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Postgraduate study
  • UK students: apply now to start in September or January. Apply now
  • International students: due to high volumes, applications received after 1 October 2021 cannot be considered for January 2022 entry. Applicants from countries on the UK Government differential evidence list may continue to apply for January 2022 until 30 November 2021. All students are welcome to apply for September 2022 entry using the apply links below.

Course overview

If you would like a career in visual effects for film and TV, then this course is for you. Create photorealistic 2D and 3D visual effects, assets and simulations seamlessly composited into shots for film, TV and 3D animation.

As well as giving you professional skills in key areas of the visual effects post-production pipeline such as previsualisation, modelling, rigging, scripting, tracking, technical animation, effects animation, lighting, look development and compositing, this course enables you to explore your own specialism in greater depth. Gain experience of the wider pre-production and production pipelines and emulate industry practice by working collaboratively in teams with students from other animation courses on industry-led briefs and short films. As well as dedicated studios featuring industry-standard VFX software, you have access to dedicated specialist camera and grip equipment, motion-capture studios, and a fully equipped sound stage including green screen facilities and motion-control cameras.

Ranked 3rd in the UK in the Animation Career Review College Rankings 2020. (192 colleges considered. Find out more at 14th in the world in the Animation Career Review International Animation School Rankings 2020. (185 colleges considered. Find out more at

Professional accreditation

Houdini Certified School This course has been officially certified by SideFX and the school is a member of the SideFX Certified Partner Programme in recognition of our knowledgeable instructors, the high quality of student work, and our efforts devoted to connecting students to industry.


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 and Development

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 (2 year full-time MA only)


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

Applicants should have at least a lower second class (2:2) in any subject as long as you provide an acceptable portfolio of work.

  • 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.

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

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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



Career opportunities

You have many opportunities to develop your professional skills, links with industry and meet with recruiters through our Expo Series, Animex Festival and Student Futures activities.

Graduates from our Visual Effects degrees have gone on to enjoy successful careers in studios around the world working on visual effects for film, television, animation and games.

Graduates have gone on to work in a range of areas including previs, modelling, rigging, production, effects animation, matte painting, tracking and matchmove, lighting, look development and compositing. They are working for companies including Industrial Light and Magic, Weta Digital, Double Negative, Moving Picture Company, Cinesite, The Third Floor, The Mill, Pixar, Digital Domain, Framestore and many more.


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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2021/22 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£6,695 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)
  • Start date: September or January
  • Semester dates

Apply online (full-time)

Apply online (fast-track) for current students



2021/22 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£745 for each 20 credits

More details about our fees

Apply online (part-time)

Apply online (fast-track) for current students


Choose Teesside

  • Staff profile
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    Link to View the pictures. Global ranking for animation at Teesside
    Teesside University has again been ranked among the world’s leading animation schools and placed in the top three in the UK in a new league table.

    Read the full story


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