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Visual Effects with a Foundation Year - BSc (Hons)

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry. Switch to 2025/26 Entry

So you want to work in the Film or Games industry? Do you imagine yourself as a creative artist or a technical director? Our BSc (Hons) degree in Visual Effects is where creativity meets technology. It will give you the skills to unleash your true mix of creative and technical abilities....

  • Level Foundation
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School School of Computing and Digital Technology
  • Faculty Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment

This course is:

Open to International Students

Overview

[00:00:10] Speaker 1 That's in here, and you can see I've got a sample set to five, which is actually quite high anyway. There you go. You can see that we've got a Z buffer information in there as well so we set that back. Have a look at some of the other passes that are in there as well.

[00:00:28] Speaker 2 So I chose this visual effects course because I was always interested in movie magic as a kid and I was always trying to figure out how I did the explosions and green screen work. So I was looking around for courses and I found this one and it was a welcoming environment. And it had a bunch of facilities, a green screen studio and everything - so it just made sense to pick this course.

[00:00:48] Speaker 3 What we're trying to do here is building up all of these layers, we've got our diffuse is the base colour. You've got your speculates going to pick up all those highlights. If you think about a shiny surface, a reflective glass or something, you get those lovely highlights. VFX is across lots of different industries, from film to games to virtual reality, theme park rides. It encompasses things like programming, animation, creating creatures. It's building destruction, it's fire, it's oceans. It can be so many different things.

[00:01:20] Speaker 4 When we use hard light we use it to really provide definition. So I mentioned the shadows earlier but actually shadows can be really useful because shadows are the things that let us really see the detail, whereas soft light actually washes all of that out.

[00:01:34] Speaker 5 The reason I chose the VFX course was mainly because I wanted to create that fake environment, because I wanted to make people feel like they are living in that world like a dream that you cannot find anywhere in the real world.

[00:01:49] Speaker 3 We have very, very good connections with huge international companies. They advise us, they help us with assignment briefs. They look at our curriculum, make sure that we're keeping it on point and keeping it updated. We're really about trying to get students into industry.

 

So you want to work in the Film or Games industry? Do you imagine yourself as a creative artist or a technical director? Our BSc (Hons) degree in Visual Effects is where creativity meets technology. It will give you the skills to unleash your true mix of creative and technical abilities. You could go on to work on top level productions for a range of industries, including TV, film, games, advertising, architecture, education and more.

Visual Effects is an ever expanding multi-billion pound industry in the UK and globally, with job opportunities in high demand. As demand grows for visual effects in Film, TV and Games, the demand also grows for skilled professionals who can bring these to life.

On this course, you will develop technical, creative and production skills to prepare you for a range of careers. You will learn a variety of disciplines from modelling, rigging, animation, dynamics to lighting, rendering and compositing, there is so much for you to explore. You will learn using state of-the-art facilities and software including a Vicon Motion Capture studio, high-specification computers, industry standard software such as Maya, Nuke and Houdini and one of the largest fixed green screen studios in the UK.

You will be taught by a range of experienced staff, with a breadth of knowledge across both visual effects and the larger area of computer graphics. This includes staff with industry experience, and staff who work and innovate alongside industry in a variety of ways.

About the Foundation Year

The Foundation Year course option enables you to study for our BSc (Hons) degree over an extended full-time duration of four years by including a Foundation Certificate (year one of four).

The Foundation Certificate provides a broad study programme that underpins the follow-on degree. In order to progress to the next year of your degree, it is necessary to achieve a pass in all of the modules of the Foundation Certificate.

STEAMhouse building exterior

Introducing STEAMhouse

STEAMhouse is a centre for technology, innovation, creative thinking, prototyping and business development. Our brand new £70 million pound building is the new home for the School of Computing and Digital Technology.

Find out more

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

This course has been developed alongside the visual effects industry to meet the needs of employers, so that you leave with the skills needed to secure a great career.

You will learn all aspects of visual effects production including shooting video, computer
modelling, animation, matchmoving, motion capture and compositing. You will use these skills to produce digital elements such as creatures and environments, then combine them with live action video to produce convincing visual effects shots. Along with the visual elements you produce, you will develop problem solving and critical thinking skills while building your unique fusion of creative and technical abilities that are desired by industry.

As a Bachelor of Science (BSc) course there is an emphasis on Technical Director (TD) roles such as: Matchmoving, Rigging, Dynamic Simulations, Motion Capture and Python/Pipeline Development, which are in particular demand within the visual effects industry. You will learn technical skills underpinned by knowledge of fundamental concepts while using industry tools and best practice.

