West Thames College London

Specialist Makeup - Higher National Diploma (HND)

Programme Specification

This two-year higher education course enables you to develop awareness of the media industry, learn the technical skills required to work as a specialist hair and makeup artist and build a professional portfolio. You will have practical sessions and theory through art and contextual studies, combined with IT and professional studies. The course focuses on working in the film and television industry, but will include aspects of fashion and media. The course aims to:

  • Develop your general ability in Fashion, Film, TV and Media makeup through effectively using and combining knowledge and skills gained in different parts of the programme
  • Provide specialist studies in Specialist Makeup, hair and wig applications
  • Provide a programme of study to teach new skills and develop your individual practice, within the culturally diverse environment of west London
  • Provide enhanced tutorial support to help develop your educational and vocational abilities, and the personal qualities and attitudes required to adapt to the demands of an ever changing industry
  • Provide the foundation for a range of technical and creative careers in Specialist Makeup
Key course features


  • BTEC (EdExcel) Higher National Diploma
  • JACS Code: 254W
  • Institution Code: W65
  • Date of production: December 2003
  • Date of revision: June 2005
  • Further revision: September 2008: minor changes & new unit list; July 2014: addition of HNC units

Level: Level 5

Mode: Full-time

Start Date: 25 September 2017

Who is this course for?

Dedicated students who want to become professional makeup artists. We also accept mature students who do not have traditional qualifications.

About the course

You will develop specialist hair and makeup skills whilst building a professional portfolio. This is a vocational study programme with an emphasis on practical learning in hair and makeup. The course focuses on working in the fashion, beauty, media, film and theatre sectors.

Course content is regularly reviewed to reflect changes in the industry.

You will study:

Year 1

Unit 19 Creative Arts Professional Practice 15 credits
Unit 20 Creative Arts Research Skills 20 credits
Unit 40 Mask Design and Construction 15 credits
Unit 78 Design Exploration for Makeup in Performance Arts 15 credits
Unit 3 Contextual and Cultural Referencing in Art and Design 15 credits
Unit 32 Historical Context in the performing Arts 15 credits
WTC Period, Hair, Makeup and Wig Dressing 15 credits
Unit 38 Managing a Creative Business

Year 2

WTC TV and Film Hair and Makeup 15 credits
WTC Current Trends in Hair and Makeup 15 credits
Unit 51 Preparation, Process and Production in the Creative Arts 20 credits
Unit 16 Costume Design Concept 15 credits
Unit 27 Design Techniques and Applications for the Performer 15 credits
Unit 52 Production Management in the Creative Arts 15 credits

You will also study common skills throughout the course:
  • Managing and developing self
  • Working with others
  • Communicating
  • Managing tasks and solving problems
  • Applying numeracy
  • Applying technology
  • Applying design and creativity

You will spend a minimum of 14 hours at college per week. At least 80% of this time will be spent with a professional lecturer. In addition to this you will be expected to work independently.

Information correct at 23 June 2016.
What you should know after the course
Knowledge and Understanding: Sound knowledge and understanding to include:
  • The makeup and hair application skills necessary for a design brief and to communicate to an audience
  • Safe working practices within the context of makeup studio practice and legislation
  • An understanding of the cultural knowledge supporting the fashion and theatre industries
  • The demands of a client-driven design world, and how to respond to briefs imaginatively and creatively
  • How makeup artists finance, promote and market themselves and their work within commercial, professional and legal constraints
Practical Skills: The ability to:
  • Employ a variety of different materials, techniques and methods with skill and imagination, whilst observing good Health & Safety practices
  • Develop specialist skills and expertise in hair and makeup applications: develop ideas, select, test and use appropriately materials and processes through to outcomes
  • Organise themselves and others in the group to respond creatively to assignment briefs, meet dead-lines, prepare presentations, document work and present a professional image
  • Display their work confidently and well, using different methods of presentation, from portfolio to self-documentation and exhibition
  • Use IT as a method of research and, where appropriate, as a tool of artistic development
Intellectual Skills: The ability to:
  • Develop visual literacy through ‘reading’ and understanding a range of visual work
  • Use research skills to generate ideas, proposals, arguments and solutions
  • Analyse information and experiences, formulate independent judgements and articulate reasoned arguments through reflection, review and evaluation
  • Articulate and contextualise ethical and cultural issues within fashion, media and makeup, particularly in the context of the cultural diversity of west London
  • Apply and extend communication skills in order to accommodate their own continuing professional development
Common / Transferable Skills: The ability to:
  • Manage and develop self
  • Work with and relate to others
  • Communicate ideas effectively, both orally and in writing
  • Apply numeracy
  • Apply technology
  • Manage tasks and solve problems
  • Apply design and creativity
Staff profiles

