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Postgraduate

MA Visual Effects

Close up shot of moulded shapes in a variety of pastel colours
Chenxing Zhao, 2020. MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL.
College
London College of Communication
Start date
September 2023
Course length
1 year 3 months full-time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

MA Visual Effects (VFX) at London College of Communication (LCC) is a practice-led course that will develop your technical computing, animation, lighting and editing skills.

Open Evenings

The next Open Evening for this course will be announced soon.

Course overview

MA Visual Effects at London College of Communication is taught as a specialist subject within the broad and experimental visual practice of animated visual communication.

The course explores the theoretical and historical contexts that inform how audiences perceive reality and photorealism. You'll be introduced to a range of technical and conceptual approaches to VFX animation.

You’ll also explore technologies and processes by producing short-form animation across the VFX spectrum, to set briefs.

Real world studio lighting and camera workshops will provide a tangible foundation for the principles of virtual digital 3D VFX.

What can you expect?

As students on the course, you'll be encouraged to see yourself as a specialist in your field that can push the boundaries of what’s possible within the world of VFX animation.

You’ll develop high-end specialist skills underpinned by a breadth of technical knowledge.

Throughout the course, you will create unique media and immersive experiences, whilst developing your own distinct style. London is the home of world-leading practitioners in VFX; you will benefit from lectures and masterclasses from visiting directors, producers and cinematographers and have access to our TV studios.

You'll learn the principles of lighting and shot framing and how it works in practice as well as translating the properties of light, texture and lensing within the digital realm.

This course also supports progression to research at MPhil/PhD level, as well as to advanced self-directed practice.

Mode of Study

MA Visual Effects is in Full Time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 15 months. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study.

Course units

You will respond to briefs that are set to test the learning in the units described below. Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves five units, totalling 180 credits.

Autumn, Term 1

Visual Effects Fundamentals (40 credits)

The course starts by teaching the past, present and future of VFX to give a thorough grounding in the sector, before moving on to equip you with the main skills, knowledge and processes required to create convincing VFX.

This unit introduces you to the advanced technologies that make VFX possible and the processes behind digital image creation.

You’ll explore technologies and processes by producing short-form animation across the VFX spectrum, to set briefs.

Studio lighting and camera workshops will provide a tangible foundation for the principles of virtual digital 3D VFX.

Design for Animation, Narrative Structures and Film Language (20 credits)

​This unit is shared with MA Animation and MA 3D Computer Animation and provides an opportunity for interaction and peer-to-peer learning both in the classroom and online.

Spring and Summer, Terms 2 and 3

Advanced and Experimental VFX animation techniques (40 credits)

This unit advances skills in rendering and composition tools, procedural effects such as fire and tornadoes, and how to build digital creatures and characters.

CGI elements will be generated using one or more techniques covered in the unit (e.g. particle effects, procedural elements, fluids, etc.), before being integrated into the shot.

You’ll develop a breadth of knowledge across different tools and media, whilst identifying a particular specialism that you wish to pursue in Term Three.

Collaborative Unit (20 credits) ​

You will work with others in a team to complete all the requirements of the brief. The aim is to integrate complex CGI elements into the supplied footage seamlessly so it is difficult to distinguish these elements from the live action.

The key is to demonstrate skills that will be recognised as those used in professional VFX production. This project will demonstrate your ability to select the correct the techniques from the range that you’ve studied.

You’ll show how you can manage your time and resources to deliver a professional project to a given deadline.

Autumn, Term 4

Final Major Project VFX and Thesis (60 credits)

You’ll take the knowledge, skills and experience from the first two phases of the course and bring this together in the production of a collaborative interdisciplinary or self-directed longer form project and associated thesis.

You’ll produce an ambitious VFX project that will demonstrate your in-depth critical awareness of the subject area, as well as your practical skills in production management.

Your thesis is a 5000-word reflective report that will show that the design and production process that has been carried out in this project is one that exhibits the required characteristics for a master's degree.

It should discuss the decisions that have been made and placed in the context of current industry practice and research in the area, and it should reflect on the process and the final video to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

It is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the depth of critical understanding of your field and to show that you can objectively analyse your own work.

