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MA Visual Effects

Start date
September 2019
Course length
1 year 3 months full-time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

Course summary

MA Visual Effects (VFX) at London College of Communication is a practice-led course that will develop your technical computing skills, animation, lighting and editing capabilities. The course culminates in a collaborative project that will prepare you for integrated roles within the VFX industry.

About this course

MA Visual Effects (VFX) offers specialist visual and computing training to blend computer-generated imagery (CGI) seamlessly into live action.

You’ll learn from tutors with industry experience, who'll deliver specialist software training recommended by industry. You will gain skills that will prepare you for roles including effects animators, compositors, matte painters, modellers, lighters, look-development artists, match move artists and technical directors.

The course will appeal to students from backgrounds as varied as photography, fine art, motion graphics, 2D animation, product design, interior design and film.

You’ll work alongside film, television production and 3D animation courses within the Screen School at LCC, and will gain production experience collaborating on student films.

Open Evenings

The next Open Evening for this course will be on Thursday 6 December.

Book your place

Course details

MA Visual Effects (VFX) 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 LCC’s 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.

Course units

This course is delivered across four terms, starting in September and finishing in December the year after. Incorporating a summer break, this is a one-year full-time course (45 taught weeks), delivered over 15 months.

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 six units, totalling 180 credits.

Autumn, Term One

Unit summary:

VFX Animation 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.

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

Design for Animation, Narrative Structures & 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 / Summer, Terms Two and Three

Unit summary:

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 Four

Unit summary:

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

Course structure

The information outlined is an indicative structure of the course. Whilst we will aim to deliver the course as described on this page, there may be situations where it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, for example because of regulatory requirements or operational efficiencies, before or after enrolment. If this occurs, we will communicate all major changes to all applicants and students who have either applied or enrolled on the course.

Please note that due to staff research agreements or availability, not all of the optional modules listed may be available every year.

In addition, the provision of course options which depend upon the availability of specialist teaching, or on a placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed. Please check this element of the course with the course team before making a decision to apply.

Webpage updates

We will update this webpage from time to time with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact a member of the course team.

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

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.

Language Requirements (International/EU)

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.


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.

Portfolio and Interview Advice

All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic portfolio 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.


Deferring an offer

If you are offered a place for 2019/20 but wish to defer to 2020/21, information on how to do this and who to contact can be found in your offer letter. Additionally, International applicants should pay the deposit in order to defer. In all cases, deferred places will be held for one year.

Making a deferred application (during 2018/19 for entry in 2020/21)

Home/EU applicants are permitted to make a deferred application. International applicants are not permitted to make a deferred application.

Making your application

We ask all applicants to complete an online application and upload additional digital items, via the Apply now link. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the course Entry Requirements. section below to learn about the application process and the additional items you would also need to supply.

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

You will need to enter the following information in the online application:

  • 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.

Before submitting your application, you will need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the application form. Once you have submitted the online application, we will send you a confirmation email.

Please note, if you’re an international applicant we will ask you for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).

Extra information required for applications to this course

You will need to supply:

  • Portfolio.

After you have submitted your application, the course leader will then review your work, may invite you to interview or interview you via Skype, and will then make a decision on your application.

The admissions team will be in touch soon after that to let you know the outcome and to guide you through the next steps.

Start your application now

Applications are accepted and offers are made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Apply now

The online application can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t 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 press submit.

As you progress through the application process we will send you emails with important information, so do check your inbox regularly (and junk folder, just in case).

After you apply

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

Fees & Funding

Home / EU Fee

£10,890 (2019/20)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

International Fee

£19,930 (2019/20)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees, you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. We strongly suggest you read the information on our Additional Costs page.


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

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