BSc (Hons) Visual Effects and Animation

The possibilities of pixels are endless with our BSc (Hons) Visual Effects and Animation degree. Focusing on the specialist skills needed to create computer generated and post-production visual effects, we offer industry-experienced staff and fantastic facilities, along with a proven track record of graduate success with award-winning employers.

BSc (Hons) Visual Effects and Animation

Course details

Visual effects (VFX) and animation is at the heart of creating spectacular imagery for the film, TV, commercial and music video industries. VFX is an integral part of nearly every global blockbuster film in the modern era. Whether it’s the creation of hideous monsters, futuristic vehicles, or epic alien landscapes, VFX is the driving force behind the magic that you see on screen.

Our BSc (Hons) Visual Effects and Animation course is ideal if you wish to combine design creativity with cutting-edge 2D and 3D computer generated imagery and animation to create visual effects. We offer hands-on experience covering the whole workflow of a digital VFX pipeline – from concept design, pre-production and visualisation, to the production of photorealistic 3D models/environments, and computer generated and composited images.

Our dedicated and experienced team will lead you in an exploration of 3D computer modelling, texturing, lighting, rendering, rigging and animation, as well as the established areas of compositing, matte paintings and environments.

VFX artists need transferable skills too, including communication, project and time management, team-working and entrepreneurship. We aim to support you to develop these attributes, alongside the imagination, flair and curiosity that will enable you to design and deliver inventive VFX and animation solutions for film, TV and advertising.

  • UCAS points: 104
  • Start date: 21/09/2020
  • Location: The University of Bolton
  • Award: BSc (Hons)
  • UCAS code: W621
  • Duration: 3 years

Course highlights:

  • Each year our final year students are set industry briefs by Oscar-winning VFX studios such as DNEG. Getting involved with these industry projects can help you form great links with top VFX studios, as well as give you direct feedback on your work from leading industry artists and professionals.
  • You’ll have access to our fantastic range of VFX facilities, including our dedicated effects studio with infinity curve green screen, our site-wide renderfarm that uses distributed computing to render high quality, complex photo realistic scenes and environments, and our boutique film studio that includes broadcast standard cameras and lighting equipment.
  • You’ll also use industry-standard software, such as Autodesk Maya for 3D work, The Foundry’s Nuke and Mari for compositing and digital painting, and ZBrush for digital sculpting.
  • We’re committed to helping develop your employability and career network. You’ll be encouraged to attend guest lectures that enhance your learning and help you make contacts in the industry. For instance, Malcolm Watts, a Lead Modeller at Oscar Award-winning visual effects studio DNEG (and University of Bolton VFX graduate) has recently shared his expertise with students on our film FX courses.
  • Alongside your visual 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.

Key features:

  • The course is designed and regularly reviewed in collaboration with professional visual effects artists and studio directors. This ensures that the content is industry-relevant and includes the latest techniques and innovations.
  • We’ll help and support you to develop a portfolio of work/show reel that demonstrates your skills in readiness to impress potential employers.
  • Course assignments and projects mimic industry pipelines and standards so your experience is a realistic preparation for a career in visual effects and animation.
  • Our dedicated staff team have a wide range of professional experience, industry knowledge, technical expertise and academic credentials, offering you a variety of perspectives and broadening your horizons.
  • We prefer to keep student numbers relatively small in lecture and practical classes, so that you have plenty of opportunities to ask us questions and get individual help, as well as benefit from the ideas and support offered by your classmates.
  • We’ll encourage you to research, analyse, design and develop visual 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.

Entry requirements

  • UCAS points: 104
  • Start date: 21/09/2020
  • Location: The University of Bolton
  • Award: BSc (Hons)
  • UCAS code: W621
  • Duration: 3 years

Your Level 3 subjects must include at least one subject that supports you to showcase either creative OR technical skills that are relevant to the study of visual effects and animation. Creative subjects such as art and design, fine art, film, photography or media are welcomed. Alternatively, technical subjects such as computing, engineering, physics and mathematics can also be a great starting point for this degree. For instance, an applicant studying A-levels in Art & Design, English Literature and Psychology would be invited to a portfolio interview, as would an applicant taking A-levels in Mathematics, Geography and History. We accept qualifications from across the UCAS Tariff, so if you’re unsure if the subjects you’re studying are suitable, or want help choosing suitable subjects at Level 3, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to advise you.

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, portfolios are centred on one of the following areas: art, life drawing, painting, design, games, media, sculpture, photography, video editing, film, web-design, computing based or technical projects. We’ll also take any previous work or experience into account when making a decision 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. Find out more

Career opportunities

As a BSc (Hons) Visual Effects and Animation graduate you’ll be able to demonstrate and combine creative skills with high levels of technical ability. You’ll possess a strong understanding of the technical aspects of 3D computer modelling, texturing, lighting, rendering, rigging and animation as well as the areas of compositing, matte painting and environments. You’ll also be able to demonstrate a wide range of transferable skills, including team work, planning and organisation, working to briefs and deadlines, communication both oral and written, presenting work and changes, critical analysis and logical thinking.

An interest in the moving image, creating short films or animation sequences, a basic grasp of scripting and automation, illustration and life drawing will all put you in good stead for a career in visual effects.

