About the course

All three of our model design courses share the same First Year, giving you an excellent introduction to model making, prop making, sculpture and special effects. Building on this foundation, you’ll learn to use a wide range of specialist materials and processes to create original sculptural characters, props and set dressings – including the option of developing stop-motion puppets or collaborating with special effects students.

In your second year you will explore a wide range of specialist materials and processes such as sculpting, moulding and casting that enable the creation of original characters, props and set dressings

In your Final Year you’ll work on major projects and create a professional portfolio to impress employers. Throughout your studies you’ll have access to traditional model-making equipment and cutting-edge prototyping technologies. This course is accredited by Creative Skillset, reflecting the highest standard of teaching and facilities.

What Our Employers Say About Us

"We regularly take a number of students on work experience and often find ourselves wanting to extend the placement, or offer the students contracts during their holidays. This is principally down to the thorough preparation Hertfordshire students have for the workplace, through initiatives such as Professional Practice Seminars, which means we have increasingly found its graduates to be very employable"
Steve Hagon, Figure Production Manager, Merlin Studios (Madame Tussauds)

"With 3 courses covering different aspects of the Special Effects industry, (which I think is unique), they are the main supplier of graduates to our industry. More importantly these graduates are aligned with the needs of the industry and are readily employable".
Mike Kelt, CEO Artem

"The Model and Special Effects Programme at the University of Hertfordshire has consistently produced some of the most employable graduates in our industry".
Mark Ward, Managing Director, Asylum Models and Effects

Model Design Student Testimonials

“The course is the best way to get your ‘foot in the door’ of the industry. The facilities are some of the best I have seen (large studio space). The tutors have all got a background in the industry and hold a lot of knowledge on helpful processes”.

"The staff are very friendly and give good advice when needed. I learnt a lot in my last years of university and thought it was good how they strive to arrange everyone with a work experience placement in the second year. Prepares you well for industry."

Model Design Successes

The Model Design Programme is the only Special Effects course to have been accredited by Creative Skillset

The programme has outstanding links with industry and these result in high profile work experience opportunities for our students. In 2013, our students worked on major feature films at leading UK studios, including making action props on Guardians of the Galaxy, Jupiter Ascending, Exodus and Black Sea.

In 2014, 92% of our second year students undertook work experience on four major feature films at Leavesden, Pinewood, Shepperton and Twickenham studios.

Graduates from this degree often work with leading figures in the creative industries and a host of companies including: Anarchy Ltd, Artem, Asylum, Berry Place, Crawley Creatures, Creatures Inc. Ltd, Darkside FX, Ferox Effects, Gerry Judah, Madame Tussauds, Merlin Studios, etc.

The programme regularly exhibits at the New Blades exhibition (held at Holborn Studios in London), our graduates won three prizes in 2013, making a total of thirteen awards at New Blades in the last 4 years.

Articles about the work have featured in a variety of international publications including Wired Magazine and CNN.

Model Design Facilities

Our students’ work in a large airy purpose built studio (with individual spaces for every student), which is situated above an extensive workshop that contain a wide range of traditional and cutting edge technologies. Students are able to use a wide variety of equipment/machinery and state of the art rapid prototyping facilities: laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC milling and routing. Our students also use a well-equipped sculpture studio, which has excellent life drawing and modelling facilities, a plaster mould making area and industry standard extraction in the fiberglass/resin casting room. The sculpture workshops also provide excellent brazing, soldering and welding facilities for most types of metal fabrication and finishing. In addition to these dedicated workshop facilities, our students are taught a variety of computer aided design processes in both 2D and 3D packages in computer suites, which are situated close to the Model Design studio. Our students have access to all of the facilities across the school including excellent photographic equipment/studios and printing.

Fact sheets 2019 Course fact sheet 1 BA (Hons) Model Design (Character and Creative Effects) with Optional Sandwich Placement/ Study Abroad 2019 Course fact sheet 1 BA (Hons) Model Design (Character and Creative Effects) with Optional Sandwich Placement/ Study Abroad
Programme specifications 2019 Programme specification 1 BA (Hons) Model Design 2019 Programme specification 1 BA (Hons) Model Design

Model Design (Character and Creative Effects) Gallery

Why choose this course?

This is a unique combination of three interrelated degrees with a combined first year (Model, Character and Special Effects). The lecturing staff all have extensive subject knowledge gained from careers in the creative industries, hence students achieve professional standards in their work. We have excellent links with industry and provide placements on major movies at leading UK film studios.

  • You will explore a wide range of specialist materials and processes such as sculpting, moulding and casting that enable the creation of original characters, props and set dressings.
  • You can also combine designing and making characters with animation using stop motion armatures, or with animatronics (in collaboration with students on the special effects degree).
  • You will develop skills in traditional workshop machinery and cutting-edge technologies and have access to specialist industry standard facilities for sculpting, mould making prop making and model making.
  • Outstanding links with industry, which provide excellent work experience opportunities and live collaborative projects.
  • Leading visiting lecturers teach part time alongside their full time work in creative industries
  • Character and Creative Effects students achieve consistently high graduate employment rates

Key staff

Cath Maze
Cath worked as a freelance model maker for 30 years, for 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Clearwater Films, Aardman Animation; and Asylum Models, where she was head of Sculpting, Moulding and Casting.
Find out more about Cath Maze

Nick Morgan
Head of Model Design: Nick has over 20 years working in design, architectural and advertising model making and special effects.
Find out more about Nick Morgan

Professional Accreditations

ScreenSkills Tick

ScreenSkills accreditation is awarded in recognition of the highest level of contemporary industry teaching and facilities. This gives potential employers an indication that candidates from our degree course have been trained professionally and are ready to take up an industry role successfully.

