BA (Hons) Top-up

Accredited by University College Birmingham


Course Award

BA (Hons)


1 year FT




Opportunities available




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School of Sport and Creative Services
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£1.3m invested in subject-related practical facilities to support your future career opportunities

91% of students in employment or further study 6 months after graduating*

*DLHE, 2016/17

From the BBC’s Peaky Blinders to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and theatre productions such as Dirty Dancing and Matilda, students from University College Birmingham have showcased their make-up talents on a multitude of major projects. If you want to follow in their footsteps and you already have a background in this field, our Specialist Hair and Media Make-up top-up degree will take you on the next step towards your dream career in the industry.

Designed for anyone who has previously studied a relevant subject (up to Level 5), our hair and media make-up top-up course will enable you to explore new industry ideas which you can incorporate into your own in-depth research project. Working in our state-of-the-art studios on campus, you will enhance your character design abilities, develop a critical awareness of film genres and design concepts surrounding postiche from a particular era.

University College Birmingham has an excellent reputation within the specialist hair and media make-up industry, enriching your studies with a wealth of guest lectures and events. You will also have the chance to put your skills into practice alongside your studies, with placement opportunities available from stage productions to working with community projects and luxury clothing brands.

Why should I choose this course?

  • PRACTICAL APPLICATION – Hone your practical skills in our cutting-edge make-up and effects studios, as well as gaining real-world experience through industry placement opportunities
  • IN-DEPTH RESEARCH – Develop an industry specialism for your future career by carrying out your own research project exploring cultural and historical aspects of hair and make-up
  • ENRICHMENT – Meet industry experts at networking events and gain insight from top guest lecturers to help you keep pace with the latest trends and technology

Our facilities

University College Birmingham has a range of state-of-the-art teaching facilities and equipment for students on our hair and make-up courses, including cutting-edge make-up studios, prosthetics and special effects studios and a media workshop.

Course breakdown

  • Modules

Core Modules

Character Design

Research the origin and the adaptation/adaptations of one existing live action character who has been portrayed previously within entertainment mediums such as: film, television and theatre. Investigate how internal and external influences have impacted on the characterisation and portrayal of the chosen character by analysing the makeup and/or hair, and/or postiche and/or prosthetics. The learner will propose and justify adapting their chosen character for a specific film, television or theatre production with consideration of the genre style and contemporary audience expectations. To demonstrate thorough understanding the learner will present evidence of academic writing and portfolio of research to support the design process and a final professional computer generated design.

Innovations and Enterprise Studies

E xploring entrepreneurial techniques, processes and practices. You will identify a challenge/ problem/ opportunity within the hair and make-up industry, and turn them into opportunities for you to enhance your independence, confidence, networking capacity and strategic thinking.

The Fundamentals of Postiche Design

You will conduct in-depth historical and vocational research to design and create hair pieces for a cultural group in keeping with the requirements of chosen media setting. Having the ability to style, apply and maintain bespoke hair pieces is a valued asset when working as a hair and make-up artist in the industry, whereas being able to design, measure and produce your own pieces is a career progression route as a wig master in and of itself. By engaging with this module and developing these skills, you will broaden the employment opportunities available to you upon graduation.

Choose 1 optional module

Creative Artist

This module will afford learners the opportunity to specialise within the creative industries to a higher level. Its focus will be in developing the learners a personal style within their chosen pathway with consideration towards engaging with employment and potential progression routes. The sessions will be lecturer led followed by independent development of taught skills acclimated across each level of study in order to develop proficiency and practice in establishing an identifying signature style.

On Set Skills

During the course of your programme, you will have learnt many skills and attributes to prepare you for the freelance hair and make-up sector. This module pulls together these skills and qualities, building confidence to prepare you for the first stages of your career. The module will focus on valuable industry knowledge and etiquette, in order to further prepare you for a role within the TV and film sector as a trainee make-up artist. What will make you stand out from the crowd? This module will put you to the test in a practical sense, enabling you to put together a portfolio of professional images. You will be expected to present these, along with an aligned curriculum vitae and promotion materials in full preparation of a formal interview.

