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Postgraduate

MA Character Animation

An animated character with blonde hair blowing in the wind
An animated character with blonde hair blowing in the wind
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
October 2021
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

  • Practical training: You don’t need previous animation experience to study this course. You will have access to a comprehensive range of practical and technical workshops in animation techniques and supporting studies.
  • Engagement with performance: You will benefit from links with other courses in the Performance programme, with classes in techniques including visual storytelling, acting and movement.
  • Industry connections: On the course, you will be introduced to professionals from the industry, including high-profile guest lecturers. You will also take part in live projects with external agencies. Previously these have included Cartoon Network, the London Transport Museum, the National Gallery and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Award-winning graduates: Many of our graduates have gone on to impressive roles in the animation industry. Our alumni have worked at the BBC, Cartoon Network, Disney, Dreamworks and Framestore. They have also worked in Oscar-winning special effects teams on films such as Gladiator, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and acclaimed television series including Charlie and Lola and Walking with Dinosaurs. Two have also been nominated for Academy Awards for their animated short films.

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

Course catalogues

Facilities

Course overview

MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins is a practical course which will teach you how to make your characters do much more than move – it 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. 

From the internet and mobile phones to television commercials, games and movie special effects, animation is everywhere. The medium, which today takes many different forms, has permeated our visual culture. As a result, 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 a narrow range of 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. A popular art form in a global marketplace, it appeals to all cultures, able to apply their own 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 and apply a range of different visual and storytelling traditions 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, multimedia and software industries. The course also encourages a networking community by maintaining links with graduates, many of whom are now in high profile employment. 

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 can 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 blog from the start of your studies, in which you document your work and reflect on your progress. 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 goal 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. It allows you to orientate your direction and your work in the field of animation. It will cover life drawing, character design and development, anatomy, locomotion, motion analysis and performative approaches to animation. 

Unit 2: Characterisation 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 narrative-driven pieces. These are designed to consolidate the formation of strong character performance.  

Unit 3: Final Project

In Unit 3, you will devise your own narrative and self-direct a character project film. You will also develop a proposal for a self-directed micro short film, 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:

  • Lectures
  • Workshops 
  • Discussions and critiques 
  • Simulated work experience 
  • Individual and group tutorials, participation in group critiques  
  • Assignment guidance and assessment arrangements 
  • Self-initiated research and development of projects 

Assessment methods

  • Character animation practical work 
  • Verbal and visual work and presentations and pitches 
  • Written work 
  • Peer and self-critical evaluation 

Staff

Steve  Roberts

Steve Roberts

Lead Animation Tutor, MA Character Animation

Course Leader: Shaun Clark
Movement Psychology: Lydia Baksh

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on disability@arts.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

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, 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.

Application deadline

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

15 May 2021

We recommend you apply as soon as possible before this date, for equal consideration. We may still be able to accept applications after this date, depending on availability.

When you’ll hear from us

We receive lots of applications for this course. We consider each one equally, so we review them all after the application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about any next steps until after this date. Find out more about what happens after you apply.

There are two ways international students can apply:

  • One of our official representatives in your country
  • A direct application.

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.

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, 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.

Application deadline

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

15 May 2021

We recommend you apply as soon as possible before this date, for equal consideration. We may still be able to accept applications after this date, depending on availability.

When you’ll hear from us

We receive lots of applications for this course. We consider each one equally, so we review them all after the application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about any next steps until after this date. 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.

Portfolio

You will be required to submit online a digital portfolio containing up to 20 pages of your work which should contain selected images/documentation of your work/research evidencing your current creative practice.

The only files that can be uploaded as part of the portfolio are:

  • Images: bmp, gif, jpg, jpeg, png
  • Audio: mp3, mp4, ogg, wav, wma
  • Video: avi, mp4, mpg, mpeg, mkv, mov, wmv

Portfolio advice

Your portfolio should demonstrate creative development, whether for a college project or in your personal work. By creative development, we mean ideas that have originated through your own experience and research and progressed towards potential visual proposals. Ideas, visual research and experimentation are more important than finished design solutions and can be shown in 2D work, or through photos of 3D objects and maquettes.

It is important that the creative work you include reflects and demonstrates your thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project, theme or idea.  We are interested in you as an individual, your personal interests, your creativity and initiative in finding out about your proposed area of study. We would also like to know about your favourite designers and artists, where you have seen their work at first hand and how you have acquired more information about the work that interests you.

For more portfolio advice please visit the Portfolio advice page.

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 interview.

Interview

Applicants who are invited to interview may be interviewed either online or by telephone.

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

£5,870 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 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 resident nationals. However, the rules are complex and you can find out more on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020  or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

International fee

£14,725 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course.  For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

International fees are currently charged to students from countries outside of the UK. However, the rules are complex and more information can be found on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

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.