What can I do with this qualification?

As a graduate of this course, you’ll be well equipped for a career in areas such as film, commercials, television, visual effects production and business management. Some of the key job roles exist within modelling, 3D imagery, animation, matte painting, motion graphics, production, lighting, concept and match move artistry. New job roles continue to emerge as the film FX business evolves; for instance, recent additions include the groom technical directors who work with animated hair, and stereographers who work with 3D imagery for cinema and virtual reality.

This course targets the top level film and TV industries and University of Bolton graduates have consistently gained employment at Oscar-winning VFX studios. Our graduates have worked on films such as Avengers: Endgame, Blade Runner 2049, Wonder Woman 1984, Fantastic Beasts, The Jungle Book, Interstellar, and Star Wars, as well as TV shows such as Doctor Who and HBO’s Chernobyl. The skills developed in VFX have also seen our graduates forge successful careers in adjacent areas, such as the AAA games industry, game cinematics, high-end advertising and architectural visualisation.

Alternative career options

  • Advertising and marketing communications
  • Production
  • Games
  • Photo imaging
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Arts management
  • Research and development
  • Fashion and textiles

Professional recognition

The University of Bolton’s BSc (Hons) Visual Effects and Animation degree holds Tick accreditation from Screen Skills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based creative industries, including animation, film, games, television including children's TV and high-end drama, VFX and immersive technology. Working with industry experts, ScreenSkills awards the quality mark of the Tick to practice-based degree courses that most effectively provide students with the skills and knowledge required by employers in the screen industries. ScreenSkills provides the highest level of industry-led accreditation for VFX focused degrees, meaning our degree is globally recognised for its outstanding levels of teaching, employability and links into the VFX industry.

Fees & funding

Home/EU fees

  Year of study Total
Entry year 2019/202020/212021/222022/23
2019/20 £9,250£9,250£9,250-£27,750
2020/21 -£9,250£9,250£9,250£27,750

International fees

  Year of study Total
Entry year 2019/202020/212021/222022/23
2019/20 £12,450£12,450£12,450-£37,350
2020/21 -£12,450£12,450£12,450£37,350

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.

The University is currently awaiting Government guidelines as to EU fee charges for students commencing study in 2019/20.

UK undergraduate tuition fees are subject to UK government approval and are subject to the outcome of the Teaching Excellence Framework.

How to apply


September start

Please apply through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for September entry.

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

You can apply for up to 5 courses through UCAS (at the same or different institutions) for a fee of £24. Alternatively, if you only wish to apply for a single course at a single institution then a reduced applicant's fee of £13 is applicable.

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


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

Should you have any queries please contact the International Team on +44 (0) 1204 903110 or email

Teaching & assessment


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

  • 3D Assets and Environments for VFX
  • Creature Concept and Digital Sculpting
  • Cinematic Shot Compositing
  • VFX Studio Project 1
  • VFX Integrated Shot Production
  • Technical FX and Dynamics
  • Build and Look Development
  • VFX Studio Project 2
  • Advanced VFX for Film and TV
  • Industry Project
  • VFX Major Project

Teaching, learning and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods to help you achieve your potential, and 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. You’ll be given access to over 400 tutorial videos recorded by our lecturing team as soon as you join the course in first year.

Lectures are used to 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 any questions you have, 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 visual 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 film FX, helping to give you a taste of working on group and multidisciplinary projects.

Personal and independent study is essential and 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.

You’re not expected to sit ‘traditional’ written examinations as part of this course. In terms of assessment, you can expect assignments, projects, case studies, quizzes, interviews, and presentations, as well as practical exams that usually take the form of short animation video files that demonstrate the work you’ve done over several weeks or months and chart your progress. As far as possible, we set project-based work that simulates professional situations. These pieces contribute to your final marks and allow you to demonstrate that you’ve met the learning outcomes.

We also use other forms of assessment to help you learn, provide you with feedback and inform your development, though these don’t count towards your final marks. For instance, you might be asked to complete quizzes or take part in group critique sessions that aim to strengthen your critical evaluation skills. You’ll also receive feedback on assessment drafts. This will help to identify any areas that would benefit from extra attention on your part, or where you need extra support from your tutor.


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. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis. 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.

Assessment methods

Level Assessment method
Level One Coursework (15%), Practical exams (85%)
Level Two Coursework (40%), Practical exams (60%)
Level Three Coursework (58%), Practical exams (42%)

Learning activities

Level Learning activity
Level One Guided independent study (65%), Scheduled learning and teaching activities (35%)
Level Two Guided independent study (65%), Scheduled learning and teaching activities (35%)
Level Three Guided independent study (65%), Scheduled learning and teaching activities (35%)

Contact The University

Key facts

  • UCAS code:
  • Course type:
  • Start date:
  • Location:
    The University of Bolton
  • Award:
    BSc (Hons)
  • UCAS points:
  • Duration:
    3 years

Contact us

Richard Jones
Programme Leader
Telephone: +44 (0)1204 903487

Matt Lilley
Assistant Teaching Professor
Telephone: +44 (0)1204 903487

Mark Whyte
Telephone: +44 (0)1204 903487

Sam Taylor
Telephone: +44 (0)1204 903487

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton
Telephone: +44 (0)1204 903903