Directing Animation



The two-year NFTS Directing Animation MA is world-renowned for being one of the most dynamic and creative animation courses. If you have a passion for storytelling, creating characters and the art of animation, the course will give you the skills to bring these passions to life on screen and help you develop into the filmmaker you aspire to be.

Pic of student working in animation studioLed by some of the most talented artists from across the animation industry, the course combines art school philosophy with state-of-the-art film school facilities. Students create their projects within a workshop environment that inspires experimentation and creativity. You will gain the skillset required to write, direct and animate films, graduating with a portfolio of outstanding work that will provide a showcase for the relevant techniques and knowledge required for successful employment.

"Over the years the NFTS Directing Animation MA has provided us with some of the brightest talent in our company, from skilled and creative directors to savvy producers and talented crew. " Benjamin Lole, Executive Producer, Blinkink

Films made by students on the Directing Animation MA are consistently selected for film festivals all over the world. They have picked up some of the most celebrated awards in animation, from BAFTAs to Sundance and Annecy.

All NFTS students can attend the School’s masterclasses programme, with animation guests including: Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls), David O’Reilly (The External World, Please Say Something), Glen Keane (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast)  and Michaël Dudok De Wit (Father and Daughter, The Red Turtle). 

​This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills Select quality-mark which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries.

Recent credits and successes

BAFTA Winning Film

Two NFTS 2021 graduation animation films were nominated in the British Short Animation category at the 75th EE BAFTAsDo Not Feed The Pigeons, directed by Antonin Niclass, was announced as the winner at the star-studded ceremony in March.

Student Film Award Winner

n Annie Awards, recognising excellence in animation in film and television, had two NFTS films nominated in the Best Student Film category, A Film About A Pudding and Night Of The Living Dread. Night of the Living Dread was awarded with the win. Congratulations go to both teams!

O Black Hole Promo Pic

Beautiful stop motion animation O Black Hole! directed and animated by Renee Zhan had its World Premier at Oscar qualifying Animafest Zagreb in 2020 and has since gone on to have multiple festival successes including being shortlisted for BAFTA Student Film Awards and nominated at the Annie Awards.

Fire Next Time Promo Still

Renaldho Pelle's graduation film, The Fire Next Time which looks into the causes of the London’s 2011 riots, is screened at Annecy.

An Otters Tale Promo Pic

Animation graduate Nina Gantz, now director for Blinkink, has produced An Otter's Tale, for LOEWE William De Morgan Christmas Capsule collection. 

Shaun The Sheep Farmageddon Promo Pic

Animation graduate Richard Phelan co-directs Aardman's latest feature film: Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon

The House Promo Pic

Poles Apart director Paloma Baeza, joins, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels to create episodes for Netflix new stop-motion dark comedy The House.

The Rubbish World of Dave Spud Promo Pic

Ed Foster's CITV children series The Rubbish World of Dave Spud - inspired from his NFTS graduation film - is nominated for the prestigious British Animation Awards

Heatwave Promo Pic

Heatwave directed by Fokion Xenos wins two Royal Television Society Awards for Best Postgraduate Animation and Best Postgraduate Craft Skills, Sound.

Stills from Graduation Films

  • The Bigger Picture Dir. Daisy Jacobs
  • Badgered, Dir Sharon Colman
  • Edmond Dir. Nina Gantz
  • Damned Dir. Richard Phelan
  • Facing It Dir. Sam Gainsborough
  • Jamón Dir. Iria Lopez
  • Man O Man, Dir. Simon Cartwright
  • Sea Child, Dir. Minha Kim
  • Head over Heels, Dir. Timothy Reckart
  • The Wrong End of the Stick, Dir. Terri Matthews
  • Mend and Make Do, Dir. Bexie Bush
  • Sleeping with the Fishes, Dir Yousif Al-Khalifa
  • Stand Up, Dir. Joseph Pierce
  • The Hill Farm, Dir. Mark Baker
  • A Grand Day Out, Dir. Nick Park -

What you will study

All forms of visual storytelling are encouraged and nurtured; giving you the opportunities to work across traditional and digital media including drawn 2D, 3D, stop-motion and life-size pixilation. Students feel empowered to push boundaries; confident in finding their own unique voice, while exploring original new animated techniques and fresh approaches to storytelling.

Collaboration is the key to succeeding in the world of animation and it is also central to the ethos of the course and the NFTS. Collaborative workshops with many other filmmaking disciplines across the School fosters a strong team spirit and are an essential tool, enabling animation directors to better understand the role of each crew member and develop expertise across the whole of the production process.

