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Explore your visual creativity and learn industry-standard skills on our exciting BA (Hons) Film and Animation degree.
Our rigorous and comprehensive programme gives you the freedom to experiment and negotiate your own direction, which could be traditional filmmaking, 3D animation, stop motion, artists moving image or projection-mapped installations.
You will be equipped with the practical, creative and intellectual skills to succeed in employment, practice or further study. Previous graduates have won prestigious awards, including over a dozen Royal Television Society awards, and have been screened at film festivals across the world.
This four year programme has been specifically designed to allow students who do not initially meet the entry requirements for a three year degree, to undertake additional level 3 study designed to ensure they are successful on their chosen degree programme.
After successful completion of your foundation year, you will have the flexibility to switch (should you wish to change direction) onto a number of related undergraduate degree programmes within Birmingham School of Art or the School of Visual Communication.
Foundation years are a great option if you have the talent, ambition and potential to thrive at Birmingham City University, but do not meet the entry requirements for your preferred course. It’s ideal if:
On the Film and Animation course you will learn a unique blend of practical skills and creative thinking, backed up by the theoretical knowledge that enables you to define yourself as a creative practitioner equipped to work at the vanguard of your field.
We embrace traditional crafts such as drawing, print making, cinema-photography and screenwriting, while also exploring new media technologies supported throughout by a highly committed team of expert teaching staff from a variety of specialist areas. You will study in a bespoke environment with traditional and digital facilities, which include MILO motion capture technology.
This programme has a rigorous and comprehensive spine which allows you the freedom to experiment and negotiate your own direction, whether this be traditional filmmaking, 3D animation, stop motion, artists moving image or projection mapped instillation.
Take the opportunity to engage with industry partners and the creative community, including a major collaboration with the Flatpack Film Festival. Past industry/student partnerships include Bechtel and Second Home Studios.
“Birmingham City University helped me grow tremendously as a creative, developing the skills that I lacked and honing those that I already had. I've since been able to work with high-profile clients and develop my own unique personal projects.” Will Marler
Our next Open Day for this course will take place in 2018. Register your interest and we'll let you know details as soon as they are available.
Our students have gone on to work at companies such as:
And to work in jobs such as:
This course is in the final stages of design and is due to be reviewed and approved to meet our quality standards.
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
At the point of enrolment, you must have GCSE at Grade 4 or above in English Language. Equivalent qualifications can be considered in lieu as long as the required subject is covered.
80 UCAS tariff points.
Sorry, this course is not available to international students.
The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.
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 your course. 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.
View additional costs for this course
Working in a lively and energetic environment you will be given the freedom to expand your knowledge in conceptual development, practical skills and creative exploration underpinned by broad critical understanding and emerging theoretical principles.
You will work individually and collaboratively to develop a stimulating visual portfolio of work that evidences your enthusiasm for further study within a specific subject area.
BA teaching staff from across both Birmingham School of Art and the School of Visual Communication will work with you throughout the course and you will have full access to all of the University facilities.
The two first semester modules will run in conjunction with each other to enable understanding of the relationship between developing work and potential contexts.
These modules will form the building blocks for future work and will focus on developing confidences with techniques, learning skills and productivity. The two final semester modules will run in conjunction with each other to enable a positive integration between Perspectives on Practice and Creative Realisation.
To reinforce your understanding of the creative industry in context you will be introduced to a number of opportunities across the city and will engage with event partners, such as Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery [BMAG], Ikon, Hippodrome, Eastside Galleries, Type-Talks and further afield.
Throughout this module you will be introduced to range of study techniques that build competencies with research and discussion, while analyzing appropriate contexts for your work.
You will be continually encouraged to question the relationship between Visual Arts and Communication and will begin to establish the direction of your work in context.
This module will give you the freedom to develop a strong visual language, and an understanding of relevant processes that will underpin your future creative studies.
You will work on projects that are written to explore multiple opportunities that focus on media experimentation, skills development and engagement with the University workshops.
While developing your ideas you will learn to establish key principles of documentation and research that integrate directly with your practical work.
New discoveries and invention will be the ethos for this module.
Indication of your development will be evidenced through sketchbooks, online platforms, one to one tutorials, group tutorials and presentations.
Building on your understanding from of the first two modules you will engage with a series of discussions that begin to challenge your perception of creative approaches within Visual Arts and Communication.
