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When the Light Comes


Be a game changer

Key details

  • 240 credits
  • 2 year programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre

Develop your understanding and expertise in different forms and genres of animation.

Our Animation programme is world-renowned for artistic practice and innovative risk-taking. We encourage our students to deal creatively and sensitively with contemporary issues across a range of technologies and platforms. They find their own voice within a continuum of techniques, concepts and canons, and gain the critical tools, knowledge and confidence to become a game changer in the field of animation.

Structured around a potent combination of workshops, lectures, discussions, screenings and tutorials, the curriculum has a particular emphasis on developing creative content informed by collaboration and research. We take a singular approach to learning and teaching to help you develop the skills to negotiate rapid cultural and technological change.

Explore further

Visit 2020.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work from the class of 2020


When applying for this programme, you select one of these specialist pathways.

Experimental Animation

Explore making expanded moving image projects.

Documentary Animation

Addresses changing documentary and non-fiction animation practices involving animation and social, political, cultural and global themes.

Narrative Animation

Focuses on experimentation with forms of storytelling.

Visit the Curriculum tab for more information.



The School of Communication is located in White City, London’s newest research and creative quarter.

View all facilities

Our mixed-discipline studios encourage cross-disciplinary thought, awareness and action. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to craft and technical workshop areas and excellent technical support in the College. These include well-equipped computer studios for print and digital moving-image production, sound editing, a letterpress and book-binding workshop.

  • Animation studio Photograph Richard Haughton

    Animation studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • Group discussion, animation studio Photograph Richard Haughton

    Group discussion, animation studio Photograph Richard Haughton

  • Close-up work in the animation studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton

    Animation studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.


When applying for this programme, you select one of these specialist pathways.

Explore making animated films, developing creative and critical thinking, research skills and expanded discipline expertise.

The work produced by students on this platform ranges from the traditional and narrative to experimental and more expanded forms of animation.

The pathway is about fusing animation practices with documentary approaches, forms and questions about representing and engaging with the real.

Exploration and application in Documentary Animation may consider long-form animation, non-linear engagement, informational narratives, interactive media and learning mechanisms; all of which are applied across multiple platforms and technologies for production and delivery, in varying environments. The practise is built on a ground of research and making, through contextual and critical thinking.

This is not intended as a trade-school training in conventional ways to tell a story, but a serious exploration of narratology in the moving image. The pathway builds upon both the track record of award-winning short films that the Animation programme has produced and good practice in the School of Communication.

Unlike a film school-orientated approach, which teaches orthodox and conventional methodologies, the critical interrogation and practice-led experimentation of an art school environment aims to foster innovative practice through the creation of animated stories for cross-platform delivery. The pathway benefits from interdisciplinary connections with the Experimental Animation and Documentary Animation pathways, as well as other programmes in the School of Communication.

What you'll cover

In the first year, you undertake a Critical and Historical Studies dissertation (Unit 3), choose a school-wide Elective (Unit 2A) and, in Term 1, engage in a series of core workshops designed to impart knowledge and skills for research methods and exploration and development of moving image and sound practices. Towards the end of Term 2, you begin development of a first-year project based on a set of briefs that may include external collaborations that forms the main focus in Term 3. Discipline-specific and inter-disciplinary Articulation seminars, workshops and tutorials in Terms 2 and 3 support key intellectual development and creative practice as well as underpinning specific pathways.

In the first term you research, develop and prototype your second year, self-determined independent project in tandem with the Critical Forum. In Terms 1 and 2 you receive regular tutor and peer feedback crits and assessments. A series of specialist workshops, lectures and tutorials provides expertise on a range of practice, production skills and cultural, contextual and intellectual themes. In Term 3, a series of professional practice sessions supports your transition after graduation and the expectation is primarily of independent work on your final project.

All studio-based MA students follow a weekly schedule of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a College-wide initiative that provides you with the intellectual framework to build a coherent relationship between theory and practice.

CHS delivers exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures by experts within the programme and high-profile visiting lecturers. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the theoretical background and aspects of your chosen discipline through a tutored dissertation process, as well as receiving individual tutorial support from our team of expert tutors.

View more CHS information


What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process will consider creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.

Animation attracts individuals from a notably wide range of disciplines to explore their fields through animation, including film, architecture, graphic design, literature, communication arts, performance, art history, computing, illustration, pure and applied sciences, and maths or fine art. You’re normally expected to have a BA, an equivalent qualification or professional experience.

You will be selected on the basis of a body of work that demonstrates an advanced understanding of animation and sufficient technical skill to realise intentions. We also consider evidence of your commitment to the subject, intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, the ability to collaborate, to engage in debate and respond to criticism, and your ability to engage in sustained and consistent study.

What's needed from you

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.

Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
  • Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
  • Technical skills appropriate to the work
  • Potential to benefit from the programme

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE). Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

Fees for September 2021 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

£9,750 per year
£19,500 total cost*
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
£14,500 per year
£29,000 total cost*
Overseas and EU
£29,000 per year
£58,000 total cost*


New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.

Overseas and EU

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.



Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.


Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

RCA students at work (photo: Richard Haughton)

Change your life and be here in 2021

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements
More information about entrance requirements
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

Email us at
[email protected]
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