BSc (Hons) Computer Animation and Visual Effects - University of Portsmouth
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BSc (Hons)

Computer Animation and Visual Effects

UCAS codeII15

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Choose to focus on the more creative or technical aspects

Course Overview

Why take this course?

This course will give you the chance to focus on either the more artistic aspects of computer animation and visual effects, or the more technical side, including scripting. Both pathways will enable you to learn about the practical and theoretical aspects of the VFX and computer animation industry, from concept drawing to 3D animation, physics based simulations and compositing. 

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Win prizes for your final-year projects awarded by our industry sponsors including Autodesk, Avid and Sony
  • Use our cutting-edge, industry-standard software and benefit from access to extracurricular workshops to support your software and drawing skills
  • Opt to do a salaried placement year either in the UK or overseas

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course mirrors many industrial processes and creative practices, equipping you for some of the most exciting jobs in today’s media industries. Potential employers include the computer animation and visual effects for film, TV, computer games and visualisation industries.

This is one of the few courses in the UK that is NUKE accredited by the Foundry. NUKE is a compositing software package used throughout production in the visual effects industry to composite computer graphics with live action film.


Rosi Dimitrova, BSc (Hons) Computer Animation student 2017

I chose the course at Portsmouth because it stood out with its relevant industry facilities and equipment. The lecturers were very aware of the current industry requirements and excellent professionals in their own areas. It seemed like the best place to receive the creative experience in the industry I would like to develop into a career.

Rosi Dimitrova, BSc (Hons) Computer Animation student 2017


Computing and Creative Technologies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Hands-on, practical work and real-life learning, which is transferable to future careers
  • Approachable lecturers who have experience and contacts in the industry

Browse all courses in Computing and Creative Technologies

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

The content of the course mirrors the pipeline and creative practices that our industry professional lecturers have practiced both in blockbuster films and AAA games industries. You will begin by getting to grips with the software tools and editing packages which you will use throughout the course. You will also start to build your own portfolio of work while examining the issues of copyright, intellectual property (IPs), piracy, non-disclosure agreements and codes of conduct.

Core units in this year include:        

  • Foundation in 3D Modelling
  • Foundations in Graphics
  • Skills and Principles for Animation
  • Tools for Animation
  • Visual Communication
  • EPortfolio

Year two

In this year you will continue to develop your computer animation skills including rigging, digital sculpting, previsualisation and motion capture, or focus on the compositing, 3D matchmoving and visual effects aspects of the film/TV and game industries. There is also a range of options which allow you to choose whether you would like to pursue a more artistic or technical study route on animation design, game asset creation, programming and visualition, among others. 

Core units in this year include:

  • CGI Lighting and Look Development
  • Project Initiation and Career Management

Options to choose from in this year currently include:


  • Previsualisation and Motion Capture
  • Sculpting and Rigging for Film

or VFX

  • Matchmoving for VFX
  • Image Preparation for VFX

Further options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Animation Programming and Scripting
  • Commercial Asset Production for Real Time
  • Design and Visual Research for Cinema and Game
  • Designing for Animation
  • Designing Interactive Content
  • Visualisation and User Interaction
  • Professional Experience
  • Student Enterprise

Year three*

There’s a wide range of options in your final year allowing for specialisation in the areas that interest you the most. You’ll also complete an individual project on a topic of your choice as well as a year-long group project, chosen from a pool of real-life projects proposed by a range of clients.

Core units in this year include:

  • Creative Media
  • Creative Professional Development
  • Final Year Project

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Advanced Graphics Techniques
  • Advanced Visual Effects and Environments
  • Animation and Setup for Computer Animation
  • Applications of Virtual Reality
  • Interdisciplinary Group Project
  • Motion Capture Applications
  • Real Time Interactive Group Project

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

*This course is also available as a 4-year sandwich (work placement)

Placement year

Between the second and third years of study you will have the option to undertake a work placement year. There are two exciting options for the placement year:

We offer a range of salaried professional placements as part of your degree.  You can gain invaluable work experience to help you prepare for your graduate employment.  The University can provide you with advice - through our Creative Careers Centre - on how to secure a work placement that matches both the needs of your degree and your future career plans, as well as giving you useful links and contacts.

