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BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects

BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects

Institution code: N39
Course 3 Year UCAS code: W618
Course 4 Year UCAS code: W617
Course length: 3 or 4 year options

Develop the creative and technical skills behind the latest Hollywood blockbusters and learn from award-winning studio professionals on our BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects degree course.

Our Animation and Visual Effects degree is a new course for 2020 reflecting NUA’s success in both fields. Our approach to teaching Visual Effects evolved from advice from professional bodies like ScreenSkills and UK Screen Alliance and the majority of UK’s VFX industry, including:

We are part of Access:VFX – the industry’s initiative to create the widest possible pool of future talent and host a number of workshops and events with invited industry guests.

Preparing for Animation and Visual Effects careers

On this future-looking course, you will develop skills that prepare you for the increasing demand for animation and visual effects expertise: from the screen industries to architecture and urban design; scientific visualisation to creative design and virtual reality.

Working side-by-side with single honours Animation students in your first year, you will acquire skills across the range of animation and visual effects expertise; from character creation to the use of green screen, to digital matte painting, to lighting, texturing and rendering to build your imagined worlds.

One recent masterclass was led by the VFX Supervisor of Avengers: Infinity War.

In the last year, we’ve hosted guest speakers from the studios behind:

  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Ready Player One
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Lion King
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Blade Runner 2049.

Underlining the strength of our industry connections, double Oscar-winner Paul Franklin (Interstellar, Inception) became an Honorary Fellow at NUA in 2018.

Major studio software

You’ll have the opportunity to attend FMX, the biggest and best animation, visual effects, games and immersive media conference in Europe. You’ll also have access to a subsidised commercial version of Nuke, the industry standard software used in major studios, with a licence that even extends for one year after graduation.

Believable worlds

As you become an expert “world builder”, creating seamless life-like, believable photo-real worlds, you’ll use visual effects to create character designs, enhance stories, working with directors or filming your own shots, helping to develop a portfolio that could fast-track you into the animation and visual effects industries.

Typical career paths include

  • Animator
  • Roto Artist
  • Texture Artist
  • 3D Generalist
  • 3D Environment Artist
  • Match Move Artist
  • Character Designer
  • Producer
  • Lighting Supervisor
  • Colour co-ordinator
  • Compositor
  • Art Director
  • Matte Painter/Artist
  • Modeller
  • Architectural Visualiser
  • Experiential Designer

You’ll also get specialist creative careers advice from our Careers Team in the Ideas FactoryNUA to help support you as you plan your career.

Visiting industry lecturers

Visiting lecturers have included Josh Parks, a Compostitor at MPC, Jonathan Jones, Ember Films, Visual effects and games creative Hugo Guerra and DNEG’s 3D trainer Jahirul Amin.

Course content

  • Year 1
  • Learn to see: study visual effects fundamentals about lenses, pixels and light to see differently
  • Explore the major animation techniques including digital 2D and 3D
  • Gain understanding of the principles of animation and visual effects: dynamics; character design; storyboarding; production; skills of observation; editing; green screen/compositing; photorealism, perspective; theatrical stagecraft; show reel design
  • Progress from making two-dimensional flat imagery towards testing 3D designs
  • Have the opportunity to attend industry talks, presentations and discussions with key animation and visual effects companies and professionals
  • Develop an understanding of media roles and practices.
  • Year 2
  • Build on fundamental visual effects skills and practice animation principles with enhanced progression from 2D to 3D
  • Focus on production areas of your choosing and continue to explore your chosen areas of specialisation and develop your skills, with the potential to combine techniques
  • Learn about Look Development, lighting, texturing, rendering and all you'll need to build your environments
  • Develop an understanding of audience, context, film language, and the elements of compelling storytelling
  • Opportunities to engage with industry professionals through live briefs and conferences
  • Collaborate in flexible, open-ended and innovative ways to build amazing showreels
  • Attend industry talks, presentations and discussions with key animation and visual effects companies and professionals.
  • Year 3
  • Develop a professional portfolio of work
  • Gain powerful project management techniques to ensure you can lead animation and visual effects teams and increase job prospects
  • Research, prepare and complete a final major production, and produce a Research Report in a field related to your final production
  • Develop a plan to market and promote yourself, and show your 'creative edge' to sell yourself to employers
  • Take part in industry talks, presentations and discussions with key animation and visual effects companies and professionals.

