BA (Hons) / FdA

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3 years full-time




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School of Sport and Creative Services
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2 years full-time




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

If you think you have never seen the work of University College Birmingham students on stage and screen, think again. From the BBC’s Peaky Blinders and Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-up Star to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and theatre productions such as Dirty Dancing and Matilda, students and graduates from our Specialist Hair and Media Make-up degree have worked on a multitude of major projects – and you could follow in their footsteps.

Learning from our experienced lecturers – some of whom have worked on the likes of Game of Thrones – our hair and media make-up course will help you develop a wide variety of advanced practical skills and the know-how to build a freelance business for an exciting career in TV, film, photography or theatre. As the industry requires artists who can work within a range of media settings, you will learn about each environment and gain the specialist skill set you need for the creative industry.

Shaping your learning journey through a range of optional modules, you will create a professional portfolio of work that will showcase your technical abilities to future employers. The course also offers diverse placement opportunities ranging from major theatre productions to emergency response exercises, boosting your employment prospects when you graduate.

Why should I choose this course?

  • PRACTICAL APPLICATION – Take on work experience in a range of settings including theatre, catwalk, film and TV, as well as honing your practical skills in our make-up studios on campus
  • SPECIALISE YOUR STUDIES – Tailor your studies to match your career aims with optional modules covering areas such as prosthetics, fashion or working ‘on set’
  • ENRICHMENT – Meet and network with top hair and make-up experts thanks to our excellent industry connections
  • COMPETITIONS - Put your creative skills to the test in industry contests, such as the National Make-up Awards

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

Students on the FdA have the option of progressing onto the final year upon completion of the foundation degree.

  • Year 1
  • Year 2
  • Year 3

Core Modules

Historical Hair and Make-up Studies

You will investigate hair, make-up and fashion within a chosen period in time. You will also explore how these three elements are related and how they have been developed over time by internal and external forces. You will also study fashion icons of the era and social and economic influences.

Pathology of Special Effects Make-up

A make-up artist working within the realms of film and television will apply research in order to create realistic trauma injuries, and be able to factor in the healing process to maintain continuity. This module requires you to explore a character from a script and examine their genetic predisposition, age, gender, ethnicity and associated factors. You will then go on to research the trauma injuries that have been sustained and compile a report to outline the physiological effect on the character’s body. Research conducted will be compiled in the form of a report, and will comply with Level 4 undergraduate study.

Sculpture and Design

This module will focus on the process of design and sculpting to enable you to bring a character to life. It will provide you with the knowledge and understanding of the human surface anatomy (face, hands and arms), so that your work is accurately portrayed. You will learn how to sculpt using different forms of references, while working with a range of clays and tools.

Special Effects Make-up

This module allows you to develop theories, practices and processes for the application of special effects and character make-up. You will use products to create casualty effects and transformational make-up techniques such as ageing. Through your creative experimentation, you will develop a reflective and professional portfolio to enhance your employability.

Plus one of two make-up modules (depending on existing qualifications)

Artistry Skills

You will be equipped with the transferable skills and knowledge to work within a variety of media settings such as fashion, editorial, theatre and bridal. The importance of maintaining a working make-up kit will be covered, as well as professional ethics. You will also create character designs through a range of methods including mood boards and design planning. This module is designed for those entering without make-up qualifications.

Commercial Hair and Make-up

This module explores a range of skills, materials and equipment for those who wish to pursue a career as a commercial make-up artist. It will equip you with the transferable skills and knowledge to understand a career within commercial make-up, with consideration towards working within a company or brand.

Plus one of two hair continuity modules (depending on existing qualifications)

Hair Design for Continuity

This Level 4 module aims to provide you with the skills to cut and style hair for people involved in media productions. Keeping records of continuity and being able to replicate hair styles is part of the role of a make-up artist. They will work alongside the designer, with detailed notes, character and scene breakdowns and reference pictures in order to ‘create’ and then ‘replicate’ a look. To be able to do this, you will work individually to cut and style hair and, in some instances, alter the composition of the style in order to coordinate with the requirements of the script. This module is designed for those entering Level 4 without previous hair cutting skills.

Hair Design for Continuity (Barbering and Styling)

You will practice how to carry out a range of barbering techniques for media productions. You will demonstrate that you can maintain continuity when operating on a media production by replicating a hair design on the head and face. This will also include styling of hair. This module is designed for those entering Level 4 with previous hair cutting skills.

Core Modules

Period Hair and Make-up

You will engage with the concept of character and develop research, aesthetic and design skills. The practical exams will allow you to produce a historically accurate hairstyle for a specified time period and portray a convincing holistic recreation of a character within a historical context.

Editorial Imagery

This Level 5 module is designed to develop your understanding of the editorial fashion industry through both practical and technological development. This will involve popular practical vintage hair and make-up skills within the sector, as well as key current fashion trends, while also providing support and advancement with the use of studio photographic equipment and post production techniques in editing.

On Set Prosthetics

The art of applying, blending and colouring prosthetics is a valuable asset in the make-up industry, regardless of which sector, in order to create a variety of ‘extraordinary’ looks. You will learn prosthetic application techniques and work with a variety of specialist materials and equipment to create, colour and apply basic small prosthetics in realistic and creative ways. A small selection of generic pre-made pieces will also be used.

Professional Identity and Employability

This module considers a variety of industry sectors, opportunities for employment and required skills and experience. It focuses around setting up as a freelance make-up artist and how to manage this, as well as professional promotional techniques and networking skills. You will produce a portfolio of marketing materials to promote yourself as an industry professional. You will carry out a personal skills audit and evaluate existing skills and experience against industry requirements.

