Digital Arts

Digital Arts - MArt

UCAS code W283

2019

On our Digital Arts degree, you develop the technical skills you need to showcase your creativity. Using the latest technology, you can work with video, photographic images, sound clips or text, to create new experiences for audiences, setting yourself up for an exciting career in the creative industries.

2019

Overview

This exciting programme provides you with practical skills and design expertise in digital arts, opening up career opportunities in a range of areas within the creative industries. The course gives you a broad grounding in digital photography, graphic design, 3D modelling and animation, compositing, tangible media and video games design. 

Teaching at the School of Engineering and Digital Arts has been rated as excellent. The course is taught by a team of experts and industry professionals in the areas of web design, photography, graphic design, 3D modelling & animation, post-production effects and artistic video installations. Most modules consist of a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops and computer sessions. All modules are continuously assessed.

Our degree programme

In your first year, you are given a broad grounding in digital media, including website design, digital photography, moving image, graphic design and special effects.

In your second and third years, you go on to explore digital filmmaking, 3D modelling, 3D animation, compositing, digital portfolio production and video games design.

In your third year, you also complete a project based on your own interests. This could be an interactive web application, 3D animation or a short film, often produced in association with an industrial partner.

In your fourth and final year, you cover specialised topics in depth. For example, you could choose to study animation principles and also look at action and acting in animation. You take part in group projects where a professional studio environment is simulated so that you become familiar with standard industry practice.

For your Master's project you draw on all the skills you have learnt to produce a video short in high definition, demonstrating your technical and creative skills and your flair for innovation.

BA (Hons) programme

We also offer a three-year Digital Arts degree. For details, see Digital Arts.

Year in industry

You can take this course with a year in industry, which can improve your skills and your employment prospects. For details, see Digital Arts with a Year in Industry.

Student work

Four final-year students from the School of Engineering and Digital Arts worked with the BBC to produce a five-minute animation documenting mental health treatment as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. It tells the story of Sophie, who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, and details her experiences with mental health services in the UK.


In May 2018, the animation won a BBC Ruby Award.  The Ruby Awards celebrate outstanding programming from across the country and span a range of categories from news coverage and best programme to awards for individual journalists.

Find out more:

First-class facilities

Our continued investment ensures you have access to industry standard facilities. These include:

  • a production studio with extensive lighting grid and a permanent green screen with infinity curve; the main studio has 100m2 of filming and performance space
  • Nikon DSLRs
  • Sony video cameras
  • 3D printing and motion capture facilities.

Industry links

We have close links with those working in the creative industries and have worked with industry practitioners including:

  • the BBC
  • Warner Bros.
  • Disney
  • the Moving Picture Company (MPC)
  • BAFTA award-winning documentary filmmakers.

Independent rankings

Design Studies at Kent was ranked 7th in The Complete University Guide 2019.  

Of Design Studies students who graduated from Kent in 2017 and completed a national survey, over 94% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

For the first three years, you follow the course structure of the BA (Hons) in Digital Arts.

Most modules consist of a mix of lectures, seminars, studio work, computer sessions and private study. The workstations in our computer suites are equipped with current industry-standard software.

In the fourth year, you take seven 15-credit modules based on our existing MSc provision, with the opportunity to specialise by taking optional modules from our Computer Animation or Digital Visual Effects MSc programmes. An additional 15-credit project module runs in the spring term. 

The following modules are indicative of those offered. The list is based on the current programme and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

The module provides an introduction to the basic knowledge required to understand, design and write computer programs and the basic principles underlying the process of Software Engineering. No previous programming experience is assumed and the module proceeds via a sequence of lectures supported by simple exercises designed to give practical experience of the concepts introduced in the lectures.

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15

This module is concerned with the techniques and technology required to build web sites using HTML to define page structure and CSS to define page style. Topics include HTML, CSS, web design basics, web graphics, adding media, tables and forms. The module also looks at developing interactivity with JavaScript..

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15

This module provides an introduction to visual culture, an interdisciplinary field of studies that integrates historical knowledge, critical thinking and reflection on visual images, their context of production and consumption. Examples of traditional and modern artefacts from the fields of art history, graphic design and digital media will be investigated using appropriate visual methodologies.

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15

This module introduces you to the theory and practice of digital photography and photographic effects, particularly photo-montage. The theory is followed by practicals and workshops. Having learnt the basics you will then produce a portfolio of digital photographs and a poster (photo-montage).

