Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Welcome to Our New MA Animation Students

A very warm welcome all our new post-graduate students who are starting their journey with us on our online MA in animation, in partnership with Animation Apprentice.

This is a unique degree - the first of its kind - which can be undertaken by students anywhere in the world, leading to a formal qualification in the field.

The world's first online MA in animation
What is this degree and why is it unique?
Until now, if you wanted to do an MA in animation, you had to go to a university and study there, at a place and time that is convenient for the university. 

Our course is the very first online master's degree in animation, requiring no physical attendance.

Who teaches the course?

Academic Content - Fil Ieropoulos
Dr Fil Ieropoulos
Dr Fil Ieropoulos, Senior Lecturer at Bucks New University is our students' main point of contact for all academic work; the written evaluations (essays) that link to the animation production work as well as the dissertation.  Fil helps students to contextualise their production work, and enable development of the level of research enquiry that is expected at Masters level.  Fil is also a film practitioner, a maker of art/experimental films as well as a curator of many research events around the world.

Practical Training - Alexander Williams
Alexander Williams, founder of Animation Apprentice, teaches, delivers, assesses and marks the practical part of the course.  All our students have a personal login at, with access to the whole site.

Alexander Williams
How do students access the learning materials?
All students have a unique personal login to Blackboard at Bucks New University, where you can access the teaching materials, and a personal login at The MA has five modules:
DA701 - Animation Mechanics 
This first module, taught primarily in Maya, deals with animation basics, such locomotion and mechanics. It starts with simple actions such as the bouncing ball, and builds up to simple physical actions, such as jumps and throws. At the end of the Module students submit a project for formal assessment based on character locomotion, such as the one below by graduate Neil Whitman.

DA702 - Character Performance
In this second module, students get to grips with character performance, including complex physical actions, pantomime animation, acting, dialogue and lipsync. The module builds up to an entry in the monthly 11 Second Club competition, which is also part of the student's assessed work. Below is an excellent example by Bucks MA student Jinng Hwee Tan.

DA703 - Animals and Creatures
This module focuses on animal and creature work, with an emphasis on the kind of photo-realistic animation in which London studios like Framestore, MPC and DNeg specialise. Students learn quadruped locomotion, as well as how to animate creatures like birds, spiders and scorpions.

DA704 - Demo Reel and Final Project
This penultimate module focuses on the creation of a final project and also a demo reel to showcase the student's best work. A demo reel is the student's shop front, their display of talent and skill, and is the single most important factor in finding work in the industry.

DA705 - Dissertation
This final module is entirely academic in character, and involves the writing of a dissertation, under the supervision of Fil Ieropoulos.
The first four Modules run consecutively through the year and while the last module, DA705, runs through the entire year alongside the other modules.

All the modules can be accessed through Blackboard. Once you've logged in, the first place to look is to check for Announcements, and then open up the Module Guide, which sets out week by week what's in each module, when your deadlines are, and what you can expect.

Also click on the Assignments tab in Bb to find the detail on your upcoming assignments.

Do students get graded on all the work they have to submit?
Much of the course is delivered through what we call formative feedback. For your weekly submission through Animation Apprentice, you will send us a short piece of animation which we will review via a recorded, personalised feedback video. Students are not graded, but are given bespoke video feedback to improve their animation.

What work gets graded?
At the end of each module a piece of practical work is due (see the Module Guide for details) which will receive a grade - which will count towards your final award.  Each Module also includes a short piece of academic writing, which also counts towards your final degree. Again, see the Module Guide for details.

What if I have questions
For questions on the academic content, contact Fil. For anything to do with the delivery of Animation Apprentice, and the delivery of practical content, contact me, Alex Williams at Animation Apprentice. The best place to do this is to post a question at our Facebook Classroom - a closed group where students can post their work for informal review, ask questions, get help (especially tech help), meet other students, and help one another out.

But most of all, welcome! and enjoy the course!


For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days, take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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