School of Art and Media

BA (Hons) Illustration

The most engaging and memorable illustrations come from people with a bold, clear approach. Study illustration with us and you’ll learn how to create images that are different to everyone else’s. We don’t have a ‘house style’ – we’ll actively encourage you to discover and develop your own illustrative voice. This voice will help you attract the attention of commissioning agents and publishers, and find work doing what you love. Are you ready to meet a different kind of you?

UCAS tariff
UCAS course code
Institution code
3 years
Start date
September 2014
Course type
Full-time, Part-time route available

Clearing hotline 0

Confirmation and Clearing with Plymouth University

Check if this course has places through Clearing, from 14 August 2014.

Our Clearing hotline +44 1752 585858 is open at the following times:

  • Thursday 14 August - 8.00am - 8.00pm
  • Friday 15 August - 8.00am - 7.00pm
  • Saturday 16 August - 11.00am - 3.00pm
  • Sunday 17 August - 11.00am - 3.00pm
  • Monday 18 August - 8.30am - 5.00pm
  • Tuesday 19 - Thursday 21 August - 9.00am - 5.00pm
  • Friday 22 August - 9.00am - 4.00pm

We will help you find available course places and let you know if you are eligible to apply.

Key features

  • Be inspired by a varied studio-based culture and practise in our easy-access workshop facilities. Take part in everything from life and location drawing to printmaking and media exploration.
  • Develop your Photoshop, Premiere, InDesign and Flash skills in digital workshops, and explore typography basics, bookbinding, creative writing and more.
  • Gain invaluable knowledge, confidence and professional awareness by seizing work experience opportunities in years 2 and 3. This can range from simple studio visits to longer-term placements and collaboration, such as graduate Kate Mowbray’s placement as a Publishing Assistant with BBC History Magazine.
  • Develop your personal visual ‘voice' and start getting noticed in the professional world by taking part in external commissions and competitions. Get an insight into the world of our award-winning students with freelance illustrator, Jack Teagle
  • Define your illustrative direction within specific routes such as comic/graphic novels, children’s markets, printmaking, and design for animation/screen – or continue to explore within a broad range of practice. 
  • Raise your profile and make new contacts by exhibiting your work at both our Degree Show and London graduate shows.
  • Set your work in a global context through inspiring overseas study trips to places such as London, New York and Barcelona.
  • Choose to take part in an International Exchange programme in your second year, broadening your cultural references and forging new contacts in the international illustration scene. Find out about recent student Alexander Lee’s experiences living and learning in Japan.
  • Benefit from a varied visiting speaker programme of illustrators, commissioning editors, publishers and ex-graduates ready to share advice and insight to help shape your future career.
  • Build up your analogue and digital portfolios and develop your professional profile and confidence, ensuring you’re ready for whatever future direction you wish to pursue, whether freelance, studio-based or within further education such as MA or PGCE courses.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • The first year will introduce you to the basics of illustration practice. You’ll develop your knowledge of image-making through character design, life drawing, printmaking, bookbinding, sequential and conceptual approaches, digital workshops and media exploration. We’ll also introduce you to the techniques and essential processes of illustration practice within historical and contemporary frameworks, preparing you for year 2.
    Core modules
    • ILLUS121 Creating and Understanding Sequence

      You will visually explore sequence creation within your work via a range of traditional and digital media and formats. Character development, narrative and creative writing are a feature. Collaborative practice may also feature.

    • ILLUS151 Fundamentals of Drawing

      The module establishes the importance of drawing in developing a broad visual vocabulary and awareness, expanding analytical and technical skills and developing visual confidence. This is achieved through workshops, projects, studio work and location field study drawing trips, which focus upon drawing principles and approaches.

    • ILLUS111 Image Building

      Students are introduced to the basics of making effective imagery and the design processes of illustrative practice. The interpretation and manipulation of imagery, as well as received communication are explored. Projects help to develop a broad visual vocabulary and visual awareness, emphasising drawing, creative thinking and ideas generation as essential skills for illustrators.

    • ILLUS102 The Context of Illustration

      An overview of the key art and design contexts of the last century as a framework for the development of visual languages. Introduction to the creation of visual research journals as a method of contextualising and reflecting upon your discoveries to develop a practical, theoretical and critical awareness. Critical writing.

