Develop your talent and produce imaginative, trendsetting work with our Film and Animation course. Taught by our team of expert staff, who have extensive experience in the industry, you will have the chance to showcase your work through our professional talent pool, We Grow Cherries, and will work with our state-of-the-art facilities.
Graduates from this course have regularly won prestigious awards, including over a dozen Royal Television Society awards.
If you’re looking to start this course in 2017, it's important to know that the content and structure are undergoing a substantial review and are likely to be different to what is outlined here. Next year’s course will also have a new name: Film and Animation. We’ll publish more detailed information about the changes over the next few months. If you’re starting in 2016, the course content/structure won’t be affected by the review.
No two creative journeys are the same, so we’ll ensure we teach you ways to establish yourself as an individual within your desired field. You’ll learn how to manage your creativity, and will be driven to produce creative work with a strong individual signature. You’ll draw upon various genres and mediums, and we’ll provide you with a room to think and the necessary skill and teaching.
The Visual Communication, Film and Animation undergraduate degree co-exists in partnership with the subjects within the School of Visual Communication, embedding interdisciplinary practice, collaboration and flexibility.
The course is designed to keep up with the rapid pace of creative change, developing your skills and knowledge, as well as giving you room to specialise on what interests you. With a mixture of creative collaboration and individual practice, our Film and Animation course will allow you to identify, develop and grow as a well-equipped practitioner.
You’ll be taught through studio-based teaching, with our open teaching area you will be able immerse yourself in a creative, collaborative environment. You will be at the centre of a creative community, with regular industry interactions.
Through both theoretical and practical approaches, emphasis is on experimentation, original concept development and the innovative use of professional skills. You will have the freedom to explore the discipline of film language, including creative commercial genres such as music videos, advertising and idents, installation films, documentaries and narrative short films.
Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 11 June 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.
Please note: we are currently reviewing our entire course provision for 2017/18. Details will be included in your registration email.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information about how we're transforming the futures of creative practitioners.
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio.
280 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
|UK Qualification||Requirements 2016/17|
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBC at A Level or 280 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels|
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway|
|BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)||D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)||DMM - 280 UCAS points|
|BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years)||D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||28 points overall|
|Irish Leaving Certificate||280 UCAS points - Higher Levels|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||280 UCAS points|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||120 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.
Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements 2016/17|
|IELTS||6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).||28 points overall
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
If you are a full-time undergraduate applicant for the 2016/17 year, and show particular potential, we may be able to make you an unconditional offer if you make us first choice and satisfy certain criteria.
To be considered you must hold, or be predicted to achieve:
280 tariff points or above from three A levels (equivalent to grades BBC or above)
be predicted DMM profile at BTEC level
You will also be required to attend an interview.
If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.
UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£9,000 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£12,000 per year||Apply via UCAS|
The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.
Your portfolio might be viewed when you are not present, therefore make sure it is easy to use. Think of it like a book. Your name and a title on the outside will be useful - this also helps distinguish the front from the back!
Include relevant work related to the subject area of interest. Know about the course you are applying for. Show ideas generation, experimentation and risk taking. Within your portfolio, are you able to demonstrate knowledge of the subject discipline, practitioners and individuals that have inspired you?
Show examples of paintings, drawings, photographs, three-dimensional work, time-based work and anything else relevant to the area of practice.
Try to show one full project from start to finish with the preparatory drawings included. Annotations are helpful as they show how you research and reflect on the development of your work.
Include three to four final pieces that you are able to talk about. This might include 3D models rather than photographs.
Include sketchbooks. This will give us an understanding of how you think (through your annotations) and allow us to see the development of your drawing. (If the portfolio is digital, photograph or scan some of the best pages).
Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.
The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.
All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.
There are three ways to apply:
You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.
Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.
If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.
Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.
You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.
We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
Introduction to Visual Communication
You will receive an introduction to the four Visual Communication routes – graphic communication, illustration, film and animation, and photography – before studying the Film and Animation pathway in more detail. Within this module you will be provided with the opportunity to undertake collaborative work. You will work alongside students across all disciplines of visual communication, learning the underlying principles of the field.
