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Postgraduate study
Visual Effects

Visual Effects MA

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.


Course overview


Visual Effects

Hear what some of our undergraduate and postgraduate students have to say about studying visual effects here at Teesside.

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 18th in the world in the Animation Career Review International Animation School Rankings 2023. (Top 50 International Animation Colleges – formal degree. 195 colleges considered.) Find out more at

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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.

Group Project

You complete a multidisciplinary group project in your area of interest to create a short film or video game cutscene.

You work in an individual production role within small teams to create an original short film or cutscene, which provide a high-end showpiece for your portfolio.

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.

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

At least a UK 2.2 honours degree in visual effects or equivalent.

  • Other first degree subjects may be accepted when combined with a portfolio of creative work at an acceptable standard.
  • For international students (Tier 4) - IELTS 6.
  • International and EU students must also pass a University English test.

Get some hints and tips on how to prepare a portfolio

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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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.


2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£7,365 a year

£4,770 a year with advanced practice

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£17,000 a year

£10,000 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 now (full-time)



2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£820 for each 20 credits

More details about our fees

  • Length: 2 years (September start) or 3 years (January start)
  • Start date: September or January
  • Semester dates

Apply now (part-time)

Apply now (part-time)


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Get in touch

UK students


Telephone: 01642 738801

Online chat (general enquiries)

International students


Telephone: +44 (0) 1642 738900

More international contacts


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