Illustration | Full-time BA (Hons) Degree

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UCAS code: W221 Course Type: Degree and university-level Campus: West Durrington Campus Start Date: September 2023 Duration: 3 Years

Why this course?

HE Illustration

This course provides an intensively creative experience that develops your individual styles through a wide range of workshops, seminars and illustration briefs. You are encouraged to work in traditional, digital and innovative forms and techniques, preparing you for careers in the contemporary world of illustration.

We also offer a part-time Illustration BA (Hons) degree programme. This is taught over 5 years.

Key features

  • Students are taught by award winning professional illustrators
  • Illustration is an art career with a lucrative and commercial market
  • Students win illustration prizes from global book publishers and agencies such as Macmillan and Plum Pudding
  • Alumni include Jamie Hewlett, creator of the virtual band Gorillaz

View our student work on Instagram

Validated by University of the Arts London (UAL)

This programme is validated by University of the Arts London (UAL). UAL are a leading education provider in the creative arts, ranked second in the world for art and design (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022). They oversee the standards and quality of our curriculum, which enriches your overall learning experience.

See the full list of our creative arts degrees

  • Illustration student work
  • Illustration student work 2
  • Illustration student work 3
  • Illustration student work 4
  • Illustration student work 6
  • Illustration student work 7
  • Illustration student work 8

Course requirements

Each application will be assessed individually, including a review of your grades, interview, portfolio/audition and any experience.

Typical entry requirements are below but offers may vary:

  • a relevant A-Level or Level 3 Extended Diploma

In exceptional circumstances, if you do not meet our entry requirements, your application may still be considered if you demonstrate additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • related academic or work experience
  • the quality of the personal statement
Portfolio and interview

You will also be required to provide a portfolio and interview for this course. Please bring a portfolio of your work to interview, which should include samples of work in a wide range of media plus sketchbooks.

Entry guide

Entry guide for more information about the range of qualifications we accept (including English language requirements for international students).

Year 1 - The first year engages students with gaining skills in a range of techniques alongside generating concepts and ideas, and understanding the creative process through a number of projects.

Year 2 - The focus of the second year moves, through the application of skills, to developing market awareness and preparing for freelance work. A range of briefs provide students with the context to develop their work to professional standards. These cover areas such as children’s books, editorial, advertising, packaging and posters and make up the central content of your portfolio, alongside various workshops and a web presence.

Year 3 - The third year is designed to develop creative thinking and encourage experimental, collaborative and conceptual work. The focus will be on the development of the student as an individual, capable of working both independently and collaboratively. Students will work on competition briefs set by industry and work will be sent for judging. 

The course aims to give the student the opportunity to study across a wide variety of media, processes and disciplines, including graphic design, illustration and animation. Our students are creative, talented and dynamic, with an eye for good design and a willingness to experiment with a variety of media.

The course also includes a programme of visiting speakers.

Students will exhibit their work at the end of the course.


Course aims:

  • Develop and apply a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of illustrators’ working practices in publishing, advertising, editorial and design industries
  • Demonstrate an understanding of relevant principles and concepts and make connections, which inform their own practice and style
  • Develop new skills and competencies relevant to the professional working environment or further study
  • Demonstrate awareness, creativity and innovation in a professional context
  • Work in collaborative and interdisciplinary work related to environment in line with the industry led demands and trends
  • Conceive ideas for assignments to develop into final pieces ready for production
  • Apply knowledge of how to develop an idea or brief into a body of appropriate creative and innovative illustration work

Year One

  • The Creative Process (20 credits)

    You are taught to effectively work through the phases of the creative cycle, to develop ideas, engage with problem solving and to explore presentation methods of these ideas. 

    Emphasis in this unit is on exploration - research, ideas development, mark making, and evaluation. You will be bringing ideas, image and text together in a creative way as a response to a set brief.

  • Creative Research (20 credits)

    From induction, onwards at Level 4 you will develop a wide range of study skills, and be introduced to methods of researching, capturing and presenting information and ideas. This includes the use of blogs, research journals, verbal, visual and computer presentations, alongside more conventional methods of recording and annotating research.

    In the first part of this unit study skills are developed through the use of blogs, where you will respond to a series of tasks that require you to reflect on and further contextualise key historical and theoretical perspectives outlined in lectures and seminars.

  • Materials and Methods (20 credits)

    The aim of this unit is to introduce you to a range of materials and methods associated with Illustration. A series of technical and production workshops that will form the basis of your understanding of your subject. 

    You will be involved in production processes, equipment and studio inductions, introductions to risk assessment and health & safety protocols. Material & Methods is concerned with providing you with a range of skills and knowledge, both technical and conceptual that will allow you to attain a professional level of practice as the course progresses. Through a series of workshops you will become familiar with the production processes and the technical skills that are inherent with becoming a professional Illustrator.

  • Digital Design (20 credits)

    This unit involves knowledge and understanding of fundamental principles of digital practice and the ability to bring image and text together in a creative way for the purpose of communicating ideas.

    You will be introduced to industry standard software packages that enable you to present your work on digital platforms to a professional level. This will include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, plus presentation software for this purpose. 

