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

UCAS Code:
WF6F
Attendance:
Full Time (4 years)
Starting:
September 2019
Campus:

BSc (Hons) Film Technology and Visual Effects with a Foundation Year, will provide you with a unique combination of technical, creative and production skills.

You’ll have access to state of the art facilities including the University’s Parkside Media Centre,  ensuring you get hands-on experience with digital film technology, digital film production, and VFX.

Our extensive course will secure you with the knowledge and practical experience needed for a thriving career in an innovative 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. The visual effects aspect of the course looks at the creation of digital elements, such as creatures and matte environments, and the use of compositing tools to combine these live action and digital elements together, producing 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

 

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.

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Course Accreditations

Accreditations:

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 approval to ensure it meets the very highest standards of quality, creativity and applied learning.

Entry Requirements

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

UK students
Essential

At the point of application, you must have GCSE at Grade 4 (C) or above in English Language and Mathematics. Equivalent qualifications can be considered in lieu of GCSE subjects as long as the required subjects are covered.

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

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2019/20
GCE A Level/ AS Level BB or 80 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma 60 credits overall. Minimum of 45 credits at level 3. Including 12 technical credits at Merit or Distinction. Must already hold GCSE Mathematics and English Language Grade C or higher or the equivalent at application point.
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)/ Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma D*D or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 80 UCAS points 
BBTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)/ Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma MMP - 80 UCAS points
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate Combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 80 UCAS points 
BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design Distinction
International Baccalaureate Diploma

Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall. 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.

For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above grade 5 in Maths (Standard Level) from the IB Diploma will be accepted. For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) Group A English Group A - Grade 4 or above, OR English Group B Grade 5 from the IB will be accepted.

A combination of GCSEs, A-levels and IB certificates will be considered on a case by case basis.

Irish Leaving Certificate

Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 80 tariff points, achieved in four Higher level subjects. This must include Maths and English Language taken at either Ordinary level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level (minimum H3/D1 taken from three subjects).

Must be from Technology, Science, or Computing related subjects. Higher levels to include Mathematics at Higher levels.

Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher

Achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers. Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades CDD.

Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).

Must be from Technology, Science, or Computing related subjects

Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) Combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum 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
Essential
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2019/20
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).

Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall. 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.

For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above grade 5 in Maths (Standard Level) from the IB Diploma will be accepted. For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) Group A English Group A - Grade 4 or above, OR English Group B Grade 5 from the IB will be accepted.

A combination of GCSEs, A-levels and IB certificates will be considered on a case by case basis.

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 2019 FT 4 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BSc (Hons) Sep 2019 FT 4 years £12,300 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. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. 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

UCAS

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.

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

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).

Fundamental Mathematics
20 credits

The Foundation Mathematics module provides the basic knowledge and mathematical skills which will equip the students to continue their studies to an undergraduate programme. The module will be focused on mathematics related to the field of computing. The interactive taught sessions will use fundamental mathematical in discussions to broaden understanding of the theory and practice introduced in the module.

Download the full module specification

Academic and Personal Study Skills
20 credits

Academic and personal study skills are essential elements which should be applied in order to be successful in Higher Education. This module aims to help you in developing basic research skills, academic writing and reflection skills. These skills are inevitably important and will support your transition to the higher education levels of study associated with your chosen degree programme.

Download the full module specification

Technology in Context
20 credits

This module will provide you with an introduction to the computing environment, different computing disciplines, and how they relate to each other. The module will consider how technology operates within their context, which will allow you to develop a broad approach to understanding how technology works and inform your future degree and career choice.

Download the full module specification

Web Application Design
20 credits

This module provides the skills necessary to design a web based application around a clear understanding of the business information requirements, a structured design of an interface and the development skills necessary to implement a solution. This module focuses on varied technologies relating to the design and development of application to meet the information needs of a business. The module will analyse and design an application that meets current web standards.

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Independent Practice
20 credits

During the journey within higher education, developing your independent study is an essential skill to support shaping the knowledge to become more useful and applied within practice. This module aims to provide you with necessary skills and tips that should support you to work independently within your discipline and to successfully apply project management tools and techniques to a mini project related to your subject discipline.

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Foundations of Programming
20 credits

Foundations of programming aims to provide you with the fundamental principles and practice-based activities needed to begin developing software programs. The module details the anatomy of a structured software program that includes the creation of a program algorithm, a logical, simple and organised program flow and the generation of pseudo and programming code.