On this module, you will work alongside staff and fellow students to identify your own specialism within visual communication. You will learn new skills and techniques relevant to practice, and be prepared for tackling the issues that the creative industries face.
Practice in Action
We will teach you to think and perform as a creative practitioner, enabling you to produce innovative ideas and imaginative solutions that are essential to professional practice.
Exploring Meaning through Narrative
Within this module you will explore the appropriate theories and philosophies, which explain, discuss and challenge our ideas about creative practice. You will gain a better insight into meaningful production and produce work that responds to a brief content for a mini-project.
In this module, you will experience the collaborative conditions that exist in modern practice, engaging and contributing to a variety of reflective practice. You’ll work in students from different areas, producing content shaped by collaboration.
Subject in Context
Within this module you will be expected to consider Visual Communication practice in relation to audiences, clients and markets. You will develop a range of working strategies, methods and materials, applying these to underlying concepts and established principles within the film and animation field.
Investigating Contemporary Practice
Within this module you will conduct research into an area of employment which is specific to your area of interest, exploring areas such as networking, freelance practice, entrepreneurship, self-promotion and introductory media. This research will be supported by seminars and lectures from industry experts and practitioners.
Identifying Personal Direction
This module is designed to help you develop unique, individual expression within your work. You will produce work that focuses on a particular area of specialism within the film and animation field of visual communication. You will undertake research that explores your discipline, producing meaningful work that responds to the needs and demands of your area.
You will conduct a study in which you’ll explore your own creative direction and show an in-depth understanding of visual communication. You will be expected to draw upon a range of analogue and digital skills and competencies.
Defining Individual Practice
This module is designed to encourage you to define your area of individual practice. You will nurture your ability to source and apply research, allowing you to work independently and articulate ideas that are central to your professional practice.
You will produce a major project portfolio, developing your negotiation and planning skills as well as showcasing your newfound range of skills and knowledge. You will exhibit a professionally presented portfolio, where you will successfully communicate ideas, information and adequate problem solving.
During the Film and Animation course you will position yourself as a practitioner, gaining hands-on experience. We encourage you to challenge yourself, exceed your boundaries and produce original, high-quality work. Creative thinking is promoted throughout the course, and you will experience high-level industry engagement though creative, practice-based learning.
Images: Amritpal Sembhi / Tom Armstrong
You will undertake an Introduction to Visual Communication alongside students from the other visual communication degree pathways, formulating knowledge and understanding of key visual and intellectual principles.
With the support from staff within the School you will develop knowledge of aspects of film and animation within visual communication. Towards the end of your first year you will receive guidance, helping you to select your chosen route for career progression. Through selecting your area of practice you will advance your journey as a creative practitioner.
You will be encouraged to develop and communicate ideas through exploration, production and analysis, to produce work to a professional level. Your modules will cover the processes of production within film and animation, exploring meaning making and defining practice.
'Old Lady Digbeth'*, a film by students Luisa Geffert and Tamara Hardwidge, won the 'Highly Commended' prize at the 2013 Picturing Time competition, earning themselves a £250 prize and an exhibition of their film at the prestigious Sotheby's Gallery in London.
*This video contains language that some visitors may find offensive.
Live projects, industry links and competitions form a key part of your second year, as well as design workshops and masterclasses. You’ll develop your practice, work on your chosen discipline and specific aspects of contemporary practice, respectively.
You will also begin to focus more on your final year of study, working alongside a tutor with expert knowledge in your chosen specialist area. You will identify and research an area of your chosen specialism, supported by seminars and lecturers from industry experts.
William Marler created 'Hands on Your Identity' (using Adobe Creative Cloud software) to tell the story of identity theft.
The piece helps people understand what this type of crime is, what can happen if you are a victim of identity theft and how to guard against it.
William said: "Animation to me is only a way of telling a story. It's not the animation that counts, it's the story behind it and that's the most important thing."