You will have the opportunity to meet BA Staff from across the School of Visual Communication and the School of Art who will present lectures and workshops to broaden your approach to practical development.
You will be encouraged to challenge opinions by applying a critical voice to the meaning, perspective and position of your own work.
You will be given guidance on critical and analytical writing as a starting point for developing your research skills.
Priority for this module will focus on expanding your visual vocabulary further through a project that develops your confidence and independence, providing you with recognisable skills that aid the smooth transition to Level 4 Undergraduate Study.
You will produce work that addresses context, creative production and innovation while identifying potential perspectives and connections to research.
Undergraduate Staff from both Schools will offer guidance on developing a constructive portfolio that affirms your potential for a rewarding creative future.
Successful completion of your Foundation year will guarantee progression to any of the accredited degree courses listed above.
You will be introduced to a range of technical processes that include training in industry-standard software and the use of a variety of cameras, lighting rigs, grip equipment and other tools of the trade.
You will work both in groups and individually to achieve a solid foundation in the basics of bringing your creative ideas to life. You will be encouraged to experiment, to challenge and to explore film and animation’s applications in both the commercial and artistic sphere.
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.
This module introduces the universal principles and theories of visual communication. The aim of the module is not only to introduce you to the principles within your own chosen subject area, but also to provide opportunities to take workshops in all subject areas, seek advice from experts in other disciplines and work collaboratively with students from all Visual Communication subject areas.
Contemporary film and animation practice is one of the most exciting hybrid areas of creative potential, rapidly developing and evolving through numerous breakthroughs in technology. This module will help you to understand the importance of working with different, but related, disciplines and mediums, equipment and software, alongside innovative and creative thinking.
Many great filmmakers utilise their skills and innovative ideas in diverse fields such as commercials, pop music promos and feature films. Collaboration, negotiation and individual contributions within a group are key skills in industry. This module challenges you to create a piece of work that is worthy of exhibition by combining your talents, skills and hard work as part of a dynamic and focused team.
Building on the key principles articulated in the three modules in your first semester, this complementary contextual studies module will explore seminal design movements and practitioners of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It will provide you with a broad contextual framework that will underpin your design practice, both at university and in the future.
You will have the opportunity to select one of five option modules offered across the school: People and Identity, Sound and Movement, Space and Place, Text and Image, Time and Sequence. Thematic in their approach, these modules are intended to offer you multiple approaches to the diverse practice of visual communication.
This module will challenge your perception of what film and animation can be. You are encouraged to explore, experiment and redefine what your practice has the potential to become and how your audience will experience your work. This project encourages you to bypass the traditional gatekeepers of industry and identify specific spaces, events or moments in time suitable for intervention, enhancement or collaboration.
This module will encourage and provide the framework for highly creative experimentation and understanding your audience. This is the beginning of your trajectory in to the outside world, a chance for you to engage with the discourse relevant to your practice and consider how you will contribute to the canon and also increase your attractiveness to employers, commissioners and partners.
This flexible module allows you to identify direction within your own practice and your future aspirations. You will undertake approaches that will help define your area of practice, which is personalised to your own interests. The structure of this module encourages the development of more focused, in depth and advanced study through the use of self-directed projects.
This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional brief. The brief will be set by an external client/agency, in consultation with your supervisor. It could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved, or a simulation. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of your subject area, which contributes to the development of employability skills.
Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the creative industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework you are able to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines across the School and wider Faculty.
In your second year you will have the opportunity to replace 20 credits of study with the following module:
The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the workplace, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers.
This module provides the opportunity for you to adopt an increasingly autonomous commitment to your individually chosen direction. These directions are established with guidance through individual tutorials, guest professionals, workshops, group discussion and peer participation. It creates an environment where passion and dedication to creative activity can flourish. In this, the qualities of imagination and invention are highly important.
The purpose of this module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project. It is a culmination of your three years of study and should be a personal inquiry, of a professional standard, and a celebration of you as a work ready practitioner.
All modules on your course have a practical final outcome, whether it is a film, an installation or an animation.
Throughout your time with us you will be supported by dedicated, passionate teachers who provide a wealth of experience and expertise. In your third and final year, the focus will be on developing projects that will show your potential to the world.
We want you to graduate from the university with concrete, tangible achievements. This might be in the form of writing and directing a film that plays in festivals, the experience of managing and curating events or the demonstration of your leadership skills through designing and implementing workshops in the community.