    • ILLUS132 Viewpoint

      This module uses drawing as a means for you to expand your analytical and interpretative skills and so develop a basis from which to explore the use of illustration to communicate issues of social, ethical, environmental or political interest.

  • Year 2
  • In your second year, you can keep your focus broad or pursue a more specific area of personal interest at a deeper level. You’ll make contact with experts in the industry and analyse why the creative world is how it is. Critical and contextual modules with a varied visiting speaker programme will help you begin to position yourself as a professional. You’ll also have the opportunity to take part in placements, live briefs and competitions, to study abroad or collaborate with other disciplines.
    Optional modules
    • ILLUS210 Developing Your Ideas and Finding Your Contexts

      This module is designed to: a) foster the ability to generate, develop and express ideas in response to illustration problems b) introduce the practice of negotiating briefs, which reflect personally identified objectives c) help you to consider the impact audience and context have upon your communications. You may tackle the same topics or themes as other students on this module, but outcomes may have differing appropriate emphasis dependent upon the context chosen.

    • ILLUS240 Drawing Practice

      The module is designed to extend your visual research skills and awareness of the value of drawing within illustration. Work may take the form of guided workshops and structured classes or self-negotiated areas of study with a drawing context and ambition.

    • ILLUS220 Exploring Your Practice

      Using narrative, story and sequence you negotiate a brief that allows you to define your practice in a specific illustration context. You reflect upon your output to date and consider the variety of illustrative fields open to study. Negotiated learning helps you to question and, where appropriate, reinforce your learning strategy. Competition briefs and / or work-based learning through placements or studio visits may be undertaken as part of this module.

    • ILLUS241 Extending Your Drawing

      The module is designed to deepen your awareness of the value of drawing within your personal illustrative practice.

    • ILLUS200 How and Why Does the Landscape Change?

      You engage with representational theories within the global, historical, contemporary and cultural landscape and express your findings as part of a group. Field study trips offer the opportunity to gain primary research. Lectures, individual and group research, meetings and tutorials, run concurrently throughout the module, culminating in a presentation representative of the whole group¿s efforts. A written report is submitted at the time of the presentation by each of the group members.

    • ILLUS260 International Exchange and Report

      The module is designed to extend your experience and understanding of subjects through study abroad. Students spend a minimum of ten weeks at an approved international institution offering complementary graphic design options as a major subject. This offers the opportunity to increase communication skills, self-reliance, a greater awareness of cultural values and increased vocational prospects. You write a critical evaluation of your educational, cultural and personal exchange study experience.

    • ILLUS250 Japanese Exchange and Report

      The module enables you to extend your experience and understanding of subjects through study abroad. You spend a minimum of twelve weeks at the Hokkaido College of Art & Design, Bisen, Japan. This offers the opportunity to increase communication skills, self-reliance, a greater awareness of cultural values and increased vocational prospects. You write a critical evaluation of your educational, cultural and personal experience.

    • ILLUS230 Realising Your Approach

      This module presents an opportunity to explore the role of the illustrator as originator, creator, producer and distributor. You may use traditional or digital means to communicate to an identified audience. In this module you have the choice to expand and develop earlier learning experiences or to explore alternate areas of illustrative practice.

    • ILLUS201 What's It Like Out There?

      Individual research features a study of the work of a single or group of practitioners in illustration or an allied practice. Lectures and research continue to run concurrently through the module. Professional practice lectures, seminars and workshops are scheduled within this module. Primary research requiring individual or group study trips may be a feature.

  • Final year
  • There is increased emphasis on developing and consolidating your personal visual ‘voice' in your final year, while visiting lecturers will offer a variety of viewpoints. You’ll undertake a dissertation related to your personal interests and have the chance to exhibit your work at both our Degree Show and in London. Modules focus your attention on building up your analogue and digital portfolios, and raising your professional profile and confidence ready for your first job in your chosen field.
    Core modules
    • ILLUS330 Major Project

      This module is designed to consolidate the learning achieved throughout and fully prepare you for your professional ambitions. After an initial period of preparation, research and consultation, you submit a written brief identifying aims and learning objectives reflecting your practice and professional aspirations. Following approval of the proposal you undertake an extensive period of self-directed, negotiated study leading to the production of a substantial body of work. The work is presented verbally and visually. Competition or live briefs may be undertaken as part of this module provided they fit within the agreed proposal.

