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BA (Hons) VFX

BA (Hons) VFX

Institution code: N39
Course UCAS code: W614
Course length: 3 years

Visual Effects (VFX) is the fastest growing area in the film industry. Our BA (Hons) VFX degree course will give you the skills to create astounding visual effects worlds, as seen in Hollywood films, stunning TV series and impactful commercials.

Designed in association with leading companies that represent 60% of the UK’s VFX industry (including Double Negative, Framestore, MPC and ILM), as well as professional bodies like Creative Skillset and UK Screen Alliance, you’ll learn how to translate your imagination into believable 3D environments and create the VFX imagery of tomorrow, whether for film, architectural visualisations or new VR applications.

Your VFX skills

On this future-looking undergraduate VFX course you’ll develop a skillset that will equip you for the increasing range of applications of VFX. From tv and film to architecture and urban design; scientific research to creative design and virtual reality.

Working with directors or filming your own shots, you’ll become an expert ‘world builder’, using visual effects as scaffolding to enhance a story.

Your VFX future

Through lectures, workshops, live briefs and one-to-one crits throughout your degree, you’ll gain valuable exposure to industry experts from major and independent studios. Small class sizes mean you’ll have frequent contact with teaching staff and visitors from the professional networks connected to the course.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend FMX, the biggest and best VFX and animation conference and festival 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 extends for one year after graduation.

Typical career paths include

  • Roto Artist
  • Texture Artist
  • 3D Generalist
  • 3D Environment Artist
  • Match Move Artist
  • Visualiser
  • 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 lectures by Compositor, Josh Parks from MPC and Jonathan Jones, Ember Films

Course content

  • Year 1
  • Learn to see: study VFX fundamentals about lenses, pixels and light to see differently
  • Follow set exercises aimed at understanding pixel fundamentals and fooling the eye
  • Progress from making two-dimensional flat imagery towards testing 3D virtual space
  • Research the use of optics, photorealism, perspective, theatrical stagecraft, monumental and civic art, sci-fi films, architecture and photography then apply these to make your VFX more novel and convincing
  • Use green screen with 4k URSA cameras
  • Have the opportunity to attend industry talks, presentations and discussions with key VFX companies and VFX professionals
  • Practice digital matte painting to improve your work.
  • Year 2
  • Progress from 2D to 3D
  • Learn industry processes like tracking, match moving, and extracting motion data from footage and transferring it to your developing scenes
  • Independently research how these techniques might be used within a professional setting
  • Gain short periods of work experience, engage in a live brief and attend industry conferences
  • Collaborate in flexible, open-ended and innovative ways to build amazing showreels
  • Attend industry talks, presentations and discussions with key VFX companies and VFX professionals
  • Learn about Look Development, lighting, texturing, rendering and all you'll need to build your worlds.
  • Year 3
  • Develop a professional portfolio of work
  • Gain powerful project management techniques to ensure you can lead VFX teams and increase job prospects
  • Research, prepare and complete a full-blown VFX production, and prepare 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 VFX companies and VFX professionals.

Student work

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Typical UK offers

A / AS Levels – GCE
GCE A/AS Levels 3 A-level qualifications at grades BBB, at least one of which must be in an art, design or media related subject. 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 32 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).

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

BA (Hons) VFX Portfolio degree guidance

Your interview

After you apply to study BA VFX 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 interviews at NUA.

Your portfolio

This is your chance to show us what you’re all about. Choose pieces that reflect your creativity and personal interests, as well as demonstrating your technical skills.

How much work should I include?

Choose at least two projects that show the steps you took to develop an idea. This might mean you include experiments, drafts or variations that demonstrate the progression of a project from the earliest stages through to completion. Don’t worry if they’re not perfect drawings, paintings or renderings – we want to understand how you think during the creative process.

What type of work should I include?

Finished projects that you’re excited about! Remember, we’re interested in you. What motivates your choice in discipline? What shapes your creative identity? You can submit assessed projects and coursework, but we recommend including independent work where possible. Self-initiated projects showcase your ability to generate ideas and tell us more about you and your ambition.

