Special Effects Prosthetics

MA Special Effects for Film & TV

  • Study Mode: Full time
  • Location: High Wycombe / BNU based at Pinewood Studios
  • Duration: One Year
  • Start Date: September 2022
Designed in collaboration with industry professionals, this master’s programme allows you to explore specialist pathways in either Prosthetics and Makeup Effects or Props and Modelmaking.
Split between our high Wycombe and teaching base at Pinewood studios you’ll have access to state-of-the-art facilities to help you better your skills and knowledge, all whilst studying right in the heart of the famous creative hub.
This course would be suitable for qualified and creative well-motivated students with an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject area, and practitioners already working in the creative industries.
Woman sat at a table making notes on a bit of paper student writing studying

Application guide

For information on how you can boost your career-prospects and apply for our postgraduate courses, follow our application guide.

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Postgraduate Open Days

Join us for a Postgraduate Open Day where you can discuss your options and chosen course with our course leaders.

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Fees and funding

There’s a range of ways you can secure funding for your course, including sponsorship, scholarships and loans. And if you recently graduated from BNU, you may be eligible for a fee discount.

Why study this subject?

Digital technology has revolutionised how creative professionals now conceive, create, produce and distribute visual and media artefacts, and there is a demand for visually, media-savvy practitioners who can work confidently in multidisciplinary environments.

The range of industries using special effects has grown rapidly over the last decade. Graduates of the MA Special Effects for Film & TV will leave having gained specialised knowledge and skills base and opportunities for employment within film and TV production.

Special Effects make-up creature
cut on arm for special effects work

Why study at BNU?

The MA Special Effects for Film & TV at BNU will allow students to focus on the design and fabrication of physically based film and television special effects using a range of art and science technologies.

This will include engineering system design, props design & fabrication, prosthetics and makeup effects, character creation, set and theme design or the crafting of camera-ready animatronics devices depending on the chosen pathway.

On this course you will be able to have the opportunity to study in our specialist facilities at our High Wycombe campus and teaching base at Pinewood studios. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge you need for your future, all whilst studying right in the heart of the famous creative hub.

Taught by industry-professionals, you’ll benefit by learning from lecturers with real sector experience and an insight into working-life. Dr Johnny Issapour, your course leader, is the first academic in the UK with a PhD in special effects and animatronics covering both the digital and physical aspects of the subject. As well as this you’ll have access to our network of guest speaker’s industry experts, and innovators from leading companies. All here to support you as you gain the skills and knowledge you need.

With London on our doorstep, you’ll be near the world’s best cultural centres, such as theatres, museums and galleries, where you can find a range of inspiration.


student in a workshop effects work


What facilities can I use?

Our industry standard facilities are here to help you produce your most creative ideas. We will build your confidence in using the latest postproduction software.

Our specialist resources including;

  • CNC and laser cutter machines
  • engineering & modelmaking workshop equipped with the latest advanced tools
  • plastic lab
  • prosthetics lab
  • High end cameras
  • Photography studios equipped with industry standard blue/ green screen.
  • blue/green screen video studio
  • computer and CGI lab
  • adobe creative suit
  • Auto desk

Collaborating with students from a range of different courses, you’ll also get to access our professional workshop the Red Shed and our TV and film studios. At every step you’ll be supported by a dedicated team of technicians who will provide you with advice, technical assistance and support to realise your assignment briefs and final Project.

As well as this as a BNU student you’ll have automatic access to our library and Students’ Union.

What will I study?

This MA enables students to focus their studies either towards the design and crafting of props, model-making, animatronics design and fabrication using engineering technology, or the conceptualisation, design and crafting of prosthetics makeup effects production e.g. advanced techniques in casualty simulation. This taught research-based course is industry-focused and will provide opportunities for students to engage with a broad range of skills and techniques required within special effects production for film and TV and associated creative industries.

All modules are designed to develop the theoretical and critical approaches applied to your specialism, and will facilitate the design, prototyping and production of polished functional artefacts for inclusion within a portfolio of work.

student at computer designing 3D effects

How will I be taught and assessed?

During this course, you will benefit from a full schedule where you’ll learn everything you need to know to feel ready for the industry by the time you graduate. This intense degree will make sure you challenge yourself to produce the best looks for your portfolio, whilst gaining as much experience as possible.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, from studio projects, workshops and media outcomes, to group and individual case studies, and written assignments. As well as:

  • Lectures
  • tutorials and/or laboratory and workshop sessions
  • seminars
  • industry briefs
  • case studies
  • practical work.

