Focusing on the technical aspects of content creation, you’ll develop all the skills you’ll need to launch a career in computer animation and visual effects.
We take a learning by doing approach on this course. So, as well as expert guidance and support, you’ll have access to a fully equipped computer animation suite, with dedicated green screen room, lighting rigs and motion capture equipment. In other words, you’ll have everything you need to learn how to create your own assets for integration with virtual environments and live-action footage to produce complex visual effects.
You’ll also learn about character design, development and animation, and the technical aspects of animating a deformable, organic 3D mesh. And most importantly, at all stages you’ll have the creative freedom to develop your own ideas and concepts right through to the finished article.
Teamwork is at the heart of this industry and you’ll have plenty of opportunity for team-based study to help prepare you for the world of work. Whether your specific interest is in modelling, rigging and VFX work, lighting and texturing, or 3D animation, you’ll be perfectly poised to enter this rapidly expanding and exciting digital sector. Our Computer Animation and Visual Effects degree also provides the option of of spending an extra year expanding your horizons by working on a placement in industry.
Study a degree designed together with industry, equipping you with the range of skills and strengths that employers demand.
Take the four-year sandwich route and you’ll spend your third year on industrial placement, boosting your employment prospects as a graduate.
Experience what it's like to work as part of a professional team finding solutions to complex problems via group projects.
Get involved with extracurricular work to further apply your skills, for example, hackathons, gaming events and the Students’ Union computing society.
Our excellent facilities include teaching laboratories equipped with high-specification PCs and Apple Macs with specialist, industry-standard software running and advanced graphics workstations.
We have a games lab equipped with gaming chairs, keyboards and mice used for our eSports events, an animation lab with a green-screen area and a user experience lab with an eye-tracking system.
Our dedicated drop-in lab provides an informal social working space with daily support sessions from our programme support tutors.
“My favourite thing about my course is the hands-on approach to learning. I was taught 2D animation in college but since starting university, I’ve learned how to model 3D objects, how to texture, light and render a scene and how to make a game too. If all this was possible in my first year, imagine what I’ll have learnt by graduation” Victoria Free, BSc (Hons) Computer Animation
Accreditations, Awards and Endorsements
Endorsement We are an educational affiliate of the BCS, the chartered professional body for IT in the UK.
Endorsement The School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology is a member of the Oracle Academy.
Accreditation The School is an academic partner of the Institute of Information Security Professionals.
Endorsement We are an Academy of the Computer Technology Industry Association and deliver their partner programme which provides a pathway for students towards a rewarding, high-growth IT career.
Endorsement We are part of the new £40m national Institute of Coding, and leading the charge to make coding accessible for all and to train the North West’s future digital workforce.
Accreditation This degree has been accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. This is provisional, subject to the review of a complete cohort's work.
“With computer animation and visual effects, we are focused on delivering the technical subjects that will create and inform future members of a burgeoning digital industry. I find it incredibly rewarding to be a part of this challenging and continually developing subject area.”
Dr Anthony Bukowski, Lecturer in Digital Media and Entertainment Technology
Careers in computer animation and visual effects include; CG Generalists, animators, lighting or texturing artists and technical director roles such as riggers and compositors. In addition, the skills you learn on this degree are highly valued by a range of employers and opportunities may exist in areas such as games, film, advertising, medical science, engineering and education.
Manchester is a major hub for the digital technology industry. The close proximity of MediaCity and a large number of both established companies and innovative tech start-ups means that the opportunities for technological collaboration are huge. Situated in the 'Oxford Road Corridor' innovation district of Manchester, the University and the Department of Computing and Mathematics are perfectly placed to work with key players in the digital technology and new media sectors.
Applicants studying Level 4 HNC or Level 5 HND or equivalent qualifications in a relevant IT/Computing subject may be considered for direct entry onto the second year of this course if their study profile meets the course’s second year prerequisites. Direct entry onto the final year of this course is not possible.
Digital technology has changed the way we live, work and relate to each other. It’s already fundamental to business and industry and is now becoming just as important in our personal relationships, communications and leisure. In studying this rich subject area you’ll not only learn the techniques in demand across the rapidly changing digital world but also develop the ability to create exciting and interactive content and valuable problem solving and creative skills that will open doors in a wide range of industries.
