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 focus on developing your artistic and technical skills to produce models, animatronics and other effects. You’ll also gain hands on experience of the specialist equipment used to produce rain, fire, smoke, wind and snow, and learn about the safe use of pyrotechnics.

In 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.

In your Final Year, you’ll work on major projects and create a professional portfolio to impress employers. Throughout your studies you’ll use a mix of traditional techniques and modern technology. This course is accredited by Creative Skillset, reflecting the highest standard of teaching and facilities.

Fact sheets 2019 Course fact sheet 1 BA (Hons) Model Design (Special Effects) with Optional Sandwich Placement/ Study Abroad 2019 Course fact sheet 1 BA (Hons) Model Design (Special 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 (Special Effects) Gallery

Why choose this course?

  • Combine your artistic and technical skills to produce animatronics, action props, models and special effects.
  • 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, plus access to specialist industry standard facilities for animatronics, model making and prop making.
  • Close contacts with industry, which provide outstanding work experience opportunities and collaborative projects.
  • High graduate employment rates for Special Effects students. 
  • The only Creative Skillset Tick accredited Model and Special Effects course in the UK.

What 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

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."


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. Our students have worked on major feature films at leading UK studios, including making action props on Guardians of the Galaxy, Jupiter Ascending, Exodus and Black Sea.

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.

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


  • Purpose built studio, situated above an extensive workshop containing a wide range of traditional and cutting edge technologies.
  • A variety of equipment/machinery and state-of-the-art rapid prototyping facilities including: Laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC milling and routing.
  • Well-equipped sculpture studio, which includes a plaster mould making area and industry standard extraction in the fiberglass/resin casting room.
  • Brazing, soldering and welding facilities for most types of metal fabrication and finishing.
  • Access to facilities across the School, including photographic studios and printing, and computer suites.
  • Follow the link to find out more about the excellent facilities we have on offer

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

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


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.

What job can I get?

Our graduates have strong creative problem-solving, mechanical design and practical workshop skills that lead to many fascinating employment opportunities. You’ll find our graduates working in TV and films, the theatre, museums and other highly creative areas. Our graduates have gone on to employment with the likes of Chris Corbould, Neil Corbould, Anarchy Ltd, Artem, Warner Bros, Universal Creations and Zone Creations.

Teaching methods

The course emphasises 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.

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

Fantastic work experience opportunities are available for students across the three degrees within the Model and Special Effects programme. 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. 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

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Level 4

Core Modules


Level 5

Core Modules


Level 6

Core Modules


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

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...


Clearing places available on this course, call us now on 0300 303 6300 #UHClearing

Standard entry requirements

2019/20 Academic Year 

  • 72-168 UCAS points.
  • A levels & BTECs to include an art related subject.
  • GCSE Maths and English Language at grade 4 or above (Grade C for English and Grade D for Maths if taken before 2015).
  • Admission subject to portfolio interview. Check out portfolio advice here.  
  • IB - 72-168 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).
  • 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.
  • Find out more about international application requirements

The University of Hertfordshire is committed to welcoming students with a wide range of qualifications and levels of experience. The entry requirements listed on the course pages provide a guide to the minimum level of qualifications needed to study each course. However, we have a flexible approach to admissions and each application will be considered on an individual basis.

How to apply

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


Start DateEnd DateLink
28/09/201920/05/2020Apply online (Full Time)
28/09/201931/05/2020Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
28/09/201920/05/2020Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)


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)
Clearing places available on this course!
Call us now on 0300 303 6300


Optional Sandwich Placement or Study Abroad year

We welcome applications from international and EU students