Film Technology and Visual Effects with a Foundation Year - BSc (Hons) *

UCAS Code:
Full Time (4 years)
September 2018

If you have a keen interest in film and visual effects, our BSc (Hons) Film Technology and Visual Effects course will provide you with the technical, creative and production skills you need to be successful in the film or visual effects industry.

About the Foundation Year

The Foundation Year course option enables you to study for our BSc (Hons) degree over an extended full-time duration of four years by including a Foundation Certificate (year one of four). The Foundation Certificate provides a broad study programme that underpins the follow-on degree. In order to progress to the next year of your degree, it is necessary to achieve a pass in all of the modules of the Foundation Certificate.

What's covered in the course?

The film aspect of the course explores the capture and editing of live action video and audio elements, while the visual effects aspect of the course looks at the creation digital elements, such as creatures and matte environments, and the use of compositing tools to combine these live action and digital elements together, to produce convincing visual effects shots.

You will focus on the fundamental mathematics, physics and technical concepts, examining the behaviour of sound and light, the simulation of fluids, cloth, hair and collisions, the digital manipulation of light and sound and more.

We’ll train you to become a versatile, adaptable and well-equipped graduate, with the technical and creative skills needed to perform a variety of roles within film and visual effects production. Designed to meet the industry’s need for highly-skilled, enthusiastic graduates, this course will help you learn how to negotiate challenges and adapt to different technical innovations.

Upon graduation you could progress into a career as a video editor, cinematographer, CGI modeller, CGI animator, visual effects artist and compositor. The course has a particular focus on technical roles such as rigging, dynamic simulations, shader development and match moving.

My colleagues and lecturers are friendly and are always willing to help you – there has never been a time where I am not learning something new. Oliver Rossetti

Why Choose Us?

  • You’ll work within our Centre for Digital Media Technology, using cutting-edge equipment, dedicated green screen studios and several editing stations (and much more).  
  • The course explores the fundamental technologies and physics of film and visual effects production, building connections between working with real light and sound and working with digital light, sound, video, geometry and dynamic simulations. 
  • You will plan and produce a range of film and visual effects productions, using industry-standard tools such as Nuke compositing software, Maya 3D modelling and animation software, a Milo motion control system, a permanent green screen studio and cinema-style camera rigs.
  • The unique combination of technical knowledge and practical production experience makes our graduates more employable and able to move more quickly into key production roles.
  • The course encourages you to engage with industry, allowing a number of flexible paths to gaining work experience, including basing selecting modules around work experience, taking a placement year and working on commercial productions within the University.

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Antimatter Games
  • S+O Media
  • Instinct Laboratory

And in jobs such as:

  • Video Producer
  • 3D Junior Designer


Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Saturday 30 June 2018. Book your place to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

School of Computing and Digital Technology

Discover the School of Computing and Digital Technology

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

This course is accredited by:

Accreditations shall be renewed in accordance with the accreditor’s standard review process and subject to the University maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

Subject to approval

This course is in the final stages of design and is due to be reviewed and approved to meet our quality standards.

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students

At the point of application, you must have achieved or be working towards GCSE at Grade 4 (C) or above in English Language and Mathematics. Equivalent qualifications will be accepted.

BB or 80 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels. 

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2018/19
GCE A Level/ AS Level BB or 80 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels. At least one from Technology, Science, Mathematics  or Computing related subjects.
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2, including with a minimum of 12 credits achieved from any Technology units awarded at Merit or Distinction
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 80 UCAS points. Must be from Technology, Science, or Computing related subjects.
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) MMP - 80 UCAS tariff. Must be from Technology, Science, or Computing related subjects.
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) Combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 80 UCAS points 
International Baccalaureate Diploma

1. For students who complete the full IB Diploma: a total of 10 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects.

2. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma and who achieve the minimum of 11 points from two High Level subjects will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates

Students must have grade 5 in Maths (Standard Level)
English Group A - Grade 4 or above, 
English Group B and Ab Initio - Grade 5

Irish Leaving Certificate

Passes in six subjects at the higher grade including mathematics.

Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher Passes in five subjects at the higher grade including mathematics.
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) Pass grade combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a miinimum total of 80 UCAS points 
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
EU/International students
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2018/19
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).

1. For students who complete the full IB Diploma: a total of 10 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects.

2. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma and who achieve the minimum of 11 points from two High Level subjects will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates

Students must have grade 5 in Maths (Standard Level)
English Group A - Grade 4 or above, 
English Group B and Ab Initio - Grade 5

Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.


International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

International Students

Entry requirements here

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BSc (Hons) Sep 2018 FT 4 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BSc (Hons) Sep 2018 FT 4 years £12,000 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college. You can apply until 30 June.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Additional costs

  • Memory Cards – £40
  • Portable Hard Drive (1TB+) – £70

Foundation year

Computer Technology Context
Fundamental Maths
Academic & Professional Development 1
Academic & Professional Development 2
Computing Skills in Practice

Year one

On this course, you’ll learn the practical application of technology and the craft of production.

In the first year, you’ll focus on developing your fundamental skills and knowledge in using digital video production techniques to capture live action elements, using 3D modelling and software graphics tools to create virtual elements, and using composting tools to combine live action and virtual elements in a finished video.

Acquisition for Visual Effects
20 credits

In this module, you’ll develop your understanding of audio visual acquisition technologies for digital film production. The module shows how images and audio are captured using sound and video recording equipment – cameras, microphones, recorders and so on – in a film production environment.

The module will feature practical filming sessions which simulate industry practice, requiring students to solve real world problems using relevant industry-standard techniques and tools.

You’ll develop a strong technical understanding of planning and production, enabling you to correctly assess, specify and capture the required data to be worked on later in post-production. You’ll need the practical skills and knowledge you’ll gain in this module to successfully complete the post work featured in other VFX based modules.

Visual Design
20 credits

This module will develop your skills, knowledge and experience in essential techniques within the visual design industry – more specifically the art and craft of visual communication, visual design and digital asset creation.

The competent use and application of these techniques are core practical skills on the course and fundamentally important to a variety of careers within the digital media industry.

You’ll also develop a wide range of transferrable skills in planning, approaching and evaluating your work, applying those skills to different types of production and resources.

CGI Modelling
20 credits

This module will provide you with the skills and experience to produce 3D models for use in games and visual effects.

You’ll make use of the skills you’ll develop in this module in working with 3D models throughout the rest of your course.

The module will develop your modelling skills to a high standard, enhancing your knowledge of the fundamentals of 3D modelling and rendering, and giving you experience in the use of industry-standard modelling tools.

The module will also provide an overview of how 3D models are used in a variety of industries apart from film, TV and gaming.

Studio Production
20 credits

A great deal of film production takes place in dedicated studios or sound stages. This generally involves large teams of people working in departments within a specified hierarchy. This module introduces you to production in a controlled environment, covering both the studio equipment and working practices within a studio. You will gain practical experience through which you can familiarise yourself with the specific roles that different crew members play in the production process.

Compositing Fundamentals
20 credits

Compositing is a core skill for anyone working in the visual effects industry.

In this module, you’ll learn about digital video compositing – combining layers of video and CGI to produce a finished scene. You’ll be introduced to professional node-based compositing tools.

You will also learn to combine 2D and 3D elements in a single composite, developing an understanding of the limitations and opportunities of this approach.

The sessions will be practical, and you’ll get to develop a broad range of skills which are fundamental to the visual effects industry.

CGI Animation
20 credits

3D computer animation is the cornerstone of modern visual media production, and is an essential requirement for working in film visual effects and gaming.

In this module, you’ll develop your 3D animation and production skills; you’ll be introduced to core computer animation techniques like keyframing, dynamics and animation rigs. You’ll be expected to produce high-quality 3D computer animations suitable for use in visual effects and games production.

As well as developing your technical skills, the module will provide you with an authentic experience of planning and producing computer animation, from storyboarding and previsualisation to managing assets and designing production workflows.

