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BA (Hons) Visual Effects

UCAS CODE: VEF1 (Full-time) or VEF4 (Foundation Year)
TARIFF: 88 - 112 (Full-time) or 32 - 56 (Foundation Year)
  • Study Mode: Full Time
  • Location: High Wycombe / BNU based at Pinewood Studios
  • Duration: Three or Four Years
  • Start Date: September 2024

You can also study this course:

Visual Effects (VFX) is a continually evolving and exciting subject that is applied in many different areas of the industry, including film, television, games and commercials. With a focus on professional practice, this course gives you the opportunity to use industry standard software and develop fundamental skills required for employment opportunities in the VFX industry by creating a strong portfolio of work to display your talent. 

Split between our High Wycombe campus and BNU teaching base at Pinewood Studios, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge you need for your future, all whilst studying right in the heart of the famous creative hub.

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"My favourite part of the course was that I could tailor it to my interests and goals. It gave me the opportunity to see the pipeline on creating 3D models. The support and vision that I got from all tutors was incredible. Now I feel confident about my new roles in the industry as an artist."
Tiago Laureano
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Why study this subject?

Whether it is 3D, FX techniques or digital sculpting, a skilled Visual Effects artist can create the illusion of real life. In this industry all roles call for high levels of creativity and passion for storytelling. Your skills will be valuable in any Visual Effects role, including but not limited to:

  • Commercials
  • Films
  • Games
  • Architectural Visualisation

Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?

At Buckinghamshire New University we focus on preparing you for work in the industry, helping you to stand out to employers when you graduate. With the right teaching and learning opportunities, it’s possible to turn your passion for animation into a rewarding and successful career.

Led by our enthusiastic and dedicated team of industry-savvy practitioners and experienced academics, you will have the freedom to explore all areas of visual effects. During your time with us you may also get access to guest lectures and can benefit from live project briefs, masterclasses and plenty of networking opportunities.

 

 

This course is also offered as a four-year programme, including an initial Foundation Year. The Foundation Year will allow you to develop your academic study skills and build confidence in your abilities, identifying your own strengths and development needs for progression onto an undergraduate programme. 

BNU have been collaborating with Final Pixel Academy to train our staff and students in the technology and workflows required for virtual production. In January 2023, our final year BA Animation, BA VFX and BA 3D Game Art students worked with Final Pixel to learn about virtual production at our High Wycombe campus using Final Pixel’s portable LED wall. Here is a film showing how our students collaborated with Final Pixel.

 

I really loved the supportive staff and the ability to be so creative with our work. We were able to make things that interest us and make things our own.
Madelaine Kendall-Murray
A head and shoulders shot of a smiling Visual Effects student Madelaine Kendall-Murray

On this dynamic course you’ll have access to all the industry-standard equipment you need to bring your ideas to life, such as a VR lab and state or the art face capture kit and X-sens suits. You could also study at our BNU teaching base at Pinewood Studios. Here you’ll have the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge you need for your future, all whilst studying right in the heart of the famous creative hub.

Our Small group sizes enable staff and students to work together as a friendly and collaborative community of learners. It also means you’ll benefit from more one to one support with your lecturer.

Our Animation, 3D Game Art and Visual Effects courses share a common first year, giving you the opportunity to choose your specialism for your future career after your experience of the core curriculum in year one. Rather than having to make your big career decision before you join us, we introduce you to various specialisms and offer you the flexibility to choose the pathway which leads to your chosen career. 

With London only a short journey away, you can take the opportunity to visit some of the world’s best exhibitions, galleries, museums and conventions for inspiration.

What facilities can I use?

We’ve made sure you have access to industry-standard equipment. Our labs give you access to;

  • Maya
  • Nuke
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Substance
  • Renderman
  • ZBrush.

Most of our 3D animation is currently done in Maya. For modelling you’ll use ZBrush, Marvellous Designer and a range of other pieces of software commonly used in industry. We review the list every year.

We have the latest equipment used in many films, TV shows and commercials. A motion capture studio, renderfarm, and even VR facilities for this increasingly important area in delivery and development. You’ll have access to a stop motion studio and up-to-date camera equipment.

Whilst studying with us you will also use our AppsAnywhere web service, which provides access to many of the software applications you use for learning and studying. AppsAnywhere can be used from your own device or from a University owned PC or laptop, from any location. You’ll also be able to remotely access our VDI, which is a powerful computer that will give you access to both sufficiently powered hardware and the software relevant to the course.

