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BDes (Hons) Special Effects for Film and Television with foundation year

Help make movie magic and TV thrills! Our highly practical BDes (Hons) Special Effects for Film and TV with foundation year degree explores a wide range of specialist skills to create physical and digital effects for film and TV. With fantastic facilities and industry-experienced staff, we’re dedicated to preparing you for a career bringing imagination to life.

Special Effects for Film and Television with foundation year

Key information

Award:

BDes (Hons)

Mode of Study:

Full-time

Duration:

4 years

Location:

University of Bolton

UCAS points:

48

UCAS code:

W624

Start date:

19/09/2022

Course Details

Television shows, films, music videos, commercials and theatre productions all rely on the magic of special effects to enhance their storytelling. Our BDes (Hons) Special Effects for Film and TV with foundation year course is ideal if you wish to combine design creativity, physical model-making skills, special prosthetic make-up effects, and cutting-edge 2D and 3D computer modelling and prototyping in the creation of special effects for all these platforms.

This unique course begins with a foundation year that allows you to experience the various specialisms offered by the Centre for Film FX at the University of Bolton. Our foundation year aims to build your academic and creative skills and confidence so that you can make the leap to degree-level study smoothly. We’ll guide you as you explore a wide range of technical and creative areas drawn from across the spectrum of special and visual effects, helping you make an informed decision about your future career direction. At the end of the year, you’ll be able to choose between progressing with our BDes (Hons) Special Effects for Film and TV or transferring to one of our other fantastic Film FX courses.

Throughout this degree, you’ll explore and develop your design and problem-solving skills and apply them to the art of creating special effects for film and television. This pathway offers specialisation while still nurturing an understanding of the entire landscape of special effects.

Large scale film and TV productions use both physical and digital effects, so our intensely practical approach allows you to gain hands-on experience of a broad range of special effects disciplines and techniques.

Industry practitioners deliver several elements of the course. Our staff are very hands-on, skilled, friendly and enthusiastic, prioritising one-to-one support and industry-focused development.

Highlights
  • The Centre for Film FX is widely regarded by prominent members of the UK and international film industry as one of the best places to study for a career in the film industry. Kate Walshe, Co Dir Millenium FX, said this in 2020 – “The University of Bolton Film and TV dept is literally world-class. I always get so excited to see projects made by the students there. It’s the perfect environment for creating the next generation of artists.”
  • You don’t have to worry about the cost of the materials needed to complete your studies – we provide these for you. This means you can concentrate on learning how to use expensive industry-standard materials, like silicones and resins, rather than worrying about how you are going to pay for them!
  • Neill Gorton, multi-award-winning artist/designer and founder of the world-renowned Millennium FX company, is our Visiting Professor of Special Effects. His astonishing range of professional experience, knowledge of cutting-edge techniques and industry contacts brings enormous benefits.
  • We’re committed to helping develop your employability and career network. During your time with us, you’ll have the opportunity to attend lectures from the likes of award-winning make-up artists Nick Dudman and Neill Gorton, many FX studios like KMFX, and model-makers like Artem.
  • We’ll encourage you to research, analyse, design and develop special effects techniques so that you can take an idea from a brief or script scene and find the most time-efficient, cost-effective and visually impressive way to turn that vision into reality.
Key Features
  • The course is designed in collaboration with professional special effects artists and studio directors. This ensures that the content is industry-relevant and includes the latest techniques, materials and innovations.
  • Course assignments and projects mimic industry pipelines and standards, so your experience is a realistic preparation for a career in special effects.
  • Alongside your special effects skills and knowledge, we’ll support you to develop a broader understanding of production design, including concepting, cinematography and composition. This will help you appreciate the roles, skills and expectations of other professionals working in the industry.
  • Our dedicated staff team has a wide range of professional experience, industry knowledge, technical expertise and academic credentials, offering you a variety of perspectives and broadening your horizons.
  • We offer a warm and friendly environment for your studies, with relatively small class sizes, purpose-built teaching facilities, and access to industry-standard materials.
  • By choosing to study with us, you'll have the chance to enjoy Bolton's many shops, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities. Manchester, one of the UK's most multicultural and lively cities, is less than 20 minutes away by train. Not forgetting, the North West of England is renowned for its beautiful countryside, coastline and heritage. This makes Bolton an ideal base from which to explore some of the best cultural and outdoor activities the UK offers.