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15

This is a practical module which covers the steps for integrating computer-generated elements within a photographic back-plate. Each workshop includes hands-on training in visual effects and compositing software. The module covers 3D modelling, texturing and animation as well as digital camera and lighting techniques. The module introduces the basic visual effects production pipeline using the appropriate industry-standard software.

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15

This practice-based module introduces key principles of graphic design for the digital platform. Practical work in the workshop is underpinned by tutorial lectures. Students will learn to conceptualise design problems and produce work using industry-standard software tools. Indicative topics include composition, use of colour and typography, placement of elements on screen, branding and poster and creative CV design.

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15

This module is an introduction to digital film-making. Students learn the creative and technical skills in making a short film, whilst working as a member of a production team.

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15

This undergraduate module introduces the practical techniques for creating interactive visual display using Processing, a Java-based IDE. We will also develop interesting tangible interfaces using Arduino IDE, with a range of sensors and actuators. Students will learn to manipulate images, create realistic motions, use motion sensing and speech recognition, in a series of lectures and workshops.

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15

Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

This module introduces you to key aspects of media production building on the conceptual and critical skill you developed in the first year (photo/video editing, media analysis, programming). To achieve this, you will develop and produce artworks, learn to work with media ecologies and apply creative thinking.

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30

The module is concerned with undertaking a substantial digital media project against time and resource constraints. Topics include: intellectual property rights, privacy, data protection, research methods, project planning and management, working in teams. This module prepares students for the demands of the final year project.

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30

This module introduces the basic animation pipeline using industry-standard software packages.

Each technical workshop session includes hands-on training in visual effects and compositing software.

Practical sessions cover 3D modelling, texturing, lighting and animation.

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30

This module introduces the techniques required to design and develop interactive on-line portfolios, using HTML5/CSS/JavaScript, and the software tools which support their implementation. There is extensive practical work supporting the development of the on-line portfolio. Topics include: information architecture, responsive design, web accessibility, web frameworks and website usability testing.

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30

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

The final year project is a substantial piece of work based on students' own personal interests. This may be developing an interactive visual experience, creating a 3D animation, producing a motion graphic, or developing a mobile or web application. The project is a largely independent piece of work, with guidance from an academic supervisor

.

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60

This module introduces the tools and techniques for the integration of live video footage and computer-generated elements so that students will become familiar with what is involved in visual effects film production. Weekly module workshops introduce relevant industry-standard applications, and the techniques necessary for production, resulting in a practical understanding of the entire process.

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30

This module is concerned with social and cultural transformations brought about by the rapid developments of digital technologies. It will introduce case studies of major technological developments and their impact on culture and society. Topics will include: the digital divide, cybercrime, surveillance, automation and AI, virtual communities and identity in the age of the internet.

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15

This module introduces the stages of the workflow of a 3D animation to familiarise students with what is involved in animation production. Weekly module workshops introduce an array of industry-standard applications and the techniques necessary for production, resulting in a practical understanding of the entire process.

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15

This module is concerned with a range of topics in video game design and development, including game physics, AI, level design, player behaviour, game rules and mechanics, as well as user interfaces. This module introduces students to game development using industry-standard software tools.

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15

The main strand of the lecture material will establish the foundations of organisational behaviour in the context of the historical development of ideas and theory. The theories will be related to practical examples and thence students will be introduced to modern experience, practice and scholarship. Once the information of the foundation of organisational behaviour is established, at the next level, contemporary topics of management will be touched upon briefly. This will provide students with basic knowledge related to modern management practices. The content of the module will, therefore, be based on the following topics:

• Scientific Management

• Human Relations School

• Bureaucracy

• Post Bureaucratic Organizations

• Contingency Approach

• Group and teams

• Motivation

• Power and authority

• Managing diversity

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15

Stage 4

Modules may include Credits

Each student uses all the experience gained on the course to produce a digital short in high definition which showcases his or her professional skills in CGI and forms a suitable entree to a professional career.

The subject, script, models and soundtrack of the piece are agreed with the academic staff.

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15

Studio Classes:

Introduction to Modelling,Animation,Lighting, Rendering, Compositing.

Coursework:

Integrated project inclusive of outcomes

Workshops:

Step by step instruction on tackling the problems.

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15

This module is a group project which allows the student to work on a model of an actual animation job provided by our industrial partner. Each group produces an animation from established plates and models to a 4 week deadline. The student works with a model of a production pipeline, becoming familiar with the production process, chains of approval and departmental divisions.