This video was our first experiment with our new Xsens motion capture suits. With the help of dancers from BNU’s BA Dance and Performance course, we motion captured a routine on the concourse running though the university and replaced one of the dancers with a version of the Lonely Robot and comped this back into the footage. We also have state of the art Faceware kits for face motion capture.

Female dance student dancing with human-size robot

In your final year you will also study in our ASUS ProArt lab which is designed to help you deliver your very best work. The lab features Scan 3XS workstations and a range of high performance display monitors from the Asus ProArt range. These provide excellent colour grading to help you produce colour accurate work for your final projects and showreel.

 

 

You’ll also be invited to join additional online groups where you will be able to meet the other students taking our animation, visual effects, game art and visualisation courses, both MA and BA, online and attendance. These help to foster a sense of community and are also places where extra-curricular collaborative projects, such as game jams, take place. You will also be able to meet our alumni in these broader forums. All forums are moderated by the lecturers. 

What will I study?

We’ve structured the course to build up your skills during your time with us and you’ll learn everything you need to know to be career-ready upon graduation. Starting with the fundamentals, we’ll help you develop CGI and animation skills to a professional level, and cover everything you’ll need to create realistic scenes and believable, engaging characters.

You’ll use 3D modelling to create objects and characters and learn about the pipeline of a professional project. Throughout your degree, you’ll learn how to integrate your objects and characters into existing footage to create stunning scenes, which could even include destruction simulation You’ll also learn how to build an organic character using industry standard sculpting and character FX techniques.

Opportunity modules are a key part of the BNU curriculum. You'll choose modules in your first year from a broad selection in areas such as sustainability, entrepreneurship, creativity, digital skills, personal growth, civic engagement, health & wellbeing and employment. Opportunity modules are designed to enable you to develop outside the traditional boundaries of your discipline and help you to further stand out from the crowd to future employers.

By your final year, you’ll have found the specialism you want to focus on in the industry. Your projects will give you the opportunity to hone your skills, work in realistic industry scenarios and have opportunities to collaborate with students on other creative courses at the University.

As a student of the VFX course, I had a fantastic experience. Our lectures were by industry professionals from the VFX, Games, and Animation fields, who gave us valuable knowledge, skills, and internship opportunities essential to entering the industry.

Callum Henry, VP Technical Artist, Garden Studios
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How will I be taught and assessed?

Our BNU teaching team are industry-professionals, with years of experience working in the sector and training future generations of talented digital artists. Through their support and the course, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge you need within the industry. You’ll also have the opportunity to work with guest lecturers, take part in a range of workshops and work on a load of live briefs. With the busy nature of the studios, and London being so close, there will be a constant flow of talented animators for you to learn from.

You’ll spend time learning and practicing the skills required by each unit before undertaking summative assessments the form of projects which will enable you to apply and combine their newfound skills together in a meaningful way while tackling tasks commonly found in the industry.  

Classes will take place in appropriate computer labs which are equipped with advanced computers and will allow you to explore the subject to the standard that a junior professional will be able to achieve. You’ll attend classes each week with a lecturer present and during these sessions you will have the opportunity to ask questions and get real time responses and feedback from both lecturers and other learners. Normally these will begin with a group seminar or demonstration and then break into 1:1s where you will have the opportunity to discuss your individual progress directly with your lecturer. Sometimes these seminars will be used for presentations and review in a manner that mimics the dailies process in industry.  

In addition to this there will be video based lecture content that will be focused on the demonstration of essential skills and clarification and expansion of key concepts and techniques. This will be facilitated via our online learning platform, where you will be able to access sets of recorded lectures which will each be on average 10 minutes long.

Other learning techniques that will be employed appropriately to the situation include: 

  • Demonstrations for new techniques 
  • Group work 
  • Video feedback 
  • Peer review 
  • Use of books, magazines, video and online resources 
  • Research methods 

You will be regularly set formative tasks related to the weekly content or be working towards their own project objective as agreed with the lecturers. This will enable you to apply your learning in new contexts. You will also be able to submit your work for asynchronous formative review from the lecturer which will be delivered as a video commentary on your work. 

You will also be expected to join a closed online group where you will be able to discuss the work and ask questions throughout the week. It is expected that both lecturers and students will contribute and answer questions. This will also be a place for you to post your work for peer discussion and review. 

Assessments will be largely practical coursework along with critical analysis and evaluation which will come mainly in the form of essays and presentations. The practical elements will mimic the kind of work that junior artists will carry out in industry, as far as reasonably practicable.

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BA (Hons) Visual Effects Programme Specification

What are the course entry requirements?

