Visual Effects (VFX) BA (Hons)

Study level: Undergraduate
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The BA (Hons) Visual Effects (VFX) course is a hands-on, intensive learning experience for those wanting to develop a career in this vibrant area of the creative industries. You will work with industry standard software to develop content for film, broadcast, games, advertising, and virtual media.

Year of entry

2024-25

Location

Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode

Full-time
Sandwich

Duration

3 years full-time
4 years sandwich

Course code

W614

Start date

September 2024


Course overview

On the Visual Effects course at Coventry University you will gain experience of:

  • Developing 3D assets for Film, Television and Games
  • Working with complex VFX pipelines to produce engaging content
  • Using high-end facilities and kit in a future facing creative environment
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Joint Top Modern University for Career Prospects

Guardian University Guide 2021 and 2022

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5 QS Stars for Teaching and Facilities

QS Stars University Ratings

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Top 5 UK Student City (Coventry)

QS Best Student Cities Index 2023

Why you should study this course

This course has been developed with input from leading practitioners in this rapidly growing field. A key focus of the course is on developing students’ technical, creative and professional skills across a variety of industry recognised roles: including 2D artist, roto artist, junior compositor, colourist, FX TD and more.

Across the first two years of the course you will study a range of subject-specific and transferable skills.

  • These will include sculpting, UV texturing and projection mapping, hard surface modelling, rendering and the use of different render passes, mattes, keys, tracking and rotoscoping. You will also gain an appreciation of production logistics such as effective planning and project management, and legislative issues such as copyright, confidentiality agreements, GDPR and intellectual property, through to the importance of using appropriate naming conventions and version control.
  • Alongside the technical requirements of various media you will also study the history, origins, and theoretical contexts of visual effects in film, animation, and interactive media, and the nuances of these media across such disciplines. Throughout the course we aim to give you opportunities to contribute to, for example industry briefs, competitions, festivals, and hackathons to gain a real-time experience of working for companies and clients2. In the final year of the course you will have the opportunity to specialise in either 2D or 3D to facilitate your progression toward industry.
  • You will have access to a range of digital film cameras, lighting, audio recording equipment and industry-standard software, as well as the use of television, film, greenscreen, and immersive studios, to enable you to produce high-quality visual effects (subject to availability). Your learning will take place in purpose facilities that embody the immersive potential of emerging media and are supported by high profile industry professionals4.
  • You will have opportunities to learn and work on projects with students from other courses in the School of Media and Performing Arts. These collaborative opportunities are a defining feature of your learning experience and place you in an advantageous position in developing your skills and employability on graduating2.

What you'll study

This course has a common first year.

The common first year enables you to work alongside students doing similar courses to you, to widen your knowledge and exposure to other subject areas and professions. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with other students, so you can share your insights and experience which will help you to develop and learn.

If you discover an interest in a specific subject you have studied, so upon successful completion of your first year, you could swap degrees with another course in your common first year (subject to meeting progression requirements).  Once you learn more about your industry, you’ll be more prepared and more clued up on how you may want to progress your education. 

Common first year courses

  • Animation BA (Hons)
  • Digital Media BA (Hons)
  • Games Art BA (Hons)
  • Games Design and Development BA (Hons)

In the first year, the curriculum is shared across related courses allowing you to gain a broad grounding in the discipline before going on, in the second and third years, to specialist modules in your chosen field.

Modules

  • This module aims to develop your skills in a range of specialist fields through applied practice. It will introduce you to analogue and digital tools and methods used to produce artefacts in the creative industries. You will receive specialist skills training in your field of study.

    Compulsory

  • This is an intensive real-world simulation module where you will address a live industry brief (either commercial, artistic, social or cultural) with a problem to solve. By the end of the module, you will create a ‘rapid prototype’ solution that can be presented to the client or wider public. You will learn project management techniques, working to a creative brief, collaboration and problem-solving, while applying specialist skills within a larger project.

    Compulsory

  • This module explores complex specialist skills developed in the creative field of study. You should develop an understanding of professional approaches to processes through the application of skills. The focus of development will be on 2D and 3D visualisation and their application. You will also be introduced to personal development planning and supported to become reflective learners through seminar work.

