Fancy a lifetime of imaginative work? Try the animation industry...

The diversity of the animation industry is reflected in the wide range of courses available to postgraduate students. Options range from traditional drawing-focused MA programmes to highly technical MSc options looking at game-engine design, and 3D computer modelling.

Full-time courses are spread over one or two years, depending on the establishment (some part-time courses are also available). More than 30 institutions offer some form of animation programme at postgraduate level; titles and qualifications vary from the simply named animation MA offered by (among others) the Royal College of Art, University of West England or Edinburgh College of Art, to more specific options such as Bournemouth University's computer animation and visual effects MSc, or Teesside's digital character animation MA. Other possibilities include the computer animation and visualisation MSc offered at both Liverpool John Moores and the University of Dundee.

With such a broad range, it's hardly surprising that students have a mixture of artistic and technical backgrounds. Entry is certainly not limited to those with prior experience of animation, says Sofronis Efstathiou, joint associate dean and postgraduate framework leader of the Computer Animation Academic Group at Bournemouth University. "Our students may have just finished an undergraduate degree or they may have been working in the industry for a number of years. They might also have been graphic designers, architects, 2D animators, scriptwriters... it's very mixed."

Donald Holwill, head of animation at the Edinburgh College of Art, agrees: "Our students might come from a photographic background, while others come from an animation area and have a hankering to do a piece of personal work."

There's no one way of getting on to a course, says Efstathiou – what's more important is technical and creative ability, a portfolio that shows potential, and a real interest in animation. "We want students to go beyond having a favourite Pixar movie. We want them to have favourite artists or directors on those movies, to be interested in what inspired those artists; we like to see how much they know about the subject."

Courses tend to be very student-led, but whether aiming for an MA or an MSc qualification there are certain universal benefits to studying for a postgraduate qualification, says freelance animator and film-maker David Bunting. "A course can open your eyes to what's possible with animation, and you can explore the medium. It's the balancing act of giving you technical skills and widening your artistic horizons as well."

For those moving on to employment within a studio (as many do) there are additional benefits, Bunting continues: the collaborative nature of the projects set on many courses will prepare students for working in the industry. "A studio is a group environment," he says. "You have to be able to work through a problem together."

It's helpful to choose a course that has good links with industry, he says, and Efstathiou agrees: "We try to give students as much knowledge as we can about both the industry and the actual subject matter they're studying." To achieve this, Bournemouth has regular guest speakers from across the animation world, including those who have worked on major films such as Inception, which won Bournemouth graduate Andy Lockley an Oscar for visual effects.

Of course, visual effects is just one route for graduates seeking employment. Some students might start their own companies, while others might find employment in studios all over the world. However, as one of the largest employers of UK animators – from 3D modellers to scenic artists and programmers – the computer games industry is the one to watch. "Computer games are going to be an extension of the storytelling we see in books and films," says Bunting, "and that's going to be very exciting over the next 10 years."

For a successful career beyond the intense experience of a one-year animation MA or MSc, students need to be flexible, explains Holwill. "We want our students to be adaptable, and not afraid of tackling new challenges. Technology is changing all the time and will bring opportunities that we can't predict."

Whether through technological or artistic innovation, animation has always been at the cutting edge of creativity and will continue to be so, according to Holwill – which can only be encouraging for prospective students. "Animation is endlessly fascinating," he says. "It's never going to dry up, because it's about ideas, and our relationship with the world. It's full of potential. Everything's possible."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
tv

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

KS2 Float Teacher required in Caerphilly

£100 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme plus free professional training: Randstad ...

Science Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Are you a qualified secondary...

EBD LSA vacancy - Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan

£60 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme plus free professional training: Randstad Ed...

Science Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Are you a qualified secondary...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week