  • 48 UCAS points. Please see our guide to the UCAS Tariff for examples of how to achieve these points.
  • Any subjects are acceptable at Level 3.
  • You should also have five GCSEs at grade C or above or grade 4 to 9 (or equivalent), including English and Mathematics.
  • You'll be required to attend an interview and provide a portfolio of appropriate work. Typically, your portfolio will present recent effects-related or project-based work. We'll also take any previous work or experience into account when deciding on your application.
  • The quality of a portfolio will be judged alongside traditional UCAS point bearing qualifications to determine the success of an application. We, therefore, give special consideration to applicants without the above qualifications who have a strong portfolio.
  • If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.


As a graduate of the BDes (Hons) Special Effects for Film and TV with foundation year, you’ll be able to demonstrate and combine creative skills with high levels of technical ability. The degree offers an exciting spectrum of opportunities, ranging from the highly accurate engineering approach of the product modeller to the imaginative and inventive solutions of a creature or character designer.

You’ll also possess a wide range of transferable skills, including teamwork, planning and organisation, working to briefs and deadlines, written and oral communication, presenting work and changes, critical analysis and logical thinking.

What can I do with this qualification?

The most prominent employers of special effects artists are film and television companies where you might work on a film or television show in production or post-production. Some special effects professionals choose a speciality area, such as prop making, costume, special make-up effects or model-making.

After graduation, you’ll be well prepared for a business career in the areas of film, commercials and television special effects production. You may also find employment in special effects or one of the many creative and entertainment industries rapidly developing in the UK, such as animation, make-up, animatronics, prosthetics, model-making, and robotics.

Alternative career options

As a graduate, you may find additional work opportunities creating displays or multimedia presentations for a museum or working for a company that makes and sells effects-based products, such as prosthetics, costumes or props. You may also use the qualification as a stepping-stone into a range of other careers, bearing in mind that postgraduate study and/or relevant work experience may be required. These include:

  • Advertising and marketing communications
  • Animation
  • Fashion and textiles
  • Games
  • Photo imaging
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Arts management

Course fees
Home Fees Year of study Total
Entry year2022/232023/242024/252025/262026/27
International Year of study Total
Entry year2022/232023/242024/252025/262026/27

Important note regarding tuition fees for the 2021-2022 academic year: EU nationals who meet residency requirements (have settled or pre-settled status) may be eligible for ‘Home’ fee status. If you do not meet these residency requirements, overseas fees will apply. Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland will be eligible for ‘Home’ fee status under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Please read the student finance eligibility 2021-2022 policy on www.gov.uk for information.

The fees for a student’s course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.

For 2021-2022 entry, the maximum government approved undergraduate tuition fee for UK students is £9,250 per year. The University is able to charge this fee subject to an approved Access and Participation Plan for 2021-2022 and its current rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework.

Bursaries

Click here for more information about the scholarships and bursaries available to University of Bolton students.


For details of how to apply for this course, please choose your status from the options below:

If you wish to apply for multiple institutions or multiple courses at Bolton for September entry, then apply through UCAS

You can apply for up to 5 courses through UCAS (at the same or different institutions) for a fee of £26.50. Alternatively, if you only wish to apply for a single course at a single institution then a reduced applicant's fee of £22 is applicable.

The online application form and guidance notes are available on the UCAS website.

You will need the following information to complete your UCAS application form:

  • Institution Code Name: BOLTN

  • Institution Code Number: B44

UCAS - Universities and Colleges Admissions Service

Tel: 0870 1122211
Web: www.ucas.com

If you wish to apply for a single course offered by the University of Bolton for any intake, you can apply directly

If you have carefully considered your course and institution choices and decided that this course is the best option for you, you may apply directly to the University using our online application form shown below.

A direct application to Bolton provides the following features:

  • Free of charge to apply

  • Secure, simple and streamlined

  • Contact us directly for any admissions queries

  • Regular updates on your application directly from the University

  • Invites to offer holder events and taster sessions where you can meet your future tutors and get a flavour of university life

NOTE: You cannot apply both through UCAS and directly to Bolton. Submitting an application to any university through UCAS during the same academic year will void any direct application you make to Bolton.

For courses starting in September, please be aware that we are required to share your information with UCAS if we accept you on this course. We will create a simplified UCAS acceptance record on your behalf and return this to UCAS. By submitting your application directly to the University of Bolton, you agree to these terms.

If you are ready to apply directly, please select your chosen start date from the list below.

Before applying, please read the entry requirements section of this page.

If your course runs at multiple locations or has various start dates, please be sure to select the correct application link from the list below.

Before beginning your application, you should have the following information to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history, including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including e-mail addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already inputted.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Undergraduate Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or UGadmissions@bolton.ac.uk

The University welcomes applications from international students from all over the world. We try to make the application process as simple and as fast as possible for our international applicants.

