BA (Hons)/MArt The Art of Visual Effects
Do you dream of working on the next blockbuster or TV series?
Technology innovation and the increase in digital entertainment consumption have made the visual effects (VFX) industry one of the fastest growing industries, with the UK’s sector generating an impressive £1.6bn in 2021 (source BFI). There’s never been a more exciting time to join the creative industries, whether you want to apply VFX to big blockbusters, commercials, TV series or other industries such as architecture, medicine or automobiles.
This programme has been developed with professional VFX Artists to make sure it stays relevant and up to date. It is perfect to gain knowledge of 3D VFX and 2D compositing, providing you with the technical and creative skills that the industry is looking for. You’ll also develop your soft skills and start building your experience and industry network and will graduate with a shiny showreel to open the path to a successful career. Intensive hands-on tutorials will be taught in our London industry-standard facilities, by experienced tutors who’ve worked on the likes of Thor: Love and Thunder, Gladiator, Kingsman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
- UCAS code: I702 (BA) - I703 (MArt)
- Institution code: P34
- Location: London campus
- Start date: September
- Fees: (See Fees and Funding section)
£9,250 per year for 2023/2024 entry
- Mode of study: Full time
- Programme duration: BA 3 years, MArt 4 years
- Entry requirements: Portfolio and creative workshop, plus predicted two passes at A Level or equivalent
Why choose this course
- Ranked 2nd in the UK – and 10th in the world for Visual Effects Excellence by The Rookies
- Based in London – home to some of the best visual effects studios in the world
- Industry briefs – work on industry-standard briefs and experience real-life scenarios, just like in a professional studio
- Successful alumni – you’ll join our community of thousands of Escapees, many of whom have gone on to work at some of the world’s top studios. 20 Escapees worked on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, 36 on No Time to Die and 16 on Stranger Things
- Industry-standard facilities – work in a studio environment that mirrors current industry practice, using professional software such as Maya, Nuke and ZBrush
- Professional input – our advisory board of experts, from the likes of DNEG (Avengers: Endgame and Oscar-winning Dune) and MPC (The Lion King and 1917), help keep this degree up to date. You will also receive feedback on some of your work from industry professionals
- All-round creative skills – study common modules in your first year to gain an understanding of visual effects, animation and game art and how the pipelines cross over
- Soft skills – learn soft skills such as teamwork, organisation and giving and receiving feedback to prepare you for work in the real world
- Specialisms: 2D vs 3D – you’ll be introduced to both 2D compositing for VFX and 3D for VFX, so you can decide which you enjoy most and best lends itself to your skillset
- Our student short films have been nominated and won several international awards over the years, including Jerich0 being shortlisted for the Student BAFTA Awards.
All undergraduate students study common modules in their first year. This will give you the all-round skills needed to become a professional, and a chance to choose a different specialism between VFX, animation and game art if you change your mind before your second year.
First year (level 4)
Creative Foundations - Craft (30 credits)
This module is the chance for students to develop a hands-on understanding of different industry-relevant styles of visual representation. There is a learning focus within three key areas: communicating ideas and concepts in visual forms, the meaning behind an image in context and the way light behaves and interacts with surfaces.By the end of the module, successful students will benefit from an essential knowledge of key concepts of working in the creative sector, including the study of visual conventions and narratives, the development of traditional creative skills, such as drawing and photography, and the analysis of visual material of aesthetic value and communication content.
Creative Foundations - Project (30 credits)
This module presents students with a studio-relevant challenge in their first year of studying at Escape Studios, providing a real understanding of team collaboration throughout the creative process. The module requires students to respond to creative project briefs as part of a small team - imitating the professional set-up found in industry.
The success of the team is dependent on realising a shared vision whilst making the most of the individual strengths of each member. Each team will work towards a controlled approach in their planning and resourcing, to ensure that they effectively deliver the project, whilst still being on time and on budget. Teams will be required to pitch their concepts before moving to the development stage - which eventually leads to the team's final product that is ready to be showcased to the client. This module demonstrates how each individual student can make a genuine contribution to a professional team in a creative environment.
