24/01/22 • Animation Insights

Where can I study animation in Ireland?

Featuring feedback from some of our crew!

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As a nation, the Irish love to tell a good tale, whether it be through a medium or simply amongst friends. Similarly, animation is one of the most expressive forms of visual storytelling – which could be one reason why the sector thrives here. With Ireland fast becoming a centre of excellence for animation, so too is it becoming an attractive location to learn the craft. But just what does it mean to study animation in Ireland?

Ireland’s Education System

In Ireland, the education system is made up of three different levels of education – primary, secondary and tertiary. Each of these levels are made up of different stages, ten in total, which comprise the National Framework of Qualifications, the NFQ. This framework is aligned to the European Framework of Qualifications (EFQ) and allows for comparison with international qualification levels for students from abroad.

Secondary level education often ends with the Leaving Certificate, which is Ireland’s final secondary school exam. The results of this exam are scored using a points system. If a student wishes to progress to third-level education, then generally their admittance to a certain programme is based on relevant subject combinations and/or points received. The Leaving Certificate falls between levels 4 and 5 on the NFQ. Meanwhile, third-level educational qualifications fall between levels 6-10 on the NFQ. You can view the framework here.

Finding an Animation Course in Ireland

In Ireland, you can study Animation and related subjects via both Further Education (pre-third level) and Higher Education (third level). Students who wish to continue their studies after the Leaving Certificate but perhaps do not want to commit to, or are unable to commence, a degree programme straight away can opt for a Further Education course, which will fall between levels 5 and 6 on the NFQ.

Anecdotally, Further Education courses have a reputation for preparing students for the reality of working in their chosen industry, while Higher Education courses may be more driven towards research and theory. However, every provider is different, and with a practical subject such as animation, the difference may not be as significant. A Further Education course in Animation will likely be a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course and may be offered by a College or Institute of Further Education. These courses usually last for either one or two years. For a list of PLC courses relating to Animation, see here.

Most Higher Education courses are provided at either Universities or Institutes of Technology (ITs). One such IT is Waterford IT, which our producer, Cormac Slevin, has been involved with as an industry expert in relation to the Higher Diploma in Science in Production Management and Digital Animation. We also have industry specialised colleges. The National College of Art and Design, which offers a BA in Moving Image Design, is one such college. CAO is the Central Applications Office, which is where applications for third-level undergraduate programmes are usually processed. You can access a list of CAO courses related to animation here by searching for the keyword ‘animation’.


Springboard+ offers free and subsidised places on over 11,000 certificate, diploma and degree courses in Ireland. The beauty of these courses is that many of them are offered part-time, allowing the learner to earn a wage while studying or to keep certain social security payments they may be in receipt of.

This year there are several Animation courses on offer from Springboard+ including the BA (Hons) from Coláiste Dhúlaigh College of Further Education (accredited by the University of Wolverhampton) which is highlighted in the upcoming section.

Feedback from our Crew

Though we hire crew members from all over the world, many of them have studied here in Ireland. We asked them to provide some info about their chosen courses and some feedback on their experiences. Three colleges kept popping up in the feedback, so we have outlined some of the highlights below. As these highlights are based on past experiences, we recommend checking out the specific course pages for the most up to date information.

Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) Dun Laoghaire.

IADT is based in the pretty seaside town of Dun Laoghaire, a short train journey from Dublin city centre. As well as the BA in Animation and the MA in 3D Animation, IADT offers degree level courses in Costume Design, Screenwriting, Creative Production, Arts Management and much more. All the crew who provided feedback on IADT studied the four-year BA in Animation.

Application process

The application process for this course is through the CAO system (linked here). The points required vary from year to year, however in 2021 the minimum number of points was 989. These points are a combination of points gained from the leaving certificate and points gained from the portfolio assessment. The portfolio should include: a variety of observational drawings to show how the artist interacts with the world they see; a range of creative work, such as sketchbooks, design plans etc; at least two storyboards showing how you would map out an animation sequence, and a selection of your best original artwork.

The application is competitive and includes an interview process, with only 30 places offered per year.

Please see further information on the IADT website here.

What did our crew think?

The consensus from our crew is that this is a great choice for any artist who wants to get into animation but does not have a specialised career path in mind. Through a broad and varied curriculum, students are given the chance to immerse themselves in the world of animation and study many facets of the subject. Our crew really enjoyed the practical, hands-on and creative classes such as Life Drawing and Animation Principles. They also had good things to say about the campus and the overall college life at IADT, making it a great all-round option.