BA VFX Student Work

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Typical UK offers

A / AS Levels – GCE
GCE A/AS Levels 3 A-level qualifications at grades BBB. Where candidates are not taking 3 A-levels, NUA will consider combinations of A-level/AS-level and other Level 3 qualifications.

BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Distinction, Merit, Merit in an art, design or media related subject

BTEC Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Distinction*, Distinction* in an art, design or media related subject

UAL Extended Diploma

UAL Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

UAL Level 4 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Art and Design)

International Baccalaureate Diploma
A minimum of 27 points

NUA welcomes applicants of all ages from all backgrounds. Your application will be primarily assessed through interview and portfolio review so even if you have no formal qualifications or do not meet our typical offers it can still be worth applying.

If you are studying at the time of your application and your interview is successful, it is likely that you will receive a conditional offer.

If the qualification that you are studying is not shown, do not worry as we are able to accept other pre-entry qualifications as well as combinations of different qualifications. Please do contact our Student Recruitment Team if you have any queries.

International applications

We accept qualifications from all over the world. To find our entry requirements from a specific country, please check our dedicated international pages.

Most international students are required to hold an English language qualification. Applicants are required to have a minimum UKVI approved IELTS exam score of 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each section. Equivalent English language qualifications are acceptable such as, IB English language syllabus A or B/English Literature (Grade 4).

We also accept some alternative English qualifications. Learn more about our English entry requirements.

You can email us on international@nua.ac.uk if you’d like to discuss your application individually.

BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects Portfolio degree guidance

Your portfolio should show us you are passionate about animation and visual effects and that you want to learn to make seemingly realistic images that support amazing stories.

We need to see you are motivated.

Our course is guided by some of the leading animation and visual effects companies in the UK and they want people who are willing to experiment and dedicate themselves to full-time study with us.

We want to see examples of your imagination, in whatever medium and see how you manipulate images to make believable pictures.

We don’t expect you to have software expertise, or for you to have done animation or visual effects before. Our job is to take creative people and give them software expertise and practical experience. If you can show you are good at creating interesting visuals that communicate a story we want to see you!

You may wish to include some of the following:

  • Drawings, paintings or illustrations that exhibit a playful imagination and aptitude for creative and technical work, such as designs of environments and images that demonstrate narrative or express a mood or atmosphere
  • Use of Photoshop or other related image making/editing tools are essential
  • Sketchbooks, blogs, journals, notes about things you’ve seen and been inspired by, film or book reviews
  • Research into something you are interested in. Maybe tell us why you think the visual effects in a certain film is memorable, or show us what you found out about a particular visual effects company. 
  • Moving image work is good, maybe videos you have made, edited or remixed
  • Storyboards or plans
  • Writing that shows you have a creative imagination
  • Photographic work. We love to see if you have a photographic eye for composition. Can you tell a story with a sequence of photos? Or document an interesting place with a range of shots?
  • Digital animation or motion graphics

Further portfolio advice and tips

Get more advice on presentation formats, layouts and when to submit your portfolio in the application process.

Your interview

After you apply to study BA Animation and Visual Effects at NUA we’ll invite you to an interview on campus or by Skype or telephone, depending on your circumstance.

If you apply by the UCAS deadline of 15 January your interview will usually take place in February. We’ll ask you to prepare your portfolio ready to bring with you or submit online ahead of your interview.

Read our tips for your interview at NUA

Fees and Funding

The cost of your course is determined by your status as either ‘UK/EU’ or ‘International’, so it’s important to check your fee status. If you’re unsure, the UKCISA website will help you determine whether you’re eligible to pay a UK/EU fee (also called a ‘home’ fee). If you’d prefer to speak to NUA directly, please contact student.finance@nua.ac.uk

UK/EU students are eligible for a tuition fee loan from the UK government, meaning you won’t have to pay your fees up front. Further details about tuition fee loans are provided below. International students are not eligible for the UK government tuition fee loan.

