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Postgraduate study

Course overview

The School has a long and rich history in computer graphics and visual effects, with our graduates working on eight of the last nine Visual Effects Academy Award-winning films. This programme represents both a continuation of this tradition, and an expansion into the emerging areas of VR and real-time tools for VFX.

MA Visual Effects is distinctive in the flexibility it offers to graduates coming from a wide range of backgrounds. It is designed to cater to both graduates of visual effects programmes who wish to specialise in a particular discipline, and graduates coming from other 3D disciplines who wish to convert to visual effects. The teaching strategy allows you to adopt a broad, generalist approach or a narrow, specialised approach for each module.

Our curriculum is future-facing and uses the latest hardware and software to support modules informed by industry through discussions at Animex International Festival. The MA Visual Effects prepares you for working in the visual effects industry by replicating and mirroring the pipelines and workflows they adopt. Many of our visual effects postgraduates are working at major studios.Choose from one of three routes to gain an MA Visual Effects:

  • full-time - 2 years with advanced practice (September and January start)
  • full-time - 1 year (September start) or 16 months (January start)
  • part-time - 2 years.


Course details

Course structure

Core modules

Advanced Compositing

You will develop your compositing knowledge and further develop specialist practical skills in footage acquisition, green screen studio setup, CG integration with live action, effective lighting, deep compositing, camera projections, set extensions, digital matte painting and look development including the colour pipeline. Practical sessions and seminars will enable you to produce and manipulate 2D assets, including live action footage, and you will explore real world complex compositing and VFX scenarios.

Advanced Effects Animation

You explore the more advanced simulation tools and techniques used in effects animation. You study the underlying physics and computer graphics theory behind these simulation techniques and apply them using industry standard software.

You research state-of-the-art of effects animation and apply this to create convincing simulations of a variety of real-world phenomena.
Your assessment is a portfolio of effects sequences and a breakdown/contact sheet that illustrates how they are generated.

Asset Creation

You gain a deep understanding of all aspects of asset creation for visual effects. The module will focus on the artistic pipelines employed by industry in order to streamline the creation of assets for production. You study a wide range of artistic asset creation techniques, including digital sculpting, hard-surface modelling, retopology techniques, photogrammetry, texturing and surfacing, HDRI creation, element shoots and motion capture.

Master's Project: Visual Effects

You undertake a major, in-depth, individual study in an aspect of your games design programme. These projects will be drawn from appropriate commercial, industrial, artistic or research-based problem areas. It will involve research and investigation in relevant aspects of a very specific area of study followed by the production of a major deliverable portfolio of relevant practice based materials from the area of games design.  You will also produce a written report that contextualises and critically evaluates their final outputs.

Research Methods

You gain the knowledge and skills to understand the research process in computing and digital media, and the necessary skills to undertake your masters project. You learn how to use and critically evaluate previous academic research, and to generate good evidence material to justify their professional practice. This involves you learning about different research strategies and data generation methods and how they fit into the development lifecycle and the evaluation of the user experience, the use of the academic research literature, and research ethics.

Assessment involves you preparing a research proposal which can form the basis of your master's project.

Virtual Reality

You undertake a multidisciplinary group project where you apply your individual area of expertise to the platform of Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR). You focus on integrating and applying existing skills from multiple disciplines and applying them in a VR context. You research and develop a VR, AR or immersive experience. You research, analyse, and evaluate a broad range of VR and AR systems, as well as learning how to synthesise and reflect on your own contribution for immersive systems within your discipline.
Your assessment is 100% ICA, with a group project including product demonstration and actual immersive experience, an individual portfolio and individual written report.

Visual Effects Pipeline

You gain a deep understanding of 3D animation and visual effects pipelines that are crucial in any CG production pipeline, and how the work produced needs to integrate with other departments involved with the process. The module focusses on the theory and practice of 3D computer animation and VFX production and introduces you to industry-standard hardware and software. Emphasis will be given to the traditional technical director roles, for example rigging, lighting and shading.


Advanced practice


The internship options are:

Vocational: spend one semester working full-time in industry or on placement in the University. We have close links with a range of national and international companies who could offer you the chance to develop your knowledge and professional skills in the workplace through an internship. Although we cannot guarantee internships, we will provide you with practical support and advice on how to find and secure your own internship position. A vocational internship is a great way to gain work experience and give your CV a competitive edge.

Research: develop your research and academic skills by undertaking a research internship within the University. Experience working as part of a research team in an academic setting. Ideal for those who are interested in a career in research or academia.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

You learn about concepts and methods primarily through keynote lectures and tutorials using case studies and examples. Lectures include presentations from guest speakers from industry. Critical reflection is key to successful problem solving and essential to the creative process. You develop your own reflective practice at an advanced level, then test and assess your solutions against criteria that you develop in the light of your research.

How you are assessed

The programme assessment strategy has been designed to assess your subject specific knowledge, cognitive and intellectual skills and transferable skills applicable to the workplace. The strategy ensures that you are provided with formative assessment opportunities throughout the programme which support your summative assessments.

There is a mix of practical work (usually in the form of a portfolio), poster and viva presentations, written reports, and professionally presented ‘breakdown’ videos commonly used in industry.

Formative feedback is typically given during lectures, tutorials and summative feedback using on-line methods.


Entry requirements

  • A minimum 2:2 degree at UG level in a relevant discipline.
  • Where students have studied an unrelated discipline, the admission process will include an interview.
  • For international students (Tier 4) - IELTS 6.
  • International and EU students must also pass a University English test.
  • Applicants with substantial, relevant work or professional experience, but without the required degree qualification, may be accepted through interview and a portfolio of evidence.

A portfolio of relevant artwork and multimedia work is required, which follows standard sector and creative industry processes.

For additional information please see our entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country



Career opportunities

In addition to industry related skills delivered in modules, all students have access to the School Students Future programme to develop your graduate employability skills. This programme involves a series of activities delivered to all students, year groups, subject cohorts or subject groups and includes industry speaker talks, extra-curricular industry challenges and company visits. The programme is co-ordinated by a team of academic staff, representing each subject area, who are actively working with our industry partners and other external organisations to ensure you are equipped with the skills required for the changing needs from industry.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

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2020 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£6,500 a year

£4,335 a year with advanced practice

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£13,000 a year

£7,500 a year with advanced practice

More details about our fees for international applicants

  • Length: within 1 year (September start), 16 months (January start) or 2 years with advanced practice (September or January start)
  • Enrolment date: September and January
  • Semester dates

Apply online (full-time)

Apply online (fast-track) for current students



2020 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£722 for each 20 credits

More details about our fees

  • Length: 2 years
  • Enrolment date: September and January
  • Semester dates

Apply online (part-time)

Apply online (fast-track) for current students


Choose Teesside


Stand out from other job applicants with your higher level qualification, specialist knowledge and expanded networks.



Improve your project management, critical thinking, research skills, time management, presentation skills and teamwork.



The median salary for working-age (16-64) postgraduates in 2018 was £6,000 more than graduates
(DoE Graduate Labour Market Statistics 2018,



Study in our friendly town-centre campus with over £270m recently invested and another £300m over the next 10 years.


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