Higher Nationals


BTEC Higher National Diploma in The Animation Industry

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Duration: Two years, with an optional exit award after year one.

Certification: BTEC Higher National Diploma in The Animation Industry, with optional Higher National Certificate after year one.

Level: Level 6 Higher Certificate (HNC/D)

Course Code: AND

Start Date: September 2024


Principles of 2D Animation

Character Animation

Life Drawing for Animation

Design and Modelling for Animation

Layout and Storyboarding

Script Writing for Animation

History and Styles of Animation


Advanced Character Animation

Advanced Life Drawing for Animation

Advanced 2D and 3D Modelling for Animation

Advanced Layout and Design

Concept Design for Animation

Production Practice

Storyboarding & Editing for Animation

Please note that all the modules listed are subject to change due to availability and demand.


Header: Joahna Diestro

Artwork 1: Sheng Li, Eve Maxon, Scott McCarthy, Joahna Diestro
Conor Murnane, Olga Swistek

Artwork 2: Dylan Kirwan, Sheng Li, Eve Maxon, Olga Swistek

Artwork 3: Joahna Diestro, Conor Murnane, Daniel Dwane, Eve Maxon
Olga Swistek, Megan Gonzalez

Showreel: Sheng Li, Joahna Diestro, Dylan Kirwan, Eve Maxon,
Vince Ramilo, Olga Swistek, Colin Reilly, Conor Murnane
Ellen OReilly, Amy Carroll, Megan Gonzalez, Daniel Dwane
Conor Horrigan, Darragh Crawley 

Students of our animation courses have produced all work presented on this page.


From Cartoon Saloon to Brown Bag Films, from Boulder Media to Giant Animation to name but a few, Irish studios have made Ireland a go-to destination for animation on an international stage. Irish animators not only boast box-office success, but also multiple nominations and wins at the Academy Awards.

According to Screen Ireland, the animation sector has nearly quadrupled in size in the past decade and accounts for a significant proportion of the €500 million spent in the Irish screen industry in 2021.

If there is one thing that is certain, the sector is calling for new home-grown talent to help support Ireland’s continuing success on the global stage.

Recognising this, Dunboyne College of Further Education is proud to have worked with local and international animation sector leaders and Pearson to develop the brand new Higher National Diploma in The Animation Industry. This qualification, co-developed by our own animation subject-lead, has been designed for the Irish and global animation sector.

Through guest lectures and masterclasses, Dunboyne College of Further Education offers a unique opportunity to learn from the leading Irish animation studios that have produced award-winning TV shows, films, games and visual effects for millions of viewers worldwide. You will gain hands-on experience with the latest tools and techniques, work on real projects with industry mentors, and network with the best talent in the Irish animation sector.

Whether you want to create your own stories, characters and worlds, or work on existing franchises and properties, this course will prepare you for a successful career in animation.

Don’t miss this chance to join the fastest-growing screen sector in Ireland and become part of a world-class animation community.



Year One (September 2024)

In the first year of our course, you will learn the principles of 2D animation, such as timing, spacing, squash and stretch, anticipation and exaggeration. You will practice character animation, using both digital and traditional tools, and develop your own style and personality. You will also improve your drawing skills, with a focus on life drawing for animation, and learn how to use anatomy, gesture and expression to convey emotion and movement.

You will also learn how to design and model your own characters and environments for animation, using industry standard software. You will learn how to create layouts and storyboards that communicate your vision and narrative effectively. You will also learn how to write scripts for animation, using dialogue, action and structure to craft compelling stories. Finally, you will learn about the history and styles of animation, from the pioneers of the medium to the current industry leaders, and discover how animation has evolved over time and across cultures.

By the end of the first year of our course, you will have a solid foundation in 2D animation, a portfolio of your own work, and a passion for the art form. You will be ready to take on more advanced modules in the second year of our course, where you will explore 3D animation, visual effects, game design and more.

Year Two

In the second year of our course, you will build on the foundation you acquired in the first year and learn advanced skills and techniques in 2D and 3D animation. You will enhance your character animation skills, using industry standard software, and learn how to create realistic and expressive movements and emotions. You will also improve your life drawing skills, with a focus on anatomy, perspective and composition, and learn how to apply them to your animation work.

You will also learn how to create advanced 2D and 3D models for animation. You will learn how to create detailed and realistic textures, lighting and shading for your models. You will also learn how to create advanced layouts and designs for animation. You will learn how to edit, composite and render your animation projects.