    • ILLUS320 Thematic

      A number of broad themes are presented. After reflection and evaluation of previous conclusions and future ambitions, you select one theme and submit a typed brief associated with the selection to satisfy your personally identified goals. Upon acceptance of your brief, you undertake an in depth study of the chosen theme (or the identified aspect of the theme) and produce a body of work that responds to your written brief, demonstrating a full engagement with the task defined within the brief. Competition or live briefs may be undertaken as part of this module provided they fit within the agreed proposal.

    Optional modules
    • ILLUS300 Dissertation

      This module completes the Contextual Studies syllabus with an essay of between 6,500 and 8,000 words, researched and written by you. You receive a formal document, (Guidelines for Dissertation Writing) and attend an initial explanatory lecture, after which you submit a proposal for your intended area of study. You are allocated a tutor for the duration of the dissertation research.

    • ILLUS301 Practice, Research and Analysis

      A practical research project appropriate to your practice and ambitions and commensurate with Stage Three study is negotiated as an alternative to ILLUS 300. A visual research journal is used to record your process of enquiry and as a basis for a reflective report of not less than1000 words that analyses and critiques your explorations and findings. This incremental, applied research approach facilitates the development of your critical thinking skills and creates a record of the reflective dialogue between you, your practical development and relevant cultural and historical materials. The project should be independent of other studio-based work.

    • ILLUS302 The Extended Dissertation

      Research of a topic in considerable depth with methodological/conceptual sophistication, using primary/secondary sources to complete a dissertation of critical writing (between 12,000 and 15,000 words). Students receive 'Guidelines for Extended Dissertation Writing', an initial lecture, after which they submit a proposal. The student is allocated a tutor for the duration. Field study trips to gain first hand research may be undertaken.

    • ILLUS341 Your Professional Contexts

    • ILLUS342 Your Professional Contexts - Short Version

      You critically analyse your own past outputs within the context of your individual aspirations and ambitions and identify aims and targets for the year. You locate your studio-based practice within a context of your chosen area of professional specialism and articulate this understanding through production of a short report. You equip yourself for entry into professional practice or post-graduate study through a broad understanding of the professional dimensions of professional illustration practice and the production of relevant promotional materials. This module is aligned to the Extended Dissertation option and allows you to consider the potential for your professional future.

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff
280 points

International Baccalaureate
28 points

Mathematics and English Language grade C.

Interview and presented portfolio required.

Equivalent qualifications may be considered.

Fees & funding

Home/EU £9,000 International £11,500
Home/EU £9,000 
International £12,250

For more information about our fees and funding visit

How to apply

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UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

Apply for this course on the UCAS website.

For more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.


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Open days

A number of open day events are held each year, welcoming you to the campus to find out more about the University, accommodation, facilities and study opportunities.

Find out more from our open days section or register to come and see us using a short open day registration form.

BA (Hons) Illustration - Now look here

These days, illustration can be found pretty much everywhere. We’ll encourage you to explore a range of techniques and media – so you’ll be just as likely to see your work on the side of a building or within an iPad game as in the pages of a book.

Award-winning, committed tutors – who work at the forefront of illustration and are passionate about image-making – will support you on your journey.

Let’s explore the course

Student illustration displayed on an iPad

BA (Hons) Illustration - student voice, Joe Lyward

The course gives you three years of intensive practising and developing. Surrounded by likeminded individuals, it creates an environment that’s encouraging, educational and fun.

Joe said he felt the course also prepared him for the business-end of illustration.

Not the same - take a look at the range of our students' work

  • BA (Hons) Illustration

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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration
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    BA (Hons) Illustration

Big show off

Our students win national and international competitions and work on many live and external briefs.

Graduate Steve Panton recently won a Penguin Design Award for his book cover for The Big Sleep.

Find out more about our prize-winning students
  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities Dean's Awards logo
    Outstanding students on this course are eligible for Faculty of Arts and Humanities Dean's Awards at the end of their second year.
  • Academic Excellence Awards
    All applicants to this course are eligible to receive a £2000 award