Why choose this course
Our new MA in Film, Animation and Digital Arts is a broad multidisciplinary programme which responds to the latest advancements in moving image production technologies such as virtual production, performance capture and synthesis, and realtime visual effects. These and other developments in the digital media arts arena require a new breed of multi-skilled practitioners.
Our programme seeks to develop your core creative competences in a range of relevant contemporary practices. These include:
- 3D computer graphics (CG)
- Computational arts
- ‘Immersive’ media
- Digital acting
- Mediatised theatre
- Motion graphics
- Movement interfaces
- Machine vision
- Interactive cinema.
Your skills and talents as a media practitioner, alongside intellectual curiosity, collaborative spirit, technical proficiency and sense of adventure, will all come into play as you make use of Surrey’s state-of-the-art facilities, great work spaces and dedicated multi-disciplinary supervision. You will also benefit from the extensive connections we enjoy with the creative industries, which include media production companies, animation studios, VFX houses, facilities providers and film studios - locally, nationally and globally.
What you will study
Our programme is primarily practice-oriented, backed up with a relevant and robust contextual framework. The programme is 12 months long, split across two semesters and the University’s summer period.
Semester 1 includes a set of focused workshops designed not only to consolidate existing practical skills in script development, film production, animation, CG and VFX; but also, to bring you rapidly up to speed in less familiar areas such as virtual production, game engines, and digital cinematography. These are accompanied by a thorough grounding in contemporary moving image theory and practice. You will then work on a collaborative, multidisciplinary production project, which provides a great opportunity to work together in a small team on an exciting creative brief.
During Semester 2 you will develop a creative specification for your final masters project. Alongside this, specialist workshops and tutorials are offered to equip you with any specific techniques you might need. Theory lectures and seminars are provided on special topics from leading researchers active in their field. Some of these are shared with, and sometimes delivered by, our active PhD cohort.
During the University’s summer period, you will complete your final masters project, with regular supervision and mentoring provided by the Department’s academics, industry based visiting tutors and associates.
While the programme is broad based and multi-disciplinary within the film, animation and digital media arts creative sectors, it also reflects the specific interests and experiences of our Department’s academics, our associates, and our industry-based partners.
A key challenge for future practitioners is that they need to have acquired both the ‘traditional’ craft skills of film, animation, interactive media and digital performance, and be conversant with new and emerging techniques. Some of these are derived from rediscovering previous techniques (back projection, puppetry, animated exaggeration, scenography, improvised storytelling), while others are very much part of the decades to come (real-time graphics, parametric character animation, photogrammetry, spatial augmented reality, holographic display, data science, telepresence).
Upon graduating, you will be equipped to take on both traditional media forms and formats, as well as emerging future story and entertainment paradigms. Every production a student undertakes on the course will have a degree of invention and exploration – deriving new ways of delivering a cultural and entertainment experience, with storytelling in all its infinite forms at the core of everything.
Our students have access to a wide range of professional film, audio, video, and digital production facilities, including:
- Computing facilities based around high-end GPUs
- Fibre connected film and television studios
- Motion / performance capture facilities
- 4k cine cameras and lenses
- Lighting, sound and grip equipment
- Set building facilities
- Film and sound editing software
- State of the art production software
- Extensive fast media storage
- VR/AR/MR/XR head mounted displays.
Location and connections
Our Guildford location is a short train journey from central London, and a town which is home to some of the most well-regarded games developers, immersive media producers and web design agencies, including:
- Electronic Arts
- Figment Productions
and many others.
We regularly enjoy visits and engagements with the London production and VFX community, which includes:
- Moving Picture Company
- Blue Zoo
- Milk VFX
- KeyFrame Studios
and many more.
We also maintain close links with the British Film Institute, BAFTA, Animation UK, Visual Effects Society, SIGGRAPH London, UKIE and plenty of other important industry networks with whom you can connect.
On campus, we share a building and frequently collaborate with the prestigious Guildford School of Acting. We also work closely with colleagues from Surrey’s engineering programmes, and have found touchpoints in many other departments across the University. In addition to this, we are actively building relationships with other institutions both close at hand and around the world; our approach is one of open collaboration wherever possible across all sections of the arts, culture and technology communities.
Intensive development of practical skills will be assessed through the development of a cumulative portfolio, presented as response to and output from a series of creative and technical skills workshops in Semester 1.
A group collaborative project rounds off this part of the programme, which involves multidisciplinary collaboration and technical and creative experimentation.
Theory lectures and seminars will be delivered by active researchers within the department and elsewhere, shared with, and occasionally delivered by, our postgraduate researchers. Output will be a written ‘portfolio of response’ plus a research paper working towards the final major project dissertation, for those specialising in contemporary media theory.
Advanced skills development with specialist tutors will be available in preparation for final masters projects. Areas include:
- Digital arts
- 3D modelling
The output consists of a portfolio of practice, applying the advanced techniques as prototype development for the final masters project, for those students taking the ‘practice’ route.