Year two

You’ll develop your skills further in your second year, in specialist subjects like motion capture, shader development, dynamic simulations, programming visual effects tools in python, and research and development. You will also experience more demanding and collaborative production experiences.

Production Practice
20 credits

Working as part of a team is the default mode of operation in film production, and gaining experience of the collaborative process is an invaluable transferrable skill that you can take with you into your professional career.

This module provides you with an understanding of the design and execution of a team production, focusing particularly on narrative drama. The module provides opportunities for you to develop intellectually and creatively by applying your technical knowledge and experience of software systems and design principles to the creation of high quality digital film products.

CGI Techniques
20 credits

This module will give you a more detailed look at the key CGI technologies and technical concepts which are particularly relevant to technical roles in film visual effects and CGI animation. These roles often referred to as Technical Director or TD roles, and are based on skills which are in particular demand in the film visual effects industry.

Sound for Visual Effects
20 credits

Sound is an important element in the viewer’s experience of a visual effects sequence. This module will provide you with the technical skills and experience to record, edit and process sound to accompany visual effects.

It will cover:

  • microphones and their correct usage
  • studio and location recording
  • conventions for dialogue and Foley production
  • usage of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) editing techniques
  • audio processing with techniques such as reverb, compression and EQ and how to considerately apply them
  • sound design concepts that are employed in film to help influence and develop the viewers experience.

During some of the sessions you will work in groups to perform exercises in dialogue recording and Foley.

The skills developed in this module will underpin the use of sound throughout the rest of the course.

Collaborative Practice
20 credits

Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries. This module allows you to develop these skills by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff, using University facilities and supported by academic staff.

Several kinds of collaborative opportunities are available – for example, with the approval of your supervisor, you can determine a project based on your own interests; your supervisor may set you a predetermined project to enable you to work with other students in a way that is appropriate to your subject area; or there may be opportunities for you to collaborate with staff on research projects.

Visual Effects Tools
20 credits

This module will equip you with a unique and valuable set of skills, which will allow you to expand your production capabilities in a wide variety of ways. It will show you how to design and develop bespoke add-ons and extensions to industry-standard software. You will learn to programme scripts to make visual effects and games production more efficient and extend the capabilities of existing software. The development of bespoke visual effects tools is a key part of the competitiveness of games and visual effects companies, allowing them to make themselves more efficient and capable than their competitors.

The module will also look at motion capture and working with motion capture data using motion capture tools and scripting.

This module also explores concepts, ideas and tools that will open up new topics and methods which can be used in your dissertation and production projects in the final year.

Research and Testing Methods
20 credits

If you want to pursue a technical career in digital media, be it film or visual effects production, then a comprehensive understanding of the capture, processing and distribution technology is essential. To complement this, you should also have a fundamental understanding of the methods for conducting research into the design and limitations of this technology.

This module will introduce you to the fundamental concepts involved in conducting technical engineering research. It will explore the international standards and theories underpinning engineering testing and analysis. From this module you will gain knowledge to evaluate technology and understand current technical limitations, underpinning studies for your final year technology project and enhancing your routes into technical employment.

Year three

Your final year is about refining your skills and realising your full potential.  You will undertake a carefully planned, high-quality film and visual effects production, undertake an investigation, (exploring a technical area of your choice), develop well-defined career plans and examine how your skillset fits into a variety of industries.

Cross Platform Media
20 credits

In this module, you will develop productions across a number of platforms such as film, games, social media, web and VR. You’ll have opportunities to work with students from other disciplines and develop an understanding of how your knowledge and skills fit into the production workflow of different media industries.

You’ll have lectures and seminars from internationally-renowned guest speakers, and collaborate on cross-platform productions with students from other courses.

Professional Practice
20 credits

In order to set the skills gained across your degree programme in a wider context, you need an appreciation of business practice and current working environment, project management styles and the processes involved in gaining and completing high quality commissioned work.

This module will give you the opportunity to explore different approaches and theories as you develop a professional outlook to the industry, focusing on the drive to find opportunities and routes and attaining industry-specific work. The module will also look at the development and management of the production processes, (commissioning, revenue and project development) contextualising the concepts with real world scenarios.

