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EngD in Digital Entertainment Programme details and applicant information

Applications for EngD September 2019 intake are currently open for University of Bath Home/EU applicants only  Apply here

The first years at Bath and Bournemouth are slightly different but both offer a firm grounding to enable you to be independent researchers. Years 2 – 4 are predominantly spent on an industrial placement.

During your placement you will be expected to return to the University to complete additional training and units and network with the rest of the students.

Bournemouth University

The Centre for Digital Entertainment – Bournemouth University (BU), draws upon the excellence, knowledge and experience of the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA).

Established in 1989, the NCCA is a centre of excellence in computer visualisation and animation.  In 2012, the NCCA won the prestigious Queens Anniversary Award for Higher Education due to its excellent research and education achievements. CDE Academic supervisors are usually from the NCCA, however we also use Academics from other departments of BU, depending on the area of your research.

During the first year of the EngD, you will normally be based at Bournemouth University and undertake some units from the MSc Computer Animation and Visual Effects course and other relevant sources.  Possible units include Animation Software Engineering, CGI Techniques, CGI Tools, Simulation and Rendering.  You will also receive training and attend workshops on Research Skills, namely Literature Review, Research Methodology and Ethics.  

Bournemouth University is at the heart of the largest non-industrial conurbation in Europe.  It is in a wonderful location sandwiched between the UK’s newest national park, best beaches and largest natural harbour.  Bournemouth is also reported to have the ‘fastest growing digital economy in the UK’ (Tech Nation Report 2015).

University of Bath

The Centre for Digital Entertainment – University of Bath, draws upon the excellence, knowledge and experience of the Department of Computer Science’s Visual Computing, Human-Computer Interaction and Intelligent Systems research groups.

Bath is one of the leading research-intensive universities in the UK, with a portfolio of over £100 million and a culture of innovation and discovery. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) confirmed the excellence of the research carried out at Bath; we were ranked 13th in the research quality ranking of UK universities, excluding specialist institutions.

During the first year of the EngD, you will follow the multi-disciplinary MSc in Human-Computer Interaction. The first year of the course will teach you how to design, build and evaluate interactive systems with the needs of end-users in mind. It will provide a strong foundation in critical areas, allowing you to respond as research engineers to a changing development environment and to progress in CDE’s industry sectors.

One key feature of our teaching programme is that is open to the influence of our external partners. This is most obvious in the use of projects: projects allow external partners to have a direct voice in what is taught. Partners are encouraged to suggest problem areas for study and in this way proto-typing project prior to placement.

The University of Bath is a campus university only one mile from the UNESCO World heritage city of Bath, with outstanding sports facilities including an Olympic size swimming pool and a range of arts programmes at The Edge Arts. 


REs study alongside doctoral students already associated with the Centre and there are opportunities for lots of different activities. Our students are always looking for new things to get involved with. They take part in games jams, summer schools and international conferences. Recent activities include: SIGGRAPH  in USA, NIME  - Australia, Eurographics, EGX Rezzed and Revision in Germany.


Please read this section carefully before applying:

  • You must be a citizen of the UK/European Union; or be able to prove you have "indefinite leave to remain" in the UK.
  • UK nationals will receive fees, the maintenance stipend and any company top-up payment.
  • A limited number of non-UK EU nationals will receive fees, the maintenance stipend and any company top-up payment.
  • Applicants who have legally-established residency in the UK, regardless of citizenship, may be funded on the same basis as UK nationals. We will not consider you unless you can clearly show in your application that you meet in full the residency requirements on our funder’s website.

We are working to improve the gender balance within the student population and particularly welcome applications from women.


  • Applicants should hold a first or upper second (2.1) class honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject, such as, but not limited to, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, Software Engineering, Computer Arts, Animation, Digital Effects, Design or Interactive Media.
  • All applicants for whom English is a second language must provide recent evidence of their English language skills, equivalent to an IELTS score of 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in each element.

Application Process

Applications are made to the Centre for Digital Entertainment, using the link below.  You will need to create a ‘New User’ account before accessing for the first time. If you wish, you can save your partly completed application and log-in later to complete it.

Applications for CDE EngD September 2019 intake are currently open for University of Bath only  Apply here

Case studies
  • CDE & Aardman Animations

    Lindsey Howell

    Lindsey Howell, Aardman Animations, 23 Feb 2015

    My research was about the development of technical tools for traditional stop-motion animation production. Technological methods must ensure that the traditional hand-crafted look is ...

    My research was about the development of technical tools for traditional stop-motion animation production. Technological methods must ensure that the traditional hand-crafted look is retained. My work involved researching and developing computational tools that could be used to make improvements to the production pipeline.

    Aardman Animations was my host company. They create films, short-form animation, television series and commercials using both computer-generated and stop-motion animation. Their most famous characters are Wallace and Gromit and Morph. I was based in the commercials computer graphics department and my supervisor Philip Child is a Senior Technical Developer within that team. The main areas that I researched during my EngD were:

    • Solutions for rig removal in post-production.
    • Solutions for fixing set shift.
    • Solutions for simulating plasticine materials computationally

    The experience of working on industrial research and working towards academic goals helped to develop a number of skills:

    • I now have a deep understanding of the animation industry and of production processes. The opportunity to view professional work first-hand was invaluable.
    • I have learnt to understand academic papers and translate the content into working code.
    • My writing skills have improved enormously.
    • My project management skills have been developed with the management of complex research projects involving multiple parties.
    • My presentation skills have improved, with numerous presentations and to far larger audiences than I had ever presented to before.

