Illustration | Four year

BA (Hons)

2017 entry

This four-year course includes a preparatory year (Year 0) that provides a focused introduction to illustration and, upon successful completion, will secure you a place on the BA (Hons) Illustration degree course without further application or interview.

Our specialist Illustration course has a reputation for visual narrative and storytelling, underpinned by an understanding that the best illustrations are based on exciting, original ideas.

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Length of study:

Four years (Year 0 + three-year degree) full-time


September 2017


UCA Farnham

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Course overview:

On this course we place a real emphasis on visual experimentation, investigation and innovation, supported by the development of strong drawing and storytelling skills.

Based in studios packed with industry-standard resources, you’ll also have access to an extensive range of facilities on campus for printmaking, book production, animation, Mac suites, digital printing, 3D workshops, textiles, photography and video.

The course curriculum and delivery reflects recent trends in the creative industries for illustrators to be collaborative and flexible, initiating new opportunities for shared and individual work.

You’ll be taught largely through studio-based projects and workshops, supported by regular tutorials and group reviews. There’s also a lively programme of visiting speakers, practical skills-based workshops, pop-up exhibitions and external visits.

Course content - 2017 entry

This four-year course includes a preparatory year (Year 0) that provides a focused introduction to illustration and, on successful completion, will secure you a place on the BA (Hons) Illustration degree course without further application or interview.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

  • Drawing and Mark Making

    You are introduced to the idea that drawing is a fundamental skill for the development of both illustration and animation and is integral to the creative process. It is the means by which you visually respond to and interpret what you see in the world around you.

  • Ideas, Research and Processes 1: Generating Content

    Introduces you to the fundamental starting points for developing ideas for both illustration and animation, through the use of a variety of idea development strategies, active research and engagement and experimentation with practical process.

  • Ideas, Research and Processes 2: Developing and Identifying Practice

    You'll continue to experiment with a combination of processes and production methods introduced to you in the previous unit however now you will also begin to identify, select and use visual and narrative practices to develop and create the content or subject matter of your work.

  • Themed Project

    building on the ideas, experiences and research achieved this is the summation of your learning on the course so far, you'll be asked to produce a body of work in response to a given theme or brief. The work that you produce should draw upon all of the creative, technical and theoretical knowledge that you have gained.

We’ll help you to develop an open-minded, flexible approach – not only to your work but also about what illustration is and could be. This is alongside the development of essential skills in idea development, printmaking, drawing, digital software, storytelling and bookmaking.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

  • Professional Practice 1: Destination

    You'll learn about - and discover - the position of illustration in contemporary media practice and how it's developed from its traditional contexts. Illustration practice has, and is, continuously evolving and you'll be expected to reflect on this through research tasks and written and oral presentations.

  • Drawing

    You examine the role of drawing; specifically within illustration practice, but also in broader terms as a discipline in itself.

  • Narrative

    You'll explore the potential of creating your own text as the basis for an illustrated narrative. And you'll develop your understanding of storytelling and narrative structure not only through visual material but also through writing.

  • Context and Theory

    Through a series of lectures, seminars and workshops, you're introduced to key debates and issues concerning the history, production and consumption of visual culture. This is given critical context through discussions on the social, political, economic and intellectual context.

With additional skills workshops, the emphasis will change to give you greater freedom to develop your work more uniquely, reflecting your own interests and enthusiasms. We’ll also encourage you to be more proactive and entrepreneurial, culminating in a student-led external exhibition.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

  • Documentary

    This unit introduces you to documentary illustration which can also be referred to as 'reportage' or visual journalism. The use of the terms 'reportage' and 'journalism' do not mean that this type of illustration only appears in newspapers and magazines. In this unit, you'll take on the role of the instigator and the protagonist, and will develop your personal viewpoint.

  • Professional Practice 2: Platform

    You'll explore the breadth of illustration as a subject and its positioning in a contemporary media context. You'll also began to think about your career goals and aspirations through strategies you might adopt in preparing for work or postgraduate study after graduation.

  • Exhibition

    Culminates in a group exhibition. You'll develop skills of presentation and negotiation, through the process of establishing group agreement of a theme for the exhibition.

  • Critical Analysis and Research

    Offers a choice of seminar programmes in conjunction with a short programme of core lectures and seminars. Workshops introduce you to the principles of research, analytical and critical methodologies. The seminar, lecture and workshop tasks are formatively assessed, and support you in working towards your summative assessment assignments.