Choose 1 optional module

Final Major Project

You will get the opportunity to deepen your knowledge in a particular area of the industry. You will create a design brief within a chosen context and support it through reflective writing. By demonstrating your skill-set, you will build a coherent and creative piece of work which will support your entry into the specialist hair and media make-up industry.

Research Project

You will have the opportunity to engage in an independent research project of your choice. You will have support with preparing your proposal and understanding the competent characteristics of good research. An appointed tutor will help guide you through this important and rewarding process.

The modules listed above for this course are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up to date and informed by industry as well as the latest teaching methods. On occasion, we may need to make unexpected changes to modules – if this occurs, we will contact all offer holders as soon as possible.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Academic: A relevant HND or a foundation degree in the areas of Theatrical Media and Hair, with 240 credits.

If you are unsure if your previous qualification is suitable, please contact us before completing an application. You can call us on 0121 604 1040 or email direct@ucb.ac.uk

EU/international students

Academic: European and International qualifications studied in a relevant subject matter will also be considered. Applicants will need to have achieved 120 ECTS or equivalent (European Credit Transfer).

If you are unsure if your previous qualification is suitable, please contact us before completing an application. You can call us on 0121 604 1040 or send an email:

EU: euadmissions@ucb.ac.uk

International: international@ucb.ac.uk

Key information

Teaching and assessment

Note: Indicative information only – actual timetables and assessment regimes will be issued at your induction.


Example of a typical teaching week (up to 16 contact hours):

  • Large group teaching – 4 hours
  • Smaller group teaching – 9 hours
  • Tutorials – 3 hours

You will also need to commit around 20 hours per week for individual study time.


Estimated breakdown of assessment for this top-up degree course:

  • Coursework – 67%
  • Practical assessment – 28%
  • Written examinations – 5%

Our teaching and assessment is underpinned by our Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategy 2015-2020.


As a new student studying this degree full-time, you will receive £300 per year via our Kick-Start Scheme (eligibility criteria applies). This scheme will support your studies and future career by contributing to course-related materials, uniform or selected items on campus. You might even qualify for an additional £500 per year.

Tuition fees

UK/EU students

If you are a UK/EU student enrolling on a full-time foundation degree or a BA/BSc in 2020/21, your fee for this academic year will be £9,250 per each full year. A half year tuition fee is £4,625. UK/EU students do not pay tuition fees for any placement periods.

International students

If you are an international student enrolling on a a full-time foundation degree or a BA/BSc in 2020/21, your fee for this academic year will be £11,500 per year.

If you complete a placement year, there will be an administration fee of £500 for a full year, or £250 for a half-year placement.


of graduate employers say relevant experience is essential to getting a job with them

Work placements

Work placements are vital for gaining real-life experience and for building your confidence and skills before you finish your course – and they may even lead to a job when you graduate. Our hired@UCB team can help find the ideal placement for you.

We encourage students on our BA Specialist Hair and Media Make-up top-up course to gain work experience throughout your studies.

Work alongside experts in your sector

A snapshot of some of the employers we have worked with: 

  • Birmingham Repertory Theatre
  • Birmingham Conservatoire
  • The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham
  • Ann Summers
  • West Midlands Fire Service (special effects for firefighter training)

You are taught by specialists and it prepares you in the best way for the industry. The lecturers genuinely teach you things you need to know and they are always there to help you. I secured my first job working on a film for the London Short Film Festival.

Ellen D'Andrade Brown Specialist Hair and Media Make-up BA (Hons)

Career opportunities

The example roles and salaries below are intended as a guide only.

Make-up artist

Average Salary: £21,161

Freelance make-up artist


Hair stylist

Average Salary: £17,709

Make-up/hair artist for TV/theatre


Want to take your studies to the next level? Completing the BA (Hons) top-up degree will enable you to move onto our Prosthetics for Film and Television MA course.


We are here to support your career goals every step of the way. 


Find out more

Steph’s Story

Award-winning Steph is living the dream, appearing on a hit BBC show through to creating gruesome prosthetics for horror flicks.

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