Guardian League Tables 2017

Ranked 10th in the country in the design and crafts section of the Guardian's 2017 University League Tables.

Course details


A strong focus on sculpture and practical skills linked with creative ability will equip you to work in advertising, TV and film. It will also enable you to seek employment in other areas of the entertainment industries including fine art installations, theatre, theme parks and interactive displays in museums or exhibitions.

What job can I get?

With a strong focus on sculpture, practical skills and creativity ability, you’ll be well equipped to work in TV, film and advertising. You could also find yourself working with theatres, theme parks, museums and exhibitions or creating displays. Our graduates have gone on to employment with the likes of Anarchy Ltd, Crawley Creatures, Universal Creations, MacKinnon and Saunders, Madame Tussauds and Merlin Studios.

Teaching methods

You'll experience a wide variety of learning styles on this course. During your studies you'll develop your capacity for self-directed study and your interpersonal skills. We particularly emphasise the importance of 3D making leading to physical artefacts created through structured research and design; well-prepared written and verbal presentations; and computer literacy. Alongside elements of standard lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical workshops, you also learn through case studies, individual and group projects and other student centred activities. In your final year you will have the opportunity to practice your independent study skills by completing a major project and dissertation.

The Model Design Degree Programme uniquely, has a combined first year covering model making, prop making, sculpture and special effects. Second and third year students specialise in one of three-degree pathways: Model Design (Character and Creative Effects), Model Design (Model Effects)Model Design (Special Effects)

First Year

You will be introduced to current materials, techniques and design processes in a combined first year (all three degree disciplines) and gain a strong grounding in workshop machinery and practices, which are relevant to the whole programme.

Second Year

You will explore a wide range of specialist materials and processes such as sculpting, moulding and casting that enable the creation of original characters, props and set dressings. Communication of ideas will be developed through drawing and presentation skills. You can also combine designing and making characters with animation using stop motion armatures, or with animatronics (in collaboration with students on the special effects degree).

All of our second year students have the option to undertake a professional work experience module with one of our many high profile industry contacts.

Work Placement

We regularly provide fantastic work experience opportunities for students across the three degrees within the Model and Special Effects programme; students can choose to take a range of modules as a replacement for all or part of one semester in their second year of study. The staff team have excellent contacts in the creative industries and have won awards for their work supporting students in this activity. Staff are frequently able to provide students with high-profile work placements.

Typically students spend up to 3 months of optional replacement study, with leading companies across the creative industries. These often include opportunities in architecture, design, film and TV.  Our students have worked on major blockbuster movies such as Captain America: The First Avenger, X Men: First Class, Wrath of the Titans, Batman 3: The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, Thor: The Dark World, Maleficent, World War Z, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy and Jupiter Ascending.

Study Abroad

This course offers you the opportunity to study abroad through the University's study abroad programme.
Study abroad opportunities are available worldwide and in Europe under the Erasmus+ Programme.
Find out more about Study abroad opportunities


  • Level 4
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Scale and Structure 30 Credits Compulsory
    Shape and Form 30 Credits Compulsory
    Design and Fabrication 30 Credits Compulsory
    The Model in Mind: histories, contexts, theories (C&CS) 30 Credits Compulsory
  • Level 5
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Turbo Projects 30 Credits Compulsory
    Design Process and Realisation 30 Credits Compulsory
    Character and Creative Effects Contextualised Model 30 Credits Compulsory
    Talking Models: the theory of practice (C&CS) 30 Credits Compulsory
    Professional Work Experience 30: Screen 30 Credits Optional
    Professional Work Experience 45: Screen 45 Credits Optional
    Professional Work Experience 15: Screen 15 Credits Optional
    Professional Work Experience 15 5B: Screen 15 Credits Optional
  • Level 6
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Professional Context Model 30 Credits Compulsory
    Professional Practice 15 Credits Compulsory
    Creative Effects Major Project Proposal 15 Credits Compulsory
    Critical and Cultural Studies: L6 Enquiry / Report / Essay (Model Design) 30 Credits Compulsory
    Character and Creative Effects Major Project 30 Credits Compulsory
    Year Abroad 0 Credits Optional
    Sandwich Year (Creative Arts) 0 Credits Optional
  • Fees & funding

    Fees 2019

    UK/EU Students

    Full time
    • £9250 for the 2019/2020 academic year

    International Students

    Full time
    • £12350 for the 2019/2020 academic year

    Fees 2020

    UK/EU Students

    Full time
    • £9250 for the 2020/2021 academic year

    International Students

    Full time
    • £13000 for the 2020/2021 academic year

    In addition to the fees there are some compulsory course attached to this course:

    Year 1
    Personal tool kit - £120-£180
    Materials required per project £200-£250

    Year 2
    Materials required per project £250-£300

    Year 3
    Materials required per project £300-£500

    Discounts are available for International students if payment is made in full at registration

    *Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.

    View detailed information about tuition fees

    Read more about additional fees in the course fact sheet

    Other financial support

    Find out more about other financial support available to UK and EU students

    Living costs / accommodation

    The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.

    View detailed information about our accommodation

    Entry requirements

    UCAS points A Level BTEC
    96 CCC MMM

    How to apply

    Course length
    • Full Time, 3 Years
    • Sandwich, 4 Years
    • University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield


    Start DateEnd DateLink
    28/09/202020/05/2021Apply online (Full Time)
    28/09/202031/05/2021Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
    28/09/202020/05/2021Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)


    Start DateEnd DateLink
    28/09/202120/05/2022Apply online (Full Time)
    28/09/202131/05/2022Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
    28/09/202120/05/2022Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
    Optional Sandwich Placement or Study Abroad year
    We welcome applications from international and EU students