The number of contact hours with lecturers varies depending on the type of activity, the module and the year group. The figures below show a weekly average but these will fluctuate throughout the year.
Scheduled Contact Hours:
These studio contact sessions usually consist of lectures, tutorials, workshops, seminars and group activities in numerous combinations. Additional to these scheduled hours you will be expected to undertake guided independent learning. You will use the facilities within the Faculty and beyond to further develop your individual projects.
The school offers a suite of optional technical workshops including printmaking, studio lighting and a wide range of software packages.
Images: Amritpal Sembhi / Tom Armstrong
The School has great associations with many industry bodies and professional associations. We are members of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design, Association of Photographers, Association of Illustrators, D&AD (the professional association of designers and advertising), The Society of British Theatre Designers, The Association of Photographers in Higher Education, and the Royal Society of Arts.
Jan Julian Rospond may hold the honour of being the only undergraduate to ever make a 3D stop-motion film. Jan made great use of the facilities offered at the University to produce an RTS award winner that has taken him around the world, as ‘The Curse Of The Werewolf’ plays at international film festivals and continues to gather attention as an outstanding piece of work.
The film has won a variety of awards including Royal Television Society 2015 for Best Student Animation and Transylvania Shorts, Romania. The short has also been selected for numerous festivals around the globe, such as: Official selection Taos Shortz Film Fest, USA; Official selection Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham, UK; Special screening at Grand Opening of O!PLA, Poland; Official selection Phoenix Film Festival Melbourne, Australia and many more.
You can see a trailer of the film here:
View examples of student work...
"I am an award-winning animator and designer who has worked with high-profile clients such as Adobe, Fujifilm, Capital FM, and the BRIT Awards. Specialising in motion graphics and 2D narrative animation, my work has been part of Flatpack Film Festival two years running and been seen by over 5 million people on ITV."
"At the very start of my course, I was selected by Adobe to be part of their promotional campaign #madethis and in January 2014 was featured in an advertising video and on marketing across social media and online. Between 2014 and 2015 I taught the Creative Cloud programs on behalf of Adobe to students from many faculties at the university, reaching over 300 students in both group classes and 1-to-1 situations."
"I am a Motion Graphic Artist and Digital Designer. As a Graphic Designer, I had the pleasure to be involved in a variety of different projects, creating Illustrations, title sequences animations, and branding design." "I find the whole design process fascinating, the idea of seeking out new ways to solve a problem is what makes great design." "I enjoy making motion graphics and animations. The ability to blow life into a character is what fascinates me the most and is thrill I feel every time I am working. My passion for storytelling took me on a journey showing me different branches of the creative industry.""During my time at Birmingham City University, I’ve had the pleasure to be involved in a variety of projects, which has taught me unique lessons. If I could summarize my work in a few words I would use, 3D art, motion graphics, typography, photography, layout, animation. I strive for originality, and my work is all about exploration of technology within arts, I am always learning something and I love trying new ideas."
"I am a highly motivated and creative multi-media filmmaker with a passion for a range of comprehensive practices within visual communication. My passion to learn more about film always drives me forward. I am also an illustrator and love to freelance Illustrate and do graphic design work. I feel that learning and knowing a range of components within art is integral to everything we do creatively."
"An aspiring producer who holds a strong interest in video art and installation, also enjoys roles in curation and programming, and have worked with both Flatpack International Film Festival and Raindance Film Festival."
"I find the process of creating a period of time, which involves you in a story that takes you away from everyday monotony intriguing. This is the reason I have decided to begin my career in the Film industry, holding a huge passion for producing."
"I have been involved in exciting projects such as directing a music video, being given the role of First AD and Production Coordinator on a huge commercial project with Iceni and Second Home Studios, leading and assisting on workshops for schools around the local area and completing the BFilm Micro 'Immersion' programme, contributing towards their first ever film project as a company, ‘Augmental’. I have also recently worked as a Production Assistant on a new dance feature film which is currently in Post-Production."
Valentin Dumez is from France and studied Film and Animation at Birmingham City University as part of the Erasmus programme. During her time at the University, Valentin made an extraordinary film that was screened at the highly prestigious Annercy Festival in 2015
Watch the trailer for her film below:
As graduating students you will follow your own career path, which may mean going straight into industry. However, many students look at the opportunities we offer for postgraduate study at the University.
