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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate>Courses>Postproduction with Visual Effects (MA)

Overview Focus on your profession with skills in 2D graphics and compositing that are immediately relevant in industry


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Watch a compilation of work by students from this course demonstrating a range of visual effects.

This course is ideal if you want a solid grounding in the latest postproduction systems and techniques as well as a rich understanding of digital visual effects creation for feature film and broadcast television.

You can choose to focus on production-orientated work and apply for this MA degree. Alternatively you can focus on formal research into the technologies behind postproduction systems and apply for the MSc Postproduction with Visual Effects. We run this course in parallel with our masters in Postproduction with Sound Design which will allow you to work with others as you learn, giving you a well-rounded understanding of the postproduction process.

Through the course you'll build up a rich understanding of postproduction. You'll receive scientific and technical training combined with hands-on experience of visual effects systems, program creation and artistic decision-making. Many of our graduates work in the industry, from film to television companies, and some of our graduates have gone on to research in industry or academia.

This course is accredited by Creative Skillset, the skills council for the UK film and TV industry.

We're ranked 1st in England and Wales for Film Production and Photography in the Guardian's 2017 University Guide.

Course content What you’ll study


This course aims to help you develop a knowledge of the theories and technologies that are central to professional production and postproduction of visual effects in film and television. You'll be able to develop the practical skills that a professional in the film or television industry needs. This course is also ideal if you want to prepare for further research in postproduction systems.

Your understanding of professional production values and aesthetics will be enhanced through technical analysis and critical evaluation. You'll also work on creative and technical collaborative projects with others studying related courses. This will allow you to develop a range of skills, such as time management, working to objectives and team work which you will find useful in the film and television industries as well as elsewhere.

Most of our students study full-time for one year, but you can also study this course part-time over two years.


You'll study a total of 180 credits. 80 of these will be through taught modules in the first two terms. You'll then go on to take a further 100 credits as part of an extended research project in the third term.

Term 1

In your first term you'll study alongside students on our other masters courses (MA/MSc Postproduction with Sound Design and MA Digital Film and Television Production) to ensure you receive a well-rounded experience of postproduction.

1. Digital Production and Postproduction Workflows (20 credits)

You'll look at digital production and postproduction processes for the creation of commercial film and television programmes. You'll examine the latest technical and aesthetic workflows for picture and sound. There are two associated labs - one for picture techniques and one for sound techniques - where you'll put theory into practice by applying the concepts and techniques covered in lectures. 

2. Languages of Film and Television (10 credits)

You'll examine the ways in which moving images communicate with audiences. You'll draw on the analysis of film and television texts as well as the industrial and technological conditions underpinning their production. You'll also explore the connections between theories of film and television and its production, distribution and consumption.

Term 2

In your second term you'll have the opportunity to apply the concepts and techniques presented in the first term. You'll also expand your understanding of the creative process. Some of these modules are studied alongside students on our other masters courses providing a balanced view of the industry. Other modules specialise in visual effects and are studied only by students on this masters course.

1. Group Projects (20 credits)

You'll join a team made up of students from across our range of masters courses. You'll undertake an exercise that first involves the creation of a title sequence for a film or television programme that leads into an action sequence similar to those found in films and high end TV drama. You'll specialise in your area of study and work in collaborative teams to create a sequence to professional standards. This industry-inspired exercise allows you to understand of the creative process and hone your problem-solving skills in an applied setting.

2. Visual Effects Design Lab (10 credits)

You'll study the fundamental theory and practical skills involved in the creation of visual effects for film and television. You will explore 2D compositing as well as the technical design and implementation of visual image processing and the creative application of visual effects systems. You'll develop a range of skills in creative picture editing and visual effects creation using industry standard tools.

3. Conform and Finish (10 credits)

This module will introduce you to online editing and picture finishing, exploring the similarities and differences between finishing for film and for television. You'll develop a range of creative and technical skills and gain a working knowledge of the stages and process of film and television picture finishing. You'll get hands-on experience with the industry-standard Flame Premium picture finishing system.

4. The Business of Production and Postproduction (10 credits)

This module aims to provide you with a realistic picture of the film and television industries. You'll explore the development, financing and distribution of projects, as well as developing an understanding of the business aspects of the postproduction. This module features regular guest sessions from major industry personnel. Past guests have come from Industrial Light and Magic, Framestore, Prime Focus, Molinare and many other top companies.