Denise Delaney Specialist Makeup Lecturer

Fiona Heath Specialist Makeup Lecturer

Branka Vorkapic Specialist Makeup Lecturer

Additional opportunities

There will be study visits to museums, galleries and West End theatre productions. You will have the opportunity to compete in international makeup competitions including the World Body Painting Championships and the International Makeup Artist Trade Show at Alexandra Palace. There is an optional trip to New York. These visits will incur additional costs but financial assistance may be available.

You will exhibit your work at the end of year show in front of industry professionals.

How will I be assessed?
Assessment is continuous throughout the academic year and is in the form of photographic work, log books and research.
  • Internal Verification of assignment briefs and assessment standards
  • External moderation of samples of work by External Examiner
  • Public displays of work, inside the college and at external venues, to show standards of work.
Assessment conforms to Edexcel regulations.
Where next?

Progress to university and convert your HND into a BA (Hons) degree with one more year of study, or find employment in the industry. Recent graduates have worked as freelance makeup artists; as wig assistants at the English National Opera, the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre, and for West End theatre productions such as Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray, Billy Elliott and Dirty Dancing; as assistant makeup artists for BBC productions such as Waking the Dead, The Pre-Raphaelites and Emma and films such as Harry Potter and St Trinians 2; and as retail makeup artists for top cosmetics companies MAC, Bobbi Brown or Illamasqua Cosmetics.

Our students have also won prestigious international makeup artist competitions such as the World Body Painting Championship in 2007 and 2009 and the International Makeup Artist Trade Show competition in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Entry requirements

This course has an international reputation and demand for places is extremely high. The standard minimum entry qualification is an A Level, National Diploma or equivalent, preferably supported by a pass in GCSE English.

We encourage mature students to enter with a pass in an appropriate Access Certificate. For some students over 19, and particularly for those over 21, we consider other background and experience in the media industries and may accept students without formal qualifications.

All students are interviewed with portfolios of their art & design or makeup work before an offer is made. The International Office will organise an appropriate interview for overseas students: telephone or portfolio as required.

If you need advice before you apply, please call 020 8326 2020 or email info@west-thames.ac.uk.


This fee is for one year of study and may be subject to change in subsequent years. The course fee is usually covered by your student loan and you will not need to pay this back until you have completed this course and when you are earning over £21,000 a year. Home students may receive a bursary of £600 to help towards expenses (usually in February, subject to satisfactory attendance and progress on the course).

Please note that if you have already achieved a degree, you will be liable to pay a higher fee (£7,000 in 2014-15).

The fee for international students for 2015-16 was £8,000 and the 2016-17 fee is to be confirmed.

Other costs: You are required to have a makeup and hair kit, which costs up to £1,500 depending on the hair and makeup equipment you already have. There may be additional costs to top up your kit in Year 2. You may also wish to purchase additional makeup, hair or art related items throughout the course.

How to apply?
Please apply via www.UCAS.com or click the "apply now" button below and fill out the online application form. An adviser will be in touch regarding interview dates.


  1. Ashley Zac Coyle

    HND Specialist Makeup

    Ashley Zac Coyle

    “The tutors are industry professionals and their knowledge of the makeup industry is incredible. Throughout the two years on the course, I’ve built up lots of confidence and learned so much about makeup. I’ve also had the opportunity to be part of the makeup team for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games and was selected by Greg Cannon for the United Makeup Artists Expo.”



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