BA (Hons) Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

The BA (Hons) Visual Effects and Motion Graphics course at the University of South Wales is the right choice for artists that have a passion for visual media or for those that know exactly where their career path is headed.
Visual Effects is a sector that is increasingly in demand from big budget Films, high-end TV series to creative advertising. With Motion Design then appearing in Film UI Design, TV title sequences, social media advertising, music live performance visuals and so much more.
This course prepares you for a successful career in the creative industries. With active industry experienced lecturers (with credits including Guardians of The Galaxy, Maleficent and Black Mirror) directly working with you to craft your projects and help you network with the leading Visual Effects and Motion Design studios across the UK.
Our award-winning students have gone on to work for big-name studios that we work in collaboration with; including ILM, DNEG, Framestore, MPC, Bait Studios, Nineteentwenty to name just a few!
See the amazing projects past students have gone to work on at VFX.WALES

Top in Wales for career prospects in Film Production and Photography - Guardian League Table 2022

2022/23 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for delivering our courses in the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to change during the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. Whether you’re on-campus full time, part-time with online study, or full-time online, USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
W280 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
W280 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B


The course covers the skills and techniques required for the five main career sectors within Visual Effects and Motion Graphics:

- Compositing
- Digital Matte Painter
- 3D Artist
- FX Artist
- Motion Design Artist

We will cover the theory and workflows of all these employment sectors as well as technical workshops on a whole range of industry specialist software available on the course:

- NukeX
- Houdini
- Maya
- Cinema4D
- Unreal Engine
- DaVinci Resolve
- Adobe Creative Cloud

Year one: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

The first year of study will make sure you have a solid foundation for each of these career areas, introducing Previsualisation, Compositing, 3D and Motion Graphics. As well as provide hands-on camera, sound and lighting training and taking a look at the history and fundamental theories that are vital.

  • Contextual Studies
  • Image Acquisition Fundamentals
  • Filmmaking Fundamentals
  • Sound & Vision
  • CG Foundation
  • Motion Production

Year two: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

The second year then builds upon this and really pushes into some exciting areas including Environments and FX with Houdini simulations and procedural 3D work; coupled with Advanced Compositing techniques. Also getting you up to speed with studio workflows and pipelines while allowing the opportunity for work placement in the industry.

  • Professional Practice
  • Critical Studies
  • Environments
  • FX dynamics
  • Creative Production

Year three: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

The third year is where everything is focused around creating your standout showreel projects. Taking everything that’s been learnt and also going further with the advanced techniques and industry practices. In the final semester you will get an understanding on how to network, create a standout showreel and convert your studies into employment in the industry.

  • Professional Development
  • Critical Research
  • Minor Project
  • Collaborative Brief
  • Major Project


Studying on the course is primarily done through practical workshops in the computer studios under the instruction/supervision of the industry level lecturing team. This will teach a blend of technical software skills, industry standard visual effects and motion design techniques as well as the theory behind these skills and processes.

As part of the course we invite industry in to give talks and masterclasses as well as give the opportunity for networking events with global recruiters.

The emphasis is very much on giving you the tools and the means to learn through creating your own projects. To allow you to concept develop ideas, push the boundaries, problem solve, and most importantly, to find your voice as an artist.


The majority of your assessment are through practical productions, with remaining elements in visual presentation form or written.

You will be expected to present your project ideas and concepts to your peers and leading VFX professionals, in a constructive and supportive environment that mimics life in a visual effects studio.


This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills Select quality-mark which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries.

The course is also part of Film & TV School Wales, which provides students with up-to-date skills, opportunities and specialist training required by the Film, TV, commercials, VFX and games industries.


The course will directly make use of the specialist filming studios and range of camera equipment, giving you hands on instruction and also giving you direct access to book out the facilities and camera equipment for your use at any time while studying on the Visual Effects and Motion Graphics course.
-    Green screen studio
-    Motion capture suite
-    Two full access computer studios
-    TV and Film studios
-    Grading and Editing suites
-    Two screening cinemas
By providing state of the art industry level facilities and equipment, we provide hands-on industry focused training and teaching to make sure you are studio ready but also to let you realise your creative ideas.
To see them for yourself, take a look online at our Facilities.


The team are professionally experienced and continue to work in the industry. Having worked across all sectors of VFX and Motion Graphics in Film, TV, advertising, online and social media content.
Credited on big blockbusters like visual effects OSCAR nominated Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), visual effects BAFTA winning Black Mirror: Metalhead (2017) and Visual effects Emmy Award winner Chernobyl (2019); and working with high-profile advertising brands such as Google, BBC and Sky.

Pete Hodges Academic Subject Manager
Jack Phillips, Course Leader
Geraint Thomas, Lecturer
Thomas Tatchell, Lecturer
Kris Francies, Technical Instructor

The wealth of knowledge and experience gained from professional training and years in industry at some of the leading global studios is infused throughout the course. Giving insight into the visual effects industry that isn’t easily found elsewhere.

Click here to Meet the Team


Students do not need to run any specific operating system with students, usually using a mix of Mac and PC options, depending on their own preference.