Compositing for VFX - Core (15 credits)
This module introduces the theory and role of Compositing in VFX production and where it sits within the overall creative industries. The content of the module provides students with the opportunity to realise the fundamentals of layering multiple image elements in an efficient workflow. The industry-aligned projects give the students a chance to learn compositing, colour correction and keying with the latest software and techniques. Successful students will begin to understand Compositing in the same light as studio professionals. Moving forward, students will be able to place the role of Compositing alongside their wider understanding of visual effects.
3D for VFX - Core (15 credits)
This module provides students with a core understanding of the role of 3D in VFX production. Students will evaluate 3D tools, techniques and approaches used by the modern day production of a final rendered image.Successful students will have the ability to place the appropriate 3D tools and techniques to a specific creative objective. Innovative projects within this module provide students with a challenge, as well as an opportunity to showcase their newly developed techniques in modelling, texturing, lighting and rendering. Explore contemporary 3D theory and concepts with a truly unique studio learning experience.
Video Game Art - Core (15 credits)
This module allows students to get to grips with the fundamentals of developing assets for use in video games - boosting students from zero experience to a core foundation where artistic talents can be used to create video game content. Students will be given intensive projects which will test, teach and improve their ability to use the latest 3D software and techniques, including: modelling, texturing and lighting basic assets for a modern game engine.The two main outcomes that students can expect from this studying module is a developed understanding of producing game assets for the mobile platform and a grounding in the basics of game art, for students to make informed decisions in directing their career journeys.
Computer Animation - Core (15 credits)
This module reveals a modern understanding behind the Twelve Principles of Animation - providing students with an overview of theory and practice relating to the creation of animation in a wide range of digital media. Students get hands-on with the latest software and techniques surrounding animation principles, movement and cinematography.
The main purpose of this module is to provide an excellent range of transferable skills for use in a professional animation environment. A range of industry-standard 3D and 2D animation techniques will be covered, alongside animation mechanics that include locomotion, flexibility and weight. Students who start with a limited understanding of animation will finish with the ability to engage with the challenges of contemporary animation.
Second year (level 5)
From your second year you’ll start to specialise in VFX and work in teams on industry-style projects.
You will be introduced to both 2D Compositing for VFX and 3D for VFX. Your first term will provide the opportunity to try each specialism, so you can decide which you enjoy most and which best lends itself to your skillset. You will receive full support from our tutors and feedback from industry professionals to guide your decision. In professional VFX Studios, collaboration between 2D Compositors and 3D Artists is essential. This is exactly how we run our projects. So whichever specialism you choose, you will work closely with those who’ve chosen a different pathway – a real taste of life in industry.
3D for Visual Effects - Pro (30 credits)
This module develops students to have a competent and systematic knowledge of theory and concepts surrounding the creation of photorealistic simulated 3D graphic elements for use in a complex visual effects shot. Develop the ability to critically evaluate and select modern tools and techniques to create your own photo-realistic simulated CG elements for use in a VFX production pipeline. This is your chance to use industry standard software to produce 3D assets to a professional standard, including in live action production shots.
Compositing for Visual Effects - Pro (30 credits)
This module has a range of specific learning outcomes that put students ahead of the game with an industry-focused understanding of compositing. Successful students will be able to demonstrate an impressive understanding of the concepts and theory surrounding both 2D and 3D compositing in the context of professional VFX productions. Plus, students will also learn how to implement 3D rendered assets and transfer them into a visual effects environment. Other learning outcomes students can expect to benefit from include the creation of 2D/ 2D.5 assets for compositing into complex live action plates, as well as the ability to use professional level integration techniques to a high standard. This module provides students with a chance to take their compositing ability and understanding from novice to professional.
Specialism (15 credits)
This module complements the Industry Studio Project and gives the students a chance to delve into the craft that they have developed over the duration of their course, relating to the contemporary context of the theory and techniques surrounding their specialism. Tutors will aid students to propose what their specialism will be and industry professionals will support students with critical feedback. Through this module, students will be in a stronger position to realise their own personal development and what they can offer to their allocated team in the Industry Studio Project.