How you apply is determined by your current location and what you are choosing to study:

  1. Apply direct to the University. Links for the next available intakes of this course are shown below. Please click the link which will direct you to the online application form. Please read the user guidance before completing this.
  2. Apply via one of our approved in-country referral partners. A list of our partners may be found on the International pages of this website.
  3. Apply via UCAS for courses starting in September only – visit www.ucas.com.

Should you have any queries please contact the International Team on +44 (0) 1204 903110 or email international@bolton.ac.uk

  • Apply online: University of Bolton BDes(Hons) Special Effects Film TV WFD STV - 19 September 2022 (Intake not currently accepting international applications)

University of Bolton Group Partners

Bolton College
University Collegiate School
Alliance Learning
University of Bolton

For valued members of the University of Bolton Group and progressing students, we try to make our application process as simple and as fast as possible.

If you have carefully considered your course and institution choices and decided that this course is the best option for you, you may apply free of charge to the University. By selecting the appropriate link from the list shown below, you will be taken directly to our online application form. Please read the user guidance before completing this, and ensure you upload all supporting documents such as certificates and your personal statement when you apply.

When you are asked to add a contact email address, please ensure you add your college/university email account address as well as your personal address. If you do not add your college address as your contact address, we will be unable to identify you as a partner and offer you the benefits of being part of our group.

NOTE: You cannot apply both through UCAS and directly to Bolton. Submitting an application to any university through UCAS during the same academic year will void any direct application you make to Bolton.

For courses starting in September, please be aware that we are required to share your information with UCAS if we accept you on this course. We will create a simplified UCAS acceptance record on your behalf and return this to UCAS. By submitting your application directly to the University of Bolton, you agree to these terms.

If you are ready to apply directly, please select your chosen start date from the list below.

Before applying, please read the entry requirements section of this page.

If your course runs at multiple locations or has various start dates, please be sure to select the correct application link from the list below.

Before beginning your application, you should have the following information to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history, including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including email addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already inputted.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Undergraduate Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or UGadmissions@bolton.ac.uk

We look forward to receiving your application and you continuing your academic journey with us!


We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods to help you achieve your potential. You can expect our blended style to include lectures, seminars, tutorials and critiques, self-directed learning, e-learning and laboratory/workshop sessions, as well as online learning.

Lectures introduce the core course content, while seminars allow you to explore subjects in greater detail. Practical skills and techniques are gained through technical introduction and support, workshop sessions, demonstrations and activity-based assignments. Tutorials allow you to ask questions, ensuring you understand the topics covered in lectures and workshop sessions.

Guest lectures and visits give you opportunities to engage with and learn from respected professionals working in the special effects arena. Our highly practical and project-based approach promotes active learning, and our specialist facilities create realistic industry-like learning environments. Our project modules encourage you to interact and collaborate with students specialising in both your own and other areas of special and visual effects, helping to give you a taste of working on group and multidisciplinary projects.

Personal and independent study is essential. You should expect to devote a significant amount of time to activities such as project work, background reading, preparation for seminars and tutorials, research, design and creative thought.

In terms of assessment, you can expect assignments, projects, case studies, quizzes, interviews and presentations. As far as possible, we set project-based coursework that simulates professional situations. These pieces contribute to your final mark and allow you to demonstrate that you’ve met the learning outcomes.

Modules

The modules listed below may be a mixture of compulsory and optional. You may not have the opportunity to study all the modules shown as part of the course.

  • Special Creature Effects
  • Modelmaking Effects
  • Special Makeup Effects
  • Visual Effects and Animation
  • Design
  • Fabrication
  • Realisation
  • Team Project
  • Advanced Realisation
  • Advanced Fabrication
  • Mouldmaking
  • Advanced Project
  • Technical Research
  • Industry Project
  • Major Project
Assessment methods
LevelAssesment method
Level oneCoursework 100%
Level twoCoursework 100%
Level threeCoursework 100%
Learning activities
LevelLearning activity
Level oneGuided independent study 65%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 35%
Level twoGuided independent study 65%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 35%
Level threeGuided independent study 65%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 35%

Disclaimer

The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

Richard Mcevoy-Crompton
Programme Leader

R.Mcevoy-Crompton@bolton.ac.uk

+44 (0)1204 903064

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton

enquiries@bolton.ac.uk

+44 (0)1204 903903

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Help Centre

We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
Alliance learning
Anderton centre2
RiSE pos rgb logo
TEF Silver QQA Scheme Participant