Digital Design Major - Bachelor of Design

Study digital design at AUT and prepare yourself for the challenges of a career in animation, visual effects or game design.

You learn in a future-focused and studio-based teaching and learning environment, and have access to world-class facilities including our cutting-edge green screen, motion capture and virtual reality studios and high-end computer labs equipped with industry standard software.

Our staff have a wide range of creative, academic and industry experience – from Weta Digital to running indie game companies. We also have strong and long-established links with industry, and you’ll have opportunities to gain professional experience while studying.

View a showcase of student work (Vimeo website)

Digital Design Facebook page


This is part of the Bachelor of Design.

Start date: 2020

Start date: 2021

This major offers a lot of flexibility across the animation, visual effects and game design pathways.

As well as gaining expertise in a range of digital production tools, you learn to create, communicate and analyse stories, moving image narratives and user experiences in compelling and engaging ways. Alongside your Studio papers you take Theory and Context papers that develop your critical thinking and approaches to design methodology.

You need to complete 120 points each year and 360 points for the entire degree. In each year you study core compulsory papers within your major and selected minor.

List of minors

More details about papers in this programme

Detailed programme structure and paper outlines (Blackboard)

Search for a paper (Arion)

Email artbox@aut.ac.nz

Enrolment in papers is subject to meeting all requirements and availability of papers.

The Digital Design major focuses on the following pathways. These pathways can overlap and combine flexibly, and encompass other key areas like motion capture, cinematic production, motion graphics, and virtual and augmented reality.

Animation pathway

While this pathway focuses primarily on 3D character animation, it also offers opportunities for stop-motion, 2D animation, motion graphics, motion capture, character/creature design, and stylistic applications ranging from photorealism to illustrative design.

You’ll explore animation from idea generation to iterative designing, performance creation, and creating an industry-standard animated short.

Our graduates now work in a variety of areas, including character animation for local and international animation studios like Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Framestore, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Soul Machines, Animal Logic, Luma Pictures and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Visual effects pathway

The visual effects (VFX) pathway covers live action and green screen filming, compositing, tracking, and dynamic simulation effects using a range of industry software like Nuke and Houdini. We’re a certified Houdini partner, providing industry level education for using Houdini in advanced procedural dynamic simulations.

You’ll learn everything from seamlessly combining live action and digital elements to generating the spectacular simulation effects that blockbuster movies are known for – including alien creatures, explosions, pyrotechnic effects, weather systems, forests, stormy oceans, clothing and fur-clad gorillas.

Our graduates are now employed by local and international VFX companies like Weta Digital, The Mill, Animal Logic and Industrial Light and Magic.

Game design pathway

Through the game design pathway you’ll develop a foundational understanding of game design and game technology.

You explore game mechanics, asset creation and basic scripting in both Unity3D and Unreal Engine. You also become familiar with the fundamentals of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and apply them in your projects. The final-year project enables you tailor your skills towards your future career goals. Some students take a game art heavy approach, whereas others tend to focus on development or play and interactivity design.

Our graduates work as designers, artists, producers and developers for local and overseas game companies, including high profile studios like Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile) and Ninja Kiwi (Bloonz).

  • 3D animator
  • Games designer
  • Virtual reality artist
  • Interactive designer
  • Motion capture artist
  • Motion designer
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Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

Digital Design Careers

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.