The following is a provisional outline of the MA units (some details and unit titles may change):
1. Animation History and Theory (20 credits)
This unit will orient students to the MA course as a whole by outlining some of the key moments of animation history and the main methodologies used to understand animation. Central to such contextualisation will be a critical dialogue with the student’s own practice; although there will be lecture input and seminar discussions, the point will be for students to navigate the unit by thinking about how theory and history ‘maps onto’ their own practical and professional interests.
2. Studio Practice (40 credits)
The ‘Studio Practice’ unit will be where students will interrogate and prepare for the main practical project work they will do later in the MA course. The unit could therefore work as a ‘pre-production’ arena where assets like character designs, storyboards, and so on are worked through. Alternatively (if the MA student’s intention is to produce a Masters Project that does not take the form of ‘a film’) the ‘Studio Practice’ unit could involve the development of other work: for example, if the MA student wishes to explore concept design and visual development, then the role and function of this would be interrogated during this unit.
3. The Entrepreneurial Animator (20 credits)
Studio work development/Professional practice/graduate apprentice/work placement.
This unit requires students to work through and develop their practical and theoretical interests in relation to the ever-changing world of work. This may involve a placement at a studio or other company, but could just as likely entail a research-driven analysis of the ways in which animators need to respond to the ‘marketplace’. For example, one ‘take’ on the ‘entrepreneurial animator’ could be to examine the contours of animation distribution and exhibition – where a thorough understanding of digital and online forms of delivery would be crucial. Another aspect of such an examination would be to discuss the role and function of animation festivals in securing deals, rights, and getting ideas ‘out there’. In this respect, the notion of the ‘entrepreneurial animator’ is not simply one where the animator learns how to work in a studio (of whatever kind), or learns some ‘business tricks’ to help make them successful at the end of the course. It is about them fundamentally challenging and critiquing how animation is made, who funds it, why, for what purpose, for whom, and with what results – all with a view to locating their own practice and approach within this complex and continually changing terrain. This is the absolutely crucial point that we need to acknowledge: the ways in which technology, information flows, labour and other elements of the ‘political economy’ of the creative industries are arranged are in constant flux, so students need to be not only equipped with knowledge of the ‘state of play’ at any particular moment, but also equipped with the skills, ability and outlook to intervene and change things. This is the work of the Entrepreneurial Animator.
4. Contemporary Themes in Animation Research (20 credits)
Building on the ‘Animation History and Theory’ unit, this unit will move on to examine some of the theories and research that are at the cutting edge in Animation Studies. Questions of realism, performance, the changes wrought by digital convergence, as well as shifts in the global political economy of the media (and how animation works within this system) all need to be understood and thought through in relation to the individual’s own practical and professional ‘prospectus’.
5. Professional Development (20 Credits)
The Professional Development Diploma affords an opportunity for graduates to consolidate and refine their portfolios. The necessity to focus skills in criteria and current trends required by industry is essential in best preparing graduates for employment. Industry partners, research undertaken by staff and Skillet initiatives have all helped inform and shape the aims set out in this offer. Students are guided with tutors through the unit with their own unique requirements in mind facilitated through learning agreements. This will support them to best position their “portfolio pack” to their career aspirations.
6. Masters Project (60 credits)
The Masters Project unit is the culmination of the work of the degree, where the student will develop and finalise their ‘body of work’. What shape this will take will depend on two things – their developmental work to this point, and their negotiated ‘learning agreement’ (or study plan). The specific outcome will vary according to the student’s own interests – it may be a short film, but it could be visual development/concept work (or some other form of pre-production asset).