Learning and teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Critiques
  • Technical workshops
  • Software training

Online Open Day

Course Leader, Christos Sfetsios, gives an overview of studying MA Visual Effects at London College of Communication.

Graduate showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Graduate Showcase

  • River flows day and night
    River flows day and night, Alex NI, 2021 MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Sanctuary
    Sanctuary, Giulia Villela, 2021 MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Creating NFTs
    Creating NFTs, gherardo varani, 2021 MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Dino Earth
    Dino Earth, Madeleine Spivey, 2021 MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Final Major Project and Showreel
    Final Major Project and Showreel, Jane Boehlert, 2021 MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL

Student work

  • Angelina-Han.jpeg
    Angelina Han, 2020. MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL. 2020
    MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Guiheng-Wang.jpeg
    Guiheng Wang, 2020. MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL. 2020
    MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Petya-Dimova.jpg
    Petya Dimova, 2020. MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL. 2020
    MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Shuyang-Lin.png
    Shuyang Lin, 2020. MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL.Shuyang Lin 2020
    MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Weinan-Ruan.jpeg
    Weinan Ruan, 2020. MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL. 2020
    MA Visual Effects, London College of Communication, UAL

Student voices: Adrian Gongora Lopez

Adrian talks us through his final year project, creating a 3D sequence with motion capture.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£12,700

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Home fees are currently charged to UK nationals and UK residents who meet the rules. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£25,970

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship search

Entry requirements

An applicant will normally be considered for admission if they have achieved an educational level equivalent to an honours degree in either animation, illustration, visual communication, graphic design or closely related subject, and present a portfolio of moving-image work. However, we do not exclude candidates who have graduated from other less strongly aligned disciplines.

This educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • Honours degree (named above);
  • Possession of equivalent qualifications;
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
  • Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.

APEL (Accreditation of Prior Learning)

Applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered in exceptional cases. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference
  • OR a combination of these factors

Each application will be considered on its own merit but we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

Language Requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you let us know your English language test score in your application. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please indicate this in your application. When asked to upload a CV as part of your application, please include any information about your English test score.

  • IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is requires, with a minimum of 5.5 in each of the four skills.
  • If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.
  • For further details regarding international admissions and advice please visit the International Applications page.

Selection criteria

Offers will be made based on the following selection criteria, which applicants are expected to demonstrate:

  • Sufficient prior knowledge and experience of and/or potential in animation, live action and VFX practice to be able to successfully complete the programme of study, and have an academic or professional background in a relevant subject.
  • Knowledge of visual culture and an ability to engage in critical discussion.

Apply now

All applications will be reviewed by the course team who will consider key elements when making a decision on your suitability to join the course:

  • Firstly, they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results).
  • Secondly, they will review your personal statement and portfolio.
  • There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference.

Required information for all Postgraduate Course Applications

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Extra information required for applications to this course

  • Portfolio
  • Video task

Start your application now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

Apply now

Deferring your place

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner.

Read our Admissions Policy for details, and request your deferral by contacting us through the UAL Portal using the Contact Us button in your My Application(s) tab.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, you can apply to transfer.

The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

CV

Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.

Personal Statement Advice

You will be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Visual Effects (VFX). Applicants will be expected to demonstrate critical knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject, and a well-articulated rationale for joining the course.

The personal statement is a very important part of your application and should demonstrate to the course team that you are interested in the subject and that you have thought very carefully about why you wish to study on the course.

Ensure that your personal statement it is well written, clear and free of any spelling mistakes. It is your chance to impress the course team by showing a strong interest in the subject, demonstrating what you feel you would bring to the course, your appreciation of what the course can offer you and how you feel it might help you in the future.

This can be demonstrated through work experience, previous studies and your personal experience.

Application deadline

19 December 2022 and 3 April 2023

This course is still open for applications from home and international applicants. We recommend you apply as soon as possible as the equal consideration deadline has passed and places are limited.

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply for 19 December 2022 for Round 1 or by 3 April 2023 for Round 2.

The round 1 deadline has been changed to 19 December to give you more time to make your application.

When you'll hear from us

If this course requires a digital portfolio as part of the application process, we will contact you to invite you to submit this through UAL’s online submission tool, PebblePad. For Round 1 applications, you will need to submit your portfolio by 9 January 2023 at the latest and by 20 April 2023 for Round 2.