All taught and assessed software is available with student licenses at no cost. The computer studios, equipped with iMacs running MacOS, are usually accessible outside of workshops for post-production use and even accessible via remote access if necessary.

The lecturing team will also sign-post where software educational discounts can be used for migration from the course at the start of your careers.

USW gives students the ability to book out any camera equipment, lighting, sound and a whole host of other accessories as well as being able to book the studios and suites across the campus.

All students are also given an Office 365 account with 1tb of online storage.

Computer Specifications

The below specifications can be used as a guide to the minimum required for the course and the software needs as well as what we would recommend to get the most from the software.

Minimum Specifications:
Processor: 2.4GHz (e.g. intel i5 or AMD Ryzen3)
Memory: 8GB
Storage: 250GB HDD
Graphics Card: Nvidia (1GB)

Recommended Specifications:
Processor: 3.0GHz (e.g. intel i7 or AMD Ryzen7)
Memory: 16GB
Storage: 500GB SSD
Graphics Card: Nvidia (3GB)


We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. Most offers we make are at the top of the range, but we take all aspects of an application into consideration and applicants receive a personalised offer. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable.


Applicants in the UK

Selection for this course is based on a suitable application and attendance at an interview with successful outcome. You may also be required to provide a portfolio of your work prior to attending interview where your course requires this, and full details of what is required will be provided once your application has been processed.

Applicants outside the UK

Selection for this course is based on a suitable application and submission of a portfolio of your work which the Course Leader confirms is suitable for an offer to be made.


Typical A-Level Offer

BBC - CCC to include a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 112-96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade B/C in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BB - CC at A Level with a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 112-96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Merit in a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 112-96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum score of 29 overall including 5 or above in English at standard level

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 96 UCAS tariff points

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances.

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course


August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £13500 

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) £1000
MacBook or PC desktop or laptop
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £60
External Hard Drive (500gb minimum. Solid State SSD recommended)*
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £70
Wacom Tablet (Available free access as student)*
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) £100
Books / Magazines (Course required reading available via campus library)*
Field Trips £500
FMX/ Vancouver Trip (Year 2 or 3. Optional)

Interview Portfolio

The portfolio is the most important part of your application.

We understand that a range of students from different educational backgrounds and different courses will be applying, so a portfolio that reflects your creativity through past assessments or personal work helps us to get a better idea of who you are as an artist.

Portfolio Tips

What should be the focus of the portfolio?

The portfolio should showcase your creative skills through a visual medium. The main aim is to show us that you have been active in creating media and starting to explore and develop your style as an artist.

The main points we’ll be looking for are:

• Creativity
• Technical skillset
• Composition

What should you include?

Essentially anything that shows your creative work. Primarily this should revolve around any film based projects, motion graphics and visual effects shots or photography. Previous portfolios have included a range of work from fine art to textiles portfolios though.

What form should this take?

We would expect to see a Showreel that curates your best and most relevant projects for the course. A short form video (.mov/.mp4) that you can bring on a usb stick or external hard drive. Please feel free to bring any physical form that your portfolio takes though.


- You don’t need to include everything. Keep it short and concise.
- Showreels are best around 1 - 2 minutes.
- Include the full projects in a separate folder in case we want to see more
- Show a range of your work if you can and if it’s relevant - we’d rather see 2-3 relevant projects that showcase your best skills than 10 projects showing the same skills though.

Interview Tips

You’ll will be invited in the form of an informal interview to discuss your portfolio as well as having the chance to ask questions about the course

- It really is a more informal chat to get to know you.
- It’s a chance for us to see if you're right for the course, but also for you to see if the course is right for you as well.
- Be prepared to discuss your projects that you’ll be showing in your portfolio.
- Bring your portfolio on a storage device but it’s also useful to have a backup using online storage just in case.
- Ask us questions about the course, campus or lecturing team.

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU. 

Admissions statement

 The course is completely geared towards employability. Not just offering the training needed to be studio ready as soon as you graduate, but offering bespoke careers advice from the team of industry professionals that have years of experience. The Professional Development module is aimed to completely set you up with what you need to transition directly to employment in visual effects studios or to set yourself up as a freelancer. With lecturers giving individually tailored career guidance for each student.
Graduates from Visual Effects and Motion Graphics can expect to be ready for entry level roles in industry such as:
•   Roto Artist
•   Paint & Prep Artist
•   Studio Runner
•   Junior Compositor
•   Data Capture Wrangler
•   Matchmove Artist
•   Environment Artist
•   Digital Matte Painter
•   CG Modelling Artist
•   Production Co-ordinator
Check out this helpful VFX Industry guide from ScreenSkills


We are proud to have a Graduate Alumni that work throughout the world, from Canada to London and the local area for places such as ILM, DNEG, Framestore and Bait Studios. Having credits on releases such as Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Lion King, Avengers: Endgame, the Mandalorian, Inception, Chernobyl, Wonder Woman, Black Mirror, the list goes on!
Our graduates are often recognised for their industry work, from Academy award OSCARS, Bafta, Emmy and the prestigious Visual Effects Society awards.
The visual effects and Motion Graphics course is a thriving community that carries on even after you’ve graduated. Networking is vital in this sector and this course at USW has a vibrant, industry recognised network that spans the world.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.