Industry Studio Project (45 credits)
This module prepares and challenges students to complete a studio project collaboratively, to the same standard as found in a practising studio environment. This is a chance for students to work together to showcase the pinnacle of their talents and techniques. Students are expected to direct their project with good project management and task allocation to create, acquire and select top material content. Students are required to demonstrate their ability to evaluate the outcome with a 20-minute presentation to a panel of industry professionals.
Third year (level 6)
By your third year, you’ll be working in a team just like a fully-functioning independent studio, alongside developing an in-depth knowledge of your chosen specialisation.
Advanced Specialism (30 credits)
This module offers the opportunity for students to engage with the advanced theories, principles and tools at the forefront of visual effects. On successful completion of the module, students will have developed an impressive mix of transferable skills, including: the ability to communicate in-depth the technical and creative issues within their community of practice and a matured awareness to self reflect on their own professional development.
Students will be refined in their professionalism by the support of both tutors and industry professionals. This module will benefit students in their ability to employ a high level of expertise in their personal and studio practice. The final project will be assessed by an incorporation of both tutors and industry professionals.
Professional Practice (30 credits)
This module allows students to showcase what they do best and is largely focused on creating an individual work on a personal development portfolio. Students have the chance to showcase their specialist area within their field, as well as providing and receiving support from fellow students to move forward in their development, from the lessons they have learned at Escape Studios over the last two years.
Students will be challenged to create personal audits and plans, including a series of mock interviews mid-way through. Tutors and industry professionals will provide valuable and formative feedback to direct students' progress. Successful students will finish this module to efficiently work in a team and fluently communicate their skills and ability in a professional setting, including interviews and assessment meetings.
Professional Studio Project (60 credits)
This module combines the three-year efforts of the student, bringing together preparation, training and experimentation of the previous two stages. The course is the pinnacle of the students' learning experience which ensures that graduates are ready to advance to either a career within industry or the demands of the final MArt year.
There are two core assignments within this module: individual retrospective, where the student is required to create an enquiry into their own work, and the team project, where students are required to work to the standard of a professional studio team and give a presentation providing a concise retrospective of their project. Successful completion of this module is dependent on the student's ability to thrive in a studio environment, in order to advance their knowledge, skills and understanding through practice-based learning, experimentation and reflection.
Fourth year (level 7 - integrated masters students only)
If you’re doing the four-year MArt programme, in this final year you’ll develop entrepreneurship and the skills needed to manage your fledgling studio as a real business, taking it to the next level of professionalism. Students will be asked to organise themselves to work as a digital studio, working on projects that will be viable and to a commercial standard. The four modules of this final year will cover the crucial aspects that will define your studio's success.
Art and Design (30 credits)
The primary focus of this module is to create products and services that have exceptional aesthetic and a strong brand identity. It investigates the visual language used within the contemporary world and looks into the wasy that society interacts with products, services and with each other through digital interfaces that have been crafted by experts with industry-standard tools. There is an expectation within this course that a student's output must retain an audience with a seamless usability and engage them with their work's beauty. Students will also learn that functionality is no longer enough in today’s world.
At the end of the module, successful students will be able to present aesthetically pleasing, intuitively designed, well branded products and services that meet their business goals.
Craft (30 credits)
The outline of this module’s syllabus covers industry-standard software and hardware, SaaS development, technical innovation for the creative industries and distribution platform innovation. The overall objective of this module is for students to strive for technical excellence in all that they do, including creating products, services and everyday user experiences.
The challenge of this module is to work within realistic technical constraints to create something that is feasible and viable within visual effects creation. This module will challenge students to expand their technical skills beyond what they currently know and is accepted practice and to learn new skills and collaborate with fellow students. Through a series of lectures, seminars and the failures and success of their work, students will learn how to create technically and visionary excellent visual effects.
Process (30 credits)
This module challenges students to engage, understand and begin to redefine the development process at an advanced level. This course looks at the evolution of digital products, services and experiences that are created on the course. Furthermore, you will look into how to adapt the working process to accommodate this evolution, as well as how it shapes the business that you run.
