MA Virtual and Extended Realities
This course is open for applications
Page last updated 7 December 2023
This industry-led master's course offers you the opportunity to explore the politics, business and culture of immersive technologies. You will learn practical skills and develop your craft as a pioneering storyteller in virtual, augmented and extended realities.
MA Virtual and Extended Realities is an industry-led course designed to address increased demand for expertise in immersive storytelling. The course is open to passionate graduates who want to enter the radical world of virtual, augmented and extended reality production.
We welcome students from all disciplines and backgrounds, and are looking for people with ideas about how their unique perspective and diverse experiences can contribute to this young and fast-evolving industry.
Your background may be in journalism, filmmaking, experience design, education, marketing or theatre. Perhaps your specialism is in storytelling, software, sound design or circus.
Whatever you bring to the mix, this is a place for independent thinkers who thrive in experimental, collaborative and hands-on learning environments.
Why study this course?
Virtual and Extended Realities is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. There is a recognised shortage of graduates with the skills and experience needed to support transformation in every sector.
Why UWE Bristol?
In this one-year, full time course, you'll combine theory and critical thinking with practical experimentation. Throughout the year, you'll learn from pioneering thought-leaders and work with internationally significant industry partners. This collaboration will allow you to create innovative work in virtual and extended realities.
Previous partners include BBC R&D, Royal Opera House, English Institute of Sport and Ultraleap. You'll also benefit from the support of a personal mentor, hand-picked from our research and professional networks to support your development.
Apply now, or contact Programme Leader Verity McIntosh to schedule an informal discussion.
Watch: The learning and teaching experience
You will study:
- Practical Experiments in Interactivity and Immersion - A series of practical workshops introducing you to a range of tools and technologies. These include virtual reality (VR), mobile and headset-based augmented reality, immersive sound and 360° filmmaking.
- Historical and Emerging Concepts in Storytelling - An historical perspective of storytelling across disciplines, exploring how our perceptions of storytelling change in light of emerging technologies. You'll learn from guest lecturers who are currently shaping the immersive industry.
- Virtual Reality Story Lab - You'll form small production companies and respond to live briefs from industry partners. Teams engage in a process of critical making to create innovative, proof-of-concept prototypes.
- Virtual Reality Collaborative Project - Final major project. You'll choose to develop either a collaborative, creative project, or a research paper that examines an emerging topic in virtual, augmented or extended reality.
The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.
Learning and Teaching
Study a critical, practical and production-based master's degree. You'll work individually and in teams to conceptualise, research, plan and deliver a series of creative projects.
Prepare for your professional career through specialist modules. You'll build a unique mixture of editorial, creative and technical skills that you can apply to this rapidly expanding industry.
Develop your critical evaluation, conceptual thinking and communication skills for diverse media and audiences.
Engage with external communities of researchers and attend professional events, festivals and masterclasses with industry practitioners. Refine your practice in a relevant, real-world context.
See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.
This year-long course is delivered full time, with an average contact time of 1.5 days each week. However, there will be some full weeks of teaching activities and other periods where contact time will be limited.
You will be expected to undertake a substantial amount of independent study and attend relevant events. You will be able to access teaching and learning materials remotely through Blackboard and LinkedIn Learning and use our glossary of assessment terms.
You'll be expected to attend at least one immersive storytelling summit/exhibition to experience installation-based immersive works.
You'll also have the opportunity to attend Bristol VR Lab and Pervasive Media Studio talks. Through these talks, you'll be able to analyse and critique a range of virtual, augmented and extended reality experiences.
Other optional field trips will be recommended throughout the year, enabling you to encounter new ideas in this emerging field.
This course is based in the new, inter-disciplinary UWE Bristol VR Lab facility on Bristol's historic harbourside. You'll have access to the latest VR and AR equipment, as well as experimental production facilities including haptic interfaces, virtual production and volumetric capture technologies.
The VR Lab is based at Arnolfini, Bristol's International Centre for Contemporary Arts, and forms part of UWE Bristol's City Campus.
Fully immersed in this creative environment, you'll benefit from partnerships with organisations such as Bristol Games Hub, and Watershed. You'll also benefit from working with the city's innovative art and science centre, 'We The Curious' with its 360° data dome and 5G testbed.
Hone your skills in the new filmmaking, animation and photography studios at Bower Ashton campus. These include production studios and workshop spaces, a substantial media equipment store and a student production hub.
Specialist post-production facilities include digital production labs for picture and audio editing, digital animation and VFX. You'll also have access to specialist editing suites, colour grading suites, dubbing theatres and a sound production studio.
Access our specialist library for the creative and cultural industries and student support services to get the most from your studies.
You'll also be provided with module-specific learning materials. These range from online and printed texts, reading lists, example code and design materials, to video recordings, presentations and online resources.
Take a Virtual Tour of the Filmmaking, Animation and Photography facilities and see what's on offer here for you.
Careers / Further study
As a successful graduate, you'll have the research and planning skills needed to undertake independent, innovative and sustainable projects across multiple industries.
You'll be highly analytical and strategic, with advanced communications skills that will help you articulate your knowledge of new media technology and storytelling.
You could go on to work in content development and production for immersive storytelling experiences. A variety of industries will be open to you, including:
- arts and culture
- games and entertainment
- marketing and communications
- architecture and construction
- education and training
- aerospace and defence
- travel and retail.
The innovative combination of practice and research in this MA means you will also be well equipped to pursue careers in both industry and academia. The critical skills you build on the course could act as an effective bridge to a DPhil or PhD.
Usually applicants will have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject or professional experience (such as significant filmmaking or multimedia production), and a commitment to research and reflecting on creative practice. We are looking for highly motivated, creative students who are passionate about immersive storytelling and emerging technology.
Due to the evolving nature of this field, we welcome students from different disciplines and backgrounds, technical and creative. We recruit students with experience in filmmaking, theatre, sound design, game design, experience design, animation, graphic design, software development, studio/media arts, scriptwriting, writing, and journalism.
For country specific entry requirements please find your country on the country information pages.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview via Microsoft Teams to discuss their candidacy, and to give them an opportunity to ask questions.
If you wish, you may provide a showreel or concise portfolio of previous work for review when you submit your application, although this is not a requirement. We recommend that you use the Personal Statement section to tell us about yourself, and your relationship to the subject. Why are you interested in studying this masters course in particular? Why is now the right moment for you?
English Language Requirement
International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 6.0 in each component (or approved equivalent*).
*The University accepts a large number of UK and international qualifications in place of IELTS. To find details of acceptable tests and the required grades please visit English Language requirements.
English language support
If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.
Read more about our pre-sessional English programme.