    Compulsory

  • This module will investigate the effects of evolving forms of media and technology on storytelling across creative industries. It will examine traditional approaches to narrative in the context of new and emerging forms of storytelling such as games, virtual production, interactive web experiences, and immersive production. This module should enable you to think about the way that networked culture has enabled new forms of storytelling and creative design.

    Compulsory

  • This module will introduce you to the contemporary creative industries landscape, exploring theoretical and professional foundations in the practice of digital design and development in games, digital media, animation, VFX, and related fields. The module will explore approaches to production within the context of the creative industries, focusing on roles and responsibilities, production processes, and pipelines and workflows.

    Compulsory

  • This module aims to encourage you to explore ideas development through practical exercises. This module will introduce you to problem analysis, including brainstorming, the use of genres within the creative industries, prototyping, virtual production, design elements and the synthesis of these skills within visualisation techniques and the presentation of these concepts to the given audience.

    Compulsory

In year two you will continue to develop the skills and knowledge you’ve learnt. We do this by embedding the following four principles into the curriculum and developing your:

  • Technical skills – digital fluency, backed with the right academic knowledge
  • Study skills – to be an adaptive, independent and proactive learner
  • Professional skills – to have the behaviour and abilities to succeed in your career
  • Global awareness – the beliefs and abilities to be a resilient, confident and motivated global citizen

You will develop more advanced knowledge and skills to do with: character design, 3D modelling, and compositing, amongst others.

Modules

  • This module advances your knowledge of 3D animation practices and character design. It builds on skills gained at Level 4 and examines fundamental techniques such as character sheets concept art and pre-visualisation, through to production, turntable renders, rigging, and walk cycles. You will also gain experience of working with different render engines to produce render passes, or AOV’s (Arbitrary Output Variables) for compositing purposes.

    Compulsory

  • This module focuses on fundamental compositing practices such as matte painting and match moving for the purposes of developing set extensions and environments. You will explore techniques such as using difference, alpha and luma mattes and keying, to composite live actions plates with 3D assets, or to create realistic set extensions. You will also be introduced to the use of tracking markers to capture data for use in 3D match moving.

    Compulsory

  • This module enables you to begin developing a portfolio of work that will contribute to finding employment upon completion of the course. You will explore a variety of roles within VFX and its associated industries (i.e. games, video, and film), to develop a career plan. You will be expected to investigate particular skills and attributes that will lead to employment in association with groups such as the university Talent Team.

    Compulsory

  • This module examines 3D character design techniques using sculpting platforms such as Mudbox or ZBrush from concept to development. Here, you will create specific creatures (and relevant assets such as props or weapons) and rig them for animation in the context of games, film, and other creative formats. The module explores key animation skills in terms of breaking down the different stages of the workflow such as testing, refining and rigging.

    Compulsory

  • This module aims to give you a deeper understanding of compositing platforms using camera and body trackers to place actors, sets, props or other assets into background plates. You will also study essential techniques in rotoscoping to resolve issues in live action plates that alternative techniques cannot effectively replicate.

    Compulsory

  • In this module, you will work with students from courses across the School of Media and Performing Arts and/or industry collaborators, external groups or organisations to respond to an issue in the local, national or global community. You will work collaboratively with fellow students in defined roles that reflect industry practice in your area of study but will also develop skills in management and organisation by taking an active role in the project from start to end.

    Compulsory

There’s no better way to find out what you love doing than trying it out for yourself, which is why a work placement2 can often be beneficial. Work placements usually occur between your second and final year of study. They’re a great way to help you explore your potential career path and gain valuable work experience, whilst developing transferable skills for the future.

If you choose to do a work placement year, you will pay a reduced tuition fee3 of £1,250. For more information, please go to the fees and funding section. During this time you will receive guidance from your employer or partner institution, along with your assigned academic mentor who will ensure you have the support you need to complete your placement.

Whilst we would like to give you all the information about our placement/study abroad offering here, it is often tailored for each course every year and depending on the length of placement or study abroad opportunities that are secured. Therefore, the placement and study abroad arrangements vary per course and per student. Request further information about going on a placement or study abroad year.

Modules

  • This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved placement undertaken during your programme. A placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.

    Optional

  • This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved international study/work placement undertaken during your programme. A work/study placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.

