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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

Next open day

Application deadline

  • Still accepting applications

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

The MA Animation programme at the Royal College of Art 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.

Still accepting applications for 2023 entry. See the Eligibility and key dates for round 3 details.

Explore further

Visit 2022.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work by our students.
Catch the replays from our November 2022 online Open Day.



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

View all facilities

Our mixed-use studios encourage collaborative working, thought, awareness and action. In addition, you have access to craft and technical workshop areas and excellent technical support in the College.

  • 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

Structured around practice-as-research, 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.

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 undertake a programme unit of Animation Forms, Methods & Contexts, which enhances your knowledge and disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise in key critical contexts and a range of practices and research methods and approaches within animation moving image practices.

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in AcrossRCA, the College-wide unit. See below for more details.

Term 2

The Making Worlds with Others School-wide unit will allow you to work alongside students within and across the School. These are balanced with a programme-specific unit, Critical Non/Fiction and Experimental /Expanded Practices, 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 during 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 self-determined body of work negotiated in collaboration with academic and technical staff.

Situated at the core of your RCA student experience, this ambitious interdisciplinary College- wide AcrossRCA unit supports how you respond to the challenges of complex, uncertain and changing physical and digital worlds by engaging you in a global creative network that draws on expertise within and beyond the institution. It provides an extraordinary opportunity for you to:

  • make connections across disciplines
  • think critically about your creative practice
  • develop creative networks within and beyond the College
  • generate innovative responses to complex problems
  • reflect on how to propose ideas for positive change in local and/or global contexts.

AcrossRCA launches with a series of presentations from internationally acclaimed speakers that will encourage you to think beyond the discourses of art, architecture, communication, and design, and extend into other territories such as economics, ethics, science, engineering, medicine or astrophysics.

In interdisciplinary teams you will be challenged to use your intellect and imagination to respond to urgent contemporary themes, providing you with an opportunity to develop innovative and disruptive thinking, critically reflect on your responsibilities as a creative practitioner and demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world. This engagement with interdisciplinary perspectives and practices is designed both to complement your disciplinary studies and provide you with a platform to thrive beyond graduation.


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

Please upload up to three projects, including a showreel of your work featuring your professional practice: undergraduate, independent and/or collaborative projects, concepts or presentations.

Submit complete films rather than clips, up to a maximum of 15 minutes total. You may add up to five additional items to support each project.

Select your work carefully to demonstrate your strengths and what you think are your best experiments and tests, to give us a sense of what you want to explore. We want to see that you can work to set briefs and undertake individual, self-led projects.

Show us your research and practices, and demonstrate a relation between imagination, contextual critical engagement and making.

Please provide explicit and clear captions in the ‘justification’ area for each project, image/ and item (maximum 100 words), as well as Title, Medium, Year, Size (images), Length (min) (films). Indicate the areas of your work you would like to develop.

What else would you like us to know about you?

We want to know why you are applying to the MA Animation and what you want to achieve. Please tell us about your artistic, social, political, and/or contextual interests.

  • What are your aims and ambitions for your practice?
  • What types of media and technologies do you want to explore?
  • Does your work fit in a specific genre or is it interdisciplinary?

Please articulate your intellectual and research process and make a clear relation between this and an example or two from your portfolio. Tell us about the aesthetic, technical, conceptual and critical perspectives that underpin your work. Your video should communicate a sense of you and your creative journey and aspirations.

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 2023 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

Progression discount

For alumni and students who have completed an RCA Graduate Diploma and progress onto an RCA Master's programme – MA, MA/MSc, MFA, MDes, MArch, MEd or MRes – within 10 years, a progression discount of £1,000 is available.

* 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.

The Scholarship supports 21 UK MA, MRes and PhD students every year from across all RCA MA, MRes and PhD disciplines.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Students with Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage, or mixed Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: £21,000

Supporting a range of MA students from the UK with financial need.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: Four scholarships valued at £25,000 each

Supporting students on any MA programme from the UK (Preferably is a Scottish national), experiencing financial hardship

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Full time, Student preferably of Scottish origin

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: £10,000

The RCA Cost of Living Bursary supports living costs for home students across all MA programmes.

Value: Bursaries of £5,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The RCA Disabled Students Bursary supports living costs for home students with a declared disability across all MA programmes, recognising the contribution that UK students with disabilities make to the RCA

Value: Bursaries of £6,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Students with a diagnosed physical or sensory disability, or specific learning difficulties.

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship supports academic excellence by rewarding talented home applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA, with a partial fee scholarship

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each, to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship is aimed at international students applicants from selected countries and territories, and on selected programmes

Value: Scholarships of £3,500 each, to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: If oversubscribed, this bursary is awarded on academic merit or financial need.

Eligible fee status: International fee status, from: Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, USA

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship - International supports academic excellence by rewarding talented applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA at Round 1 and Round 2 of applications, with a partial fee scholarship.

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: International fee status

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 2023. Applications now open.

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
Consider attending an Open Day, or one of our portfolio or application advice sessions
See upcoming sessions
Please note, all applications must be submitted by 12 noon on the given deadline.
Visit our applications portal to get started

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

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