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Undergraduate study
Visual Effects and Motion Graphics (with Foundation Year)

Visual Effects and Motion Graphics (with Foundation Year) BA (Hons)

If you have a passion for visual effects and motion graphics, then this is the course for you. Combine your technical and creative skills to create live-action and digital 2D and 3D content into sequences for film and TV.



Course routes:


Course overview

Work placement

Visual Effects Showreel 2022

View our BA (Hons) Visual Effects student work

You gain experience of the whole production pipeline including previsualisation, motion design, technical animation, effects animation, look development and compositing, and develop your own specialism.

Our bespoke 2D animation studios featuring industry-standard software, dedicated workshops and stop motion studios equipped with lighting, cameras, and green screen offer you a real world technical experience.

This course includes a foundation year - ideal if you need additional preparation or if you don't have sufficient grades to join Year 1 of a degree.

We are 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

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.

ScreenSkillsThis course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills Select quality-mark which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries.

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Course details

Course structure

Foundation year core modules

2D Digital Art

You are introduced to the creative possibilities of image-making using digital tools. Study the fundamental principles of design and composition, and explore a range of image creation techniques. Use appropriate graphics software to improve your technical skills incorporating layers, composition, colour, linework and lighting.

This is a 30-credit module.

Case Studies

Focusing on computer games, animation and film, you gain an introductory level of understanding in the context of your chosen field of study. As well as looking at the historical and context of these, you observe how we interpret these types of media historically and materially. Choose a text within your area of interest, undertaking an analytical review in the form of a case study.

This is a 30-credit module.

Drawing, Creativity and Design

Learn to create imagery using traditional and digital drawing tools. Develop your drawing techniques and creative interpretations of themes including figure drawing, still life, perspective and character, creature and environment design. You are supported to produce images that effectively communicate visual ideas.

This is a 30-credit module.

Foundation Project

You produce an individual project with guidance from your tutor. Gain independent working and project management skills, developing original ideas and concepts in your chosen field. This could be in the form of a piece of concept art, animation or another appropriate form related to creative industries.

This is a 30-credit module.


Year 1 core modules

Animation Principles

The principles of animation are the foundation stone for any animator. Originally created by Disney, they have been used by generations of animators to create convincing animation across movies, TV series, games and commercials.

Fundamentals of 2D animation

Learn the principles of 2D animation, using hand-drawn techniques to create animation exercises.

Fundamentals of 3D animation

Explore the principles of 3D animation using industry standard techniques and software using a range of methods including the layered method and pose to pose.

Animation in context

Delve into the history of animation and motion design, from its earliest beginnings to today’s diverse styles and applications.

This is a 30-credit module.

CG Essentials 

You’re introduced to the 3D asset production, look development pipeline and the creation of production ready 3D assets using industry standard techniques and software.

Asset creation

You learn how to create 3D models, incorporating principles of topology, efficiency, and suitability.

3D texturing

Edit and apply captured, procedural and painted textures to 3D objects, using UV maps and image editing software.

CG lighting

Create attractive lighting for 3D objects and scenes, studying topics such as direct and indirect lighting, light types, shadows and colour temperature.


Study physically based rendering techniques including theory, practice, rendering passes, layers and the rendering pipeline.

This is a 30-credit module.

Technical Animation 

You are introduced to a variety of technical areas of animation and VFX production.

Character and prop rigging

Learn the principles of forward and inverse kinematics, joints and skeletons, skinning and weight painting and applying control rigs.

Motion capture

Use the motion capture studio to learn how to direct actors and capture motion. Learn to clean data, apply it and import it into a real time engine.

Visual effects

Develop skills in simulation and procedural VFX to enhance rigid body dynamics, cloth, hair, fur and creature FX.

This is a 30-credit module.

Visual Development for the Moving Image

When planning and visualising sequences for animation and live action, you need to understand the pre-production process and the tools and techniques you can use.

Cinematography and film language

You are introduced to cinematography and learn about film language, shot composition, camera moves and lighting.

Character and storyboard development

Develop your own visual interpretation of a script or narrative and produce a moving storyboard (animatic).

Digital compositing

You are introduced to a range of compositing techniques for live-action and 3D computer-generated imagery, 2D and stop-motion animation, lighting and digital 2D painted backgrounds.

This is a 30-credit module.


Year 2 core modules

3D and VFX Techniques 

Explore techniques in performance capture and the VFX and compositing pipeline.

Performance capture

Learn how to plan, rehearse, and direct actors on our motion-capture stage for both full body and facial performance capture.

Mocap production pipeline

Follow the performance capture pipeline from motion capture data acquisition through to the production of a finished animation.

Visual effects and compositing pipeline

Explore the VFX and compositing pipeline and gain experience in planning and live action shot acquisition, to the output of the final composited shot.

