navels, Daisy Higgins, 2021 MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Birdy Goes to the Sea
    Birdy Goes to the Sea, Meredith Stewart, 2021 MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, UAL

Course publications

Facilities

  • Inside the animation studio at Central Saint Martins
    Credit: Image courtesy of Central Saint Martins Image courtesy of Central Saint Martins,
  • A dark room with an iMac and lighting
    Image courtesy of Central Saint Martins,
  • A room with people working at computers
    Image courtesy of Central Saint Martins,

Course overview

MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins is a practical course that also encourages research and contextual thinking. We will teach you how to make your characters do much more than move – we will teach you to make them perform. You will learn timing, software, storytelling, character design, film language and take life drawing lessons. Alongside this, you will also explore historical and critical approaches to animation.

Animation is used extensively across a wide variety of fields. Increasingly, animation gives voice to disparate and often overlooked cultural experiences and social contexts and thereby empowers communication. At the same, there is an expanding range of media and platforms that are opening up fresh areas of ethical challenge for animators who need to engage with cultural and critical thinking.  

The technologies used to create animation are evolving at a rapid rate – programmes dominate the market one year and then are obsolete the next. Rather than encouraging dependency on specific software, MA Character Animation fosters universal techniques and adaptable, practice-based knowledge. You will learn skills which can be applied to different software packages, technical processes, creative approaches and distribution technologies in the future. 

Animation is a universal medium. It can communicate concepts and narratives without the use of spoken language.  Reflecting multi-cultural visual and storytelling traditions, MA Character Animation attracts applicants from a wide range of practices and cultural backgrounds. Studying on the course offers an exciting opportunity for you to learn about other cultures and develop international networks. You will be encouraged to investigate, experiment and apply a range of different visual and performance approaches to your own work. 

MA Character Animation enjoys close links with the industry. Teaching includes lectures by working professionals as well as opportunities for live projects with external agencies. The course is committed to ensuring it remains commercially and artistically relevant in a fluctuating field. The staff team consists of experienced professionals, who continue to work as consultants and freelancers in the animation and creative industries. The course also encourages a networking community by maintaining links with graduates, many of whom are now in high profile employment. 

Contact us

Register your interest to receive information and updates about studying at UAL.

Contact us to make an enquiry.

Course dates

Autumn term
Monday 26 September 2022 – Friday 9 December 2022
Spring term
Monday 9 January 2023 – Friday 17 March 2023

Summer term
Monday 17 April 2023 – Friday 23 June 2023

Course units

MA Character Animation develops both creative and technical skills. Learning to animate is about much more than software. At the core of effective animation is an understanding of motion, characterisation and the portrayal of performance. On the course, we specialise in a hands-on, practical approach. We will encourage you to create innovative, animated characters which can move convincingly and perform with emotion and psychological nuance.

Through lectures and critiques, you will examine key areas of the theory and context of character animation. MA Character Animation works closely with the other courses in the Performance programme, offering an unparalleled application of performance methodologies to the practice of animation. The course team believe that since animation is the representation of performance, all animators benefit from studying movement and acting. Consequently, the course emphasises the analysis of characterisation through acting and motion through observational drawing. Animation classes are supplemented by life drawing sessions and you will also have workshops in relevant software techniques.

Throughout the course, you will apply your knowledge to new areas of professional practice. You will be expected to keep a personal animation journal from the start of your studies, in which you document your work and reflect on your evolving practice.  You will also be encouraged to develop your skills in problem solving, project management, planning and communication. We promote a networking environment through collaborative team projects, group critiques and peer-to-peer and alumni support. Our aim is to help you become a reflective, innovative practitioner able to locate yourself within the animation industry. 

Unit 1: Character and Movement Analysis

Unit 1 will provide you with a set of practical tools for critical and creative exploration.  You will be able to orientate your direction and your work within the field of animation.  We will cover life drawing, character design and development, anatomy, locomotion, motion analysis and performative approaches to animation. 

Unit 2:  Character Performance Studies

Unit 2 encourages you to become a self-sufficient, critical practitioner, confident to pursue your own goals. The unit focuses on two in-depth performance-driven pieces. These are designed to consolidate and expand your individual and collaborative animation practice. 

Unit 3:  Character Animation

In Unit 3, you will devise your own character animation portfolio. You will develop a proposal for either a self-directed short film or an animated character portfolio, which you can complete as an individual or in a team.  

Mode of study 

MA Character Animation is offered in extended full-time mode which runs for 60 weeks over two academic years. You will be expected to commit 30 hours per week to study, which includes teaching time and independent study.

