Visual Effects BA Honours | Middlesex University London
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Visual Effects BA Honours

Learn about the course below
October 2018
International induction: September 2018
3 years full-time
Normally 5 years part-time
£9,250 (UK/EU) *
£12,500 (INT) *
Course leader
Sergio Gonzalez

Why study BA Visual Effects at Middlesex University?

Studying our degree in Visual Effects puts you at the centre of the UK industry. Our VFX facilities are some of the best in the country, giving you access to the professional-standard equipment and software you will need to master for a career in the industry. All students are encouraged to do industry placements during their degree and our close proximity to Soho puts three of the best VFX houses in the world within walking distance of each other.

Based in our Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, you will be part of our thriving creative community. Working alongside students from our highly successful Film, TV Production and 3D Animation courses will give you real production experience collaborating on student films. Opportunities from external clients are also presented for you to work on live briefs as part of your career development.

Course highlights

  • You'll be learning to use professional-standard equipment in our digital media, VFX and motion capture studios and have access to the latest computer hardware and software, including professional level graphics workstations for intensive work such as rendering and simulation
  • You'll be taught by experienced VFX professionals with a passion for creative uses for technology. Our team have worked professionally on films including Avatar, Planet of the Apes and Happy Feet
  • You have the option to spend your third year working on an industry placement and will receive credit to reflect your performance and ability
  • You will enjoy close contact with London VFX studios throughout the course, through industry guests, networking and work experience
  • You will receive a free core text eBook with each module you study

What will you study on the BA Visual Effects?

The course starts by teaching the past, present and future of visual effects to give a thorough grounding in the sector, before moving on to equip you with the main skills, knowledge and processes required to create stunning VFX. You will learn about the VFX pipeline at the heart of effects production, the advanced technologies that make visual effects possible and the processes behind digital image creation.

Year two builds on your skills, opening the door to rendering and composition tools, procedural effects such as fire and tornadoes, and how to build digital creatures and characters. You will also study the context of VFX and the effect it has had on the film industry's production processes. After Year two there is the option of a placement year in industry. During the final year you write a dissertation, undertake a major project of your choosing and build the professional portfolio which will be your calling card for a career in the industry.


  • Year 1

    • The Past, Present and Future of Visual Effects (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Visual effects have always been part of the movies. Since the very beginning of the film industry over a hundred years ago, VFX pioneers like Georges Méliès, Norman Dawn and Ray Harryhausen have brought the impossible to the movie screen. Today, visual effects are more important than ever and modern day artists and technicians continue to push the boundaries. Learn from the masters of the past and see where this exciting industry is headed in the future.

    • Inside the VFX Pipeline (30 credits) - Compulsory

      The Pipeline is the heart of VFX production. Hollywood blockbusters generate terabytes of data; from massive crowds of thousands of orcs, to dynamic simulations of hurricanes and avalanches, to bridges collapsing and aircraft carriers crashing into buildings – the scale of films gets bigger each year and the software creating it all gets more complex. While software technologies come and go, the pipeline that ties them all together continues to evolve and adapt to the greater demands of film and TV directors.

    • Visual Effects Workshop (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Learn how the advanced technologies which make VFX possible actually work. Get hands-on experience with every stage of the process. From matchmove to rotoscoping, from modelling to rigging, from rendering to compositing, this module covers the fundamental concepts, skills and processes which go into the end-to-end creation of a complex VFX shot.

    • Digital Image Making (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      The film director's imagination comes to life on the screen through the imagery created by VFX artists. Techniques such as digital cinematography, concept art drawing, matte painting, physically based rendering and 2D or 3D compositing combine to tell compelling visual stories. You will study images created by the masters of the past to learn the principals of form, light and composition. This module takes you from the camera to the screen, teaching you how to create dramatic images with a lens or with a computer.

  • Year 2

    • Rendering and Compositing (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Learn industry-standard rendering and compositing tools and have the opportunity to obtain certification in either rendering or compositing software. Gain experience with the same technology used on films such as Gravity, The Hobbit and Avengers Assemble. You will also have access to and learn about our Render Farm.

    • Procedural Effects (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Fire, explosions and tornados, crashing ocean waves, worm holes or even an entire alien planet; these are just some of the things which are created procedurally. Using a mixture of maths, art and VFX wizardry, any possible (or even impossible) physical effect can be created in the computer. This module will introduce you to the power of procedural modelling and simulation using the most powerful VFX tool, Houdini.