The Department of Computing and Mathematics has a reputation for academic excellence and you’ll learn from research-active staff, many with industry experience working at the forefront of their specialist fields – well placed to support and guide you as you discover yours. Manchester is a major hub for digital media and our strong industry links help to shape and inform our curriculum, so your skills and learning will be fully up to speed in one of the fastest-moving industries around – a must-have for your career.
The University is also part of the well-funded CityVerve ‘internet of things’ project, designed to transform our day-to-day lives in the digital age and make Manchester a world-leader in smart city technology. Meanwhile, the nearby MediaCityUK has been attracting key players in the sector as well as smaller web design and UX agencies.
Study Computer Animation and Visual Effects with us and you’ll be at the heart of this thriving tech community, qualified and ready to take advantage of all the opportunities both close at hand and further afield.
On the first year of our BSc (Hons) Computer Animation and Visual Effects degree, you will learn a core set of skills in the creation of digital assets in 2D and 3D environments for the output of computer-generated imaging across different platforms. You will study web development to give you the skills to develop an online portfolio to showcase your work. You will also study a games unit, giving you wider skills in an area in which animation skills can be applied.
Please note that the following list of units is indicative and may be subject to change.
Read more about this year of study
Modelling and Animation Fundamentals
Here we will introduce you to 3D modelling techniques and the principles of animation. You will use various techniques to develop non-deformable models used in the development of virtual environments. We will look at how 2D images can be mapped onto the 3D models in order to provide surface information and texturing. Virtual lights and cameras will be a focus in order to produce photorealistic rendered imaging, and different render engines will be explored. Material and volumetric shaders will be studied within render engines, looking at the physical properties they simulate and how they can be used to produce a range of visual output.
Computer Games Fundamentals
This unit provides a practical and theoretical overview of programming for computer games, games design, industries and audiences. Students will learn how to critically evaluate current debates in games design and apply practical production skills. Includes industries and gaming cultures, narrative and storytelling in games, alternative and serious games, design strategies, game rules and prototyping, the architecture of a computer game, game flow and logic, user interaction, device input and game state feedback, 2D and 3D game environments, game characters, animation, sound, scene control and scripting, introduction to game physics, introduction to artificial intelligence for games, controlling behaviour of non-player characters, chasing and evading, simple pathfinding.
Introduction to Web Design and Development
Introduces the modern context of web design and development, the core development technologies and standards and design methods that cater for different current platforms. The key theme of the unit is the efficient design and development of effective and robust websites for the range of popular platforms using the most modern technologies and techniques.
The use of high-level tools for design and development
DOM element selection and manipulation via script libraries such as jQuery
The production of standards compliant HTML5 video. Students will create dynamic web pages with AMP systems and script on the server side using PHP with MySQL. The key theme for scripting will be the understanding and development of readable code that listens for and responds to browser and user events by manipulating DOM elements.
Digital Asset Production
Key to the art of modern cinematography is an understanding of both the physical and the virtual camera, geometrical optics, lens and image physics. Applying the same studio camera principles within the virtual world allows for the photorealistic computer generated imagery essential to the visual effects professional. This unit will lay out the foundations of image capture and adjustment, in a variety of formats, for a range of applications. Technical photography and lighting principles will be explored in order that digital images can be produced and used as assets within virtual or synthetic environments. Colour management and calibration will also form an important aspect of ensuring that what is seen on screen is an accurate representation of the digital asset you have created. Your digital painting skills are also developed through the use of industry standard hardware, empowering you to express the creativity you possess on a digital platform.
In your second year, you will develop your skills in 3D modelling and begin to look at character design and development. Topology flow for a deformable organic mesh will be discussed as will laying out a texture map for the application of 2D images onto a 3D object. Dynamic systems for animation will be introduced, analysing real-world physics and applying this to animating within a virtual environment. The integration of CGI with real-world footage will be introduced and post-production effects and compositing techniques developed.
Please note that the following list of units is indicative and may be subject to change.