  • Minor Project (20 credits)

    You will be exploring ideas of your own creativity within a time-frame, allowing you to work on your own motivation, time keeping and self-directed study. This is structured around an initial series of discussions that will enable you to present proposals and schedules for the work to include project planning, and time-management.

    There will be workshops on time management and planning of a project which will include stage-posting and goal setting.

  • Applied Illustration (20 credits)

    This unit introduces you to the key areas of illustration and asks you to respond to a series of project briefs utilising skills and applying working processes acquired in earlier units.

    Responding to a set brief, you will be expected to generate visual and textual research, to create and develop ideas and concepts and to experiment with materials, techniques and processes to formulate practical outcomes.

Year Two

  • Professional Practice 1 (20 credits)

    This module consists of two consecutive projects. Each project is an industry focused ‘live’ brief.

    The project can be led by a visiting professional or be an industry facing ‘live’ brief. This brief will have detailed instructions on how the work needs to be presented to the ‘client’ with the same protocols and procedures that you would find in industry.

  • Advanced Creative Research (20 credits)

    Through a series of lecture inputs, seminar discussions, activities and presentations, this module develops your awareness of how to apply critical and theoretical analyses to instances of historical and contemporary art, design, media and visual culture appropriate to your studio practice.

  • Professional Practice 2 (20 credits)

    This module differentiates itself from Applied Illustration 1 by building on your experience and knowledge developed in the previous module by introducing two more advanced and challenging projects.

    You will be consolidating your understanding of working on ‘live’ briefs and/or with a professional client experienced in the previous module.

  • Business Practice (20 credits)

    This unit involves knowledge and understanding of fundamental principles of digital practice and the ability to bring image and text together in a creative way for the purpose of communicating ideas.

    You will be introduced to industry standard software packages that enable you to present your work on digital platforms to a professional level. This will include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, plus presentation software for this purpose.

  • Independent Project (40 credits)

    This module enables you to develop an in-depth and significant body of work for both exhibition and portfolio promotion. The subject and nature of the work, together with a detailed outline proposal of research, reference, planning and outcomes is presented and discussed at the commencement of the project. 

    This allows you to prepare a proposal for a body of work which will reference proposed areas of study and is aligned to the learning outcomes of the module.

Year Three

  • Portfolio Studies (40 credits)

    The aim of this unit is to balance your personal development as an illustrator with the creative challenge of working to an external brief.

    Over the course of fifteen weeks, you will work on 3 x five-week projects. The briefs may be selected from the RSA (Royal Society of Arts’ Student Design) Awards, YCN (Young Creatives Network), D&AD (Designers and Art Directors) Student Awards, Penguin Book Awards or any other current competition deemed suitable.

  • Creative Research Project (20 credits)

    The Creative Research project provides an opportunity for you to develop a sustained critical and analytical investigation of an agreed subject area. It should demonstrate an awareness of issues and debates relevant to your studio practice and may develop ideas already raised in the Creative Research modules at Level 4 and Level 5.

  • Final Major Project (40 credits)

    Final Major Project discussions and individual tutorials will take place at the end of the first semester. You will give a short slideshow presentation of your proposed Final Major Project and will receive feedback on this from the course team and your peers. Areas for research, development of ideas and market awareness will be identified with reference to your interests, strengths and future potential.

  • Self Promotion (20 credits)

    The focus of this module is to prepare you for the working environment. It aims to provide a context and opportunity for original research into the business environment, and your place within it.

    You will produce a range of material – print and digital – for the purposes of self-promotion. This will include a portfolio website and traditional, print-based material such as business cards, letterheads etc.

Video tour of our campus

See students from different courses using the facilities at our creative arts specialist campus
(5-minute video)

Potential careers

  • Freelance illustrator
  • Animator
  • Children’s book illustrator
  • Editorial illustrator
  • Advertising and packaging designer
  • Visualiser
  • Graphic novel artist

Some of our alumni careers stories

Graduate Stephanie Lidbetter was approached by Oxford University Press to illustrate Danny Dread, a children's book by Ben Davis.null


Alumna Phoebe Kirk worked with author Alice Reeves to create a series of children's books called Truth & Tails, which aim to eliminate prejudice, encourage acceptance and aid understanding by addressing life’s hardest-to-explain concepts – such as gender, disability, and self-esteem. The four books were published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and re-launched at Waterstones in Brighton in 2018.null


Graduates Lee Miller and Joe McKelvey created artwork for 'Brighton's Graphic War' published by Queenspark Books.null











Alumna Kate Beavis's designs were put on sale in the British Museum shop. null


Fees, student loans and bursaries

Additional costs for this course

Some materials are supplied but students are also expected to provide some of their own. This may total approximately £50 per year. 

Open events

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Fees and financial support

There are different options to cover the cost of your course, including government loans and bursaries (eligibility criteria applies).

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How is this course delivered?

We have made some changes to the way our courses are taught to keep everyone safe. We will ensure that our students remain connected and involved with their course and college life.

During this academic year, students have a blend of college-based and digitally-enabled remote learning that provides lots of opportunities to interact and engage with lecturers, support teams and other students.

We will continue to respond to Government advice as we plan our curriculum delivery and will regularly update our current students and applicants in respect of course changes and opportunities.

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