Interested in running your own business instead? We also offer students the chance to start-up and run their own company for a year as an alternative to the traditional work-based placement. Students who choose this option often start-up their companies with fellow, like-minded students, working together, as a bona fide operation, in an attempt to build a successful venture. The Faculty and University provide mentoring and support throughout the year.

To find out more visit our Employability and Enterprise page.


You will experience a variety of teaching through lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory sessions, online lessons and project work.

We constantly work with VFX studios, game developers and professional bodies, such as TIGA and The Foundry, to ensure that the course stays up-to-date, guaranteeing that you learn the skills valued by today’s computer animation, visual effects and games industry.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 25% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 75% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 20% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 80% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 15% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 85% studying independently and 0% on work placement


Due to the practical nature of this course, assessment is extremely varied and includes:

  • practical projects
  • work portfolios
  • academic and evaluative essays
  • multiple choice tests
  • oral presentations
  • examinations
  • case studies

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 7% by written exams, 23% by practical exams and 70% by coursework
  • Year two students: 0% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 97% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 22% by practical exams and 78% by coursework

Tutor's view


Panagiotis Vafeiadis
Computer Animation and Visual Effects

This course aims to initiate creative thinking, instil academic research and explore VFX industry methodologies. We work closely with industry to ensure we're preparing industry-ready graduates, many of whom have gained employment as Visual Effects and Computer Animation professionals in some of the highest profile companies in the sector.

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Facilities & Features

Specialist Software and Equipment

A full range of industry software will be available for you to use in the computer labs. You’ll have excellent resources at your fingertips including:

  • the Virtual Reality Lab
  • motion capture facilities
  • game engines for Playstation, Unreal 4, Xbox XNA, HL2 and more
  • Autodesk Maya, 3DSMax, Mudbox
  • Zbrush
  • The Foundry's Nuke Studio, Mari and Modo
  • Adobe production suite

The Games Lab

This is home to all the latest consoles for our game students. You’ll have access to Playstation 4 development kits, PSP development kits, Playstation 2 Linux development kits (available to borrow) and a range of other consoles and games.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Open access IT suite

Access specialist hardware and software in our dedicated Faculty IT suite. You will have technical support on hand and access is available until midnight three nights a week during term time.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider


You may need to spend £50 - £100 per annum on drawing and modelling materials, CDs, and DVDs.

For the optional Student Enterprise Unit there is a cost of approximately £20.

For the optional diving skills units: The Underwater Filming and Media unit is available if you have not dived before. It includes a PADI Open Water course, combined with the Underwater Filming and Media course, and costs around £800. The Underwater Filming and Media B unit is available if you already hold a PADI Open Water certificate (or equivalent). It includes a further diving course (e.g. PADI Advanced Open Water), combined with the Underwater Filming and Media Course, and costs around £700 to cover tuition, transport and diving costs.

For one of the optional units you will need access to a digital camera.


You may need to spend £50 - £100 per annum on drawing and modelling materials, CDs, and DVDs.

For the optional Student Enterprise Unit there is a cost of approximately £20.

Occasional coach trips may require a contribution of up to £20.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

The South East is the entertainment and IT centre in England so you’ll have lots of opportunities on the doorstep. Upon completing this course, you’ll possess the full package of professional skills for use in the media industry, as well as in other areas such as architectual visualisation, medical simulation and forensics reconstruction. With an emphasis on graphics and computer animation, this course produces creative technical artists specialising in 3D animation and visual effects.

Graduates from this course have been successful in finding work with these big names:

  • Visual effects and animation: Cinesite, Double Negative, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Massive, Frame Store, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Weta
  • Motion Capture: Lionhead Games, Centroid, Imaginarium
  • Games: Black Rock, Climax, Codemasters, Electronic Arts, Exient, Jagex, Kuju (Zoe Mode and Nik Nak Games), Pivotal Games, Rebellion, Sony, Travellers Tales

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Here at the CCI’s Creative Careers Centre we are committed to improving your employability. Whether it’s placements, self-employed placements, internships, short-term work experiences, freelancing opportunities and volunteering, we will help you find valuable and relevant work experience to complement your degree. The experienced team is always on hand to offer advice on everything from producing high-quality applications through to preparation for a company assessment day.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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