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VFX: Visual Effects and Concept Design BA(Hons)

Work by Jason Brindley
UCAS code W200
Location Stoke-on-Trent campus

Normally three years full-time.
A part-time route is available.


2015/16 New Entrants, Full-time

  • Home and EU students: £9,000 per year of study
  • International students: £10,500 per year of study

2014/15 New Entrants, Part-time

  • Home and EU students: £45 per credit

2015/16 New Entrants, Part-time

  • Home and EU students: £50 per credit
Faculty Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies
Location Mode Start date Apply
Stoke Full-time 2015/16 Academic Year Apply via UCAS
Stoke Part-time 2014/15 Academic Year Apply Direct
Stoke Part-time 2015/16 Academic Year Apply Direct

This course - perfect for film and game enthusiasts - will open the door to the film and game industries. If you're an artist looking to specialise in concept art, character design, 3D modelling and visual effects, this could be the course for you.

Course outline

Our VFX: Visual Effects and Concept Design degree has close links with industry including creative visual effects company, Cinesite and high-end 3D visualization company, RTT. It's ideal if you want to work within the film or game industry - where you could see your name credited on the big screen.

The course is delivered from the ground up. Running for almost a decade, and with an extensive list of successful graduates, it's a great basis for working in the game, architecture visualization, advertisement, film and post-production industries.

The course is industry driven and is supported by active industry professionals and freelance experts. You'll have access to state-of-the-art tech facilities, including a 24" Cintiq Studio, RenderFarm and production studio equipped with high-end workstation and green-screen facility.

You'll learn about the entire production pipeline as well as the design and production processes involved in the creation of advanced digital content. You'll also develop and master your ability in a diverse range of skills, including:

  • Concept art
  • Character design
  • 3D modelling
  • Shader and texture development
  • Digital sculpting
  • Realistic lighting and rendering
  • Visual effects integration
  • Game assets creation
  • Production for real-time interaction

You'll complete project work individually and as part of a team. You'll attend workshops, lectures, tutorials and group sessions. And you'll get to attend a number of industry conferences such as FMX, ITFS or SyF. Our industry connections with Cinesite and RTT will also give you various internship opportunities.

Film, FX and Concept Design website to watch some of our films.

Graduate destinations

Work by Jack Milton

This award will provide a direct career path into mainstream CGI visualisation, gaming or films (set / prop design) or post-graduate study. As with our other awards there will be a high degree of transferable skills, enabling graduates to enter other areas of design, teaching and further study. With an award as practical as VFX, the expectation would be that graduates would seek employment within the film and games industry or any other area demanding visualisation of ideas to this standard e.g. architectural or advertising material and commercials.

Graduates from our VFX: Visual Effects and Concept Design degree have secured jobs within the film and game industry. They have worked on some exciting projects, such as:

  • Halo 4 Spartan Ops
  • Prometheus
  • Iron Man 3
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Mermaids: The New Evidence
  • Monsters Inside Me 4

Image credit: Traditional character development by Jack Milton

Entry requirements

Typical UCAS Offer: 260. BTEC: MMM. Foundation Diploma in Art and Design Merit. All applicants are individually assessed via portfolio review and interview.

Teaching and learning

The broad emphasis of the teaching and learning strategy is on exploring creativity and practice through research, theory and studio projects. A variety of methods are used to assess students' learning and progression, as outlined below, but they are all designed to reinforce the strategy of integrating the intellectual and experiential processes of learning in a creative environment.

The Core Modules will often be based on a brief set by the award or module leader or an external agency or company. With heavy reliance upon external, part time staff to deliver key skills, these staff often bring a great deal of `industry knowledge / work practice' with them. Commonly there will be a starting point - a brief, a project introduction, or specified area of investigation - set against the intended outcomes detailed in the module descriptor and activities that promote relevant learning and facilitate assessment of those outcomes - with a common end point, usually in the form of an individual or group presentation of work for assessment. In this kind of learning model the focus is on the research processes, creativity and problem solving that the students follow to satisfy the requirements of the module.

Staff : Student contact will often fall into several distinct categories, namely studio based contact, where either 1:1 or group tutorials will takes place, often focused upon an individual or team approach to specific assignments. The purpose of these slots is to both direct and appraise ideas, towards a goal that satisfies the assignment deliverables.

Technically based modules will often involve self-directed study (via online media), complemented by staff and technician demonstrations. Often with software biased modules, staff will direct students to a potential method for resolving problems, with students expected to refine those techniques and explore alternative solutions. With most software based modules, there is rarely any one, single, correct solution ' so

investigative work is encouraged.