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15

Coursework

1. Production of a character design portfolio illustrating adaptation to various professional briefs, backed up by life drawing sessions.

2. Intensive research into surface anatomy and detail for the modelling project.

3. Production of a clean, animateable, basic 3D model with an even structure of vertices, quadratic face surfaces and form reflecting edge loops.

4. Production of image displacement, bump and normal maps in a sculpting programme using paint and sculpt tools and upon the previous model.

5. Application, rendering and final compositing of all maps upon the model resulting in a professional turntable render to create a final high resolution film.

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15

Overall techniques and methodology, modern solution to the problems, examples from productions.

Analysing and creating action - examples of extracting key and timing information from live action.

Biped locomotion 1 - walks and runs. Basic mechanics laid out, walks and runs analysed and discussed.

Biped locomotion 2 - sneaks, scrambles, stairs, climbs, trips, falls, collapses, halts, moving holds.

Quadruped locomotion 1 - walks, trots, runs or gallops.

Quadruped locomotion 2 - scrambles, turns, stumbles, falls, halts, moving holds.

Avian locomotion - flight, flaps, glides, take-offs, landing, falls, walks on ground.

Using clips in the Trax Editor, creating transitions.

Using path animation with cycles.

Creating crowd and herd shots - composition, hero animation, collisions and customisation. Detailed examples with multiple working versions.

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15

Observation and invention. Analysis of a major piece of animation character acting and its sources.

Theory and practice of acting. Acting theories and examples of practical methods.

Film acting - silent and dialogue - analysis of advice and tips from the world's best film actors and directors.

Schools of animated movement matched to acting performance.

Uses of character animation and motion capture techniques. Analysis of animation scripts and special effects uses.

Dynamics and problems of two-character interaction in 3D animation.

Advanced facial animation in Maya.

Animating to dialogue.

Analysis of highest achievements in character animation.

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15

Texturing & Lighting:

The physics of lighting,

Computer lighting models,

Surface shading fundamentals,

Texture,

UV mapping,

Photo realistic texture painting.

Advanced lighting techniques: light shaders, shadow generation, global illumination.

Rendering:

Software, hardware and mental ray rendering,

Rendering with Render Man.

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15

Mattes:

difference keys, luma keys, chroma keys, garbage mattes.

2D and 3D Tracking:

techniques to track elements from a live action background plate

Video compositing:

blending modes, motion attributes, rotoscoping, using alpha channels.

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15

Workshops around tasks pertinent to producing high quality film pieces.

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15

Particle dynamics

Particle tool and particle emitters, cycle emission, volume emitters, force fields, lifespan, constraints, adding springs, soft-body dynamics, active and passive rigid bodies, setting static and dynamic friction, damping, mass, bounciness, caching, rendering in software hardware and Mentalray.

Fluid Effects

2d and 3d fluid containers, emitting fluids from objects and curves, colliding

fluids with objects, explosions, creating atmospheric systems, realistic fire, explosion and smoke effects, interacting fluids with particles, combustible fluids.

nCloth

nParticle, nConstraint, nSolver, cloth collision, collision layer, wind and gravity, nCache.

Coursework

Students are required to assemble a portfolio contains various dynamic instances created, simulated and rendered using Maya tools.

Assessed.

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15

Introduction to basic methods and considerations for animators

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15

Basic figure drawing for animation.

Basic human anatomy for animation.

Comparative anatomy for animation.

Coursework:

Portfolio:

An assessed portfolio of artwork created over a series of practical assignments in Workshops and Studio Classes, including drawings, sculpture, 2D and 3D sequences.

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15

Teaching and assessment

The course is taught by a team of experts in communication, animation, filmmaking, photography and website design.

All modules contain design and project work, and are continuously assessed. The specialist project at Stage 3 is assessed by a written report, a critique and, of course, the outcome of the project itself. Both Stage 2 and 3 marks count towards your degree result.

You have 24-hour access to our extensive air-conditioned computer suites and are able to take advantage of dedicated photographic and production studios, with green-screen, motion-capture and 3D scanning facilities.

