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news • 9 May 2024

Day in the life of a first year undergraduate student

Written by Sofia Malpeli

First year undergraduate student in Character Creation for Animation, Games & VFX

Often, when applying for different universities, potential students want to know as much as they can about their options so they can be informed as much as possible before making a decision. To help future students, I am breaking down my day-to-day life as a first year undergraduate student in Character Creation for Animation, Games & VFX at Escape Studios and what applicants can expect when applying. 


Your first year at Escape Studios will cover a wide range of topics and subjects to prepare you for the degree you have chosen to study in the coming years. For some students, the first-year subjects overlap so you might end up studying with students from other courses. This provides an engaging experience and general understanding of workflows and pipelines you will be using for years to come. In 2023, Escape Studios added a number of Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees along with the already existing Bachelor of Arts (BA) which focus more on the technical aspects of game development. It has been a great experience this year getting to work with people in other courses and use their knowledge in group projects in areas I'm not as confident in. 

Generally, Escape Studios follows a schedule of 2.5 days of learning and class work a week, with two days being in-person and a half day online. This is incredibly beneficial to students as it allows an appropriate work/life balance. However, you are expected to work on the projects outside of class time. The school, its tutors and studio assistants will be available to contact and message up until 6pm on weekdays should you need to reach out for help after class time. Looking after your mental health is important, with the time allowed to work on projects outside of class, you are provided with the opportunity to work on projects when it works best for you. 


Studying as a Character Creation student under the BSc course, a regular day would usually start by making sure I get in on time. Escape Studios is located on the Greenwich Peninsula next to the O2 Arena and while that is a long way from where I am staying, it is a very easy commute for me as I am taking the train to Waterloo station and switch to the Jubilee Line to get off at North Greenwich station. Unfortunately, travel for me tends to be pretty expensive as I catch the trains during rush hour, meaning each day I go in costs me around £15 making it £30 a week for the two in class days. From there it is just a 5-minute walk and apart from the odd train strikes here and there, it is a very convenient journey for someone like me who does end up living an hour or two away. 

I always make sure to arrive a little before class starts at 9:30am so I can set up for the day, log into the computer and open any projects we will be working on in the module. The projects can range from using software for 3D modelling, creating textures or more technical work like rigging or scripting and coding, often using programs like Maya, Zbrush and Unreal Engine. The mornings often consist of working through classes presented by our tutors. These lectures can cover anything from tutorials and step-by-step guides that can help in the modules to informative videos about the topic, I had recently just finished a course doing over ‘Real time FX’ where we learnt how to add visual effects to scenes, adding magical effects like light beams or sparkles and fire using ‘Unreals Niagra’ system. 

Class often continues until 12:30pm with about a 10-to-20-minute break at 11am. After the morning class, students will have a lunch break for an hour until 1:30pm, here students are encouraged to take a break in the lounge with other students or get lunch from one of the many food vendors around the area. Often, my friends and I would go to the Tesco next to the school as it’s incredibly accessible and really cheap, but sometimes we'll go to the O2 for one of their many food options. 

From 1:30pm onwards, it is ‘project time’ where students continue to work on their module course work individually as well as take this time to ask for 1:1 assistance from the tutor or studio assistants if needed. During these 1:1 sessions, the tutor will often help you to fix any issues you might be having with the project, whether that be a bug you just can't fix or help to give feedback and critique to the work you've already done. 

After I have finished my work for the day, I make sure that everything has been saved properly and uploaded online for me to continue working on for the next day or even that evening. After finishing class for the day and my commute home, I will often check on the work I have yet to do and make sure I’m organised and ready to finish the work in the evening or the next day. After a packed day in class, I usually try to make the most of the time at home by unwinding, whether that be drawing, playing video games, or often reading. 

With the class/home structure, the amount of work a student has is often relative to how the student has planned their workload and how much they want to achieve for the module that has been set. For each project, students are expected to work from home as they would work in class. This supports our independence but also our ability to handle and plan our workload on our own terms. Usually, I spend the days not in class, working on my projects and work that needs finishing for the week. I always make sure not to work too late and take frequent breaks to not feel overwhelmed. If all goes to plan, most days I am able to finish what I wanted to achieve for the day by 5pm or earlier which leaves me the rest of the evening to relax as I would when getting back from class. 


Once a week, students start at 9:30am and finish at 12:30pm through the school’s blackboard portal. This lesson takes the same time as half a day of in-person class which will be the same for every week. often expected to be taking notes, performing work online or working on the assigned module on their home computers. While online lessons often cover similar topics or tutorials as in person class sessions would do, they are often left to review periods in the latter part of the lesson where students are encouraged to send in their work so far to their tutors via email or Discord so they can have much longer 1:1 tutoring sessions and they can go over what is or isn’t working within the module, getting key feedback to work on later in the day or week. The review is different online than in person as everyone's work is shared in front of the class while the tutor goes over what does and doesn't work so far. This is incredibly beneficial as it helps students look at projects from a different perspective and see how other classmates have tackled the same project. 

Often it is harder to be as focused in the online sessions compared to the in-person sessions, as the online lesson invites opportunities for distraction or not 100% focus as more often than not the classes are review sessions rather than lessons. The choice to make most of the online portions of the week more geared toward review is not just so it gives student an opportunity to understand what they can change to get better results for the project, but it helps support flexibility for those with part time jobs or other situations where the student is busy in on that day, as they can take notes from any pointers given out during lesson and continue on with their day. 

Having that personal feedback session with a tutor is especially useful when you want to communicate ideas or your project goals when it might otherwise be hard to do over emails or Discord. 


Studying at Escape Studios allows me a lot of time to work on my own projects outside of classwork. The schedule and workload offer me to work whenever suits me best, leaving me time for my personal life and allowing me to tend to my hobbies and free time as much as I want while also having a manageable and well scheduled workload.