The module has wide-reaching lessons that can benefit most professionals within the creative industries, focusing on essential qualities of agile production and understanding this within a global context. Students will be expected to present their working methodology surrounding the creation of visual effects with their final outcome, including a demonstrated reflection on the benefits and drawbacks of the process they have created. Students will learn independently and within their teams how to structure and implement an innovative production process within the visual effects industry and the wider creative industries.
Business (30 credits)
This module covers business modelling, start-up basics, a financial and legal outlook, how to create a purpose-driven business and the art of pitching to investors. Through inspiring lectures, seminars and weeks of experimentation in the studios, students will get to grips with how to establish a business that supports their visions and innovations.
This module is all about empowering students with the ability to make their company sustainable and profitable. Successful students engage with the world-dominating digital technologies, and business models that are constantly adapting to the creative industries. The lessons learned on this course give students the education to use business expertise to push their talents in the creative industries.
For more details about modules, see the full module specifications.
- 3D Equalizer
You’ll graduate with a degree and a killer portfolio put together with advice from tutors and industry professionals. Ready to apply to your first job in the industry!
Some of the opportunities you can consider once you’ve finished your studies include:
- Junior Texture/Modelling/CFX Artist
- Previs Artist
- Roto/Prep Artist
- Layout Artist
- Production Assistant
- Production Coordinator
Our students have gone to work as both specialist and generalist artists in creative studios, across TV shows, films and commercials.
Check out our Careers Guide for more information about career opportunities and progression routes.
The majority of modules contain at least one piece of practice or ‘formative’ assessment for which you receive feedback. Formative assessments are developmental and do not count towards your overall module mark.
Summative assessment breakdown
Level 4 and 5
For level 4 and 5 modules, your assessment will be split into two parts:
- 75% product - you will be required to create a product (short computer animation, rendered image of a 3D object composited shot, etc) to a specified brief, then present it in front of a panel and demonstrate how you have met the learning outcomes in your work
- 25% retrospective - you will be required to write a reflective analysis and present it for moderation and assessment.
The professional studio project module will be assessed just like level 4 and 5 modules; for the two other modules (advanced specialism, professional practice), 100% of your mark will be based on a self-evaluative portfolio.
If you’re doing the four-year MArt programme, you will be required to complete level 7 modules. The assessment of these modules will be split into four parts corresponding to four stages of the project - explore, ideate, accelerate, and incubate. Each stage will be equal to 25% of your final mark.
In order to progress to the next stage (from first to second year, and from second to third year), you will have to achieve 120 credits at the end of the academic year.
For further information, please see the student handbook.
Your overall workload will be divided between teaching sessions and independent learning.
During your course, you’ll be able to develop your knowledge and skills in a number of ways. Some learning time will be closely directed and supervised by your tutors, at other times you’ll be free to organise your own study with guidance. All your scheduled studio time, except for some information sessions and presentations, will be in smaller groups based on specialism.
For many of your projects, you’ll work in smaller teams, collaborating to meet a shared brief, with the support and assistance that you need. The craft modules have a higher contact time, as this is where you will learn the knowledge and skills associated with your chosen subject, directed and informed by your tutors’ expertise and experience. These will normally involve a large part of each day in the studio with your tutor and studio assistant, following demonstrations and working on set exercises to help you develop your craft.
The project modules will have a lower contact time, with your tutors taking on the roles of supervisors or studio leads. You’ll meet with them regularly (usually every working day) to get feedback and help you stay on the right path, but these modules are much more about you managing the learning experience to meet your objectives. The majority of projects will be team-based, and you’ll have the opportunity to take on different roles in several teams during your studies. Again, you’ll be expected to work in the studios for a significant part of each day, and attendance will be recorded, but outside those times, you’ll be free to organise your work as a team to best suit your project requirements.