Pic of student on set filmingThe first year builds a solid foundation across all aspects of animation. It is filled with inspiring workshops, including improving your animation skills, writing better narratives and developing fresh approaches to design and techniques.

In the second year, you will develop, produce and direct your graduation film, leading a fully crewed team who will enable you to bring your vision to life, using the School's incomparable production facilities.

The professional pipeline of making films at the NFTS will prepare you to be ‘job ready’ upon entering the highly competitive field of animation while the creative freedom the course gives will help you steer an industry that thrives on innovation in new and pioneering directions.

Download programme specification (PDF)

Download course outline (PDF)

Head of Department

Head of Animation is Robert Bradbrook (Home Road Movies, Dead Air, The Journey).

Current or Recent Tutors

Senior Tutor is Kim Noce (Forget Me Not, The Key, After); and Paul Bush (Babeldom, His Comedy, Furniture Poetry) is also a tutor on the course. Recent visiting tutors include Matt Abiss (Poor God, Play), Caroline Leaf (The Street, Two Sisters) and Marjut Rimminen (The Stain, Many Happy Returns).

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home Fees:  £14,800 per year 

International Fees (including EU nationals): £26,000 per year 

These are the fees for January 2023 intake.

Please note:

EU nationals who have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme may be eligible for “Home Fees”, subject to meeting the residency requirements. (You need to be  ordinarily resident in the UK or EEA for 3 years prior to the start of your course).  

The NFTS has £900,000 of scholarships and bursaries available.

There is a compulsory, non-refundable £25 application fee for each MA application. A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place. As a part of our admissions selection process, following a successful interview applicants are required to attend a selection workshop for five days, which has a fee of £150. 

All production costs are included in the course fees, including the use of School facilities and equipment. The School also covers the travel costs for curriculum-related off-site visits. Students are expected to provide their own laptops. International students will need to pay for any visas that may be required for attendance at non-UK festivals as part of the course.

Pic of student drawing on glassThe NFTS is committed to ensuring it is open to students of genuine ability, no matter what their background or financial circumstances. We don’t want anybody to be put off applying for a place at the NFTS because of the cost, which is why we award more scholarships and bursaries to British students, relative to the size of our student body, than almost any other educational institution in the UK.

At the NFTS you will get far more time learning directly from tutors, in real production facilities and on real projects, than in the vast majority of film schools or universities – and we won’t charge you extra for the cost of productions or materials. The specialist nature of our courses mean that our students gain the relevant skills and experience they need to go straight into the industry.


Animation Directors talk about their experience of making their graduation films.

Entry requirements

All applicants must show a passion for visual storytelling through their portfolio of work. While a background in animation is desirable, successful applicants have come from many creative environments such model-making, comic books and dance.

Ideally, you should have either a degree in a relevant subject, such as animation, graphics, illustration or fine arts; taken an intensive short animation course; or worked in the animation industry.

Pic of student on set with modelsWe place emphasis on attracting students with a strong desire to tell unique stories and who can embrace alternative and imaginative approaches to visualisation and narrative construction. The ability to clearly articulate your ideas and work well as part of a team is a must due to the collaborative nature of the course and the animation industry.

If you are a problem solving, creative thinker with high standards, bundles of enthusiasm and the ability to function well under pressure, a career in animation via studying the Directing Animation MA could be for you.

As a part of our admissions selection process, successful applicants are required to attend an online selection workshop for five days. 

For international students, more information about our entry requirements, including Visa and English language requirements, can be found on our What You Need To Know section of our Students From Abroad page. 

As a part of our admissions selection process, following a successful interview applicants are required to attend a selection workshop for five days, which has a fee of £150. 

If you have any questions, please email

How to apply

Application deadline: Last Few Places Available

All applications must be accompanied by the following supporting materials:

  • A Portfolio of Animation/Moving Image with a maximum running time of 20 minutes. Your submission must include a complete film created by you. It can be either a personal or commissioned project, but it should be more than a simple exercises done on a previous course.
  • A Portfolio of Still Images. This can include illustrations, sketchbook work, digital artwork, photography of puppets and sets that you have made or anything you think will be suitable for your application.

Because the course focuses on collaboration and team work we have a workshop as a part of the interviewing process. The workshop gives us all the chance to meet in a working environment, and for you to learn about storytelling for short animated films. We provide extensive feedback to your work and candidates find the workshop very useful even if they were unsuccessful with getting on the course.

Begin your application