For your final masters project, you will be assigned one principal supervisor and one co-supervisor depending on the nature of your project.
Careers and graduate prospects
We offer careers information, advice and guidance to all students whilst studying with us, which is extended to our alumni for three years after leaving the University. Our graduates have lifetime access to Surrey Pathfinder, our online portal for appointment and events bookings, jobs, placements and interactive development tools.
The programme will provide you with an accelerated career path into numerous areas of the film, television and interactive media sectors, equipping you with sought after skills and experience in these exciting fields. On successful completion of the course, your creative aptitude will be matched by technical acuity in whichever areas you have chosen to specialise.
The programme also provides a valuable springboard for extended postgraduate research on our own PhD programme or indeed should you choose to pursue your research elsewhere.
Academic year structure
We deliver our provision across three semesters, each carrying 60 credits worth of teaching modules. A theory strand runs through Semesters 1 and 2, with students having the option to fuse theory and practice as ‘praxis’ during their final masters project in Semester 3.
Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability, student demand and/or class size caps.
Important: In light of the Covid-19 pandemic the University has revised its courses to incorporate the ‘Hybrid Learning Experience’ in a departure from previous academic years and previously published information. The University has changed the delivery (and in some cases, the content) of its programmes. Find further information on the general principles of hybrid learning.
We have updated key module information regarding the pattern of assessment and overall student workload to inform student module choices. We are currently working on bringing remaining published information up to date to reflect current practice in time for the start of the academic year 2022/23 This means that some information within the programme and module catalogue will be subject to change. Current students are invited to contact their Programme Leader or Academic Hive with any questions relating to the information available.
The University operates a credit framework for all taught programmes based on a 15-credit tariff. Modules can be either 15, 30, 45, 75 and 120 credits, and additionally for some masters dissertations, 90 credits.
The structure of our programmes follows clear educational aims that are tailored to each programme. These are all outlined in the programme specifications which include further details such as the learning outcomes:
Course timetables are normally available one month before the start of the semester. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week (Monday - Friday). Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities. Part-time classes are normally scheduled on one or two days per week, details of which can be obtained from the Academic Hive. View our Timetabling Policy (PDF).
Contact hours can vary across our modules. Full details of the contact hours for each module are available from the University of Surrey's module catalogue. See the modules section for more information.
A minimum 2:2 UK undergraduate degree (or international equivalent) usually, but not necessarily, in a relevant subject area.
Applicants are required to submit a portfolio of relevant work. Portfolio material usually consists of a showreel or a selection of your best work in the media and formats in which you have previously worked. Depending on the extent to which you have specialised, this could include examples of film, animation, 3D modelling, VFX, motion graphics, illustration, creative photography, scriptwriting, digital artworks, painting, sculpture, set design, live theatre work, installation, or indeed any other creative work which you feel demonstrates relevant skills and creativities.
In addition, please include a brief description of the type of project you would like to undertake on the MA. This just helps us to understand your interests and likely requirements - it will not commit you to a particular project at this stage.
We may be able to take relevant work experience into consideration if you don't meet the typical entry requirements. You are welcome to contact the Programme Director to discuss your suitability for the programme prior to submitting an application.
International entry requirements by country
Do I meet the requirements for this course?
We require you to submit a full application so that we can formally assess whether you meet the criteria published. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide an outcome based on an enquiry (via email, webform enquiry, phone or live chat).
English language requirements
IELTS Academic 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each element.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Shortlisted applicants may be invited to an interview. These are typically conducted on campus, but could be online as circumstances or conditions dictate.
The University of Surrey recognises that many students enter their higher education course with valuable knowledge and skills developed through a range of professional, vocational and community contexts. If this applies to you, a process called recognition of prior learning (RPL) may allow you to enter your course at a point appropriate to your previous learning and experience, or to join the start of a course without the formal entry requirements. This means that you may be exempt from certain elements of study in the course for which you have applied and be awarded credit based on your previous qualifications/experience. There are restrictions on RPL for some courses and fees may be payable for certain claims.
Please see the code of practice for recognition of prior learning and prior credit: taught programmes (PDF) for further information. Please email Admissions (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any queries.
Start date: October 2022
Full-time - 1 year
- These fees apply to students commencing study in the academic year 2022-23 only. Fees for new starters are reviewed annually
- If you are on a two-year full-time Euromasters or MFA programme, or a two-year or three-year part-time masters programme (excluding modular/self-paced/distance learning), the annual fee is payable in Year 1 and Year 2 of the programme
- Annual fees will increase by 4% for each subsequent year of study, rounded up to the nearest £100, subject to any overriding applicable legislative requirements.
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View an example of our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will generally be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course and changes for the specific academic year.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases, the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the academic year 2022/23. These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach during 2022/23.