Critical Approach to Research Methods

You will be developing your understanding of the rigours of academic undertaking through critical analysis and evaluation of advanced research methods in order to achieve clear and coherent arguments supported with robust evidence. You will be encouraged to challenge yourself in the proposal, design and execution of a small-scale, independent, academic research project in order to explore literature and data relevant to your chosen sector. You will analyse, interpret and conclude on your findings, which will lead to evaluation and recommendations to improve your self-reflective critical thinking and academic practice.

Plus one option from:

Character Prosthetic Creation

Exploring the advanced techniques and technologies used in the industry will allow you to develop your own creativity, ideas and interpretations. You will build upon the skills and knowledge you already have as you design, mould, sculpt and cast your own prosthetic pieces.


The art of designing, measuring and producing bespoke hairpieces is a valuable asset in the industry, especially if they can be easily dressed and adapted to suit various looks. You will learn a variety of postiche techniques to make a selection of small postiche piece examples using specialist materials and equipment. You will style and apply small bespoke postiche pieces to create a historical character.

Creative Fashion, Make-up and Styling

This Level 5 module is designed to develop your technical skills for the high fashion and creative fashion aspects of specialised hair and make-up. The emphasis is on promoting your individual, creative and visual innovation in relation to designing fashion make-up and styling. The research focus is on images of couture and high fashion extremes. This module will enable you to explore the industry and gain inspiration from season collections and interpretation of designers' looks, equipping you with the skills required to stay ahead in an ever-changing industry.

Core Modules

Innovations and Enterprise Studies

Exploring entrepreneurial techniques, processes and practices, you will identify challenges/problems/opportunities within the hair and make-up industry, and turn them into opportunities for you to enhance your independence, confidence, networking capacity and strategic thinking.

Cultural and Historical Studies

By drawing on your skills and knowledge, you will illustrate developments in hair and make-up within multiple contexts including multicultural, aesthetic, socio-economic, political and historical frameworks.

Character Design

This module involves researching the origin and an adaptation of one existing character portrayed previously within entertainment mediums such as film, TV and theatre. You will investigate how internal and external influences have impacted on the characterisation and portrayal of the chosen character by analysing the make-up and/or hair and/or prosthetics. You will propose and justify adapting your chosen character for a specific film, TV or theatre production with consideration of the genre style and contemporary audience expectations. To demonstrate thorough understanding, you will present evidence of an inspirational mood board, sketch book and printed computer generated design with character synopsis.

Plus one option from:

Creative Artist

This module will afford you the opportunity to specialise within the creative industries to a higher level. Its focus will be in developing your personal style within your 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 to develop proficiency and practice in establishing an identifying signature style.

On Set Skills

During the course of your programme, you will have learned many skills and attributes to prepare you for the freelance hair and make-up sector. This module pulls together these skills and qualities, building your 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 for a formal interview.

Plus one option from:

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

Specialist Hair and Media Make-up BA (Hons)

A-levels: An A-level grade profile of CCC-CDD.

BTEC: A BTEC grade profile of MMM-MMP. This can be achieved from either an Extended Diploma or a combination of smaller BTEC qualifications.

Access to Higher Education Diploma: 96-80 UCAS Tariff points including a minimum of 15 Level 3 credits at Distinction.

Tariff: Other Level 3 qualifications are accepted for entry. A minimum of 96-80 UCAS Tariff points will be required.

Non-tariff: We accept a wide range of Level 3 qualifications not currently on the UCAS Tariff. These can include a range of vocational Level 3 diplomas and EU qualifications. The subject matter studied will determine the pathway you are suitable for (as explained above). To find out if we accept your qualification for entry, please contact the Admissions team directly.

Specialist Hair and Media Make-up FdA

A-levels: An A-level grade profile of CD-DD.

BTEC: A BTEC grade profile of PPP-PP. This can be achieved from either an Extended Diploma or a combination of smaller BTEC qualifications.

Apprenticeship: Achieve an advanced apprenticeship (Level 3).

Tariff: Other Level 3 qualifications are accepted for entry. A minimum of 56-32 UCAS Tariff points will be required.

Access to Higher Education Diploma: 56-32 UCAS Tariff points.

Non-tariff: We accept a wide range of Level 3 qualifications not currently on the UCAS Tariff. These can include a range of vocational Level 3 diplomas and EU qualifications. The subject matter studied will determine the pathway you are suitable for (as explained above). To find out if we accept your qualification for entry, please contact the Admissions team directly.

Work-based: We equally consider applicants who are currently in work or freelancing within the industry. To be eligible, you must currently be in work demonstrating management or supervisory duties for the past 3 years in a relevant industry to the course you are applying for. A reference from your current line manager supporting your entry to higher education will be requested.

Freelance applicants who have been working in the industry must be registered as self-employed and have testimonials that we will assess.

Applicants applying based on work experience will be suitable to apply for the Non-Vocational pathway.

EU/international students

For entry requirements for EU and international students, please visit the Country Specific Information page.

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.


Assessment during the first two years is 50% practical and 50% academic. The weighting of assessments in the final year depends upon the modules you choose.

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

Uniform and kit costs

This course requires a uniform and kit costing approximately £450-£530, depending on your pathway of study and the items you purchase. (Prices are subject to change each year – exact costs and information on how to order required items will be provided to you prior to enrolment.)


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, your tuition fee would be £500 for a full year (£250 for 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.

Supported by our strong working relationships with industry, we encourage students on our FdA and BA Specialist Hair and Media Make-up courses to take up work experience in a range of environments in order to put your training into practice alongside qualified professionals.

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

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) 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.

Read Story

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