• Study mode: Full Time
  • Location: High Wycombe
  • Duration: Four Years
  • Start Date: September 2019

Course Overview

The Foundation Year will allow you to develop your academic study skills and build confidence in your abilities, identifying your own strengths and development needs for progression onto an undergraduate degree.

Visual effects bring stories to life on the big screen. Using the latest techniques in 3D computer graphics you’ll create stunning objects and characters – and put these into real life footage to make believable scenes that will wow audiences.

We’ve linked up with industry specialists Creative Media Skills (CMS), based at Pinewood Studios, to create this unique course. It’s been designed by experts with industry needs in mind, so you’ll have the practical skills employers look for.

The film industry is a fast-moving world. You need to immerse yourself in it to stay in the game. That’s why we’ve made sure you’ll spend a substantial amount of your time with CMS at Pinewood Studios. Use their connections to get up-to-date, inside knowledge of what the industry really looks like.

  • In year 1 you’ll study at Bucks under the supervision of our industry expert lecturers.; in year 2 you’ll start to visit the studios once a week and by your final year you’ll be studying more frequently with CMS at Pinewood Studios
  • You will learn in small groups and benefit from  more contact with our teaching staff, offering you personalised support, feedback and encourgaement to help you achieve your goals
  • Use industry-standard software and equipment
  • Study a practical course where you’ll be assessed on your creative skills
  • Start by learning the main skills for a career as a digital artist, then specialise in your chosen role for your final year projects

More placements, more choices

Bucks is a Placements Plus university. So, whatever degree you do, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of industry-relevant opportunities on offer, to help you get into your chosen field.

We’ll also prepare you for work beforehand, with special skills for work training, further boosting your CV, and building skills employers will value. In recognition of the value we place on these skills we have incorporated this experience into your study time.

Placements Plus is all about helping you get some valuable experience under your belt while you’re a student. To increase your choices later, and help you get the graduate-level job you want.

Course Details

From digital sculpting to rigging, you’ll learn the ins and outs of visual effects. Throughout the course you’ll develop the skills you need to succeed, while building your network of industry contacts.

The course begins with essential CGI skills and the fundamentals of animation. You’ll use 3D modelling to create objects and characters and learn about the pipeline of a professional project. Moving on to year two, you’ll learn how to integrate your objects and characters into existing footage to create stunning scenes. You’ll also learn how to build an organic character, from sculpting to hair, to clothes and muscle sim.

By your final year, you’ll have found the specialism you want to focus on in the industry. Your group projects are a chance to test your skills in a realistic industry scenario. Take your place in the production pipeline and see what it’s like to contribute to a major project.

Throughout your degree, you’ll have the best of university and industry combined. In your first year, most of the teaching happens on campus, with a number of inspirational visit days to CMS at Pinewood Studios. In your second year, you’ll go to the studios once a week, and by third year you’ll be there even more frequently, working with industry professionals and developing your network.

Being a student at Bucks, you’ll have committed lecturers, a great support network and one of the country’s best Student Unions (NSS 2018). And being based at the CMS facilities at Pinewood Studios, you’ll be around professional digital artists and some of the most exciting projects happening right now.

Decades of experience is on hand

Our lecturers, tutors and mentors are all experts at what they do and are led by an experienced academic team. Many of our staff have worked on major productions and have great track records at training talented new digital artists.

Because this course is based in two locations, you’ll have access to even more support and inspiration than usual.

We value talent and commitment

Put in the work to build up your creative skills and you’ll do well on our course. Instead of formal exams, the focus of your work will be building up a strong portfolio, developing your team working skills and understanding what the industry expects of you.

We’ll assess your work through projects which show us what you’ve learnt and what you’re capable of. We believe if you do well in your work at Bucks, you can be confident of being a rising star in the industry in no time.

The tools of the trade

To really learn the craft, you need access to professional software and equipement. We provide industry standard software tools like Nuke, Z-Brush, Maya and Houdini. And with a motion capture studio, a virtual reality lab, and a renderfarm available, you’ll be able to fully realise your creative vision.

What are the course entry requirements?

A typical offer will include GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4 or above and a UCAS Tariff score of 80-96. A minimum of two full A-levels (or equivalent) is required. Every application is considered on an individual basis.

You are also required to submit an electronic portfolio.

For further details of our international English entry requirements, please visit our international pages.

Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements for the three-year undergraduate programme, or those who do not feel fully prepared for a degree course, can apply for a four-year programme including a Foundation Year; find out more.

Course Modules

Module Map

This module map provides a list of the modules that make up your course.

Each module is worth a specified number of credits (typically either 15 or 30 credits for undergraduate courses). Compulsory (or ‘core’) modules cover key subject knowledge, while ‘option’ modules enable you to develop your own interests. For a full-time course you must take modules worth a total of 120 credits at each level of the course. The number of option modules you can take depends on the number of compulsory modules at each level. You can find more information about how your course is structured via the Academic Advice pages.

Our teaching is informed by research and employer requirements, and modules change periodically to reflect developments in the subject area. In addition, where we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an option module, this may not be offered. If an option module does not run, we will advise you as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

The modules available on this course are as follows:

Foundation Year Modules

  • Preparing for Success Knowledge and Creativity
  • Preparing for Success Self-development and Responsibility
  • Inquiry and Research Skills
  • Introduction to Moving Image Production

Year One Modules

  • 3D Modelling & Pipeline
  • Texturing & Look Development
  • Lighting & Rendering
  • Animation Principles & The Moving Figure
  • Previz & Layout
  • Rigging

Year Two Modules

  • Compositing 1
  • Compositing 2
  • Modelling & Look Development
  • Digital Sculpting and Organic Modelling
  • Groom
  • Muscle Rigging
  • Character Clothing & Simulation

Year Three Modules

  • Industry Production Project
  • Portfolio Piece
  • Creative Production Project
  • Showreel


How much does it cost

Full Time Home and EU, September 2019: £9,250 per year

Full Time International, September 2019: £12,000 per year

Full Time Home and EU, February 2020: £9,250 per year

Full Time International, February 2020: £12,000 per year

Most courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees.

You could benefit from financial support through a bursary or scholarship during your time as a student. For more details visit our financial support, bursaries and scholarships section.

Questions about fees?

Contact our Enquiries Team:
0330 123 2023

How do I apply?

For application details please visit bucks.ac.uk/applying-to-bucks

Teaching team


What are my career prospects

Being based in part at the CMS facilities at Pinewood Studios, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to network and get a feel for the careers available. And with our industry-focused teaching, you’ll have the skills employees are looking for and a portfolio to impress.

The course is geared towards the film industry, but VFX is also a major part of TV and commercials too. You’ll also be learning skills that could get you work in other industries too, for example games and architectural visualisation; it depends on how you choose to specialise your skills in year 3. Past animation and visual effects students from Bucks have gone on to some great roles at companies like:

  • DNeg
  • Framestore
  • TT Games. (Warner Bros)
  • Mediatonic Games
  • FST.

The Big Deal

At Bucks, we believe in putting our students first. That’s why our Students’ Union have developed our exclusive ‘Big Deal’ package. We’re the only university in the UK to offer free access to such a diverse and exciting range of activities – all to enrich the university experience.

We offer FREE events and entertainment, additional skills workshops, sports, recreational activities, societies and paid student rep schemes. All at one of the top 10 Students’ Unions in the UK.  It’s a big deal!

Want to find out more? Visit our Students’ Union page or watch our video.

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