FdA Specialist Make-up Design

The Conservation and Education Centre at the former Bristol Zoo Gardens site remains open to students.

You will have private access to the zoo grounds during lectures, to carry out your observations and data collection, but as more animals are moved, this will gradually be carried out at the Bristol Zoo Project. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Course Description

This intensive but engaging degree offers you a broad range of industry skills and knowledge to prepare you for entering the creative industries, working within Media Make-up, Hair, Wigs and Prosthetics for TV, Film, Fashion and Theatre. The degree includes practical skills development across diverse project themes, with embedded research, critical engagement and contextual studies.  

Designing make-up looks and concepts through fashion, period and contemporary styles for performances you will bring your ideas into reality. Character looks are created using prosthetics, special effects make-up techniques, and wig making and hairstyling. A range of technical and creative processes are embraced to develop you as a multi-skilled make-up artist and designer. There is the opportunity to display your final project work in a showcase/exhibition. You may progress to the BA (Hons) Specialist Make-up Design (top-up) year, to gain your honours degree. Please note that you will be required to purchase your own kit prior to the start of your studies, and more information is available in request.

Get Industry Ready

You will enhance your creative practice through art and media studies to support your individual designs. Your employability skills and professional practice are developed to industry standards. Industry-experienced lecturers, trips (at an additional cost) and work experience opportunities offer contemporary industry awareness. Your final major project leads to an exhibition and showcase opportunity to present your professional portfolio.

Studying at University Centre WISE

You will have access to fully equipped make-up studios and workshop spaces at our University Centre WISE campus.  This area has been specifically designed for degree students and provides professional facilities to work on projects. You may also access other facilities such as digital design studios, 3D workshops and design suites. Our University Centre WISE (UCWISE) campus provides essential materials, tools and facilities for modules. However, you will be required to purchase a kit of personal tools and equipment to support your studies (costs and specifications will be shared with students before enrolment). You will have the ability to work competently within make-up studios to enhance your practical skills and develop module projects; through tutor-guided development, individual and collaborative work.  In addition, there will be opportunities for you to engage with industry through work experience, guest speakers, and attendance at industry events.

"An amazing course"

"An amazing course that offers an insight into a range of areas within the makeup industry and in great detail, as well as outstanding support available through my Disability Student Allowance (DSA). My experience over the last 3 years is something I will never forget which ended with a 1st class degree result."

FdA Specialist Make-up Design
Study Modules
Media Make-up and Hair Design

This module introduces you to the fundamentals of Media Make-up and Hair design and application. The module involves theory and practical, and you will engage in a series of projects that challenge your skills development and understanding concerning the function, purpose and form of Media Make-up and Hair design. Assessment will be through production of a portfolio of design investigations and preparation of practical make-up and hair designs, and realisation of designs to create practical make-up and hair looks. Make-up and hair themes will range across design and application techniques for TV, Film and Theatre contexts. Key techniques will be developed via practical workshops, and independent study to develop essential skills, realising contemporary to period styles, casualty and character designs. You will learn to identify and evaluate use of appropriate media, products and contexts for your designs.

100% Coursework: Individual, portfolio

Fashion, Editorial and Body Art

This module will allow you to develop fundamental skills, knowledge, and understanding to create a variety of make-up looks appropriate to Fashion, Editorial and Body Art. Your projects will emphasise the use of design work as a tool for investigation and method to realise outcomes. Projects will range across fashion and photographic to commercial make-up and hair styles, creating total looks appropriate to Editorial and High Fashion contexts as well as Body Art techniques. You will gain understanding of factors such as lighting and photographic environments to identify the importance of the journey from design to realisation of styles, and of fulfilling the design brief for commercial clients through product choice and application methods.

100% Coursework: Individual, portfolio

Creative Practice

This module explores your creative practice to develop your skills, creativity and critical thought processes to design work to complement make-up and design tasks. The module will introduce you to a variety of drawing and design techniques including life drawing and using mixed media. You will also be trained in using effective design communication processes to fulfil the design brief. Your creative skills and design confidence will be developed through a series of projects using drawing and design as investigation of personal ideas. You will learn to link your creative practice to make-up and design processes, in developing appropriate industry standards as visual communication.

100% Portfolio

Contextual Studies

This module will emphasise the context in which make-up and practical skills require associated underpinning knowledge, and understanding of related topics, as part of the role as a Make-up Artist and creative practitioner. This module will provide the theoretical and contextual awareness to complement the practical content of other modules. Your exploration of creative and critical thinking to identify strengths and weaknesses and to develop independent thinking and learning will support independent study aims across other modules.