You will also gain production practice in animation, working on group projects that simulate real-world scenarios. You will learn how to plan, manage and execute your animation projects, from pre-production to post-production. You will also learn how to pitch, present and market your animation work. Finally, you will learn how to develop your own concept design for animation using industry-standard software. You will learn how to generate ideas, research, and develop your own style and vision for animation.

By the end of the second year of our course, you will have advanced skills in 2D and 3D animation, a portfolio of professional-quality work, and a creative identity as an animator. You will be ready to take on more challenging modules in the third year of our course, where you will specialize in your chosen area of animation.

Course Aims

The first year of our course will introduce you to animation fundamentals. You will learn animation’s core skills and concepts through practical projects, research, independent and directed study, and workplace scenarios. You will also develop transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, research and analysis, essential for higher education and employment. By completing the year, you will have a solid foundation in animation and be ready to progress to more advanced and specialised subjects in year two.

The second year of the course will allow you to specialise in animation production. You can apply your ideas and creativity to your studies and deal with complex and uncertain situations. You will explore solutions, demonstrate critical evaluation and use theory and practice in various animation contexts. By completing this year, you will have a sound understanding of the principles and practices of your chosen animation area and be able to perform effectively in your specialist role. You can also progress to further studies at Level 8 or enter the animation industry with personal responsibility and decision-making skills.


Our Higher National in the Animation Industry is designed to help you become a professional animator who can reflect on your own practice and adapt to the industry’s and employers’ changing needs. These qualifications will also enable you to access higher education and boost your career opportunities in the animation sector.

If you are passionate about animation and want to pursue a rewarding career in this creative and dynamic industry, then the DCFE Higher Nationals in the Animation Industry are for you.

These qualifications will help you to:

  • Gain the skills, knowledge and understanding you need to excel in the international animation environment, whether you want to work for an established studio or start your own business
  • Develop your critical thinking, problem-solving and leadership skills, and learn how to work effectively across different animation functions and manage change and complexity
  • Acquire the core skills required for a range of animation careers, such as management, operations, production and design
  • Balance your employability skills with the academic knowledge that will enable you to pursue further studies or entrepreneurial ventures in animation
  • Understand the impact of new digital technologies on the animation industry and how to leverage them for innovation and competitive advantage
  • Gain insight into the global animation market and the opportunities and challenges it presents, as well as the cultural diversity and values of different animation organisations and audiences
  • Choose from various flexible study options that suit your local and specialist needs and interests.

The Higher National Diploma’s more extensive coursework and advanced skillset make its graduates more competitive in the job market and better prepared for various creative media roles.

The Higher National Diploma is a recognised international qualification, delivered in over 50 countries worldwide. Graduates of our Higher Nationals can progress to various undergraduate degree courses upon successfully completing their studies.

The two-year duration and deep focus of the Higher National Diploma at DCFE often leads to stronger connections with industry professionals and organisations, providing students with valuable networking opportunities and a better understanding of the media production landscape. Plus, students will build an extensive portfolio of work to secure employment.


Being a two-year course, we know how important flexibility is. This is why we offer our students the option of an exit award after successfully completing the first year. This can suit those who wish to take a break from study or progress onto a different course in DCFE or elsewhere.

Year One
– Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificate in The Animation Industry

Year Two
 – Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma in The Animation Industry

Click here for the NARIC Academic Recognition of the HNC
Click here for the NARIC Academic Recognition of the HND


Such is the practical nature of our course; it can lead directly to a range of job opportunities in the animation and creative media industry. Possible career paths include animator, script writer, technical artist, art director, layout artist and media engineer.


 At least one of the following:

  • Leaving Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA)
  • QQI Level 5 major award in a related subject
  • Mature students of all background
  • Other equivalent qualification

In addition to the following:

  • Submitting of a personal statement
  • A portfolio consisting of any mix of observational drawings, life drawings, colour studies, personal sketches and/or finished work

More details on each of these will be provided upon application.


This course will start in September 2024. Applications for this course will open later in 2023.



Graduates can take advantage of many degree progression routes, such as the one-year top-up degrees and advanced entry routes into Universities, Institutes of Technologies and Technological Universities across Ireland. As the Higher Nationals are international qualifications, offered in over 50 countries around the world, advanced entry opportunities are also available in the EU and UK. Please note that in all cases, entry is not guaranteed as per institution admissions policies.

CDCFE: BA (Hons) in Animation

(Level 8, 1-year top-up from HND)

BCFE: BA (Hons) in Animation

(Level 8, 1-year top-up from HND)

IADT: DL832 in Animation or DL847 3D Animation

(Level 8, 4 years, with advanced entry possible)

IT Athlone: AL861 Animation and Illustration

(Level 8, 4 Years


Course fees are under review and are due to be published before June, 2023.