The course has been designed in this way to enable you to pursue studies, while also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities.  

Credit and award requirements 

The course is credit-rated at 180 credits. On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Master of Arts (MA degree).

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, an MA is Level 7. All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA but the classification of the award is derived from the mark for the final unit only.  

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) will normally be offered following the successful completion of 60 credits, or a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) following the successful completion of 120 credits. 

Learning and teaching methods

During your course you will engage with learning and teaching that includes both online and face-to-face modes. Typically, this will include:

  • Guest Speakers 
  • Workshops in movement and character performance 
  • Discussions and critiques
  • Year 1 Simulated work experience 
  • Individual and group tutorials, participation in group critiques  
  • Assignment guidance and assessment arrangements 
  • Self-initiated research and development of projects 
  • Life drawing for animators
  • 2D digital animation technical lessons
  • CGI technical classes
  • Colour theory lectures
  • Film analysis and film language seminars
  • Pitching for animation classes
  • Storytelling and storyboarding

Assessment methods

  • The production of Character animation work 
  • Verbal and visual work, presentations and pitches 
  • Written work 
  • Peer and critical self-evaluation 
  • Portfolio of development and publicity material 

Course Leader: Shaun Clark
Movement Psychology: Lydia Baksh

How to apply

Information for disabled applicants

UAL is committed to achieving inclusion and equality for disabled students. This includes students who have:
     
  • Dyslexia or another Specific Learning Difference
  • A sensory impairment
  • A physical impairment
  • A long-term health or mental health condition
  • Autism
  • Another long-term condition which has an impact on your day-to-day life
Our Disability Service arranges adjustments and support for disabled applicants and students. Read our Disability and dyslexia: applying for a course and joining UAL information.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

  • An honours degree 
  • Or an equivalent EU/international qualification.

AP(E)L – Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference

Or a combination of these factors.

Each application will be considered on its own merit but cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English language requirements

IELTS level 6.5 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

We select applicants according to potential and current ability in the following areas:

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

What we are looking for

We are seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring and developing a strong individual visual language.

Making your application

You should apply by clicking on the link to the direct form below. 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.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed

Start your application now

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

General information

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

Personal statement

You will 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.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.ukeu@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.  Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

The equal consideration deadline has now passed. However, this course will remain open to applications until places have been filled. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible to allow the Admissions team to quickly resolve any queries.

If this course requires a portfolio, we will request this separately after initial processing of your application is complete. Once we request your portfolio, you will have 7 days to submit it.

When you'll hear from us

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in two rounds. This means that offers won’t be sent to successful applicants until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by 31 March 2022 and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by 30 June 2022.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

There are two ways international students can apply:

You can only apply to the same course once per year.

If you are applying directly you click on the link to the direct form below. 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.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Visas

Read our visit our immigration and visa advice page to find out whether you need a visa to study.

Start your application now

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

General information

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

Personal statement

You will 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.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.international@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

The equal consideration deadline has now passed. However, this course will remain open to applications until places have been filled. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible to allow the Admissions team to quickly resolve any queries.

If this course requires a portfolio, we will request this separately after initial processing of your application is complete. Once we request your portfolio, you will have 7 days to submit it.

When you'll hear from us

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in two rounds. This means that offers won’t be sent to successful applicants until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by 31 March 2022 and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by 30 June 2022.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

After you apply

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  If you do, you will be invited to submit a portfolio through your UAL Portal.

Digital portfolio

You will be required to submit online a digital portfolio containing up to 15 pages of your work which should contain selected images/documentation of your work/research evidencing your current creative practice.  Your first page should include your Video Task (details below).

For more portfolio advice please visit our portfolio advice page.

Video task

We'd like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you:

  • Please speak clearly in English and face the camera
  • Your video task is submitted along with your portfolio
  • Read our guidance for how to submit your video task and which file types we accept

As part of your video task please respond to the following direction:

  • We would like you to identify one project from your portfolio which challenged you.  Explain how this experience has inspired you to apply to MA Character Animation at CSM?

Interview

Following the review of the portfolio we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process.  These applicants will be invited to an online interview of 15 to 20 minutes.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

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

Fees and funding

Home fee

£6,045 per year

This fee is correct for 2022/23 entry and is subject to change for 2023/24 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Home fees are currently charged to UK nationals and UK residents who meet the rules. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£15,165 per year

This fee is correct for 2022/23 entry and is subject to change for 2023/24 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship 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, 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.

Many 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 have worked with 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.