Read more about this year of study
Production and Compositing Techniques
This unit covers a range of techniques for production and post-production for the film industry, including:
How to create 2D and 3D effects and composite them with real film footage
Filming for 2D and 3D productions
Compositing techniques, including keying, tracking, colour matching, stabilisation, lighting and light effects, and incorporating 3D animation elements into live action
Layering and separation of 3D elements to add value and flexibility to the post-production pipeline
Technical aspects of images, such as alpha channels and colour correction
Dynamic Animation for Special Effects
This unit concerns the simulation of natural phenomena within a virtual environment for the purpose of generating visually conceivable special effects. Students will simulate natural phenomena in a virtual environment to produce dynamic animation and integrate this within 3D scenes to produce special effects to a design brief. Includes:
Particles - particles and emitters, particles and rigid bodies, particle collisions, rendering particles, compositing
Fluids - Maya fluid containers, 3D fluid effects, reactive fluids, texturing and shading fluids, open water effects
Render layer separation
Post-production compositing and post-production effects.
3D Character Development
This unit will cover techniques for digital character production and development, including: techniques for polygon box modelling, NURBS patch modelling and associated workflow to produce a 3D asset for character designs, breaking down a 3D model for 2D texture application, digitally painting a UV map template for application and implementing dynamic systems.
The unit covers professional, legal and career development issues in the Computing and Digital Technology industries and includes a pathway-specific group project.
The current legal framework of Computing and Digital Technology is examined e.g. data protection legislation, intellectual property rights, computer misuse, freedom of information, computer contracts and employment contracts as is an overview and comparison of workable ethical theories eg utilitarianism and duty based approaches. Important issues regarding professional bodies in computing are also addressed including their role, structure, codes of conduct and practice. You will also investigate employability factors and learn about the employment application process and the importance of continuing professional development. A themed case study mini-project linked to the subject pathway, which may include the opportunity to work with an external company. This will help you to develop your skills and understanding of project planning and control concepts, planning techniques (eg Gantt charts) and monitoring, academic research, software prototyping and report writing.
If you opt for the four-year sandwich route, your third year will be spent on a relevant industrial placement.
In your final year, you will develop your skills in post-production and compositing, integrating computer-generated visual effects with real-world footage. Cinematic techniques will be explored in both the real and virtual environment. Digital character animation techniques will be developed, applying the principles of animation to a custom built character control rig. Manual animation techniques, as well as motion capture technologies, will be explored. In this final year, you will embark upon a self-directed project bringing your knowledge and skills together.
Please note that the following list of units is indicative and may be subject to change.
Read more about this year of study
Dynamic Systems and VFX Integration
This unit teaches you how to simulate natural phenomena within a virtual environment for the purpose of generating visually conceivable special effects. You will cover:
Particles particles and emitters, particles and rigid bodies, particle collisions, rendering particles, compositing
Fluids Maya fluid containers, 3D fluid effects, reactive fluids, texturing and shading fluids, open water effects and render layer separation
Post-production compositing and post-production effects
Character Animation Techniques
This unit introduces character rigging, animation and motion capture. You will gain experience of using the various technologies for capturing motion from a subject as well as the processing of the data and its application onto a virtual character for a variety of digital applications. These include:
The creation of skeletal systems and mesh deformation systems for digital animation
Development and implementation of control systems for forward and inverse kinematic animation
Calibration and operation of motion capture equipment for capture of human motion
Application, retargeting and manipulation of motion capture data
Post-production Techniques for Film, Games and TV
This unit develops your knowledge and skills in advanced post-production techniques used in industry to integrate visual effects with live action footage and the application of audio principles and recording techniques to provide Foley and narrative.
Provides experience in the critical review of literature and the design, implementation, evaluation and writing up. Working with your supervisor, students develop their project description and specify aims, objectives, methodology and timetable for completion. Final year projects are normally pathway-specific. For group projects, individual and collective aims, objectives and plans are specified.
Assessment weightings and contact hours
10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A 3 year degree qualification typically comprises of 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:
Year 125% lectures, seminars or similar; 75% independent study
Year 225% lectures, seminars or similar; 75% independent study
Year 320% lectures, seminars or similar; 80% independent study
Year 1100% coursework
Year 2100% coursework
Year 3100% coursework
Additional information about this course
Students are expected to behave in a professional and business like manner when on placement or conducting projects with external partners.
