Skip to main content
Book an open day

About the course

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. 

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, as well as laser cutting technologies. 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.

You have the opportunity to study abroad in one of our partner universities for a semester on this course.
Study abroad
As part of your studies you will have the opportunity to undertake a work experience placement.
Built in work experience placement
This course has access to Solent's specialist facilities.
Specialist facilities
After successfully completing your studies, there's an opportunity to continue your studies at Solent.
Further studies

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.

What does this course lead to?

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.

Who is this course for?

Solent’s special effects programme is ideal for students who aspire to careers in animation, VFX, animatronics, prosthetics/model making or live staging.

Students come from a wide range of academic and creative backgrounds, but are required to submit a portfolio that demonstrates adequate life drawing, model-making, computer modelling and animation skills.

Facts and figures

UCAS codes icon

UCAS codes

Full Time

  • 3 Years Standard Entry W614
Fees icon

Fees and costs

Tuition fees

The 2020/21 tuition fees are not yet available. For guidance, the 2019/20 fees were:
UK, EU and Channel Island full-time fees: £9,250 per year
International full-time fees: £12,875 per year

For further information, please visit our tuition fees page.

Other costs

While most course costs are covered by your tuition fees, some essential resources and optional extras may need to be paid for separately. These additional costs are listed below. For advice on budgeting and managing your money, please contact

The 2020/21 other costs are not yet available. For guidance, previous other costs have been:

Year two:
Compulsory soft/hard materials, animatronics actuators, prosthetics in: £400-£500.

Year three:
Compulsory animatronics, prosthetics and make-up effects for major projects: £400-£500.

Bursaries and scholarships

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

Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

96 - 112 UCAS tariff points from A-levels or equivalent

  • A minimum of two completed A-levels, a BTEC Extended Diploma at MMM or BTEC Diploma at DM or equivalent qualification, or a combination of qualifications which comply with the minimum entry requirement of 96 UCAS points.
  • 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.
  • If you are applying from outside the UK, find information about entry requirements, visas and agents for your country here.
  • For further information about UK, EU and international qualifications, please refer to our course entry requirement statement.

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
  • 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.

Study location

East Park Terrace

Got a question about this course?

Contact our Ask Solent team: 023 8201 5066

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 15 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 the end of June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

Please click the links below to apply through UCAS:

Mode of study
Full-time 3 years Apply
How to apply

What you'll study

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

Please note: Not all optional units are guaranteed to run each year.

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

Please note: Not all optional units are guaranteed to run each year.

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

Please note: Not all optional units are guaranteed to run each year.


Web-based learning

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

The Student Hub

The Student Hub is a central space where you can access all of the information and support you need during your time at University.

Professional and experienced staff can help resolve any query, and if they cannot answer the question themselves they will find the person who can.

Career support

Meet the course team

Johnny Issapour academic profile Johnny Issapour Course Leader View profile
Darren Kerr academic profile Darren Kerr Senior Lecturer View profile
Kevin Dean academic profile Kevin Dean Associate Lecturer View profile

The university cannot guarantee any particular members of staff will teach specific aspects of the course in the future, but will endeavour to ensure the teaching team maintains their balance of experience and qualifications.


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, as well as laser cutting technologies.

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.

The course places a strong emphasis on real-world experience, and students are encouraged to undertake a work placement.

Your future

Suitable roles for graduates include: :

  • Animation and VFX studios
  • Animatronics
  • Prosthetics/model-making 
  • Film and TV companies 
  • Robotics
  • Signal writers
  • Programming.
  • The course is well designed and structured, with easy access to equipment and facilities for both pathways of the course. What makes this course unique is that experienced academics and industry experts lead the course, as well as having regular industry visits and guest speakers.

    William Clinker, Student

Industry links

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.


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

Graduate stories

Daniel's story

Daniel Sweeting - 3D Visualiser at Claremont Group Interiors

What made you choose to study at Solent?
Solent provided me with a chance to study special effects in a format that wasn't offered anywhere else in the country at the time.

What was the most important thing you learnt?
I went to university to study one pathway, but my tutors helped me to find something more suitable for my skills. Thanks to this advice, my career has taken off in a direction I would've never thought was possible.

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your work?
As a 3D visualiser, I use skills that I gained from my degree every day. I'm fortunate that I continuously develop and use my skills on contracts for visualising the renovations of large office buildings for a wide range of clients.

What has been your biggest achievement in your work so far?
Being part of a brilliant team, winning a £3million contract!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying at Solent?
University can be stressful. Solent has a great student union and a true sense of friendship. You can always find someone to chat to, from your housemates to student services. Solent was always there for people who needed it.

Further study

Enhance your career prospects by continuing your study at Solent.

Solent University Open Days

Experience Solent for yourself. Meet our staff, students and explore our amazing facilities.

View our events