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BA (Hons) Special Effects

Bring your imagination to life through animatronics or visual effects

Enquire: 023 8201 5066

Are you fascinated with special effects for the film, television and leisure industries? Solent University’s special effects degree will allow you to bring your own unique artistic vision to the screen and perfect your skills in model work, prosthetics and special effects.

This industry focused degree allows you to specialise in either animatronics and visual effects, and focuses on building a well-rounded portfolio of skills to complement each specialism.

You’ll also gain knowledge of the industry, ensuring you’re up-to-date with the latest specialist tools, principles and production processes that employers in the industry are looking for. 

  • Students have access to dedicated art and design studios and specialist tools and facilities.
  • The course places a strong emphasis on real-world experience, and students are encouraged to undertake a work placement.
  • The course team has strong ties to the industry and past students have had the opportunity to visit UK special effects companies to examine the process and practice of special effects.
  • The course is built around practical insights into the special effects industry, and offers students the option to work for Solent Creatives, Solent University’s in-house creative agency.
  • Southampton Solent University was voted as one of the top creative universities in the Which? University Student Survey 2014.
  • Past students have had the opportunity to collaborate with other students from film, TV and animation courses. 

The industry

The range of industries using special effects has grown rapidly over the last decade and the technology is frequently used in the film, television, advertising, leisure and creative industries. 

The programme

This course aims to provide students with the essential knowledge and specialist skills that employers in these industries will require.

Students have access to a variety of industry-standard software and hardware relating to the specialist skills pathway chosen.

Students specialising in animatronics have access to CAD, control and signal-writing and 3D-modelling software such as SolidWorks, as well as hardware such as CNC and laser cutters.

Students choosing to specialise in visual effects will have access to a variety of 3D software applications, together with digital compositing and photo-editing suites, including the full Adobe Creative Suite, with Photoshop, Premier and Aftereffects.

Next steps

Think a career in special effects is for you? The special effects programme at Solent will allow you to develop your imagination and creative talent and give you the opportunity to refine your technique, explore new design concepts and build a professional portfolio to help prepare you for your career in this exciting and dynamic industry.

Have you got a question about applying?


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

2016 entry
260 UCAS Tariff points

2017 entry - New UCAS Tariff
104 UCAS Tariff points



Year one:


Core units

  • Character Design for SFX
  • SFX Props and Model-Making
  • Life Drawing
  • Computer Modelling
  • History of Special Effects.


  • Introduction to Animatronics
  • Stop-Motion.

Year two:


Core units

  • Digital Character
  • Analysing Special Effects Film and TV.


  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Digital Animation
  • Control and Signal Writing
  • Screenwriting Techniques
  • Prosthetics and Make-Up Effects
  • Visual Effects Cinematography
  • Animatronics Design
  • Video Technologies.

Year three:


Core units

  • Special Effects Pre-Production
  • Special Effects Professional Practice and Management
  • Dissertation
  • Special Effects Major Project.


  • Digital Portfolio
  • Freelancing at Solent Creatives
  • Creative Entrepreneurial Freelance Practice
  • Curriculum Plus.

Teaching, learning and assessment

The course is taught via formal lectures and practical work in the special effects studio/workshop.

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, control and signal-writing and 3D-modelling software such as SolidWorks, 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. This includes the full Adobe Creative suite, with Photoshop, Premier and Aftereffects.

Web-based learning

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

UCAS codes


  • 3 Years Standard entry W614

What do we offer?

From a vibrant city centre campus to our first class facilities, this is where you can find out why you should choose Solent.

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.

Suitable roles for graduates include: :

  • Animation and VFX studios
  • Animatronics
  • Prosthetics/model-making 
  • Film and TV companies 
  • Robotics
  • Signal writers
  • Programming.

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


UCAS have updated their tariff points for 2017 entry. Please click here for more information.

260 points (for 2016 entry) or 104 points (for 2017 entry) from:

  • A-levels, a BTEC Extended Diploma at DMM or BTEC Diploma at D*D 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.

Portfolio requirements

Before sending us your portfolio, please read the following: Interview information

We welcome applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds. Applicants who are not in possession of the minimum entry requirements but are able to demonstrate aptitude, enthusiasm and motivation will be considered on an individual basis and may be admitted subject to satisfactory interview and/or portfolio. Please contact us for further details.

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 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each individual component
  • TOEFL IBT minimum 80 with a minimum of 19 in each individual component- TOEFL is only valid for EU students
  • 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 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 2016/2017 academic year are:

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

International full-time fees: £11,000 per year

Other costs

Compulsory soft/hard materials, animatronics actuators, prosthetics in year two: £400-£500.
Compulsory animatronics, prosthetics and make-up effects for major projects in year three: £400-£500.

Graduation costs 

Graduation is the ceremony to celebrate the achievements of your studies. For graduates in 2015, there is no charge to attend graduation, but you will be required to pay for the rental of your academic gown (approximately £42 per graduate, depending on your award). You may also wish to purchase official photography packages, which range in price from £15 to £200+. Graduation is not compulsory, so if you prefer to have your award sent to you, there is no cost.

For more details, please visit:

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


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