    Optional

Year three aims to bring you to the level to enter the world of work by consolidating your knowledge and skills from years one and two. You could also work on a large final project in an area of your interest, with the support of a mentor. You will also have the opportunity to choose between two specialist modules, ‘VFX Technical Direction’ and ‘Fur, Clothing and Hair’.

Modules

  • This module explores the workflow of colourists during the final stages of production to create an overall aesthetic for feature films, television, and games production. In terms of grading, you will look to gain skills in colour correction and scene balancing, use look up tables (LUTs), and create your own bespoke colour pallets to provide an overall ‘look’ or style to a given production.

    Compulsory

  • This module explores the development of particle simulations and fluid dynamics through programmes such as Houdini, Maya, Unreal, BiFrost and Fume FX. You will explore a range of software programmes and plug-ins that allow users to create realistic pyrotechnic and fluid FX. The fields are highly specialised in a variety of VFX workflows, and you will be expected to composite these effects into live action footage.

    Compulsory

  • This module develops skills in programming languages such as MEL and Python to enable you to create bespoke plug-ins or scripts for use in programmes such as Maya and Nuke. Programming is fast becoming an essential industry skill for creative bespoke solutions to complex problems (i.e. by creating unique software, or scripts for specific jobs) with suitably skilled graduates becoming increasingly sought after in VFX.

    Compulsory

  • This optional module explores the role of a 2D VFX Set Supervisor in relation to how the required VFX shots are executed, as well as the management of VFX budgets, production schedules, and expectations. Shooting for VFX differs significantly to how a director of photography (DOP) might frame or capture a shot using techniques such as depth of field or bokeh etc. as the VFX Set Supervisor’s role is to ensure that shots will work for VFX in post.

    Optional

  • This optional module provides a final 3D outcome for the course. It allows you to study higher level skills in simulations for clothing, hair and fur in software environments such as Maya or 3Ds Max. As a CFX specialist you will be responsible for groom and simulation setups to produce realistic movements for a variety of dynamic materials.

    Optional

  • This module is a final major project in which you will be expected to produce work to a negotiated brief. Projects for the module should explore a new or innovative area of a field in which you wish to specialise and represent a body of work that typifies the collective skills you have gained during the course as a whole. Your final project aims to enable you to present a body of skills and work to potential employers and act as your calling card to industry.

    Compulsory

We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.


How you'll learn

The course will be delivered using a variety of methods including face to face workshops and lectures, and some online digital content such as guest speakers from industry.

Teaching methods will include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • technical workshops
  • studio projects
  • industry talks

Course resources are stored on the university’s Virtual Learning environment (VLE), which is currently called AULA, where you will be able to access a range of digital resources such as learning materials, worksheets, talks, module handbooks and assignment briefs. The VLE also has an in-built chat function where you cane message academics directly about your work.


Teaching contact hours

We understand that everyone learns differently, so each of our courses will consist of structured teaching sessions, which can include:

  • On campus lectures, seminars and workshops
  • Group work
  • Self-directed learning
  • Work placement opportunities2

The number of full-time contact hours may vary from semester to semester, however, on average, it is likely to be around 12 contact hours per week in the first and second year dropping to around 10-12 contact hours per week in the third and final year as you become a more independent learner.

Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 15 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.

Part of university life is undertaking self-directed learning. During a typical week you will have time that allows you to work independently to apply the skills and knowledge you have learnt in taught or facilitated sessions to your projects or assignment briefs. This self-directed learning allows you to use your research skills, consolidate your knowledge or undertake collaborative group work.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prepared for courses due to start in or after the 2023/2024 academic year to be delivered in a variety of forms. The form of delivery will be determined in accordance with Government and Public Health guidance. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


Assessment

This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which will vary depending upon the module.

In general assessment methods can include:

  • Essays
  • Group work
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • Projects
  • Coursework
  • Exams
  • Individual Assignments

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.


International experience opportunities

International experiences on the course will be offered in terms of overseas trips to top film and technology destinations such as Vancouver and Tokyo, and closer to home in Europe in places like the Czech Republic and Hungary2.

Anticipated course visits can potentially include tours of VFX and television studios in Canada, the phenomenal 180-degree 3D cinema at the Miraiken in Tokyo and many more outstanding locations relevant to your future career in VFX.


Entry requirements

Typical offer for 2024/25 entry.