  • Study Abroad (optional)

    This optional unit is designed to broaden your educational experience and deepen your understanding of cultural diversity. It will enable you to study within a different cultural context and gain fresh perspectives.

Your focus will be on the resolution of your personal approach to content and style, developing your creative skills and production to a high standard and preparing a professional portfolio. You’ll also participate in external competitions and shows, produce promotional work and develop an online presence, reflecting your ambitions for professional practice.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

  • Major Project

    If you choose to propose one project for the 24 weeks, it's the largest project you'll study and will form the basis of your campus degree show and most probably any external shows you might participate in. You're also able to create smaller projects in this timeframe of 24 weeks. Whether one project, or two or three, the unit focuses on your ability to provide high quality work - suitable for presentation to an external audience and possible future clients.

  • Professional Practice 3: Launch

    This is about acquiring key practical skills required for the launch of your professional career. These skills, and the measures you need to take, are very much geared to you building a sustainable career which may also include postgraduate study.

  • Responding to external briefs

    This unit is concerned with further developing your understanding of the complex relationship between illustrator, commissioning designer / art director and audience and you'll complete at least one competition brief from a recognised national or international competition or awards scheme, such as the Penguin Design Awards or Folio Society.

  • Illustration Dissertation

    This is a substantial period of sustained, individually negotiated research on a subject, likely to be related to the contextual and/or theoretical concerns of your discipline or chosen area of practice, towards the provision of structured written argument.

Course staff

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International study

Find out more about studying in the UK, or studying part of your course abroad at one of our partner institutions (study abroad option not available on all courses).

Course connections

On this course, you'll be exposed to a world of opportunities

You’ll benefit from our well established industry links, including:

  • Design and Art Directors Association
  • Far Far Away Books
  • Association of Illustrators
  • Nobrow Books
  • GAS Art Agency / Gina Cross, artists’ and illustrators’ agent
  • Ambit Magazine
  • Penguin Books
  • The Folio Society
  • The V&A
  • Comica
  • Loop Magazine
  • Ditto Press
  • Nobrow Books
  • The AOI
  • Four Corners Books.


The course attracts a variety of guest speakers, such as Rosy Nicolas, Tim Ellis, Tom Dowse, Graham Rawle, Gina Cross, The Association of Illustrators, Stephen Appleby, Olivier Kugler, Matilda Tristram and David Lemm.

The degree is a member of the Association of Illustrators, which gives you access to notable industry practitioners, workshops, lectures and seminars by some of the top illustrators in the UK and Europe.

The diverse and versatile skill set you’ll develop on this course will open up a multitude of career paths.

Our recent graduates are currently working in:

  • Freelance illustration
  • In-house illustration/design
  • Education
  • Animation
  • Printmaking
  • Project management
  • Digital imaging
  • Multi-media production
  • Set design.

You may also like to consider further study at postgraduate level.

How to apply - 2017 entry

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Entry requirements - 2017 entry:

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements* for this course are:

One of the following:

  • 64 new UCAS tariff points (equivalent to 160 old UCAS tariff points), see accepted qualifications 
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Merit, Pass, Pass at BTEC Extended Diploma
  • Pass at UALAB Extended Diploma
  • 64 new UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject.

And four GCSE passes at grade A*-C and/or grade 4-9 including English (or Functional Skills English/Key Skills Communication Level 2)

Other relevant and equivalent Level 3 UK and international qualifications are considered on an individual basis, and we encourage students from diverse educational backgrounds to apply.

*We occasionally make offers which are lower than the standard entry criteria to students who have faced difficulties that have affected their performance, and who were expected to achieve higher results.

New UCAS tariff

UCAS has made changes to its tariff system.

Find out how these changes will affect you

Your portfolio

For Year 0 entry no portfolio is required. However, if you do have a general portfolio or examples of work which you would like to bring with you to interview, we would love to see it. We will require you to attend an Applicant Day which will include an interview. This will also give you the opportunity to visit us, meet the course team and see the facilities.

Fees & finance

Uncover all the costs involved, as well as the grants, loans and other financial support you may be entitled to.

Student regulations

Find out more about the operation of our courses, student conduct, assessments and examinations.

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