BA (Hons) Model Design (Special Effects)

We welcome applications from international and EU students

About the course


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). 

  • You will be able to combine your artistic and technical skills to produce animatronics, action props, models and special effects.
  • You will also gain ‘hands on’ experience of special effects equipment used to produce, rain, fire, smoke, wind and snow etc. and learn about the safe use of pyrotechnics.
  • Use of traditional workshop machinery and cutting-edge technologies including; CAD, 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC machining, plus access to specialist industry standard facilities for animatronics, model making and prop making.
  • Very close contacts with industry, which provide outstanding work experience opportunities and collaborative projects.
  • Special Effects students achieve consistently high graduate employment rates.
  • The only Creative Skillset Tick accredited Model and Special Effects course in the UK.

What Our Employers Say About Us

Over the last two years I have employed three graduates of the University, all of whom had completed the Model and Special effects Programme. These three graduates have not only successfully merged into my established film industry Special Effects team but also, are now actively contributing their ideas and skills to enhance and widen the scope of my team.
Chris Corbould Special Effects MIExpE

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

Model Design Student Testimonials

"Facilities are good and the teaching is good, and they are really helpful and enthusiastic about what they do."

"Work experience opportunities are fantastic. The 3rd year timetable, allows us to push ourselves and get more projects and better quality of work done for our portfolio."

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 such as Chris Corbould Special Effects MIExpE and a host of other companies including: Anarchy Ltd, Artem, Asylum, Darkside FX, Ferox Effects, Gerry Judah, Machine Shop, 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.

In 2013, Special Effects students assisted the internationally acclaimed designer Sophie de Oliveira Barata in the design and construction of prosthetic limbs for her ‘Alternative Limb Project’.

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.

Model Design (Special 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.

Key staff

Nick Morgan
Programme Leader: Nick has over 20 years working in design, architectural and advertising model making and special effects.
Find out more about Nick Morgan

Rob Thomas
Course Leader: Prior to teaching he had over twenty five years working in most areas of Special Effects, at the BBC then at Artem and eventually working freelance as an Art Director.
Find out more about Rob Thomas

Professional Accreditations

Creative Skillset Tick

Creative Skillset 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.


The course’s strong focus on creative problem-solving, mechanical design and practical workshop skills will prepare you for working in Special Effects. These versatile skills are also sought after in other areas including stage, theme parks, fine art installations and interactive displays in museums or exhibitions.

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.

You will experience a wide variety of teaching styles on the programme including:

  • standard lectures
  • practical workshops
  • case studies
  • individual and group projects

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 acquire an understanding of special effects design and receive a thorough grounding in the practical aspects of this. You will be able to combine your artistic and technical skills to produce animatronics, action props, models and special effects. You will also gain ‘hands on’ experience of special effects equipment used to produce, rain, fire, smoke, wind and snow etc. and learn about the safe use of pyrotechnics.

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.

Final Year

Your final year is designed to prepare you for entry to the industry as a highly employable graduate. You will make a variety of project outcomes that demonstrate your professional ability and you will also spend time producing a professional portfolio and self-promotional material designed to impress potential employers at your first interview and beyond.

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

Core Modules

  • Scale and Structure - 30 Credits
  • Design and Fabrication - 30 Credits
  • Shape and Form - 30 Credits
  • The Model in Mind (C&CS) - 30 Credits


Level 5

Core Modules

  • Turbo A - 15 Credits
  • Turbo B - 15 Credits
  • Design Process and Realisation - 30 Credits
  • Talking Models (C&CS) - 30 Credits
  • Special Effects Contextualised Model - 30 Credits


  • Professional Work Experience 30: Screen - 30 Credits
  • Professional Work Experience 45: Screen - 45 Credits
  • Professional Work Experience 15: Screen - 15 Credits
  • Professional Work Experience 15 5B: Screen - 15 Credits

Level 6

Core Modules

  • Professional Context Model - 30 Credits
  • Professional Practice - 15 Credits
  • Special Effects Major Project Proposal - 15 Credits
  • Special Effects Major Project - 30 Credits
  • Critical and Cultural Studies: L6 Enquiry / Report / Essay (Model Design) - 30 Credits


  • Year Abroad - 0 Credits
  • Sandwich Year (Creative Arts) - 0 Credits

Fees & funding

Fees 2018

UK/EU Students

Full time
  • £9250 for the 2018/2019 academic year

International Students

Full time
  • £11950 for the 2018/2019 academic year

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

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...

  • 96 UCAS points
  • GCSE Maths and English Language at grade 4 or above (English Language grade C and Mathematics Grade D or above at GCSE if taken prior to 2015)
  • A levels/BTECs to include an art related subject.
  • IB - 96 UCAS points from a minimum of 2 HL subjects at H4 or above to include Visual Arts at SL or HL  (with the remaining points to come from a combination of HL, SL and Core).
  • Subject to portfolio interview. For more information on this, please visit our 'Portfolio advice' page.
  • All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency, equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 6 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band.
  • If you do not have the required IELTS or equivalent for direct entry on to your degree programme, our Pre-sessional English and International Foundation courses can help you to achieve this level.
  • For country specific qualifications, please visit our Your Country page.

How to apply


Start DateEnd DateLink
17/09/201820/05/2019Apply online (Full Time)
17/09/201820/05/2019Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
17/09/201820/05/2019Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)


Start DateEnd DateLink
28/09/201920/05/2020Apply online (Full Time)
28/09/201920/05/2020Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
28/09/201920/05/2020Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)