Each module has its own area on our Online Learning Environment (OLE) where you will find information about the module and the resources that are provided to support your learning. Some of this information will be dedicated to the module, other elements may be shared across different modules and some may be external assets that can help with your further study. There may be links to videos, online journals and e-books, and you should take advantage of these to enhance your development and take it beyond the studio experience. Tutors may highlight some of these during their sessions. The OLE and our online library also include resources to help you improve your study skills.
Students with additional needs or disabilities are supported by our Student Services Team.
The academic year consists of three terms: Autumn, Spring and Summer. Students on a typical three-year degree attend classes during the Autumn and Spring term, for a total of 30 weeks, and will normally not attend during the Summer term, unless they have to re-attempt assessments.
Per week, your overall workload will be approximately 40 hours. Each week, you will spend 15 hours in workshops and practical classes and 20-25 hours on self-study learning and working on your projects.
For more details about modules, credits and workload, see the full course specifications.
You're expected to have GCSE English at grade C/4 or equivalent and have or be predicted to pass two A Levels or equivalent. For our BSc/MSci courses, you're also expected to have GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or equivalent.
If you are still studying, we base conditions of offer around your predicted grades. If you don't have traditional qualifications, please contact our Admissions Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +44 (0) 207 190 4013.
Once we've received your UCAS application, you’ll be invited to attend a creative workshop. You'll take part in fun team exercises, as we want to find out more about you and your motivation for your chosen subject.
- BA/MArt applicants will take part in a review of your creative portfolio with some of our tutors. Check out some guidance for putting your portfolio together in our Creative Portfolio Guide.
- BSc/MSci applicants will take part in a "10-minute technical breakdown" exercise, a short group discussion based around the effects or animation in your favourite film/video game/TV series.
- All applicants will work in small teams on a creative brief; coming up with ideas, bringing them to life, responding to feedback and working together to present the team's ideas.
We’re currently unable to accept international students who would require a student visa onto our undergraduate courses. This may change in the future.
English Language requirements
All our courses are taught in English. If your first language is not English, you may need to complete an English language test, such as a Pearson English language test (PTE Academic) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, to demonstrate you have the language skills needed to complete your degree.
6.5 IELTS (with a minimum of 6.0 in Reading and Writing and 5.5 in Speaking and Listening)
62 including 60 in each subtest
Cambridge English: Advanced & Proficiency
176 (with a minimum of 169 in Reading and Writing and 162 in Speaking and Listening)
90 Overall including at least 22 in Reading,
21 in Writing, 17 in Listening and 20 in Speaking
You should submit your application via UCAS. Our institution code is P34 and our institution name Escape Studios.
If we make you an offer for a place on the programme, you will need to agree to our terms and conditions for your place on the course to be secured.
Take a look at our application and admission process.
£9,250 per year for 2023/2024 academic year entry
In addition to your tuition fee, you will need to budget for your living costs and some other costs associated with your studies.
An additional re-attendance fee of £750 per 15 credit module is charged if you need to repeat a module.
Computers are available for you to work on your projects and coursework during opening hours on campus. It is not, therefore, essential for you to purchase your own computer and software. However, many students prefer to have a computer at home as well, so we have prepared some guidance on the specifications to choose.
At our London campus, you will have access to free printing and photocopying facilities. However, you will have to purchase notebooks and other ordinary stationery items. You may wish to purchase your own copies of recommended textbooks, but please note that all textbooks are available to students in electronic editions.
If you will not be living at home, you will need to pay for accommodation. For more information about accommodation options, go to our Accommodation page. You will need to budget for transport costs travelling to your classes and to events, such as industry workshops, which may take place elsewhere in central London. Details of public transport costs are available from Transport for London's website. There may occasionally be an optional opportunity for you to attend an event outside central London, for which you would need to pay the transport costs, should you choose to attend.
We offer financial assistance including a travel bursary, hardship bursary and laptop loan to ensure that all students can access our learning, no matter their background.
Our industry-sponsored scholarships offer a unique opportunity to be hand-picked by some of the biggest names in the industry, from the likes of DNEG, Cinesite and PlayStation London Studio.
Visit our finance page for more information on fees, funding and scholarships.
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