Published on December 13, 2022

At North Hertfordshire College, we’re proud to offer a great range of courses in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy to help learners build the practical skills and experience they need for success in the industry. But have you ever wondered what actually goes on behind our classroom doors?

We spoke to Mary-Antonia Taylor, Course Team Leader for our Level 3 Diploma in Theatrical, Special Effects and Hair and Media Make-Up, for an exclusive insight into what it’s like to study on the course. Keep reading to find out more about why she thinks her course is a great option for students, as well as her highlights of teaching the class of 2023 so far!

What techniques have your students developed so far this year?

“Students on the Theatrical, Special Effects and Hair and Media Make-Up course have recently been working on their make-up camouflage skills. This in my eyes is a bit of an understated skill – it’s something that many make-up artists can do but it offers such a varied experience. Camouflaging is used to cover scars, tattoos, burns, etc and there are so many charities and organisations like the NHS that require this skill, so it opens up so many doors for the future. I don’t believe the skill is shouted about enough.

“The students have also been developing their media skills – this includes anything from working with prosthetics to applying crepe hair to someone’s face to make a beard and using ageing techniques to make someone look older than their years for a TV or theatre roles.”

What kind of career can learners move into with these skills?

“We teach a broad range of skills on this course, so there are lots of different options for our learners when they reach the end of their course, either working in fashion, television, or other media areas. Some career paths that we’ve seen students go into include:

  • Professional make-up artistry, where they’re working with performers
  • Theatre, film, print media, and photographic studios
  • Beauty and/or hair salons
  • Independent/self-employed settings
  • NHS, hospital, or care homes
  • Product manufacturing and training”

How are classes planned out?

“Our classes are themed around different projects. For the media make-up side of things, for example, our projects include witches, gender reversal, fantasy, and casualty. We worked on witches and gender reversal around Halloween to help inspire the students and create fun learning opportunities, which helps keep our students engaged.

“Another way I keep my students engaged is by making sure my sessions are interactive. We do a lot of demonstrations and I like to get my students involved in them. For example, when we were working with prosthetics, I asked my students to do some research before the demonstration, and then I asked them questions during the demonstration activity. I like to use quizzes to jog their minds – we even use answer buzzers like on game shows!

“Group activities are also some of my favourites. I love to get the students working together, using books and their technical knowledge as they work on research activities.”

What has stood out to you about the students in your class this year?

“This year, in particular, I’ve found the students to be full of enthusiasm, passion, and spirit. They seem to have already had some great ideas. In the open workshops, where I give them a brief or subject that they can let their creativity run free on, they are really flourishing. The learners also take correction and feedback well and adapt and practice to improve and master their skills, which takes a lot of time and dedication.

“This course opens so many doors for students on completion, if you’re interested in a career in special effects make-up we would love to welcome you through our doors in the future.”

Has Mary inspired you to start your own learning journey in SFX, theatrical, and hair and media make-up? Be sure to check out North Hertfordshire College’s Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy courses to find the right one for you! With NHC, you can stay close to home while you study a course that helps you go far in your future career.


Check out some more amazing examples of student work here!