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in 2 rounds, after each application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about the outcome of your application until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by (at the latest) end of March and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by end of June 2023.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

All applications will be reviewed by the course team who will consider key elements when making a decision on your suitability to join the course:

  • Firstly, they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
  • Secondly, they will review your personal statement and portfolio
  • There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference

Required information for all Postgraduate Course Applications

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Please note: we will ask you for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas). Read our immigration and visa information to find out if you need a visa to study at UAL.

You can only apply to the same course once per year. Any duplicate applications will be withdrawn. For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page.

Extra information required for applications to this course

  • Portfolio
  • Video task

Start your application now

There are 2 ways international students can apply to a postgraduate course:

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

Deferring your place

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner.

Read our Admissions Policy for details, and request your deferral by contacting us through the UAL Portal using the Contact Us button in your My Application(s) tab.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, you can apply to transfer.

The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying through a UAL representative or direct application you will need to complete an Immigration History check. If you do not complete the Immigration History Check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

CV

Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.

Personal Statement Advice

You will be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Visual Effects (VFX). Applicants will be expected to demonstrate critical knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject, and a well-articulated rationale for joining the course.

The personal statement is a very important part of your application and should demonstrate to the course team that you are interested in the subject and that you have thought very carefully about why you wish to study on the course.

Ensure that your personal statement it is well written, clear and free of any spelling mistakes. It is your chance to impress the course team by showing a strong interest in the subject, demonstrating what you feel you would bring to the course, your appreciation of what the course can offer you and how you feel it might help you in the future.

This can be demonstrated through work experience, previous studies and your personal experience.

Application deadline

19 December 2022 and 3 April 2023

This course is still open for applications from home and international applicants. We recommend you apply as soon as possible as the equal consideration deadline has passed and places are limited.

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply for 19 December 2022 for Round 1 or by 3 April 2023 for Round 2.

We recommend you submit your application as early as possible before these deadlines to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

When you'll hear from us

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in two rounds. This means that offers won’t be sent to successful applicants until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by 31 March 2022 and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by 30 June 2022.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application online, you will receive an email confirming your application and providing your login details for the UAL Applicant Portal. Please add @arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.

Please log into the portal, as this is where we will send you important updates and requests, and you can contact us with any questions you may have about your application.

What happens next

Portfolio

All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic portfolio of a maximum of 20 images as part of their application. At application stage, we are as excited to see a portfolio of live-action filmmaking that has a strong focus on post-production, as we are to see an accomplished portfolio of animation and VFX work.

As a student on the course, you will have been selected for something specific you portray through your portfolio. This could be a strong animation or design portfolio that indicates a desire to take work into the 3D space and work with sound in a time-based format, or an accomplished portfolio of film work that indicates a commitment to focus on personal development through a further course of study.

  • Your portfolio should have some examples of image-led and visual work from either education or professional practice.
  • It should contain a 3D, live action/VFX or animated showreel of minimum 60 seconds in length. Please state your role (director, animator, modeller, lighting, story, background) and techniques you have used.
  • It should contain a minimum of five projects and self-initiated projects are also encouraged.

If you have links to web projects or media assets, please note these in your CV.

Video task

We’d like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you.

  • Please speak clearly in English and face the camera.
  • Your video task is submitted along with your portfolio via PebblePad.
  • Read our guidance for more information about how to submit your video task and the file types we accept.

As part of your video task please respond to the following direction:

  • We would like you to identify one project from your portfolio which challenged you and your understanding of visual effects. Explain how this experience has inspired you to apply to MA Visual Effects at London College of Communication.

Interview

Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will be held online, and details will be sent via the UAL Portal.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Applicant Portal.

Requesting feedback

This course receives a high number of applications. Unfortunately, we can’t provide feedback to everyone who is unsuccessful. We can only provide feedback after you’ve had an interview.

We are only able to provide feedback to you directly, or to someone you have told us in writing can receive it on your behalf. If you would like to request feedback  please contact us through the UAL Portal using the Contact Us button in your My Application(s) tab.

Successful applicants will be guided through the rest of our admissions stages and towards enrolment on the course.

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