The School runs a one-year MA Visual Communication course as a natural progression from its undergraduate courses. You will be encouraged to continue your journey with us and develop your practice further.
'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.
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."
Business Development Manager for Primeworks Studios
"I am currently the Business Development Manager for Primeworks Studios in Malaysia and work within the Content and Industry Development department. My role involves developing TV shows for Media Prima, primarily for terrestrial channels."
"Visual Communication helped me to see things in a different perspective. It gave me the ability to assess why certain TV shows worked for certain demographics by analysing factors such as production quality and content. I’m happy to say that I’ve always been able to apply what I’ve learned in Visual Communication to a lot of my work – from producing TV shows to developing concepts and events. Visual Communication was the most relevant course I could have taken, as it helped prepare me for the rapidly changing job market."
While you study the course you will be offered opportunities to go on group excursions both in the UK and abroad. There are usually three overseas trips a year, which we offer both at subject level, as well as School level, to Venice, New York and Berlin.
Locations do alter each year to allow for students to experience a range of cities. We always put on UK study trips to places such as London, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool. Where possible, UK trips are free or heavily subsidised.
As a Visual Communication student, you’ll be encouraged to take advantage of these trips as we believe they add extra value to your course and they do offer additional research 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.
Students on the Film and Animation course have enhanced their learning through internships and work on live projects, such as working on RTS award-nominated films for local companies like Second Home Studios and Yanimation Studios. They have also worked on films for the Brit Awards, interned at Raindance Film Festival in London and many others. Throughout your study we encourage you to see yourselves as part of the creative industries, taking on increasingly responsible roles and building up your CV so you have a head start in the job market.
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 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.
The School of Visual Communication offers a broad education, as well as the subject-specific skills you will need to succeed in the creative industries.
We will prepare you for the eventualities you will face in such a constantly-changing industry. All modules have transferable skills built into the teaching ensuring you are able to apply your knowledge to a variety of tasks and challenges. International components of the course mean you will be aware of global expectations and job opportunities.
Film and Animation graduates work in a range of careers including:
Flatpack Festival has been running for over 10 years and has become an important date in the cultural calendar of the city. Our students collaborate closely with the festival as part of their course and make valuable connections with the creative community, get the opportunity to network with and learn from internationally recognised artists and gain valuable experience working on a large scale event.
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. This installation played to nominees and attendees as the opener for the 2016 Brit Awards ceremony at London's O2 Arena.
The piece involved amazing costumes by fashion designer Gareth Pugh and music by Stuart Price. Student William Marler was 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."
Will Marler, a graduate in 2016, throughout his time on the course took full advantage of the opportunities offered to him. He is now working full-time as a motion graphic designer at Ember TV while also pursuing his own projects, which include a graduation film that has enjoyed success at a host of international festivals.
You can read an interview with Will and learn more about his burgeoning career.
Michael Kennedy designed the branding for the 2016 edition of Flatpack Unpacked and had his work featured in the festival. He is now working for the legendary Heavy Metal magazine as an illustrator and further developing his animation.
Take a look at some of Michael's work.
Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £62 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.
Film and Animation is taught by a passionate, dedicated team who all have industry experience at the highest level working on a wide variety of projects in a range of roles. They translate this experience to a dynamic and eclectic learning environment that encourages you to reach the pinnacle of your potential.
Matt is an experienced and dynamic creative producer, director and writer. His areas of expertise lie in film and narrative. He has major international feature film credits and a strong track record in critically acclaimed and commercially successful cinema. Matt has worked as a producer in Europe and America, and has extensive knowledge of film and other related industries.
Read Matt's full profile
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.
Read Kelvin's full profile
With eight years working in the industry, Matt’s television and film credits include Casualty, Dalziel and Pascoe, Cold Blood, Down To Earth, Footballers Wives, Doctors, Judge John Deed, The Libertine, The Shell Seekers, Sex Lives of The Potato Men and Grease Monkeys. Working initially as an assistant director and stand-by prop man for the BBC, Matt discovered his talents in the camera department.
Matt also has experience working on numerous music videos, through his company Frogg and Peach Productions. He has produced videos for bands including Athlete, Troumaca and The Grace.
UK enquiry form
+44 (0)121 331 5595
International enquiry form
+44 (0)121 331 5389
Contact the admissions team
+44 (0)121 331 6295