BA (Hons) 3D Animation and Visual Effects

Key information

Why choose this course?

  • no. 1 in the UK for Animation and Game Design (2023 Guardian League Table)
  • Learn from staff who’ve worked on Harry Potter, Thor & Doctor Who
  • Work on live projects with major VFX and animation studios

You dream of seeing your name in the credits of a Hollywood blockbuster

Whether it’s a feature film, cartoon series, commercials or idents, you want millions to see your work. You may want to pursue the creation of Pixar-style 3D animation. Or perhaps designing photorealistic visual effects for film and television is where your heart lies? Whether you imagine yourself as a creative artist or a technical director, you’re excited to gain the skills to master your dream. From character animation, cinematography and modelling to rigging and compositing, we have a lot to teach you. You’ll immerse yourself in our animation studios, which are kitted out with everything you need to bring your creations to life. Our Learning Resource Centre contains clones of our animation labs (software and hardware) so if you want to continue your animation studies late at night or during the weekend you can. Plus, you can use our motion capture suite, digital photography and filmmaking equipment to work on your own projects. Kickstart your future by graduating from an internationally renowned animation school. Our graduates include a BAFTA award-winning director, so you’ll be in excellent company.

You want to join a prestigious course in the No.1 Animation School in the UK and Europe (and No.3 in the World) as acclaimed by The Rookies Awards 2020.

This course is ranked 2nd in the world for production excellence, offering you a real-world studio environment. You’ll gain a thorough understanding of the production process to help you thrive in a demanding and exciting industry.  Our course is also in the top 7 for 3D animation courses in Europe. Our students have won Visual Effects Film of the Year at the Rookies, twice! Learn more about our Rookies ranking and view examples of our student work here. We’re also the only UK university to be shortlisted at the Visual Effects Society Awards in Los Angeles in the past 18 years (as of 2020). Our digital animation programme as a whole, is accredited by The Rookies, SideFX and CILECT. This means, you’ll be joining a department that’s gained international recognition for training the animators of the future. We run live projects with the major VFX and animation studios in London, giving future employers the chance to get to know you as you develop as an artist. By choosing Herts, you’ll benefit from our reputation, quality of teaching, outstanding facilities and links to industry.

You want to join an exciting animation community

You want to train under the guidance of experienced animators. To get career insights from staff who’ve worked on games, films, TV series and commercials. Our teaching team are known for their contribution to The Hobbit, Tintin and Harry Potter. We care about your projects and have experience to share. Develop your skills with confidence, knowing they’ll be relevant to the industry you’re going into. You’ll have the opportunity to work on live projects to gain a working knowledge of the industry and begin to build a network of industry contacts. When you graduate, we’ll invite you to join our active alumni community, many of whom have senior positions in the animation industry. Our graduates have worked on Oscar winning films and blockbusters such as Star Wars, Gravity, Jungle Book, Lion King, Inception, Avatar, the Harry Potter films, The Chronicles of Narnia and Game of Thrones.

What's the course about?

We deliver a mix of teaching methods, from project work to software and art-based workshops and lectures. You’ll be assessed on group and individual project work. We’ll ask you to submit portfolio submissions, sketches, storyboards, CGI artwork and presentations. Plus, you’ll develop your analytical thinking, critical curiosity and easy writing skills.

In your first year, you’ll benefit from common modules within the wider animation programme, gaining valuable knowledge of the digital media industry. You’ll study alongside peers on comics and concept art, 2D animation and games, expanding your network from day one. You’ll practice life drawing, designing characters and environments. You’ll explore animation and film history, bringing cultural context to your craft. You’ll gain experience as a 3D artist, gaining confidence in modelling, texturing and shaders. We’ll teach you specialized VFX skills. At the end of this year you’ll have the choice to switch to a different animation degree course if your passion has led you in a new direction.

In your second year, you’ll choose from a range of elective projects. This is your chance to focus on what interests you. Whether it’s cinematography or character concept art, you’ll start turning your passion into expert knowledge. Start packing out your CV with specialist skills including matte painting, rigging and coding.  Gain a thorough understanding of FX simulations, working with destruction techniques, hard and soft body collisions and pyrotechnics.  Whether you want to hone your skills in compositing 3D renders into live action plates or filming live action, this is the year to experiment. You’ll work on live industry projects and make your first short 3D or VFX film. We’ll encourage you to use this team project to identify the job role you want to work towards. Wherever you see yourself, we’ll be with you every step of the way. 

In your third year, you’ll write your dissertation on an area of popular culture, linked to 3D animation and visual effects, that fascinates you. You’ll choose your area of specialism and immerse yourself in real world practices. This is the time to make sure you’re fully prepared for employment. You’ll get stuck into an ambitious final film project. Put your learning into practice and achieve great things. You’ll guide your idea through every stage of production to showcase your talent, your skills and your potential to succeed. Your final film project will be screened at our Animation Exposé show where you can enter it for different awards, judged by a panel of industry experts. View the show’s live stream from 2020. Plus, we’ll encourage you to enter your work into international competitions like The Rookies. Previous students have won The Rookies Visual Effects Game of the Year, in 2020 and 2019. You’ll graduate with a showreel and professional website to launch your career. We saw your potential from day one, now it’s time for others to see that too.

Your main campus is College Lane 

This is where the creative arts, science and health-related subjects are based. This means you’ll share the campus with future nurses, scientists, artists and more. You can use the common rooms to relax with friends, work out in the 24-hour gym or have a drink in our on-campus pub or cafes. We also have restaurants for you to eat in or grab something on the go. Our Learning Resources Centres are open 24/7, which means you can study whenever suits you best. Want to pop over to the other campus? You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.   

What will I study?

Degree programmes are structured into levels, 4, 5 and 6. These correspond to your first, second and third/final year of study. Below you can see what modules you’ll be studying in each.   

I really can't imagine what my life would have been like had I not done the animation degree, I owe you a lot! So grateful for the opportunities it has given me.

Lisa Mae Evans, animation graduate

Look development artist, Blue Zoo Animation Studio