Production Project
40 credits

Working in the wider production community, it’s important to consider your part in the overall creation of an artefact.* Being able to work independently, demonstrating problem-solving skills, quantifying and improving your own performance, and working with other team members are all skills that will be demanded of you in the typical workplace.

This module seeks to develop these skills and further prepare you for the world of work. It’s an opportunity to collaborate in a screen project that can range from a single-camera drama production, through to a small-scale film festival. The suitability of the project will be determined by a proposal-review-approval system, where the production ‘company’ will seek advice and development from an executive team.

* For the purposes of the project an “artefact” is something which is the product of human activity – what is left behind as a trace or consequence, product or evidence of that activity.

Digital Media Technology Undergraduate Project
40 credits

The purpose of your undergraduate project is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically-informed project exploring an area of that is of personal interest to you.

This module is an opportunity not only for you to develop academically, but also to acquire life-long skills and attributes that identify you as a creative problem solver, entrepreneurial, professional and work ready, and having a global outlook.

In the context of technology-related industries, this means developing an ability to:

  • create work which demonstrates an awareness of professional standards relevant to your discipline;
  • gain an understanding of successful project planning, which may include budgetary and other relevant constraints;
  • be innovative and experimental and to push at the boundaries of your discipline;
  • self-evaluate and reflect critically on your work, being able to place it within the context of relevant debates within your chosen medium.

You will develop key skills through an assessment strategy that reflects industry needs. Assessments will be varied and predominantly focused on coursework. The practical application of technology and the craft of production are key features of the course, which are also emphasised in the style and focus of assessments.

The first year of the course focuses on developing your fundamental skills and knowledge in using digital video production to capture live action elements, using 3D modelling and software graphics tools to create virtual elements, and using compositing tools to combine live action and virtual elements. 

Your skills will be developed further in your second year, with specialist subjects such as motion capture, shader development, dynamic simulations, programming visual effects tools in python, and research and development.  You will also experience more demanding and collaborative production experiences. 

Your final year is about refining your skills and realising your full potential.  You will undertake a carefully planned, high-quality film and visual effects production, undertake an investigation (exploring a technical area of your choice), develop a well-defined career plan and examine how your skillset fits into a variety of industries.

Attendance requirements

There are 30 attendance weeks in each academic year.

A typical week on this course will include 13 hours of contact time over four days, plus self study time.

Student stories

Callum Hodgkinson

Callum Hodgkinson with a Canon C100 video camera. Callum joined Slinky Productions on a twelve month internship as part of a new partnership with Slinky Productions and BCU.

His duties range from production assistant work in the office, to assisting the Directors and Camera Crew for location and studio shoots. In this blog, Callum reflects on his first three months in the hectic world of video production.

Oliver Rossetti

Oliver Rossetti graduated in 2014. Here he talks about the CVP Prize he won as part of his degree.

Oliver has gone on to work for the University and has made a number of films, including videos for the Welcome Week site that show new students what the University and Birmingham have to offer.

James Loffredo
BBC Part time Job

James came to Birmingham City University to further his ambition of pursuing a career in TV and film. Having taken advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities at our Parkside Building, he has been taking his first steps to building the contacts and experience he needs to succeed in the industry by working for the BBC on the new series of popular TV comedy 'Still Open All Hours'.

Find out more

The course is accredited by :

Accreditations shall be renewed in accordance with the accreditor’s standard review process and subject to the University maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) - full IEng

The course is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, ensuring it remains fresh and relevant, as well as boasting the best industry contacts.

Further study

At course completion, there is a high level of interest for further study. This relates to the need to continue to research and practice, as a core activity, but also recognises 2014 statistical evidence  from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills which noted that someone with a Master’s degree earns  on average £9,000 more per year than someone with a degree qualification, which, when coupled with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2014) observation that one in seven jobs will require a postgraduate qualification by 2022, indicates that the contribution of postgraduate study to employability is increasingly significant.