The module uses a combination of theory and practice-based sessions designed to engage students in group and individual activities to identify the components of a software program and to apply their knowledge into hands-on software programming activities. During the module sessions you will acquire the basic skills to design and create software programs.

Download the full module specification

Year One

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).

Acquisition for Visual Effects
20 credits

This module will develop your key understanding of audio visual acquisition technologies for digital film production. The module addresses how images and audio are captured using sound and video recording equipment in a film production environment.

A practice based approach will enable you to learn by doing and appreciate how these techniques are used within the film production environment. The module will feature practical filming sessions which simulate industry practice requiring students to solve real world problems while using relevant industry based techniques and tools.

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Visual Design
20 credits

This module will develop your skills, knowledge and experience of key techniques within 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 within the course programme and fundamentally important to a variety of careers within the digital media industry.

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CGI Modelling
20 credits

This module provides students with the technical skills and experience to produce 3D models and renders for use in gaming products and visual effects. The skills developed in this module will inform and underpin the use of 3D models throughout the rest of your course.

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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.

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Compositing Fundamentals
20 credits

This module provides knowledge and experience of digital video compositing, exploring the fundamental principles and techniques of composing and introduction to professional node based compositing tools. The competent use and application of these techniques are core practical skills within the course programme and fundamentally important to a variety of careers within the visual effects industry.

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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. This module aims to develop your 3D animation and production skills, introducing you to core computer animation techniques, such as keyframing, dynamics and animation rigs. You will be expected to plan and produce high quality, 3D computer animations suitable for use in visual effects and games production pipelines.

Download the full module specification

Year Two

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).

Production Practice
20 credits

Working as part of a team is the accepted modus operandi of film production, and gaining experience of the collaborative process is an invaluable asset that you can take into your professional career. This module provides you with an understanding of the design and execution of a team production with particular focus on narrative drama. The module provides opportunities for intellectual and creative development through the application of technical knowledge, software systems and design principles to the creation of high quality digital film products.

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CGI Technology
20 credits

This module will provide a more in-depth exploration of 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, are based on skills which are in particular demand in the film visual effects industry and align well with the wider aims and philosophy of the programme.

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Sound for Visual Effects
20 credits

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

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Collaborative Practice
20 credits

The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff. Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff.

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Visual Effects Tools
20 credits

This module provides knowledge and experience of designing and developing 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 and implementation 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.

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Research and Testing Methods
20 credits

This module will explore 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 distinguish and appraise technology and understand current technical limitations, thus underpinning studies for your final year technology project and enhancing your routes into technical employment.

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Year Three

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).

Cross Platform Media
20 credits

Within this module you will develop productions that span a number of platforms such as film, games, social media, web and VR. It provides you with an opportunity to work with students from a number of disciplines and develop an understanding of how your knowledge and skills can fit into the production workflow of different media industries.

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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.

Aimed specifically to the film, television, VFX, and video production industries the module will set in context these current career and work environments, building on the knowledge learnt from the first year to apply theory and use contextualised case studies to explore projects’ development, the processes involved in commissioning these projects and the financial implications behind them.

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Production Project
40 credits

Working in the wider community of production, it is important to consider your part in the overall creation of an artefact. Being able to work independently; demonstrating problem solving skills; identifying and improving your own performance and; working other team members, are all traits that will be demanded of you in a typical work-place setting.

Acting as an independent production team, this module seeks to develop these skills and further prepare you for the world of work. It provides opportunity to collaborate in a negotiated screen project that can range from a single-camera drama production, through to a small-scale film festival. However, the suitability of the project is key. This will be determined by a proposal-review-approval system, where the production ‘company’ will seek advice and development from an executive team in order to plan, organise and produce an artefact.

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Individual Honours Project
40 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and research informed project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. In agreement with your supervisor, you will decide upon your topic which will take the form of a practical outcome (artefact) with accompanying contextual material. The main consideration when choosing your topic is that it must be aligned to the programme you are studying, and you should consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development.

At this level, you will be expected to work independently but you will receive additional one-to-one support from your supervisor, who will be familiar with your chosen topic area. As you progress on the module, extra support will be available and this may take the form of group seminars, workshops and online materials that will help to develop your project. 

Download the full module specification

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.

Placements

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

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

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.