BA (Hons) Special Effects

Bring your imagination to life through animatronics or visual effects

Enquire: 023 8201 5066

2015 entry


This dynamic and industry-focused course will prepare you for work within the special effects sector of the film, television and leisure industries.

Uniquely in the UK, the course offers a choice between animatronics and visual effects pathways within the same degree structure – so if you’d prefer not to specialise too early, you can take a ‘mix and match’ approach to your option units in the second year.

The multidisciplinary nature of the course will give you a broadly applicable range of skills and knowledge, ensuring you’re up-to-date with the special effects industry’s generic tools, principles and production processes.

You’ll also be able to focus your assignments across a wide range of applications in film, television, museums and art galleries, theatre and live performance.

Don't just take our word for it...

William Clinker
"The course is well designed and structured, with easy access to equipment and facilities for both pathways of the course."
  More from William

UCAS codes


  • 3 Years Standard entry W614

Typical entry requirements

260 UCAS Tariff points

Year 1

  • Character Design for SFX
  • Computer Modelling
  • History of Special Effects
  • Life Drawing
  • SFX Props and Model Making
  • Options
    • Introduction to Animatronics
    • Stop Motion

Year 2

  • Analysing Special Effects Film and TV
  • Digital Character
  • Options
    • Animatronics Design
    • Computer Aided Design
    • Control and Signal Writing
    • Digital Animation
    • Prosthetics and Make-up Effects
    • Screenwriting Techniques
    • Video Technologies
    • Visual Effects Cinematography

Year 3

  • Dissertation
  • Special Effects Major Project
  • Special Effects Pre-Production
  • Special Effects Professional Practice & Mgm
  • Options
    • Creative Entrepreneurial Freelance Practice (CFP1)
    • Digital Portfolio
    • Freelancing at Solent Creatives (FSC7)

(Our courses are regularly reviewed so the final module list may be slightly different from the one shown here.)

Teaching, learning and assessment

The theoretical units are delivered via formal lecture and the practical units are normally taught in the special effects studio/ workshop, a simulated industrial workspace. Students will work alongside one another, sharing analysis of each other’s work when designing physical or CGI models or producing visual effects shots. Sessions are introduced with flipchart drawings/demonstrations and a lecture to deconstruct the learning requirements. Screenings are used in the studio to reinforce understanding.

In some instances it will be essential to provide demonstrations modules as exemplars especially to demonstrate some of the more complex and SFX abstract techniques.

A variety of tools and capture techniques are introduced to provide the students with a solution to many problematic situations.

Work experience
Solent places a strong emphasis on real-world experience, so you’ll be encouraged to undertake a work placement via the Curriculum Plus unit or Special Effects Major Project, drawing on the course team’s support and strong ties to the industry in order to find a suitable placement.

The course is assessed through a mix of coursework, portfolios and presentations. There are no formal exams.

Our facilities

You’ll have access to a variety of industry-standard software and hardware, depending on which skills pathway you choose:

The animatronics pathway includes CAD and 3D modelling software such as 3D SMAX, as well as hardware such as CNC and laser cutters.

On the visual effects pathway you’ll have access to a variety of 3D software applications, together with digital compositing and photo editing suites.

Web-based learning

Solent’s virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.


Meet the Team


UCAS codes


  • 3 Years Standard entry W614
  • Flexible course structure allows specialisation to enhance your employability
  • Modern, industry-standard environment, with the latest post-production software and specialised facilities in animatronics, prosthetics and visual effects
  • Access to a stop-motion studio, equipped with high-definition cameras and green/blue screen facilities
  • Lecturers with many years of real-world industry experience
  • Visits to UK special effects companies to examine the process and practice of special effects, from initial idea, through concept development to post-production
  • Visits to museums to explore your drawing skills and analytical character study
  • Study visit to Disneyland Paris to examine 2D and 3D digital animation, and to investigate new digital technologies.