Please note that progression thresholds apply.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide a multidisciplinary education for students who seek professional careers in the field of digital arts
  • produce graduates who have an informed, critical and creative approach to understanding communication through digital media design in contemporary society
  • prepare students to meet the challenges of a broad and rapidly changing field while providing them with a wide choice of careers
  • provide proper academic guidance and welfare support for all students.
  • create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership between staff and students, and offer the students an environment where they can develop their potential
  • produce high-calibre professional specialists in computer-generated imagery (CGI), who are highly skilled in using state-of-the-art 3D modelling and visual effects software.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the audio, visual and verbal conventions through which sounds, images and words take meaning
  • fundamental concepts of IT and software engineering
  • the creative processes involved in visual design
  • the contextual, historical and conceptual dimensions of the discipline
  • audio, video and film technology, including digital television and DVD
  • the multimedia authoring process
  • fundamentals of 3D modelling and animation
  • key production processes and professional practices relevant to the multimedia industry
  • the legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks which affect the development of multimedia applications
  • the role of technology in terms of multimedia production, access and use
  • the computer animation production process and pipeline roles
  • the principles and practices of animated film development
  • the technical terms and methods used in film editing
  • the fundamental concepts of digital motion art
  • current developments in the visual effects industry and related market sectors
  • the relevance of visual effects within the contemporary television and film industries
  • contemporary business practice in the visual effects industry.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual skills:

  • ability to examine multimedia applications critically with appropriate reference to their social and cultural contexts and diversity of contemporary society
  • awareness that technologies are rapidly changing and that students should expect to update their knowledge throughout their working life
  • awareness of the objectives, constraints and conditions of a commercial environment, including financial and time constraints
  • ability to design and develop software based on an analysis of system requirements
  • ability to carry out research and integrate information and data from a variety of sources for essays, projects and multimedia applications
  • ability to analyse a problem and develop a solution based on technical, aesthetic and economic factors
  • consider and evaluate their own work in a reflexive manner with reference to academic and professional issues
  • analyse, interpret and exercise critical judgement in the understanding and evaluation of multimedia applications
  • analysis and interpretation of animation issues
  • ability to work within an animation process and to contribute to this
  • ability to identify ideas for enhancing a production’s aesthetic quality by the use of CGI
  • ability to undertake constructive research and development of character performance in animation
  • ability to demonstrate independence and creative and critical thinking.

Subject-specific skills

You gain the following subject-specific skills:

  • ability to use scripting and programming languages in the implementation of interactive applications
  • ability to demonstrate creative and technical skills in drawing and design
  • ability to develop specific proficiencies in utilising a range of multimedia design tools including 3D modelling, animation, video editing, image manipulating and multimedia authoring
  • ability to integrate text, graphics and time-based elements to produce effective websites ability to initiate, develop and realise distinctive and creative applications which demonstrate the effective manipulation of multimedia assets
  • ability to utilise a range of research skills, for example, research into potential audiences and markets, as a production tool
  • ability to prepare technical reports and presentations
  • ability to prepare storyboards as part of the multimedia project development cycle
  • ability to apply management techniques to the planning, resource allocations and execution of a design project
  • use of appropriate software tools, techniques and packages to produce and develop CGI
  • ability to use drawing as a way of planning, visualising and explaining work in a time-based 3D medium
  • ability to read and make storyboards and animatics at a professional level
  • ability to apply management techniques to the planning, resource allocation and execution of a visual effects project
  • ability to prepare reports and presentations relevant to the design and production of CGI.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • ability to generate, analyse, present and interpret data
  • use of information and communications technology
  • personal and interpersonal skills; working as a member of a team
  • communicating effectively (in writing, verbally and in a variety of media)
  • learning effectively for the purpose of continuing professional development
  • ability for working in flexible, creative and independent ways and for critical thinking, reasoning and reflection
  • ability to organise and manage time and resources within an individual project and a group project.

Careers

Graduate destinations

Digital Arts prepares you for careers in areas such as: 

  • web design
  • film
  • games design
  • animation
  • internet publishing.

Some graduates choose to go on to postgraduate study, for example our MSc programmes in Computer Animation or Digital Visual Effects.

Help finding a job

The additional experience you gain in your fourth year of working in a simulated studio environment shows employers that you understand how the production process works and are comfortable working in a professional environment.

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts holds an annual Employability and Careers Day where you can meet local and national employers and discuss career opportunities. Ongoing support is provided by the School’s dedicated Employability Officer.

The University also has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

Studying on this degree not only equips you with an in-depth understanding of some of the most exciting technologies of the 21st century, it also helps you to develop useful workplace skills such as:

  • planning and organisation
  • leadership
  • effective communication. 

You can gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

AAB

GCSE

English language grade C

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

Distinction, Distinction, Distinction

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 16 points at HL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students programmes. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £19000

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.