MA Advanced 3D Animation

  • Study Mode: Full Time
  • Location: High Wycombe / BNU based at Pinewood Studios
  • Duration: One Year
  • Start Date: September 2024

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If you have an undergraduate degree, some industry experience or a genuine love for Animation, you could take your career to the next level, with this advanced course. Upon graduating you’ll be able to showcase an industry-standard animated short or showreel, which could help you join this ever-growing industry. 

Split between our High Wycombe campus and BNU teaching base at Pinewood Studios, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge you need for your future, all whilst studying right in the heart of the famous creative hub.

Experience of 3D software such as Maya is highly recommended.

Why study this subject?

The UK has created some of the most influential and loved animation, which is recognised globally.

Tax reliefs for animation have made production in the UK more attractive than ever. There were 35 British animations completed in 2019-20 which claimed Animation tax relief (ATR), with UK expenditure of £83 million.

Since the relief was introduced, 305 animations have made claims, accounting for £519 million of UK expenditure. Due to this new government scheme, the animation industry is able to support growth and employability within its sector. (source)

Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?

This course will offer you the chance to focus on creating high quality animation or animated sequence. During your time with us you will be supported by knowledgeable lecturers and industry professionals while also taking advantage of our excellent resources.

The standard of animation at BNU is very high and this is reflected in the proportion of our students who go on to work successfully in the industry afterwards. We also run small classes which ensures that students gain meaningful access to our tutors.

You’ll also be invited to join online groups where you will be able to meet the other students taking our animation, visual effects, game art and visualisation courses, both MA and BA, online and attendance. These help to foster a sense of community and are also places where extra-curricular collaborative projects, such as game jams, take place. You will also be able to meet our alumni in these broader forums. All forums are moderated by the lecturers. 


What facilities can I use?

During your time on this course you’ll spend your time split between our High Wycombe Campus and our BNU Teaching Base at Pinewood Studios. On campus you’ll have access to our state-of-the-art library, computer suites and student services.

You will also study in our ASUS ProArt lab which is designed to help you deliver your very best work. The lab features Scan 3XS workstations and a range of high performance display monitors from the Asus ProArt range. These provide excellent colour grading to help you produce colour accurate work for your final projects and showreels.

You’ll also be able to access a range of specialist software and hardware, including;

  • Maya
  • ZBrush
  • Nuke
  • Mari
  • Substance Suite
  • Marvellous Designer
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Cinema 4D
  • Redshift Renderer
  • Shotgun
  • Houdini
  • Houdini Engine
  • Unreal Engine
  • Megascans Asset library
  • Advanced Skeleton
  • And Ziva among other useful pieces of software

This can all be accessed online through our virtualised computer system which will provide you with all the necessary hardware power to complete the course no matter where you are based. Our licences can also be accessed and used on your own machines by using our Bucks Anywhere service.

The Xsens video below shows our first experiment with our new Xsens motion capture suits. With the help of dancers from BNU’s BA Dance and Performance course, we motion captured a routine on the concourse running though the university and replaced one of the dancers with a version of the Lonely Robot and comped this back into the footage. We also have state of the art Faceware kits for face motion capture.

What will I study?

On this degree you will cover abroad range of topics, from researching into the field of animation, looking at both historical and contemporary practice, to drafting a short sequence of your own derived from your research findings. This will help you to establish and personalise the overall direction of your studies and practice.

You will also look at the wider production pipeline needed for an animation, covering areas such as:

  • modelling
  • rigging
  • texturing
  • lighting
  • rendering

You’ll also look at how to convey effective storytelling and emotion in a visual narrative as achieving this is one of the hardest challenges which animators face.

Lastly, you’ll enter the preproduction phase before moving on to the production phase for your main project. This may be a continuation of your short sequence or something new and may be done individually or in a group.

How will I be taught and assessed?

We understand that to succeed on a creative course, you must be hands-on with learning. That’s why this degree is 70% practical work and 30% will involve reflective learning journals, presentations and academic reports.

This course will be delivered through lecturers, group sessions and 1:1s with tutors. You’ll also take part in a range of workshops, talks and lecturers with current industry professionals. In class, you’ll be challenged to defend your storytelling choices in front of the group, as well as assessing other learners’ work, helping you to become aware of the importance of cultivating your own artistic voice. During workshops, you’ll have the chance to work on projects to tight deadlines and have regular ‘dallies’ sessions, mirroring industry practice.

You will attend two two-hour sessions per week with a lecturer over the full 10 weeks of the modules except for the final production project. During these sessions, you will have the opportunity to ask questions to the lecturers and get answers and feedback. Normally these will begin with a group seminar and then break into 1:1 sessions where you will have the opportunity to discuss your individual progress.  

You will be able to submit your work for asynchronous formative review which will be delivered as a video commentary on your work. 

Each week you will be set a task related to the weekly content or be working towards your own project objective as agreed with the lecturers. You will be able to complete your work using the hardware at the university and will also be able to access the Bucks Anywhere service, which provides remote access, from any location, to a catalogue of University software applications for learners using personal or BNU devices. You will also be able to remotely access our VDI, which is a powerful computer that will give you access to all the software relevant to the course. This will enable you to work as and when suits you outside of the scheduled hours 

You will also be expected to join a closed online group where you will be able to discuss the work and ask questions throughout the week. It is expected that both lecturers and learners will contribute and answer questions. This will also be a place for learners to post work for peer discussion and review.  

We encourage you to enter competitions, which will challenge you to produce your best work, and access feedback on your works in progress. We also run a monthly art challenge and provide additional life drawing classes, including online.

You will create detailed and complex projects which you will then present for assessment. During the presentation you will be expected to discuss and critically evaluate your output and production processes. You will be expected to make interim presentations for formative feedback and to ensure work is proceeding on track. You will be expected to keep a formal learning journal of your progress as a source of notes for the final presentation. This will contain not only your progress but also your research and concept work.

MA Advanced 3D Animation Programme Specification

What are the course entry requirements?

Graduate entrants to the programme will normally hold an Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

The University also welcomes applicants who have significant industry experience and no formal qualifications. Applicants with a suitable portfolio can be offered places based on artistic ability and experience.

This degree is aimed at learners who have already mastered animation tools to a good extent and are looking to focus their efforts on creating professional standard work that is highly creative and expressive.




This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.

What are the tuition fees

  • Home, Academic Year 2024 - 2025: £10,500 per year
  • Overseas/International, Academic Year 2024 - 2025: £15,550 per year

Additional course costs and financial support

Most courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees.
You could benefit from financial support through a bursary or scholarship during your time as a student. For more details visit our financial support, bursaries and scholarships section.

Questions about fees?

If you have any questions about the fees above, contact our Enquiries team by calling 0330 123 2023 or emailing

What are my career prospects?

This course helps you grow and develop your skillset and create an industry-standard showreel. Get to know where your interests and talent lies, ready for the career you desire.

Employers are looking for animators and digital artists to fill their ever-growing art teams. Your MA shows that you are not just an excellent practitioner, but also that you can engage in critical thinking at an advanced level and understand the theory behind the craft. The skills you learn on this MA Advanced 3D Animation course are transferable to any kind of animation.

Graduates from BNU’s animation courses have gone on to work in all six of the major VFX houses in the UK, as well as a number of major games houses and smaller companies. We have had winners and runners up in the Grads In Games Competition, which have then led to jobs. Our learners have worked on major films, games and TV productions, including Avengers Endgame.


Course leader

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Rob Penhaligon
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Sydney Padua
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Dr Safa Tharib
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Dr Shaojun Bian
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