The range of industries using special effects has grown rapidly over the last decade, ensuring that your broad knowledge and skills base will open up wide-ranging opportunities for employment. You’ll be able to find work in film, television or advertising, bringing your own unique artistic vision to the screen or providing the perfect final touch to model work, prosthetics or special effects.

Students graduating from this course will be able to apply for jobs in the following industry sectors:

  • 3D animation
  • Stop-motion
  • Animatronics
  • Robotics
  • Control and signal writing
  • Model-making
  • Prosthetics and up effects
  • Film and video production
  • Television network production

Links with industry

Close links with industry provide you with extensive opportunities for networking and work experience in UK special effects companies, including Neal Scanlon Studios, Cinesite, Double Negative, Competent Crew FX, Dr Frames FX, Artem, Pew36, BBC Special Effects, Creature Shop, Shepperton Studios, Pinewood Studios, LCI and the Movieum of London.

Transferable skills

Throughout the course you’ll develop a broad array of skills, including creative research, computer modelling, animation, project management, visual communication, evaluation, problem-solving and presentation.


Key facts


Location of study: East Park Terrace

Study mode: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • 260 Tariff points from A-levels or equivalent
  • Direct entry into the second or third years may be considered for this course.
  • Applicants over the age of 21 may be considered based on relevant experience, without having the required tariff points.

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 (5.5 in writing)
  • TOEF IBT 80 (19 in writing)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic 56 (51 in writing) 
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

The University also offers a pre-sessional English programme and an international foundation programme| for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.

Note to all international students requiring a visa:

All international applicants need to be aware that the English language requirements to attend Southampton Solent University, and the English language requirements to obtain a visa from the Home Office, may be different. This means that if you meet the Southampton Solent University language requirement to gain a place on the course, you may still have to meet additional requirements to be granted with a visa by the Home Office.

We strongly advise all applicants to visit the Home Office| website which outlines all the requirements for a successful visa application and to take a look at this PDF document which outlines both Solent University and Home Office requirements| for a number of language tests.  

Non-standard entry

If you do not have these qualifications or are unsure of your eligibility please contact the University using the contact details found at the top of this page.

Costs involved


Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2015 academic year are:

UK and EU full-time fees: £9,000 per year

International full-time fees: £10,930 per year

Bursaries and scholarships

Southampton Solent University offers a range of scholarships that provide financial assistance or waive fees for tuition or accommodation. Each scholarship has specific eligibility criteria. Check out our scholarships page| to find out more.


How to apply


Any student applying for the first year of a full-time/sandwich undergraduate course must apply through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). This includes mature, overseas and EU students.

Nearly all schools and colleges offer their students the facility of applying electronically through the UCAS website using 'Apply'; it may also be used by those applying independently in the UK and overseas. This facility and all course information can be found on the UCAS website:|

Your application should reach UCAS by January if you hope to enter a course the following autumn. Early application is advised for the most popular subject areas. Late applications may be made until June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

Student support and services


Student welfare

Southampton Solent University is committed to giving you the best possible educational experience during your time with us. As such we have a number of support services and policies set up covering funding, careers and employability, chaplaincy, counselling, international advice, student affairs, key academic skills, disability support and general student advice. Find out more about our approach to student welfare|.

University facilities

You will have access to a modern, comfortable and efficient environment in which to study, following our extensive refurbishment and modernisation over recent years. Some key facilities include Mountbatten library, a wide variety of sports and watersports facilities, plus superb IT and media facilities. Find out more about our first-class facilities here|.

Living in Southampton

Southampton is a vibrant student city and studying at Solent means that you will be at the very heart of the action. Find out more about being a student in Southampton.

Solent Students’ Union

Run by students for students, Solent Students’ Union is a key part of any student’s time at Solent. Visit the Students’ Union website| for more information.


UCAS codes


  • 3 Years Standard entry W614

accommodation  |

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