2020/21 Tuition Fees For New Entrants

Citizen status



UK/EU nationality

Undergraduate degree (full-time three and four year degree)


International (non-EU)

Undergraduate degree (full-time three and four year degree)


Fees will remain the same for each year of your course. 

International students

Find out more about 2020 fees for international students and the support available.

Financial support for UK/EU students

Tuition fee loans and loans for living costs are available, as well as non-repayable NUA bursaries that take into account family income. Find out how to apply for funding.

Tuition Fee Loan for Undergraduate study

Tuition fee loans are available for UK and EU students.

  • Available to cover the full cost of your tuition
  • You don’t have to pay for your course up front yourself
  • Only start paying back when you are earning over £25,725 per year

Maintenance Loan for Undergraduate study – 2020/21

Student Maintenance Loans are available for UK and eligible EU students to help with living costs such as accommodation, food, clothes, travel and course expenses. The amount students receive is dependent on household income and any maintenance grant received.

  • A loan of up to £9,203 may be available if you live away from home.
  • A loan of up to £7,747 may be available if you live with your parents.

How can you find out more?

To learn more about loans, repayment calculations and other financial support, visit Student Finance. If you have any questions about fees, please email student.finance@nua.ac.uk


Find out about scholarship programmes available to NUA applicants.


For new entrants whose household income is assessed as £25,000 or less, the university will offer a contribution towards the costs of studying at NUA (such as equipment, materials and other course-related costs). This will be £200 for new entrants to Year 0 and Year 1, rising to £300 in Year 2, followed by £500 in Year 3. Find out more about bursaries at NUA

NUA alumni, staff and feeder staff discount

All NUA alumni are eligible for a £1,000 discount on NUA postgraduate degree fees. All NUA staff and staff from feeder institutions are eligible for a £500 discount on NUA postgraduate degree fees.

Four year degree* – BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects

Four year degrees offer students a chance to build on their experience within their undergraduate course of choice.

Year 0 will help to build confidence and develop subject specific practical, creative and conceptual skills – making full use of University studios and workshops.

Year 0 is a new option for this course in 2020.

*subject to validation

Typical UK offers and entry requirements for Year 0 entry

GCE A/AS Levels
2 A-level qualifications at grades CC or higher. 

BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Merit, Merit, Pass in an art, design or media related subject

BTEC Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Distinction, Merit in an art, design or media related subject

UAL Extended Diploma
An overall Pass

UAL Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
An overall Pass

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design 

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Art and Design)

International Baccalaureate Diploma
A minimum of 24 points

NUA welcomes applicants of all ages from all backgrounds. Your application will be primarily assessed through interview and portfolio review so even if you have no formal qualifications or do not meet our typical offers it can still be worth applying.


Image of a student sat at a computer looking at the camera

Catrin Feron

"Its so useful in understanding how to animate a gibbon for our upcoming conservation project."

BA (Hons) VFX

BA VFX student Pheya Tribelsky standing on st Georges Bridge at Norwich University of the Arts

Pheya Tribelsky

"One of my favourite things about Norwich is how many independent small businesses there are, varying from quirky coffee shops, bars and restaurants."

BA (Hons) VFX

photo of alum Fahim Fadzlishah smiling and looking away from camera with arm leant against wall and short swept black hair and an open checkered red and blue shirt with window in background

Fahim Fadzlishah

"I like the idea of fooling the eye. The idea of manipulating and creating visuals on screen really drives me. It’s inspiring to project my own ideas and interpretations."

BA (Hons) VFX

photo of alum Jose Fernandez looking up and smiling with combed black hair and wearing a black t-shirt with a wide bright window in the background

Jose Fernandez

"I manage to almost always find inspiration across the city, there are many artists and spaces to see every day and find your creativity."

BA (Hons) VFX

Need help? Chat to our friendly recruitment team

Book a place on an Open Day, or to find out more about how to apply for a course at NUA, please give us a call.

Call: +44 (0) 1603 610561

Email: studentrecruitment@nua.ac.uk

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