Project supervision
Project supervision usually takes place when there are TEAMS of students engaged on a specific task / assignment and will take place with staff on a weekly basis to plan, discuss, and monitor progress. These meetings often involve the demonstration of progress and discussions over such, technical issues, group dynamics.

Supervised time in studio/workshop
Generally, outside of designated, timetabled slots, VFX students are not supervised within computer labs / workshops. Staff may be working within the same lab, and where possible may assist students, provided there is time to do so.

Fieldwork - Practical work conducted at an external site.
Occasionally, work is conducted outside, e.g. Spheron HDR and backplate capture or video footage capture. These activities will take place under staff supervision, and only occur via designated module timetabled slots or via planned, negotiated booking with VFX award staff only.

External Visits
Currently, the principle event that VFX staff direct students to is FMX, Germany. This event is a recruitment and technical forum, to which we direct L5 VFX students too. This is NOT an organised `field trip' as recruitment panels have expressed their admiration for students organising this event themselves, as it shows commitment and dedication to their pursuit of employment within both the film and games industries.

Placements / Study Abroad
Currently, the VFX programme does not offer any work placements, as it would be unable to guarantee all students appropriate experience.

VFX award staff will direct students towards any opportunities it feels are appropriate, e.g. the Cinesite INSPIRE programme.

Negotiations are being held with European academic partners regarding exchanges.


The Learning Outcomes detailed above form the structure around which the assessment of modules is built. The University has designated 8 generic Learning Outcomes for all undergraduate awards and allowed for up to two further to be specified for each award. For the VFX award, as with other awards from the field of Art and Design two award specific outcomes are included: Visual Analysis and Working with Others. The award team see this as a significant additional marker of highly significant transferable skills that employers inside and outside the Design Industry and other Creative Industries look for when recruiting graduates (this information has been gleaned from discussions with industry practitioners we are linked to as a team).

Assessment of Level Outcomes is organised across the award so that each of the 10 Level Outcomes can be tested at least once within the Core modules at Levels 4, 5 and 6 Module grades are achieved through formative and summative assessment strategies, which uses a variety of modes that are designed to be exploratory and experiential and to reflect the process of accumulating the ranges of knowledge, skills and understanding through the award. The integrated approach to teaching outlined above favours a continuous process of assessment, as opposed to exam based assessment, the award team is confident that these outcomes are tested more effectively overall through the range of coursework and presentation tasks set through the award. Formative and summative assessment of the learning outcomes identified for this award is an effective method, as long as the processes of tutor feedback and student self-evaluation are well supported.

Most modules carry single assessment tasks/activities, based on the submission of coursework, the nature of which is determined by the project/s or assignment/s set within the module, which are documented within the Module Descriptor and Blackboard VLE area.

Coursework carried out in response to assignments, project briefs or self initiated proposals, and presented in forms appropriate to professional practice, allows students to demonstrate the acquisition of learning outcomes through a variety of strategies, namely.

Formative assessment is normally carried out in tutorial and critique situations (either one on one, in peer groups or studio working teams) and can be provided to the student orally with a written record then kept by either the student or tutor. This can be produced as a result of peer group or self assessment exercises where the reflective process can result in the drawing up of an action plan. In more formally scheduled academic tutorials, these are recorded on an academic tutorial record form, completed and agreed by both student and tutor with one copy of the form retained by the student.
Summative assessment takes place at the end of a module where written feedback and indicative grade point are provided. The feedback forms directly link the assessment tasks and student performance to the identified learning outcomes and it is intended that this feedback will be provided within two weeks of the assessment wherever possible.
Anonymous assessment is undertaken where appropriate, namely where the assessed output is individually written. Practical, design based projects would be impossible to grade in this manner.

Employment opportunities

With a high degree of very transferable skills, VFX graduates are equipped to look beyond immediate employment within film or games industries, for example architectural visualisation, web media, advertising media, teaching etc.

What our students say

“My time at Staffordshire University on the course allowed me to learn many skills and gain the necessary experience to progress in the VFX industry. During my time at Demigod Studios I have been immersed in an innovative and energetic development of the game 'After the Fall'.

Marco Ferrigno - Demigod Studios

Student success

VFX graduate hits Hollywood: VFX graduate, Peter Salter is working as a Match Mover for Moving Picture Company, who have contributed to blockbusters as Pirates of the Caribbean 4, On Stranger Tides and the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two.

Lego success continues -  Lego 'Carousel' is a parody of Adam Berg's 'Carousel' (2009), a commercial promoting Philip's 21:9 cinema aspect ratio LCD television range. View Lego 'Carousel'. This continues the success of 'Lego Inception'.

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Programme Specification


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