During the course, you will do a mixture of ‘hands on’ productions and technical investigations, which will teach you the practice, process, craft and technology of visual effects. These activities will help you become a proactive learner able to explore knowledge, implement best practice and critically evaluate the results of your work.

Aligning with the industry practice of collaboration, you will get the opportunity to work with students from related disciplines such as games and film. This will allow you to broaden your horizons and help you understand how your visual effects and computer graphics skills can fit into other existing and emerging industries.

Accredited By

This course is accredited by:

  • Athena Swan Bronze Award

Luke Stretton

Luke always wanted to go into post-production and knew a degree would help him get there. The breadth of knowledge BCU gave him has led to him working multiple roles at Visual Effects company Bigtooth Studios, where he has worked on everything from Black Mirror to adverts for Coca Cola and Sky Sports.

Read in full

Why Choose Us?

  • Brand new facilities at STEAMhouseThis state-of-the-art building will become the new home for its School of Computing and Digital Technology from the start of the 2022 academic year. Based at our expanding City Centre Campus, this unique centre will give you access to outstanding facilities and teaching spaces, as well as opportunities to collaborate with people and businesses across multiple sectors and work on real industry-based projects
  • State-of-the-art facilities  - You’ll have access to our cutting-edge facilities across Millennium Point and the £62 million Parkside campus, both located at our City Centre Campus. See our facilities.
  • Excellent equipment - Work with real light and sound as well as digital light, sound, video, geometry and dynamic simulations    
  • Highly employable graduates  - The unique combination of technical knowledge and practical production will enable you to move more quickly into key production roles within industry
  • Gain first-hand experience in industry  - You will have the opportunity to network and make contacts with people in industry, gain work experience and to take a placement year between your second and final year
  • Top 5 in the UK for Animation and Games Design (Guardian League Table 2024)

Similar Courses

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to learn about this course in detail, chat to students, explore our campus and tour accommodation. In the week before the event, we’ll post you an event programme to plan your day and find your way.

Next Open Day: 29 June 2024

Book Now

Entry Requirements

These entry requirements apply for entry in 2024/25.

All required qualifications/grades must have been achieved and evidenced at the earliest opportunity after accepting an offer to help confirm admission and allow for on-time enrolment. This can also include other requirements, like a fee status form and relevant documents. Applicants can track their application and outstanding information requests through their BCU mySRS account.

Essential requirements

80 UCAS tariff points

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BSc (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BSc (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 4 years
  • £16,085 in 2024/25

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key Software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Specialist Software

You will be able to access free licences for game development specific software such as Unity, Unreal Engine, Substance Suite, Maya, Mudbox, Motion Builder and Houdini.

Free Adobe Creative Cloud licence

Students studying on this course can request a free licence to install the entire suite of applications on up to two personal devices, including access to Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, XD, Premier Pro and After Effects.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

Some modules may suggest that you purchase a key textbook. All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. Many students choose to purchase a copy.

Placement expenses (optional)

If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Guidance for UK students

UK students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS

  1. Register with UCAS
  2. Login to UCAS and complete your details
  3. Select your course and write a personal statement
  4. Get a reference
  5. Pay your application fee and submit your application

Course in Depth

Foundation Year

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Year One

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Year Two

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Professional Placement Year (Optional)

In order to qualify for the award of Bachelor of Science with Honours Visual Effects with Foundation Year and Professional Placement Year, a student must successfully complete all of the modules listed as well as the following Level 5 module:

Final Year

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Download course specification

Download now

You will develop key skills through an assessment strategy that reflects industry needs. Assessments will be varied and predominantly focused on coursework. The practical application of technology and the craft of production are key features of the course, which are also emphasised in the style and focus of assessments.

The first year of the course focuses on developing your fundamental skills and knowledge in using digital video production to capture live action elements, using 3D modelling and software graphics tools to create virtual elements, and using compositing tools to combine live action and virtual elements. 

Your skills will be developed further in your second year, with specialist subjects such as motion capture, shader development, dynamic simulations, programming visual effects tools in python, and research and development.  You will also experience more demanding and collaborative production experiences. 

Your final year is about refining your skills and realising your full potential.  You will undertake a carefully planned, high-quality film and visual effects production, undertake an investigation (exploring a technical area of your choice), develop a well-defined career plan and examine how your skillset fits into a variety of industries.

Student Showreel 

Attendance requirements

For more information on attendance requirements, course contact time and suggested self-study hours, download the course specification.