A typical offer will require a UCAS tariff score of: 88 - 112 (Full-time) or 32 - 56 (Foundation Year)

UCAS points can be obtained through qualifications such as A levels, T levels, BTEC or an Access to Higher Education course in a relevant subject. Please list all your qualifications on the application form as you will be asked to provide copies when we receive your application.

A minimum of two full A-levels (or equivalent) is required. Every application is considered on an individual basis.

For further details of our international English entry requirements, please visit our international pages.

Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements for the three-year undergraduate programme, or those who do not feel fully prepared for a degree course, can apply for a four-year programme including a Foundation Year; find out more.

Applicants will need to demonstrate portfolio work, further guidance is given below

 

Portfolio requirements

 

What are we looking for?

We want to see your best work, as chosen by yourself. You should select your favourite pieces and present these a format we can easily access, such as a pdf or mp4 sequence. Alternatively, you can link us to your own webpage which must be clearly identifiable as your own. When selecting your work try to convey a sense of who you are and what your interests are.

 

What sort of things could you include?

  • We want to see the best of whatever you have done. While pieces of animation, visual effects and game art can be an advantage we are fundamentally looking for artistic sense / instinct which can be demonstrated in many other forms, including but not limited to:
  • 3D Animation sequences
  • 2D Animation sequences
  • VFX sequences (done e.g. in After Effects or other similar software)
  • A game level.
  • 3D modelling – Renders or animated turnarounds of characters, environments, props etc.
  • Photography – either traditional or digital.
  • Life drawing
  • Paintings
  • Drawings / sketches.
  • Sculptures.
  • Digital art – e.g. created in Photoshop or other similar software.
  • Short live action films or documentaries.
  • Other - if you are in doubt contact the relevant course leaders.

 

How much should you include?

This depends on what you are submitting. If you have individual images / pictures / paintings, then no more than your favourite 12. If you have project work such as an animated sequence, a game level or short film then no more than your favourite 3 in mp4 format. If you wish to mix then 1 sequence = 4 images. So you could submit 1 mp4 sequence and 8 images on a pdf for example.

Any sequences should be preceded by titles showing your name and UCAS application number. Pdf should include the same at the top. Any physical formats should be carefully photographed or scanned and then compiled into a well presented pdf document. Remember how you present your work also says something about you so give this some thought and effort.

 

How to Submit your portfolio

Please send a link to your portfolio or email a PDF of your work to: animation@bucks.ac.uk

Modules

This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.

What are the tuition fees

Home
  • Home, Academic Year 2024 - 2025: £9,250 per year
International
  • Overseas/International, Academic Year 2024 - 2025: £15,150 per year

Additional course costs and financial support

Most courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees.
You could benefit from financial support through a bursary or scholarship during your time as a student. For more details visit our financial support, bursaries and scholarships section.

Questions about fees?

If you have any questions about the fees above, contact our Enquiries team by calling 0330 123 2023 or emailing advice@bnu.ac.uk.

What are my career prospects?

Throughout your time with us we’ll support you on your journey to your chosen career. We’ll help you to develop crucial skills, encouraging you to become enterprising, employable and good leaders. We also help you find employment after graduation. Have a look at our Careers and Employability pages to find out more.

Our BA (Hons) Visual Effects course will help prepare you for a range of career possibilities in any sector which requires a VFX artist. Our recent alumni have gone onto work for:

  • DNeg
  • Framestore
  • TT Games. (Warner Bros)
  • Mediatonic Games
  • FST
  • Ubisoft
  • Cinesite
  • Airship Studios

Graduates from BNU's animation courses have gone on to work in all six of the major VFX houses in the UK, as well as a number of major games houses and smaller companies. We have had winners and runners up in the Grads in Games Competition, which have then led to jobs. Our graduates have worked on major films, games and TV productions, including Avengers Endgame.

Graduates can also choose to study for a postgraduate course.

In 2022 we held our first end of year show at the John Barry Theatre at Pinewood Studios. Professionals from the industry were invited to see students' work from their final year on the BA (Hons) Visual Effects course, providing exciting networking opportunities. These industry experts were very impressed with the quality of students' work.

 

Course leader

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Dr Safa Tharib
  • Senior Lecturer
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Rob Penhaligon
  • Senior Lecturer
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Elle Bromfield
  • Lecturer
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miles skarin
Miles Skarin
  • Lecturer
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Steve Cassar
  • Senior Lecturer
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A headshot of Shaojun Bian, a Senior Lecturer in 3D Design
Dr Shaojun Bian
  • Senior Lecturer
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BA (Hons) Visual Effects
BA (Hons) Visual Effects with Foundation Year