This is a 30-credit module.

Animated Effects 

This module is delivered in two parts; the first part introduces you to course-specific topics, the second part introduces motion graphics and motion design tools and techniques and enables you to apply them using industry standard software.

Character and creature animation

You study animation workflow and develop skills in animated performance, lip sync, facial animation, and creature animation.

Effects animation

Investigate the creation of both hand keyed and simulated animation. Including particles, rigid body dynamics, fluid effects and pyro and procedural animation.

Motion graphics and motion design

Explore motion design tools and techniques including motion design and layout, animating to music, history of motion graphics and the iterative development of a sequence.

This is a 30-credit module.


You work in a team to produce an animation or visual effects sequence based on an industry style brief. Experience working in a production environment with industry input and feedback, and target specific production skills in your chosen field of study.

This is a 30-credit module.

Professional Research and Development

You get the opportunity to experiment in a specialist area of your choice in animation, games and visual effects. Develop your independent learning skills and take ownership of your chosen direction through the assessment. You also research professional roles related to your specialism, identifying the graduate skills you need and developing an online presence.

This is a 30-credit module.


Optional work placement year

Work placement

You have the option to spend one year in industry learning and developing your skills. We encourage and support you with applying for a placement, job hunting and networking.

You gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment, including communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

Many employers view a placement as a year-long interview, therefore placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process. Benefits include:

· improved job prospects
· enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
· a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
· a better degree classification
· a richer CV
· a year's salary before completing your degree
· experience of workplace culture
· the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

If you are unable to secure a work placement with an employer, then you simply continue on a course without the work placement.


Final-year core modules

AVFX Project

Work alongside your project supervisor to develop a large-scale piece of individual work relating to your chosen specialism and career aims.

This is a 60-credit module.

Creative Industry Briefs

You choose from a selection of briefs which reflect specialist industry roles, such as realistic creature animation, effects simulation or puppet making. Explore your specialism and develop your professional skills such as pitching ideas, costing and scheduling, working to a tight brief and responding to client changes.

This is a 30-credit module.


You work in a team to produce a short film or visual effects sequence in a style of your choice. It could be a high-end visual effects sequence, a motion graphics title sequence or a short film. Each member takes on a production role to mimic the industry pipeline. You gain experience of teamwork, and a showpiece for your portfolio.

This is a 30-credit module.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

A variety of learning and teaching methods are employed throughout the programme. The methods adopted reflect active learning using authentic approaches, due to the vocational nature of the course. Team working is featured throughout the course will prepare you for the formal group assessment in years 2 and 3. External guest speakers, seminars and workshops on current research and emerging topics are also a course feature. These will include inquiry-based learning and activities that mirror research process in the discipline. Additionally, they provide you with a bibliography of important and recent academic and professional research publications in the discipline.

How you are assessed

We believe that it is essential for you to learn through the experience of doing. Assessment for all modules is in the form of practical projects, which you work on throughout each year. . In Year 2, the Kino module provides you with essential teamwork skills ready for industry. The Project in the final year allows you the freedom to set your own project based on your skills, interests and career aspirations.

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Any combination of level 3 qualifications. Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis.

We may also be able to help you meet the entry requirements through our Summer and Winter University modules.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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

You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL



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.

Select your country:


Useful information

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

Talk to us

Talk to an international student enrolment adviser


Other course routes

Work placement

Study this course with an optional work placement year, at no extra cost. Alongside this, you can gain valuable experience and engagement with the sector through our shorter work placements, internships and work experience opportunities.

Work placements


Entry to 2024/25 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£17,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 4 years (or 5 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: I708 BA/VEMGFY
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: Offers tailored to individual circumstances

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



  • Not available part-time

Choose Teesside

  • On video

    Animex 2023

    Animex 2023 round-up, our international festival of animation, VFX and games.

    Visual Effects

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

    Visual Effects showreel

    Visual Effects student work showreel

  • Staff profile
  • News

    Nick Marshall, pictured far left, with some of the Emmy winning team Emmy success for Teesside University graduate
    A successful Teesside University graduate who recently returned to the region to inspire guests at Animex is celebrating an Emmy Award for his work on a flagship HBO series.

    Read the full story

    New scholarship will help break down barriers to the animation and games industries
    Teesside University’s internationally renowned Animex festival is supporting a new scholarship to help students from under-represented groups to achieve a career in the animation or games industries.

    Read the full story

    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

  • Student and graduate profiles
    Rebecca Pearce

    Rebecca Pearce

    BA (Hons) Visual Effects

    Rebecca's course led her to a role as a production assistant working on The Lion King.

    Meet Rebecca


ExpoTees 2023

Take a look at ExpoTees 2023, showcasing work from our postgraduate and final-year undergraduate students in animation, VFX and games.


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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