Athena Swan Bronze Award
Athena Swan Bronze Award

We have successfully secured the Athena SWAN Departmental Bronze Award recognising a commitment to gender equality.

The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research.

Employability

Employment Opportunities

There is currently a shortage of skilled creatives in the CGI and VFX industries, so once you gain your degree the chances of employment in the industry are good – though getting on the first rung of the ladder can still be challenging. Salaries can be high compared to production jobs like camera operators, producers and so on where supply outstrips demand.

Engaging with industry and gaining work experience during your studies is essential if you are going to be taken seriously in the job market. Getting work experience in film and visual effects production can be challenging, so we encourage you to be agile. We will also help you engage with a broad range of opportunities, as well as offering options for extra awards and recognition.

You have the option undertake an assessed sandwich year between your second and third year, which will provide you with valuable work experience and give you the real-life skills you need.

The second-year Collaborative Practice and final-year Production Project modules have been designed so that you can use your work in industry as a basis for the module’s assessment.

The University has a Graduate+ programme, an extracurricular awards framework that is designed to augment the subject-based skills that you’ve developed throughout the programme with broader employability attributes, which will enhance your employability options upon graduating.

Placements

There are a range of opportunities for you to gain industry experience during your studies. Examples of activities our student have done include: 

  •        Working as a runner on one of our commercial productions
  •        Working for crewing agencies
  •        Working part-time for a production company
  •        Doing a placement year between the second and third year of the course
  •        Submitting work to crowdsourcing competitions and film festivals
  •        Collaborating with other students and local film makers on productions
  •        Setting up a YouTube channel
  •        Working directly for clients
  •        Organising and running events.

International

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Facilities & Staff

OUR FACILITIES

As a student in the School of Computing and Digital Technology, you will have access to our labs, software, professional sound studios, computer games labs and industry-standard facilities to develop your practical skills in audio, video and multimedia application development, content creation and more.

We are currently undertaking a £400 million investment programme in our facilities, including a major expansion of our City Centre Campus. This includes our brand new £70 million development, STEAMhouse, which will be the new home to Computing and Digital Technology students. This state-of-the-art centre will give you access to outstanding facilities and equipment, as well as opportunities to collaborate with businesses across multiple sectors and work on real industry-based projects.

Our facilities in Millennium Point have undergone a £6.5million investment with a new maker area, engineering labs/equipment and IT equipment.

Thanks to our partnerships with Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Juniper, SAS and LPI you will have access to the latest technology and facilities that reflect advanced professional practice. Our students also have access to software such as the Adobe Suite including Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.

Computing and Digital Technology facilities

Our staff

Lianne Forbes

Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in BSc Visual Effects

Lianne has 14 years of high-end VFX film industry experience. Her focus is on forging strong links between the University and industry. She plans to develop student awareness of industry practices and produce more opportunities for them to engage with industry professionals.

More about Lianne

Mathew Randall

Senior Lecturer

Dr Mathew Randall is a Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University in the UK, where he lectures in visual effects and computer graphics. He is a member of the Graphics and Vision Research group, specializing in real-time analysis and manipulation of motion captured performances and applications of virtual production technology. He is a senior...

More about Mathew

Sandeep Singh Chahil

Lecturer

Sandeep has a background in corporate video production, having spent several years producing content for commercial video projects. He’s experienced in all stages of this process, with a strong technical knowledge of hardware and software systems. 

More about Sandeep

Kira Summers

Programme Leader, Lecturer

Akira Summers has been working in software and technological development since the year 2000. Starting off in web development and interactive media, she has held many development roles and spent several years working as an embedded game programmer, multimedia developer and learning technologist. 

More about Kira

Dr Carlo Harvey

Associate Professor, Director of Future Games and Graphics

Dr Carlo Harvey is an Associate Professor in Computer Games Technology at Birmingham City University, in the School of Computing and Digital Technology. He teaches C++ for Games, Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning. He is the Director of Future Games and Graphics overseeing the research arm for Games and Graphics within...

More about Carlo

Jay Patel

Senior Lecturer

Jay is a Lecturer in the School of Digital Media Technology. Jay has been involved with the delivery of ERDF projects. Since the successful completion of these projects he has moved into teaching. He currently delivers a variety of modules such as Audio Visual Technology, Moving Image Technology and Mathematics for Media.

More about Jay

Dr Michael Bickerton

Course Leader

Dr Michael Bickerton is Course Leader on the BSc (Hons) Digital Film Production course. Michael has been producing and teaching film for over twenty-five years. He has international production experience and has taught on prestigious courses (such as the UK Film Council’s 'Introduction to Screenwriting').

More about Michael