The full-time four-year sandwich route provides the opportunity to go on a placement for at least 36 weeks, where you’ll get a taste of professional life. Completing a placement not only develops your core skills and experience, but also shows employers that you’re ready to get to work. Graduate employers report that students who have been on placements tend to be more mature, well organised and better able to apply their skills in a structured way.
Department of Computing and Mathematics
Our Department of Computing and Mathematics is a vibrant community of staff and students, which prides itself on internal and external collaboration.
The department is committed to teaching and research that addresses societal challenges through disciplines like artificial intelligence, big data, computational fluid dynamics, cyber security, dynamical systems, the internet of things, smart cities, robotics and virtual reality.
Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.
UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time Foundation Year fee: £9,250 per year for the foundation year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.
Non-EU international students: Full-time Foundation Year fee: £16,000 per year. When progressing from the pre-degree foundation year to the linked degree. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study)
UK, EU and Channel Island students
UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.
Non-EU international students
Non-EU international students: Full-time fee: £16,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
A degree typically comprises 360 credits, a DipHE 240 credits, a CertHE 120 credits, and an integrated Masters 480 credits. The tuition fee for the placement year for those courses that offer this option is £1,850, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study). The tuition fee for the study year abroad for those courses that offer this option is £1,385, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 each year for books and printing.
Students can choose to go on a placement which might incur additional travel and accommodation costs - these would be offset by salary on a paid placement and will vary by location.
Students can choose to join the BCS at any point in their study. It is not required but is useful. The annual charge is identified for every year there is also an option to take course membership for £57
Students who do the Department's units that relate to computer games or animation may incur costs for external storage media such as USB or HDD drives. Level 5 students may complete a Live Project on the Professional Development unit - this may incur some travel costs.
Find out more about financing your studies and whether you may qualify for one of our bursaries and scholarships.
University isn’t just about learning. It’s about living. Find out all you need to know about accommodation here.
Being at university isn’t just about learning. It’s about living. Before you arrive, we’ll make sure you know where to go and what to do. And once you’re settled in, our team’s ready to support you during your stay.
From apartments and eco-friendly townhouses, to en-suite and standard rooms, we have all sorts of accommodation on (or near) campus. Whichever option is right for you, you’ll have a room complete with desk, heater, and storage, together with a shared kitchen, laundry facilities and free WiFi.
And in such a handy location, you’ll never be more than a few minutes from the library, Students’ Union, your next lecture or a bite to eat in one of the many nearby eateries.
We’re incredibly proud to be part of such a distinctive global city – and we think you will be too.
Manchester is a city of enterprise and sport, culture and diversity. Here, connections are formed and futures begun. Art, science and business coexist and collaborate. Actors and accountants, lawyers and linguists – they’ve all found a home for their ambitions.
We have sporting excellence, culinary creativity, digital innovation and thriving commerce. Entrepreneurs and entertainers. Theatre and music. A rich and distinctive culture. We have character, spirit and personality.
Here, you’ll find people of every type, making leaps in technology, taking strides in industry and creating art in every form. We have a proud heritage to look back on, and a vibrant and diverse future to look forward to, full of possibility and promise.
From advice and support to a fantastic Union and sports clubs, we’ve got your time here covered..
Whether you’re coming to Manchester from another continent or down the road, we’re here to help. As well as our Student Hubs, where you can get all sorts of information and advice, we offer a range of professional support services and social groups for our students.
Being part of our community, you’ll find societies, teams and groups that will help you make the most of your time here. This means you’ll have the chance to pursue your passions, but also to meet people with the same interests.
The Students’ Union is your voice in the University. Through the officials that you elect, the Union supports its members and stands up for your issues. And, with its building at the heart of the campus, it also provides you with a bar, shop, café, and event venue.
Programme Review Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.
Important Notice This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.
Confirmation of Regulator The Manchester Metropolitan University is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS is the independent regulator of higher education in England. More information on the role of the OfS and its regulatory framework can be found at officeforstudents.org.uk.
All higher education providers registered with the OfS must have a student protection plan in place. The student protection plan sets out what students can expect to happen should a course, campus, or institution close. Access our current Student Protection Plan.