    • Creature Effects (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Build on your artistic skills from the first year to design, sculpt and detail a unique digital character. Using cutting edge techniques, you will learn how to make a production ready creature that fits in to the rest of the digital pipeline. Focus on rendering photorealistic skin, tracking your creation onto a real actor as digital make-up or use our motion capture studio to create incredibly realistic animation – the possibilities are endless. Not every visual effect is digital, however. Real world "practical" effects still have a major part to play in the movies: there is no substitute for observing and making things in a physical form. As part of this module, you will use our 3D printers and manufacturing workshops to make a physical character design that could be used in live action filming.

    • VFX in Context (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Learn how visual effects have shaped the filmmaking process. Not only do VFX add spectacle to the movies, they also enhance our ability to tell stories cinematically. From epic sci-fi space scenes to historic period dramas, visual effects enable film and TV to transport us to places and times we could never visit in real life. In this module you will study the ways that VFX have opened up new narrative possibilities.

  • Year 3

    • Dissertation (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Your dissertation gives you the opportunity to research and discuss an advanced topic surrounding the VFX industry in greater depth. You can write about new techniques which have changed the way effects are created, analyse a particular film to show how VFX have influenced the storytelling, or focus on the technological, economic or business trends which have shaped the industry itself.

    • Final Major Project (60 credits) - Compulsory

      These days, to get yourself noticed by major industry studios you need a stand-out showreel. We will show you how to present your work in the best possible way to get your foot in the door and start your career in VFX production. Through our industry contacts, you will also have the opportunity to apply for a work placement at a London studio.

    • Final Major Project (60 credits) - Compulsory

      This module gives you the chance to work on a large, ambitious project. You will have the time to develop a concept with support and advice from our experienced tutors; then work on your idea from design sketches to test models, experiment with look development and pre-visualisation before rendering your scene to the highest standards possible. Alternatively, collaborate with our Film and Animation students on live projects providing effects shots for a full scale film production.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Module and programme information is indicative and may be subject to change.

  1. Overview
  2. Teaching and learning
  3. Assessment and feedback
  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. How to apply
  1. UK & EU
  2. International

How can the BA Visual Effects support your career?

After you graduate you will be qualified to begin a range of positions in the industry. These include roles as a Matchmove Artist, Rotoscope Artist, Modeller, Texture Artist and Junior Compositor. Ultimately, you would be able to work your way up the ladder and become a Technical Director.

However, graduates experienced in VFX are highly sought by television companies, broadcasting organisations, film studios, independent production houses, online streaming services and specialist VFX studios – so you will be able to apply your specialist skills to a wide range of areas.

Traditionally, degrees in visual effects have left graduates without a wide enough skills base to progress from the specific roles listed above, which is why we have designed out degree specifically to provide students with a broad set of skills and experiences so they are able to turn their hand to all areas of the VFX pipeline.

The facilities, studios and workshops at our £80 million purpose-built Grove Building on campus in north London are recognised as among the best in country. With a wide range of digital media equipment, software and library facilities on-site you'll benefit from unique levels of access to both the latest technologies and traditional tools.

Students receive extensive support from our technical tutors throughout their degrees so they can master the advanced equipment and software. For the BA Visual Effects degree, this includes:

  • Motion capture studio with a 20-camera Vicon Bonita system
  • Fully-equipped VFX studio with 180º Green screen cove
  • A wide range of film production gear available to students including digital cinematography cameras, lighting kits, and dollies, track, jibs and camera stabilisers
  • Craft and manufacturing workshops for 3D printing, moulding and casting, prosthetics and prop making.

You will also have access to our digital media workshops, featuring:

  • 80 iMacs and Mac Pro workstations
  • Colour Grading Monitors
  • Wacom Cintiq Monitors
  • Premier Pro
  • After Effects
  • Photoshop
  • Final Cut Pro
  • DaVinci Resolve Colour Grading Suite
  • Logic Pro
  • ProTools.

Find out more about the facilities available in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries by clicking the images below or visiting our Facilities page.

Sergio Gonzalez
Programme Leader of Visual Effects BA

Sergio has over six years in Feature Film VFX (Weta, Animal Logic) and 15 years as a Digital Media educator and freelancer. He has worked in Silicon Valley at a Cloud Technology company called GreenButton which was acquired by Microsoft. From one-on-one sessions to full courses, he has a solid background in developing and delivering curricula for universities and corporate clients from a variety of disciplines.

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