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Pile, Toby Auberg, 2019


Animation is a dynamic visual communication paradigm

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 1 year programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre

Develop your creative expertise to influence how audiences see and understand the social, political and cultural animated worlds and experiences you create

Still accepting applications for 2022 entry. See the Key Dates webpage for round 4 details.

This programme is subject to validation

At the MA Animation programme at the Royal College of Art we are dynamically responsive to how animation is now central to contemporary debates in visual culture. Animation is a pervasive interdisciplinary moving image form that extends across a global landscape of technologies, cultures and media and human/nonhuman relationships. We engage in animation's gaining proximity to contemporary discourses on aesthetics, socio-politics, consumption and techno-cultural progression in the arts, sciences, heath and commerce. As a Programme situated in the School of Communication, we are committed to our students’ development in and expansion of this new visual communication paradigm into these and other fields, and to their potential to influence intellectual, artistic, political and cultural agendas, that in turn can transform our daily lives. As screen access increases globally, and with this the animation that can be watched on them, so too do opportunities to create meaningful works in social contexts to affect change, improve knowledge, redistribute power and build communities and participatory cultures.

The MA Animation Programme has a world-class reputation for artistic, director-led creative practice and innovative risk-taking and our students also explore the increasingly porous borders between animation, virtual reality, augmented reality or new media art. The programme maintains an ethos and environment of experimentation and creativity built on a foundation of social and cultural interrogation and contextual and critical thinking. We are committed to a critical potency of animation that can challenge and offer alternatives to industry's dominant digital realism and inherent ideologies. We offer you a singular approach to a community of learning and teaching for developing your creativity and skills to negotiate rapid cultural and technological change. Within a continuum of mimetic narrative and playful abstraction, you will find your own meaningful fit or stance as an artist within an array of techniques, concepts and canons to position you to contribute to a greater collective intellectual and creative capital.

Explore further

Visit 2022.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work by our students, 2021.rca.ac.uk to view work from the class of 2021.

Replay our November 2021 Open Day talk.



The School of Communication is currently located on our White City site.

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.

What you'll cover

This programme is subject to validation

Structured around practice, experimentation and constructive critique, the curriculum has a discursive approach and a particular emphasis on developing creative time-based content informed by collaboration, questioning, exchange and process exploration. Supported on your journey by a world-class programme team and state of the art facilities, you are enabled to explore enduring historical relations with the material-based media of painting, drawing, illustration and sculpture – the ‘stuff’ of animation practice – that are enhanced by digital tools and deep learning processes as well as refinements in sound, display practices and film language. We engage with many screen-based and related forms you may want to explore, from installations, projection mapping, VR and AR, extra-cinematic animation and theatre environments, to sci-tech visualisation tools, the spatial politics of citizen science games or apps. You will grasp the opportunities arising from animation’s increasing pervasiveness and hone your influence on how your audiences see and understand the worlds and experiences you create. Together with your peers and students from other programmes, you will experience a collaborative professional environment and community of practice that is equitable, encouraging, convivial, challenging and confidence-building.

You will be challenged and encouraged to engage in innovative practice-oriented research sensitive to understanding and articulation of the nuances of cultures, ethics, diversity, identities, traditions, environments and futures. Our students engage in interdisciplinary contexts of drama, literature, philosophy, fine and applied arts, film and media theory, art history, STEM disciplines and architecture. You will deepen your understanding of animation to develop your own critical approach to your practice, and challenge yourself intellectually with new ideas to broaden and influence social, political and cultural perspectives through creative engagement. MA Animation is pedagogically conceived and strategically positioned to foster our students’ aspirations and creative transformations as ethically minded thinkers and professionally astute creative artists, filmmakers and problem solvers. You will join a community engaged in dialogues with and new perspectives on the persuasive potential of animation in the digital humanities and STEAM disciplines.

This programme is subject to validation

The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College Units that enable you to build a clear sense of communication methods, practices and contexts in relation to your own work.

Term 1

In Term 1, you will study the Animation Forms, Methods & Contexts unit which enhances your knowledge and expertise in key critical contexts and a range of practice methods and approaches within animation moving image practices.

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in the College-wide unit. This unit aims to support students to meet the challenges of a complex, uncertain and changing world by bringing them together to work collaboratively on a series of themed projects informed by expertise within and beyond the College. These projects will challenge you to use your intellect and imagination to address key cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges. In doing so, you will develop and reflect on the abilities required to translate knowledge into action, and help demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world.

Term 2

In Term 2, the Exchange and Engage School-wide unit allows you to work alongside students within and across the School. You will also study the Critical Non/Fiction and Experimental /Expanded Practices unit which is designed to enable you to build on the learning and explorations from Term 1 to situate and refine your practice with appropriate professional, intellectual, technological and creative contexts. Normally at the end of Term 2, you will develop a project proposal and Production Plan that articulates your ambitions for an independent research project.

Term 3

In Term 3 you will apply what you have learned in your engagement in the production of your Independent Research Project which will be completed as a body of work.


What you need to know before you apply

The programme attracts individuals from a notably wide range of disciplines who wish to explore their fields through animation, including, for example, film, architecture, graphic design, literature, communication arts, performance, art history, computing, illustration, pure and applied sciences and maths or fine art, or a combination of these.

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

Candidates are selected on the basis of a body of work that demonstrates an advanced understanding of the subject and sufficient technical animation and moving image skills to realise intentions, evidence of commitment to the subject, intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, the ability to collaborate, to engage in debate and respond to constructive criticism, and the ability to engage in sustained and consistent study. We also want enthusiasm for your practice, commitment and a strong sense of personal responsibility for your subject matter and your own learning and development.

What's needed from you

You must submit an online portfolio of a selection of still and animated/moving image work, not to exceed 15 minutes in total, demonstrating an aptitude for sequential thinking and experience in and understanding of moving image techniques and sound.

You should curate and create an online portfolio that best reflects your abilities, experience and interests. Your particular role on any collaborative projects should be clearly indicated. Applications without moving-image work cannot be considered.

Additional work demonstrating other relevant aspects of ideas and skills, which may include 3D objects, drawings, photographs, scripts, storyboards etc., may also be included. Relevant interests, engagement and abilities in other disciplines with clear potential to contribute to your creative development will also be considered.

The portfolio must follow College guidelines for uploading work using the College application site and giving a brief description for each piece of work. Links to personal websites or Dropbox folders are not acceptable.

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) and at least 5.5 in other skills. 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 2022 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Overseas and EU


New entrants to the College will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees.

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 2022

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 and key dates
More information about eligibility and key dates
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]
RCA Kensington cafe