You will develop sustained and original work, which will demand a lot of independent study. This will culminate in a dissertation, where you will develop and refine your specialist knowledge of a particular area of practice.
Your final year focuses on your professional future, ensuring your project work provides you with the research and skills you need to prepare yourself for after graduation. You will have the opportunity to showcase your final year project at our Visual Communications graduate show, as well as having the chance to be nominated for a Visual Communication Graduate Award.
In the past we have had award sponsors such as illustrator Dave McKean, photographer Brian Griffin and Creative Director Trevor Beattie.
Throughout the duration of your course the programme will be delivered through a series of modules. Your learning will be delivered through collaborative practice, lectures and seminars, project work, presentations, independent learning and research. You will be assessed through written and verbal presentations, reflective journals, self-evaluation and practical work.
|27||Time in lectures, seminars and similar||MidnightBlue|
|73||Time in independent study||RoyalBlue|
After studying fine art at Birmingham School of Art, now part of Birmingham City University, Ian began his career as an animator. His award-winning experimental film French Windows (1972) was shown on the legendary TV rock programme The Old Grey Whistle Test, which brought him to the attention of Pink Floyd. Impressed, the band then commissioned him to direct their first animated concert film for The Dark Side of the Moon in 1974, including the legendary Time sequence.
The Creative Skillset Tick is the quality mark for excellence in training courses and education in the Creative Industries. It identifies the UK’s most industry-focused courses and apprenticeships enabling universities, colleges and employers to recruit the brightest talent.
Our Creative Skillset accreditation shows that we will provide you with industry-relevant skills and good links with companies and potential employers.
The accreditation also assures employers that students graduating from our course have the levels of knowledge and skills they need.
If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.
It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.
Postgraduate opportunities in visual communication are available on our MA Visual Communication programme.
Our course is designed to develop your transferable skills and widen your industry knowledge. Therefore, should you wish to progress into postgraduate study you will have developed the ability to plan and produce research that is innovative, original and challenges the field of visual communication.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to apply for postgraduate study here within the University, which includes our research-based MA in Visual Communication.
(Note: this pathway is not Creative Skillset accredited)
Previous Erasmus student Valentine Dumez, from France, created her film, titled "A 4363’s Trip", while studying at the School. She has recently been given the opportunity to have her film shown on the big screen at the Annecy Festival.
Business Development Manager for Primeworks Studios
Currently I am the Business Development Manager for Primeworks Studios in Malaysia. My department is called Content and Industry Development. Here we develop TV shows, primarily for terrestrial channels, for the company I work for, Media Prima.
Visual Communications helped me see things in a different perspective. I had the ability to assess why certain TV shows worked for certain demographics by analysing its production quality and content. I’m happy to say that I’ve always been able to apply what I’ve learned in Visual Communications to a lot of my work – from producing TV shows to developing concepts and events. I would say Visual Communications was the most relevant course I could have taken, as it helped me move with the times better.
While there are not any timetabled trips or visits within this course we encourage you to explore Birmingham’s creative sector. By immersing yourself within the industry, whether it’s through volunteering, or taking on research roles, you will add to your list of professional skills. Birmingham is a diverse and vibrant city, with a thriving creative industry. It is advisable that as a student you engage as much as possible with activities and events that relate to your desired profession.
We boast several industry partnerships, and there will be chances for you to network, enhancing your industry contacts, forming professional relationships and gain experience-based opportunities.
Throughout the course you will discover and refine a portfolio of practice which best suits your motivations and aspirations. Through this you will develop as a creative individual, equipped not only for a career in film and animation, but with the transferable skills to benefit a whole range of professional contexts.
This degree is designed to enhance your skills and aptitude, preparing you for a career in a landscape that is continuously changing. You will be able to develop specialist knowledge and understanding within your chosen area of practice; allowing you to better locate yourself within your choice of career.
As a creative practitioner and graduate of this course you will be able to generate a range of potential ideas and visual developments. You will have the ability to produce creative work that demonstrates sound judgements in accordance to the theories and concepts of visual communication subjects, responding to the demands of industry.
