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.
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.
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.
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.
You examine the role of drawing; specifically within illustration practice, but also in broader terms as a discipline in itself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This course offers the opportunity to study abroad for part of your Year 2. To find out more about studying abroad as part of your course please see the Study Abroad section:
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
- 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.