However, a common bugbear amongst our crew was the lack of training on current, industry-standard software and a lack of focus on more ‘modern’ animation styles. While offering a great mix of modules overall, a lot of our crew felt that the course could be improved by offering more industry specific training. That said, for the student looking for a great foundation in animation, this course has much to offer.

Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE), Dublin

BCFE offers varying levels of animation education, including a two-year top-up BA in Visual Media (Animation) for those who have completed their Higher National Diploma (HND). Some of our crew did both their HND and BA here, while others completed only the two-year HND and did their BA elsewhere. There is also a one-year course that serves as an intro to the world of animation.

Application process

Application is done through BCFE’s online system.

For those applying to the HND course, the requirements are a Leaving Certificate/LCVP with a minimum H5 in Art and one other H5/O1 grade, with three O6/H7 grades or equivalent OR QQI level 5 award with a merit profile. Find more information on BCFE’s website here.

The BA in Visual Media (Animation) requires a HND in Animation or a similar relevant qualification. Find more information here.

Both options require a portfolio. The portfolio for the HND course requires; four A3 drawings of a figure displaying emotion; twelve pieces of artwork, such as still life, perspective and personal interest pieces; sketchbook-style artwork (ie quick drawings). All pieces should be original. The portfolio for the BA course is a little more demanding, however as the participant will have already completed some specialist education in animation, they will likely have most of the work done already.

Our crew’s top tip is to brush up on your knowledge about the college and animation in general prior to application, as you may be called to interview.

What did our crew think?

Nearly every member of crew who provided us with feedback specifically mentioned the teaching staff in Ballyfermot and had only positive things to say about the lecturers. All crew members got quite a lot out of their time in Ballyfermot. There were mixed reviews about whether the courses properly prepare students for the industry.

When asked whether they would recommend the course or not, most were very positive. One crew member who did both the HND and the BA top up there said that he would recommend the college to any animation student as it has helped him and a lot of people he knows get into the industry. Another former student of the HND course, who went on to complete her BA elsewhere, said that a lot of her classmates who completed the BA in Ballyfermot made amazing films. Another crew member said that BCFE really taught her a good work ethic, and she is grateful to have this experience.

Life Drawing was a popular module amongst our crew, with several them giving this as their favourite class.

Coláiste Dhúlaigh College of Further Education (CDCFE), Dublin

Coláiste Dhúlaigh has a similar offering to Ballyfermot, with a one-year introduction course, a HND course and a BA course in animation. The crew members who studied here did so in a variety of different ways, some choosing to complete their four years solely here, some choosing to move elsewhere after the HND, and some completing their BA here after attaining their HND elsewhere.

Application process

It’s a running theme with animation courses in Ireland – you need a leaving certificate (or equivalent qualification) and a portfolio. Application is made directly on their site. You can find out more information here. As mentioned previously, CDCFE also offers their BA on Springboard.

What did our crew think?

There were mixed reviews about the animation courses at CDCFE. However, it is important to note that some of our crew graduated from there a long time ago, and they acknowledged that things are likely different now. Those who had graduated from either the HND or the BA in recent years provided some very positive feedback.

One of our crew members was particularly impressed with the fact that she had been able to study her BA in the evening, part-time. This meant she was able to work full-time in the industry while also gaining her degree, which to her was invaluable. Similarly, many others on the course were also working full-time in studios, meaning that there was an opportunity to network and make friends within the industry.

Another of our crew members who studied at CDCFE really enjoyed all the non-traditional elements to the courses. She said that the college offers students the chance to explore all the different ways that animation can be created, and that as well as traditional animation they learned all about 3D animation, rotoscoping and stop motion too. She also felt that all the classes were varied and fun and she couldn’t think of a module she didn’t like!

In conclusion

There is, of course, a much wider variety of courses on offer than those we have highlighted here. Every student is different, and every course will be different too. It is therefore important that prospective students take the time to thoroughly research the available courses before making a decision.

One last thing to mention is that there are a number of financial supports available for students who choose to study in Ireland, depending on their individual circumstances. The Free Fees Initiative, for example, allows for exemption of undergraduate tuition fees based on certain criteria. For further information, check out the Higher Education Authority website here.


For a comprehensive overview of the Irish education system, see here.

To search for courses in Ireland, see here.

For information on funding, see here.

To check eligibility for student grants through SUSI, see here.

See Animation Ireland  for information on the sector in Ireland.

See Animation SkillNet – for subsidised training in the sector.


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