You will develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between theory and practice through research, allowing you to create meaningful, well-informed work and preparing you to take on further study. You will gain an understanding of the underlying concepts and established principles that govern creative practice.
Alongside this you will develop a range of working strategies, methods and materials, learning how to apply these to production. You will also discover, and respond to, the influence of audiences, clients, markets and other participants in relation to visual communication practice.
As a Film and Animation student you will be encouraged to develop your professional networks. We strongly believe that creating relationships with industry will enable you to develop your profile and enhance your professional networks. Networking is vital to furthering your opportunity to undertake work placements and paid jobs.
While placements are not a compulsory aspect of this degree, we will challenge and encourage you to engage with industry, incorporating this through your work. You will have the opportunity to take on roles with professional organisations and festivals.
Swipeside festival is incorporated into your studies. Swipeside festival is curated and organised by students in partnership with Flatpack Festival, an internationally recognised and established event that takes place across the city. The Swipeside programme of screenings, workshops and events takes place at our Parkside Building, located on our City Centre Campus. It is curated and organised by students, and features both emerging and established filmmakers from both the region and beyond. During the festival students mentor and engage with each other across levels, subject routes and faculties.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.
Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.
Our students worked as assistants alongside lecturer Ravi Deepres and choreographer Wayne McGregor to design and direct the content for a multi screen installation with live dancers which played to nominees and attendees as the opener for the 2016 Brit Awards ceremony at London's O2 Arena.
It involved amazing costumes by fashion designer Gareth Pugh and music by Stuart Price. Student William Marler got involved and said:
"This project is the best thing I've worked on so far, being given the opportunity to assist with early experiments, taking those onto the two shoot days, editing and animating the footage and finally being invited backstage to preview the work in the venue.
"Seeing and hearing the piece in the venue was one of the most awe inspiring moments of my life, the vibrations of the sound really hit my body and made my heart race, really made me very proud.
"One of the best aspects of the project was being involved in a large creative way, not just pushing buttons but being an influence into a lot of ideas and problem solving methods. I was allowed to be on the front line as it were and have a lot of constant input."
The success of our graduates is something that we, as a School, are very proud of. Our graduate destinations include a variety of independent companies, such as Lucas Films, and freelance independent production. Graduates go on to craft successful careers as filmmakers, freelancers, animators, moving image creators and much more.
Notable graduates include Jon Riche, a multi-award winning director and BAFTA nominated writer. Recognised for his show Big Babies, Jon has also directed music videos for the likes of Kasabian, Just Jack, Moby and The Feeling. He has also directed for commercial brands such as Nissan, Ikea and Nike.
Here at the School of Visual Communication we have our own graduate talent pool, We Grow Cherries, offering you the chance to showcase your work to a myriad of industry experts.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
Next year our international partners in Hong Kong and Thailand will curate a strand of emerging filmmakers from their own regions and possibly visit our own Swipeside festival, thereby enhancing the University’s offer to overseas partners and strengthening our stated aims to become an internationalised institution. Preliminary discussions have also taken place between our partner institutions and the British Council in Thailand to partner on this project.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
Our students come from around the world but our visual communication course is most popular with international students from:
Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £57 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus.
We offer extensive studio and workshop space and cutting-edge equipment such as Vicon 3D (an external tracking motion capture facility) and Gypsy (an exoskeleton-based motion capture system). Both of these systems extend the possibility for production of 3D animation and films.
You will enjoy access to our Hollywood standard MILO unit. We were the first School of Visual Communication in Europe to offer MILO motion capture technology, now one of only two owned by Universities in Europe.
We offer cutting-edge provision such as digital print centres and Sonny Ross became the first student on the Visual Communication course to master the art of the RISO machine. He has since used this to produce many successful RISO publications including “Rojo & Baxter” which has been a success at various zine and book fairs across the country.
Kelvin has over 14 years’ experience in animation, visualisation and education, and supports both home and international franchises in Hong Kong and Thailand, respectively. Kelvin has a keen interest toward new technologies, including CGI, projection mapping and the application of 3D printing.