Things to consider

Take your time choosing pieces for your portfolio

You should be confident and passionate talking about each piece. You may not be able to talk us through everything in your portfolio at the interview, so be sure to present the work in a logical way. Choose a layout that tells the story of each project and use a structure that gives a full picture of your creative practice.

Show us the full range of your creative experience and interests

Tell us about contemporary creatives that have influenced your practice. Exhibitions, shows or festivals that have inspired you or influenced your work. Competitions you’ve entered and prizes you’ve won. If you can, avoid too much repetition in style and subject matter.

Your portfolio should be relevant to the course you’re applying to, but you can include a wide range of work that shows your creativity, technical competence and understanding of space.

You may wish to include some of the following:

  • Drawings, paintings or illustrations that exhibit a playful imagination and aptitude for creative and technical development, such as character and environment designs and images that demonstrate narrative or express a mood or atmosphere
  • Photoshop and Illustrator or related image making/editing tools are essential
  • Experience of working with green screen and motion capture technology
  • Evidence of working with rigs and lighting equipment
  • Storyboards or sequential art
  • Photographic work and compositing skills (narrative orientated)
  • Coding language (Python, C++)
  • Digital animation/ sculpture using packages such as Nuke Studio 9, Zbrush, Maya, Sculptris, Arnold or Renderman
  • Cinematography or up to eight photographs in a sequence that demonstrate your story telling ability
  • An ability to edit film (i.e. Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier)

Hardcopy portfolios

  • If you’re only submitting hardcopy materials you should aim to submit 20-30 pieces. Portfolios should be ring bound or loose boards between A4 and A1 in size.
  • Include 2-3 sketchbooks with the portfolio to demonstrate idea development, contextualisation and your work strategies.
  • Large, intricate or fragile pieces should be shown as good quality photographs.
  • If you’re submitting a showreel you should also present 10-15 images of other work (see digital portfolios guidance below).
  • Labels should be discreet, neat and used in a consistent manner for clear navigation.
  • Ensure your name is on the portfolio.

Digital portfolios

  • Include up to 30 images, including images from sketchbooks, research, experimental work and finished pieces.
  • If you’re presenting a showreel, your work should be no longer than five minutes, but you can include 10-15 accompanying images.
  • Ensure photographs and scans are in focus and in large enough format to see clearly.
  • Digital work should be presented on an online platform such as your own website, Tumblr, Flickr, Prezi, MeMyArt, YouTube, Vimeo or a personal blog. The link should then be submitted through the Applicant Portal or by emailing the relevant address below.
  • Ensure your digital portfolio is accessible before you arrive for interview, as your interviewer will load it in advance of the interview.
  • UK and EU applicants should send their link to admissions@nua.ac.uk
  • Non-EU and EEA applicants should send their link to international@nua.ac.uk

Written submission

As part of your offer you may be asked to submit a piece of written work in addition to your application, usually after your interview.

Typically an essay, report or completed log of between 500 and 1,000 words, your submission should demonstrate your ability to think critically, make informed analysis and communicate confidently in a subject area related to your proposed course of study.       

“We expect someone applying to have a good understanding of how to use image editing software to ‘fool the eye’ and have great artistic sensibilities.”

– Saint Walker, Course Leader

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.

2018/19 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 2018 fees for international students and the support available.

Financial support for UK/EU students in 2018

Tuition fee loans and loans for living costs are available, as well as non-repayable NUA bursaries that take into account family income. Find 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 £25,000 per year

Maintenance Loan for Undergraduate study – 2018/19

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 £8,700 may be available if you live away from home.
  • A loan of up to £7,324 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.


NUA offers bursaries to new students whose household income is £42,875 or less.

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.


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

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 contact Lynne, Sam, Tom, or Tori:

Call: +44 (0) 1603 610561

Email: studentrecruitment@nua.ac.uk

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