As this master’s programme is strongly vocationally-based, you may have opportunities to present your work to a range of audiences, including industry professionals. You’ll do this through collections, exhibitions, performance, screenings, and other teaching methods as applicable to each pathway.

The dissertation module is supported by a series of lectures and seminars on research skills, which is then followed by personal supervision.

Useful Information

MA Special Effects for Film and TV Programme Specification

What are the course entry requirements?

As the key aim of this programme is to provide knowledge and skills in all related areas of SFX Prosthetics & Makeup Effects, Props and Model-making and associated 3D modelling/animation techniques for Film & TV, the course will be recruiting applicants with a broad base of appropriate skills within the field and enable them to focus on an area relevant to their career aspirations.

A minimum of 2.2 at BA/BSc level in a relevant subject is required. Alternatively, a Higher National Diploma (HND) qualification in relevant subject, with a minimum of 2 years’ industry experience will be required.

Applicants will need to have a suitably appropriate portfolio of work and an undergraduate degree in areas such as Special Effects Make-Up, Animation, Electronics, Mechanical Engineering, Model- making, Sculptor making, Engineering Product Design, and Manufacturing Design. The key aim of this programme, depending on their specialism, is to deepen students’ knowledge and specialist skills in all related areas in Prosthetics & Makeup Effects and/or SFX Props & Modelmaking before entering the industry.

Due to the technical nature of the programme, applicants whose first-degree discipline is not in a related area of special effects will be considered only if they can demonstrate that they have an appropriately focused portfolio. Likewise, candidates whose existing knowledge or skillset is not up to entry standard at Level 7 will also be required to undertake a short bridging course during the summer before the start of the MA, or be required to undertake an academic research task to develop their knowledge and preparedness for Level 7 study.

Overseas applicants whose first language is not English are required to have attained a minimum score of 6.5 overall with a minimum 6.0 in each component of the IELTS Academic Test. However, as part of the selection process, all applicants are required to attend an interview to demonstrate their strengths in addition to any formal entry requirements.


This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.

MA Special Effects (Prosthetics and Makeup Effects pathway) - Modules

Digital previsualisation for screen

Professional Practice

Advanced techniques in SFX casualty simulation

Prosthetics character design & production


Major Project

MA Special Effects (Props and Modelmaking pathway) - Modules

Digital previsualisation for screen

Professional Practice

SFX props & modelmaking manufacturing

Animatronics & mechanical props design


Final major project

What are the tuition fees


Home, Academic Year 2022 - 2023



Overseas/International, Academic Year 2022 - 2023


The University is unable to accept any new applications from students who require sponsorship for a student visa to start in September 2022. This is due to the overwhelming popularity of our courses and visa processing timeframes.  Applications are still being taken from students who are already in the UK and hold the right to study.

From September 2022, those students living in the UK or Republic of Ireland, and EU nationals with settled status in the UK, will be considered Home students.

Most courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees.

You could benefit from financial support through a bursary or scholarship during your time as a student. For more details visit our financial support, bursaries and scholarships section.

Questions about fees?

Contact our Enquiries Team:

0330 123 2023


What are my career prospects?

After studying at BNU, you’ll be set up for success and ready to work on major productions in any special effects workshops.

Throughout your time with us we’ll support you on the route to your chosen career. We’ll help you to develop crucial skills, encouraging you to become enterprising, employable and good leaders. We also help you find employment after graduation. Have a look at our Careers and Employability pages to find out more.

The multidisciplinary nature of the course will produce graduates that are multi-skilled and up to date with the generic tools and principles used within special effects, as well as an understanding of advanced production processes.

Potential career and employment areas will fall within the animatronics, prosthetics make-up effects, casualty simulation, props & model-making, mechanical and electronic engineering, rigging, set design and visual effects sectors of the film and TV industry. These include:

  • Animatronics Designer
  • Prosthetics
  • Make-up Artist
  • SFX trainee (make-up)
  • SFX technician and/or assistant
  • Props & Modelmaker
  • SFX Structure Engineer
  • Control & Signal writer
  • Sculptor
  • Character Designer
  • 3D modeller
  • Pre-visualisation Artist
  • Technical Director (TD)
  • Animatronics Engineer
  • Rig-builder
  • Fabricator.