Employment Opportunities

There is currently a shortage of skilled creatives in the CGI and VFX industries, so once you gain your degree the chances of employment in the industry are good – though getting on the first rung of the ladder can still be challenging. Salaries can be high compared to production jobs like camera operators, producers and so on where supply outstrips demand.

Engaging with industry and gaining work experience during your studies is essential if you are going to be taken seriously in the job market. Getting work experience in film and visual effects production can be challenging, so we encourage you to be agile. We will also help you engage with a broad range of opportunities, as well as offering options for extra awards and recognition.

You have the option undertake an assessed sandwich year between your second and third year, which will provide you with valuable work experience and give you the real-life skills you need.

The second-year Collaborative Practice and final-year Production Project modules have been designed so that you can use your work in industry as a basis for the module’s assessment.

The University has a Graduate+ programme, an extracurricular awards framework that is designed to augment the subject-based skills that you’ve developed throughout the programme with broader employability attributes, which will enhance your employability options upon graduating.


There are a range of opportunities for you to gain industry experience during your studies. Examples of activities our student have done include: 

  •        Working as a runner on one of our commercial productions
  •        Working for crewing agencies
  •        Working part-time for a production company
  •        Doing a placement year between the second and third year of the course
  •        Submitting work to crowdsourcing competitions and film festivals
  •        Collaborating with other students and local film makers on productions
  •        Setting up a YouTube channel
  •        Working directly for clients
  •        Organising and running events.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Graduate jobs

Our students have gone on to work at companies such as the BBC, Antimatter Games, S+O Media, Instinct Laboratory, Yamination Studios and Cube Production as animators, visual effects artists, motion graphics designers, 3D modellers and video producers.

The broad scope of the topics covered throughout the programme will leave you well-equipped to take on roles in 3D modelling and animation, pre-visualisation, motion graphics, keying, compositing, digital film and video production, video editing and post-production, visual effects, motion tracking, sound production and production management.

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our film technology and visual effects course is most popular with international students from:

Our Facilities

The course is supported with cutting-edge facilities, including the University’s Parkside Media Centre, which is equipped with over 1,200 sq m of dedicated equipment, including three film/television studios, dedicated green screen studio, post-production facilities, MILO motion control rig, multi-track recording studios, and several editing and grading stations.

You have access to the industry standard software used on the course such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Final Cut Pro, AVID and Logic. Most of these tools are also available in our dedicated open access areas and our library which is open 24 hours a day. Laptops can also be hired out used in other spaces within the University.

Cameras, light and grip equipment can be hired for free from our hires and loans team.  Equipment available includes 4K cameras, high-end HD cinema style cameras with follow focus and matte boxes, a range of DSLR cameras, a range of different lights, soft boxes, flags, reflectors, a range of different tripods, stands, dollies, steady cams and jib arms.

Within the Centre there is an internationally recognised research team, Digital Media Technology (DMT) labs, specialising in mixed reality, intelligent animation, automated grading and compositing and human perception. This research team is involved in the delivery of this course, providing opportunities to join them as a post-graduate researcher on completion of the course.

Mathew Randall

Programme Leader, Film and Image

Mathew has been working with computer graphics since the mid-1990s and has been involved in moving image production for over 10 years. Coming from an academic background in multimedia, he has extensive experience in real-time computer graphics and rendering, designing and developing user interfaces, games, systems for visualising data and signals, video systems for concerts and festivals, interactive sonic and video installations and real-time generative art.

Stephen Gordon

Senior Lecturer

Stephen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Digital Media Technology.

He has worked for five years at the University, teaching video production on various courses.

Giving students the skills needed to work in the industry is central to how Stephen Gordon works. Keen to maintain his handle on the world of video production, he keeps in regular contact with those working in the field, looking at new technological developments and how they are being applied in the field.

Jay Patel

Senior Lecturer

Jay is a Lecturer in the School of Digital Media Technology. Jay has been involved with the delivery of ERDF projects. Since the successful completion of these projects he has moved into teaching. He currently delivers a variety of modules such as Audio Visual Technology, Moving Image Technology and Mathematics for Media.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 6295

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Contact the admissions team

+44 (0)121 331 6295