    Overall, I am much more confident in my abilities to rigorously research a project and I feel capable of discussing research projects in both academic and industrial environments. It has developed my ability to articulate my ideas clearly and to think on the spot.

    I now have a much deeper understanding of the complexities of industry-university partnerships. It is a complicated balance and I feel well informed about the benefits and the challenges involved. I have learnt that conferences and meetings with like-minded people can really help and I found it important to engage with others.

    Aardman Animations has gained an insight into conducting large research projects within the company. Prior to this scheme, they had not completed in-depth research projects in-house and they were keen to explore how this might work. They now have a detailed knowledge about several of the research areas that they were keen to learn more about.

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    Jake Hobbs

    Jake Hobbs, WÖNKY, 16 Feb 2015

    WÖNKY are an award-winning animation studio founded in 2006. WÖNKY create content for a variety of media including online, television, mobiles and games, working ...

    WÖNKY are an award-winning animation studio founded in 2006. WÖNKY create content for a variety of media including online, television, mobiles and games, working for clients including BBC, British Council, and UNICEF. This research was designed to strengthen the studio's positioning in the digital environment and their ability to efficiently create original content.

    I have grown as both a practitioner and researcher. Within my practical work I have seen considerable development in my technical skills, which have been advanced through numerous practical projects.

    One of my key results was an animation community project, where I have also been responsible for organising events, and developing the website. It led to new relationships with other organisations to help grow the community. This included establishing an AniJam event with Encounters Short Film Festival.

    My academic writing has greatly improved, as has my confidence in public speaking. I presented two papers, one at the 8th CyberCultures Conference, and one at the 9th Arts In Society Conference. One of these papers has since been developed and has been provisionally accepted for the Internet Research Journal.

    Being in WÖNKY revealed the truly competitive world that companies have to face. Through being embedded in the company I have developed an appreciation for the level of work and commitment that goes into their creative output.

    I have learned to become less pessimistic and self-deprecating about my own work, and learnt that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

    For WÖNKY my research has meant the company has been able to strengthen its positioning in digital environments. The company now has an increased online presence through the digital delivery of short films and social media networks. My practical role has been in commercial projects that strengthened the company's digital portfolio. These projects, along with the creative artefacts produced within the research, increase the company's portfolio of digital work and provide a foundation upon which to grow this side of the company.

    There has been wider impact through the Show Me The Animation project. This has established itself as a valuable part of the Bristol animation scene and has a growing online reputation. Attendees have received commissions and offered employment within the industry. The website and app developed for of Show Me The Animation provide a valuable platform for animators to showcase their work to a global audience.

    My advice would be identify the core aspect of what you research is answering and make that perfect first. Also make sure you are open about your research and talk about it as much as you can. Unless other people hear about it you can’t make an impact and your work won’t develop or improve.

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  • CDE & Double Negative (DNeg)

    Alastair Barber

    Alastair Barber, Double Negative, 16 Feb 2015

    Founded in 1998 with a team of just 30, Double Negative (DNeg) has grown to become one of the industry's success stories and is ...

    Founded in 1998 with a team of just 30, Double Negative (DNeg) has grown to become one of the industry's success stories and is now Europe's largest provider of visual effects for Film. The Company now operates from locations in London, Singapore and Vancouver. It has received awards from the Visual Effects Society (Inception and Sherlock Holmes), BAFTA (Inception and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2) and the Academy Awards (Inception).

    Working with DNeg has given me a great insight to the types of problems faced in trying to introduce new techniques and technologies into the film making process. Nothing could be further from a well-controlled laboratory with ideal conditions than a live feature film set. Throughout the EngD program I have been engaged with a small team in the Research and Development department at DNeg with the primary focus of automatic gathering of data on set. Through this I have been able to learn a great deal about software development practices, such as agile development and test driven development in a practical, results-driven and often time sensitive manner.

    Just as the academic aspect of my work has been able to draw upon the unique challenges faced in industry, I’ve been fortunate to work with DNeg who have an excellent in-house training program for staff across all departments. It has been excellent to be able to take advantage of this and learn a great deal about the industry, and I have also taken the opportunity to give several presentations of my work and even just areas of personal interest in the computer vision domain to staff from all across the company.

    One of the most significant benefits to the industrial partner is the ability to try new and unproven techniques to solving significant pain-points in the industrial process without the risks associated with running them on live production data. The ability to both develop, and also quantify and evaluate new techniques and specify situations in which they may be useful is extremely valuable to the company and also increases the confidence in, and the chances of the work I produce being used in production and hence saving artist time and costs. I have been able to implement parts of my work in such a fashion that they can already be used to produce results using standard working practices and data.

    I have attended many conferences, and recently presented my first paper at a prestigious European conference on visual media production, and have an extended version of this paper accepted for publication in an international journal. Networking within the computer vision, graphics and visual effects communities has made me valuable contacts, not to mention great friends, which will certainly be invaluable throughout my long-term career.

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