60% Portfolio

40% Coursework: Individual, standard written

Preparation for Employment

This module will introduce students to expected professional practice within industry and form links to seeking industry work opportunities. Students will learn about the variety and contexts of industry roles, identify professional work etiquette, start career planning, and develop own promotional tools to seek employment. Students will build their portfolios and link with social and digital media for business promotional aspects used by the freelance practitioner. Theory into practice will be explored through a project, connecting students’ employability skills developed within the module, to use strategies for processing their ideas using digital technology.

25% Presentation 15 mins (+5mins Q&A)

75% Portfolio 3,750 words or equivalent

Historical Hair and Contextual Studies

This module will provide students with the opportunity to research hair and make-up styles across the wider historical timeline, with further investigation as in-depth research across time periods for contextual understanding of eras. Students will explore how hair/wigs, make-up and personal appearances are related and how they developed over time by influential factors, such as icons of the era, and social and economic influences. To complement research, this module develops more advanced hairstyling and wig dressing techniques, drawing reference from historical styles and methods. An introduction to wig making, and creating facial postiche, using ventilation techniques will offer specialist skills development. Period hair and facial postiche styling will be practically created, to relate historical studies to context for period production purposes. Presenting research and design information will form the portfolio work.

60% Portfolio 3,600 words or equivalent

40% Practical Assessment 100 production hours equivalent

Advanced Media Make-up

This module offers you advanced make-up techniques learning, opportunities and skills development working towards industry level. Projects will explore a variety of looks and techniques used to realise this higher level of skill in specialist make-up application. This module forms essential skills development in progressing you towards employment opportunities. You will engage in advanced technical skills development with embedded theoretical study, working towards final practical outcomes. You will also work independently on your chosen specialism across fashion, editorial, TV, film or theatre.

100% Coursework: Individual, portfolio

Major Design Project and Showcase

The theme of this module is the advanced application of Make-up and Hair design across Media, Special Effects and Theatrical contexts, as recognition of skills and knowledge developed during the course. You will undertake an extended project relevant to the individual's vocational or educational aspirations. This module marks the culmination of your technical and ideological development on the course and you will produce a major design project. An additional aim is to allow you to prepare for either exit from the course with a Foundation degree to seek employment in the creative industries, or to plan progression to BA (Hons) degree level, which you can do by undertaking a Level 6 programme such as the one offered by SGS College. All students will participate in a 15 hour work experience placement as part of this module.

50% Coursework: Individual, portfolio

50% Practical Exam: display, show or performance

Creative Practice for Media and Prosthetic Make-up

This module develops your creative practice, building upon your design ethos from level 4 to advance your visual communication skills to further your 2D and 3D design applications. You will explore a range of design methods to recognise professional levels of presentation in varied formats. Linking with the Prosthetic hybrid project in MM503 specifically, you will develop your design planning for that project within this module and create a portfolio of experimentation and development of a range of design ideas. The module is delivered by multiple tutors to access a range of experiences to develop your own design ethos and experience of techniques. You will engage in a series of workshops both onsite and online across the module to develop key skills. Progress is supported through various tutor feedback conversations during module delivery.

70% Coursework: Individual, portfolio

30% Coursework: Individual, presentation

Prosthetics and Special Effects Make-up Design

The emphasis of this module is the advanced skill learning of techniques and processes used within the specialist area of Prosthetics and Special Effects Make-up. You will be introduced to industry relevant products and processes and various professional techniques and design ideas will be explored, in developing this higher level of make-up techniques appropriate to level 5. Topics such as face casting, mould making, sculpting and casting techniques will be studied, in addition to application of special effects and prosthetics make up. Character make-up of your own negotiated design will be created for assessment, demonstrating techniques of creating and applying own made prosthetics.

60% Coursework: Individual, portfolio

40% Practical Assessment: In-class

Course Video
Ruth Mitchell
Subject Area Lead (Creative Industries) and Programme Lead/Lecturer for Specialist Make-up & Prosthetics
*This programme is subject to validation and delivery approval by the University of Gloucestershire.
University Centre WISE
Foundation Degree
Full-time Duration:
2 Years
Full-time Fee (Per Year):
Part-time Duration:
4 Years
Part-time Fee (Per Year):
UCAS Application Code:
UCAS Entry Tariff:
Entry Requirements

The minimum UCAS tariff entry points from a level 3 qualification, GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4. Please submit a portfolio to be reviewed by Programme Lead. Once your portfolio has been reviewed, you may be invited for an interview. Mature students over 24 without the relevant qualifications will be required to demonstrate previous experience and evidence of academic ability.

Course info last updated:
April 20, 2024
Delivery Format

The delivery format for your degree-level programs is primarily face-to-face and in-person sessions. However, there may be some hybrid sessions offered occasionally, mainly for flexibility purposes, such as tutorials or for larger events like visiting lecturers. Additionally, it's mentioned that all degree programs are well-supported by Virtual Learning Environments, which include Teams or Google Classroom.

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