MA Programme Description


MA Animation comprises of three specialist pathways: Documentary Animation, Experimental Animation and Narrative Animation, one of which students select as part of their application. These categories are loose and extend to other genres and approaches, and all students are expected and encouraged to innovate, experiment and take inspiration and influence from the other pathways, alongside the core Programme offer and the wider School.

Documentary Animation investigates epistemological concerns in questioning how we represent and apply the ‘real’.

Experimental Animation takes a more exploratory and innovative approach to Animation, extending beyond conventional models to post-screen, post-digital and installation/live environments.

Narrative Animation focusses on the innovative exploration of different forms of storytelling. This is not intended as a film-school training in conventional ways to tell a story, but as a serious interrogation of narratology in the moving image.

All students on MA Animation follow a similar curricular structure with a common system of units as follows: 

  1. Critical & Historical Studies, 40 credits
  2. School of Communication Elective, 20 credits
  3. Systems of Practice, 60 credits
  4. Development and Prototyping, 60 credits
  5. Independent Research Project, 60 credits

First Year

During the first year, students choose a School of Communication elective, attend CHS sessions and write a dissertation, which is supported at the three stages of proposal, draft and final submission by theoretical and contextual seminars. Unit 3 is pathway-oriented and foundational to ground students in core theories, aesthetic contexts, creative approaches and practice methods that will both build on and provoke a re-examination of previous systems of practice. In the second term, students initiate and produce a Pathway-oriented first year project, which can take the form of a short film, installation or interactive project that can be created collaboratively or independently.

Second Year

In the second year, students are expected to initiate and take responsibility for the production planning, conceptual and visual development of a graduation project that reflects on and may extend beyond the thematics of their chosen pathway. Development of the project is enhanced through specialist lectures and workshops, critical forum seminars, technical workshops and professional practice seminars. They will work independently to realise, disseminate and critically reflect on their project. This will include both animation production and plans for promotion, installation and exhibition at the graduate Show.

Critical & Historical Studies

The RCA provides a unique environment for postgraduate art and design students to reflect upon their own practice, and to engage with students from their own and other disciplines. The role of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) is to support the studio programmes in enabling these critical engagements to take place. The courses offered by CHS to first-year, studio-based MA students propose an intellectual framework within which they can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.

In the autumn and spring terms there are a series of College-wide seminars and lectures. The autumn term series will relate to your particular discipline, whereas the spring term series will be more broad-based and cross-disciplinary in nature.

In the spring and summer terms, a CHS tutor will give you individual tutorials to support the development of a dissertation which is submitted at the end of the summer term. The dissertation should be between 6,000–10,000 words in length – this is a major piece of work and you will not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.

For more information see Critical & Historical Studies College-wide Programme.

This programme description is taken from the 2018/19 Programme Specifications. While we try to ensure that all Programme information is correct, some things may be subject to change and/or outside of our control. 

RCA Ranked World’s Top Art & Design University for Fifth Year

In February, the RCA was named the world’s leading art and design university for the fifth consecutive year.  

The RCA leads the table of 200 of the world’s top universities for the study of art and design in the 2019 QS World University Subject Rankings, ahead of much larger institutions around the globe.


240 credits
Two-year programme

Animation Studios
Animation Studios
Photographer: Richard Haughton