Basic Information

The Location of the school: London, United Kingdom
The URL or address of the official website:
Course titles (duration):
Master’s Degree with three pathways:
– Documentary Animation (2 years)
– Experimental Animation (2 years)
– Narrative Animation (2 years)
The number of students admitted to each course: 42 per year (2 year MA)
Where we may check out the works of students and graduates:

Interview with Professor Suzanne Buchan, Head of Animation

1. Could you please give us an overview of the curriculum of the animation course?

Suzanne Buchan: In Year 1, students choose a School of Communication elective (Unit 1), are taught and supported to write a dissertation (Unit 2) through 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.

In Year 2, 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 (Unit 4). 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 (Unit 5). This includes both animation production and plans for promotion, installation and exhibition at the Graduate Show.

2. What do you think are your unique characteristics or strengths?

Suzanne Buchan: At the Royal College of Art (RCA), the programme philosophy is, at its core, that animation is central to contemporary debates in visual culture and communication. The programme offers students an opportunity to explore the boundaries and parameters of the visual language, aesthetics and material and digital processes of animation as a moving image form.

They are encouraged to explore a wide range of screen formats and film genres, from documentary and abstract to family drama, satire, autobiography, dark comedy, social utopia and more. Students develop their technical prowess with support and expertise of programme staff and a careful selection of visiting tutors, from audio-visual specialists to poets and performers, from the UK and abroad.

Students’ artistic creativity is underpinned by collaboration and interdisciplinarity and enhanced by a depth of arts and humanities related research in a first-year dissertation that interrogates the contexts of a chosen topic. This usually informs the second-year graduation project.

3. What do you look for in prospective students? What characteristics or skills do you want your prospective students to have when they apply?

Suzanne Buchan: Our successful applicants come from a range of backgrounds: moving image, communications and fine art as well as applied and pure sciences, engineering, humanities and architecture. They are university graduates or have extensive professional practice and seek to refine and enhance their creative abilities, artistic expertise and knowledge.

We seek students who are interested in exploring the expressive possibilities of animated media to engage with and address global cultures, social change and aesthetic and invisible human experiences via a range of screen platforms and practice technologies.

4. Could you please let us know what is your vision of the career that prospective students can expect by learning from you?

Suzanne Buchan: The RCA MA Animation is renowned for its director-led, experimental emphasis. Graduates and alumni have garnered many international awards and occupy prominent creative professional roles including establishing their own animation studios and companies.

Alumni also freelance as directors and producers, are Professors or teach on programmes in universities and art schools around the world, or work in film studios, including Elf Factory, Shynola, Hornet USA, Beakus, Nexus Productions, Aardman Animations, Passion Pictures, Bermuda Shorts, Picasso Pictures, FOLK///projects, Model Robot, Stink, Studio AKA, Sherbet, Animade, Hodgson Films, Not to Scale, World of Arthur Cox, PDI/DreamWorks, Tandem Films, Ragdoll Productions, and Blink Productions.

*The animation programme is currently taught at their White City campus. Some photos of their Kensington building are used in this article as an image of the school.

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