Requirement What we're looking for
UCAS Tariff 112 points
A level BBC
GCSE 5 GCSEs at grade 4 - C or above to include English and Maths
BTEC DMM
IB Diploma 29 points
Access to HE The Access to HE Diploma. Plus GCSE English at grade 4 / C or above

We recognise a breadth of qualifications, speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.

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Are you eligible for the Fair Access Scheme?

We believe every student should have the opportunity to dream big, reach their potential and succeed, regardless of their background. Find out more about our Fair Access Scheme.

Select your region to find detailed information about entry requirements:


You can view our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page.

Alternatively, visit our International hub for further advice and guidance on finding in-country agents and representatives, joining our in-country events and how to apply.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall (with at least 5.5 in each component area)

If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.

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Fees and funding

2024/25 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £9,250 per year Not available
EU £9,250 per year with EU support bursary**
£19,850 per year without EU support bursary**
Not available
International £19,850 per year Not available

If you choose to do a work placement2, you should consider travel and living costs to cover this. There is also a tuition fee3 of £1,250 that will cover your academic support throughout your placement year.

For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Undergraduate Finance page and see The University’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.

We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them. Find out what's included in your tuition costs.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU support bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.

  • We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Your fee status determines your tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available to you. The rules about who pays UK (home) or international (overseas) fees for higher education courses in England are set by the government's Department for Education. The regulations identify all the different categories of student who can insist on paying the home rate. The regulations can be difficult to understand, so the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has provided fee status guidance to help you identify whether you are eligible to pay the home or overseas rate.

    If you meet all the criteria required by any one category, including any residence requirements, your institution must charge you the home rate. You only need to find one category that you fit into.


Facilities

Coventry University is home to superb facilities and the new Delia Derbyshire building is planned to open in 2023. The course itself is based in the Ellen Terry building (a former art deco cinema) and has access to a range of cutting edge resources such as a new film studio, immersive studios, greenscreen and a motion capture suite. We have a well-stocked Media Loan Shop where you can borrow an extensive range of specialist, professional equipment, including 4K and HD video cameras, DSLR cameras, tripods, audio equipment and lighting4.

Students using the filming facilities in The Tank.

The Tank

On selected courses, you’ll have access to our on-site television studio The Tank, offering specialist equipment such as large cameras, mixing facilities and fibre-optic wiring throughout.

Student using a large AV desk.

Media Loan Shop

Our media loan shop provides you with access to all the equipment and support you need to excel in your studies – from basic audio recorders, to professional cameras and expert advice from our technicians.

Delia Derbyshire building

Delia Derbyshire Building

The Delia Derbyshire complex offers more space to learn, design and make, including a hyper-studio for students across all disciplines to collaborate on projects together, a gallery space and an events atrium.


Careers and opportunities

This course has been written in direct consultation with industry to ensure that our graduates have the necessary skills upon graduation to apply for entry-level jobs in VFX.

  • The course has been written in accordance with the sector skills training council’s consultation on the Core Skills of VFX, and to comply with National Occupational Standards for both VFX and in Film and Television.
  • On successful completion of the course, you will have significant knowledge of both 2D and 3D workflows, the software used to develop cutting-edge visual effects, and the ability to work collaboratively or alone to tight production deadlines.
  • During the third year of the course you will get to specialise further in areas such as coding or app development, and in unique disciplines such as hair, cloth and fur artist, or on-set VFX supervisor.

As a visual effects graduate you can look forward to a rich and engaging career in one of the UK’s most exciting industries.

UK talent has in recent years produced visual effects for films such as Gravity, Wonder Woman, and the acclaimed television series Chernobyl.

Typically graduates from the School of Media and Performing Arts have gone on to work on Hollywood blockbusters, as VFX supervisors, for the BBC, for local editing and postproduction companies, and for prestigious London-based advertising agencies.

Further study

You can choose to continue your studies at Coventry University with the new Film and Media Production MA.

You may also be entitled to an alumni discount on your fees if you decide to extend your time with us by progressing from undergraduate to postgraduate study.


How to apply

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University. 

    1Accreditations

    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.

    4Facilities

    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2023/2024 contract is available on the website for information purposes however the 2024/25 Contract is currently being updated so please revisit this page before submitting your application. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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