Term 3 and summer

The final term is dedicated to the design and development of individual project work.

Extended Research Project (100 credits)

Your project for this MA in Postproduction with Visual Effects involves the creation of a creative practical project (eg short film, animation, advertisement, etc). You'll apply the visual effects and postproduction expertise you have gained through the year. You'll support your work with a dissertation of 10,000 words where you detail the objectives of the project, your design and technical approaches, the rationale for your creative choices and your critical reflections on both the process and the finished work.

If you'd like to undertake a more technically-focused project then you should consider applying for the MSc in Postproduction with Visual Effects instead. If you have questions about which degree to apply for please contact our admissions team:

Our award-winning building is one of the best-equipped facilities of its type in the UK. For visual effects it features:

  • Postproduction laboratory featuring Nuke, Maya, Adobe Creative Cloud, Frameforge and other packages supported by a Qube-based render farm
  • Three Flame Premium suites
  • One Nucoda Filmmaster
  • Organic Motions motion capture suite
  • 140-seat Dolby certified 4K digital cinema with Doremi server
  • Black box shooting stage with full green/blue screen and matching flooring
  • Two further green screen-capable studio rooms
  • Two fully broadcast-compliant HD television studios, both with green screen and one with a Brainstorm VR real time virtual set system

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

The course involves a range of different teaching styles. Most modules will include lectures to give you a fundamental understanding of the subject and then lead on to practical work. The practical work will primarily involve lab sessions where you can become familiar with industry techniques and equipment.
Sessions involving guests from the film and television industry will be part of your studies. You'll also have the opportunity to attend talks, productions and festivals outside of your modules.

You'll be assigned a member of our teaching staff who will act as your personal supervisor for the duration of the course. They are there to give advice on academic matters as well as other areas of University life.


You'll be assessed throughout your course. Some modules have an early assessment that contributes a small amount to your final mark and gives an opportunity to check your progress.

Types of assessment vary depending on the module and include the following:

  • In-class tests
  • In-class pitch sessions
  • Presentations
  • Essays and reflective reports
  • Business plans or grant applications
  • Individual projects in which you'll tackle various aspects of visual effects and picture finishing
  • A group project working with others across the department to create a title and action sequence
  • 10,000 word report for your individual project

Careers Where you’ll go from here

The film and television industry is highly competitive and there is a constant demand for visual effects artists with a solid knowledge of current software and postproduction techniques. There's also demand for artists who possess a firm grasp of story and how technology can enhance the viewing experience.

There's an increasing demand for researchers, in both industry and academia, who have a firm understanding of postproduction tools and how they can be applied to create the next generation of postproduction technologies.

Career opportunities

Over two thirds of our graduates are working in the industry, with companies such as:

  • Industrial Light and Magic
  • Double Negative
  • Moving Picture Company (MPC)
  • Oriental Dreamworks
  • Bloomberg LP
  • Nvizible
  • Prime Focus
  • Films at 59
  • CCTV (Chinese television)
  • China Film Group
  • GSP Studios

Others have gone on to further study or to work in academia at institutions including Oxford University and the City University of Hong Kong. 

Transferable skills

While you train to be a professional in visual effects you'll also develop skills that are useful in any industry. These include:

  • Collaborative working
  • Problem solving
  • Investigative research
  • Time management and organisation
  • Technical analysis
  • Critical evaluation
  • Reflective learning.

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

You should have some experience of film, video or television production. This may have been gained through a first degree (typically awarded a minimum of 2:1 or equivalent), via professional practice or through a formal filmmaking society.  Experience in visual effects or animation is desirable but not required.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically with our online system, which allows you to save progress and return later to finish. If you're unable to apply online, you can submit a paper application.


International options

Guidance on international equivalents for entry qualifications.

English language

If you're a non-native English speaking applicant you must provide evidence of your English language ability.

  • IELTS: 6.5, with no less than 6.0 in each component
  • PTE: 61, with no less than 55 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 169 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 21 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components.

Full details of all acceptable tests and relevant exemptions.

Enquire Contact our admissions tutors if you have any questions

Postgraduate Admissions team

Postgraduate Admissions team

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