Illustration at UCA

Playfully creative. Experimental. Commercially relevant. These are all ways to describe our exciting BA (Hons) Illustration degree course at UCA Farnham.

This course has a strong sense of purpose – we want you to test what the language of illustration means to today’s audiences, make (and learn from) mistakes, research and generate ideas, and learn how to be entrepreneurial. 

By placing experimentation and play at the forefront of what you'll do, you'll be challenged to take risks with your work, try new ways of working and be adventurous.

You'll get to work on exciting projects that are a combination of client-focused live briefs and external competitions with partners, such as leading restaurant chains, hotels, magazines and local and multinational businesses. You'll also be given the opportunity to present your portfolio to illustration agencies, design houses, and art directors. 

Everything on this course is practice-based, with theory, context, and research all ploughed into the studio where you’ll create your work. And you’ll be part of an amazing community, where staff – who are all practising illustrators and artists – will push you to be the best you can possibly be.

 

Course entry options

Select from the options below to find out more about the different study options available for this course:

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Discover the stories of our Illustration students
What you'll study

What you'll
study

The content of the course may be subject to change. Curriculum content is provided as a guide.

UCA’s Integrated Foundation Year is designed to give you the skills you’ll need to start your degree in the best possible way – with confidence, solid knowledge of creative practice, study skills and more.

You’ll explore a range of creative techniques and develop your portfolio, with your chosen subject in mind. We’ll work with you throughout the year to ensure you’re on the right track and give you the tools to achieve your highest potential on your degree.

Find out more about the Integrated Foundation Year

For our students coming from a non-UK educational background, UCA has launched an Integrated International Foundation Year, based at UCA Farnham to bring students from around the world to one hub of creativity.

This year of preparatory study is designed to give you the skills you’ll need to start your degree in the best possible way – with confidence, solid knowledge of creative practice, study skills and the English speaking and writing skills you’ll need to succeed.

You’ll explore a range of creative techniques and develop your portfolio, with your chosen subject in mind. We’ll work with you throughout the year to ensure you’re on the right track and give you the tools to achieve your highest potential on your degree.

Find out more about the Integrated International Foundation Year

Launch
You’ll be introduced to the course, the staff team, and to campus spaces and resources. A lively and varied programme of workshops, activities and exercises will bond them as a group and introduce them to the wider contexts of image-making and illustration. The focus will be on playful, high tempo activities that sow enthusiasm for the coming year.

Fundamentals 1
As you start out on your journey of exploration, you’ll be introduced to the building blocks of illustration. You’ll examine its fundamental objective - to convey information through visual imagery in order to inform, describe, express, embellish, interpret and represent ideas - and look at the broad strategic remit of the discipline: to bring image-based solutions to agreed communication agendas.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity 1
As visual practitioners we have a responsibility for the socio-political make-up of our lives and the lives of others, so you’ll need to think critically about how our worlds are created, and to work together within relationships, communities and collectives. You’ll begin to develop an understanding of perspectives and practices that are unfamiliar; a language to begin to articulate visual culture in relation to socio-political issues; an ability to situate your practices within a global context.

Impact 1
How are images delivered and who sees them? How can we create and deepen engagement using imagery and how can we measure its success? This unit asks you to consider the reach and impact of illustration in its current and speculative forms. You’ll learn about users and audiences to begin to develop an understanding of how illustration and other forms of imagery are transmitted and understood.

Opportunity
This opportunity week will recap on learning achieved in the year to date, reviewing student progress in term 1, and introduce the themes, topics and agendas for the term ahead. This will be achieved via a series of design sprints and live challenges – such as creating and publishing content for a group-curated magazine, setting up a work in progress show or curating a public event.

Fundamentals 2
This unit builds on the skills and approaches undertaken in Fundamentals 1 by exploring the full global reach of illustration, in both its current and potential future form. You’ll consolidate the practical building blocks of image-making and expand on these by looking at experimental practices, reviewing image-based practice, collaborating to produce shared large-scale image projects, and begin to attempt external-facing projects.

Real World 1
As part of preparing for practice in future, this unit introduces you to the position of illustration in contemporary media and wider creative practice. You’ll be introduced to notions of where you fit into the design world, and what external possibilities might look like.

Showtime 
This unit asks you to consider the possibilities of external display, as they relate to your own image-making practice and ambitions. You will do this by selecting and participating fully in a series of School-wide events across the year, recording and reflecting on them regularly in a cumulative digital outcome, and final Unit Report and a publicly accessible showcase.

Launch
This week will be used to introduce you to the scope and possibility of your Year 2 experience, examining the existing and future horizons of the subject. Specialist options within chosen areas of illustration - such as narrative and storytelling, moving image, data visualisation, 3D/spatial, and reportage – will be finalised, and summer projects reprised to frame the progress of their journey across this crucial year and into your final year.

Studio 1
This module embeds and extends your core illustration studio skills, including drawing, printmaking, composition, photography, and key software, and you’ll consolidate the studio culture you’ve been introduced to. It also offers optionality by presenting a choice of specialist design briefs from a spectrum of image-making sub-disciplines.

The conscious practitioner
You’ll interrogate visual culture and communication practices beyond Eurocentric models, to challenge our assumptions and preconceptions. You’ll develop an ability to critically analyse and engage critically with perspectives and practices that are unfamiliar; to position your practice within those contexts and to use research and speculation to articulate your work in relation to socio-political issues and contexts.

Impact 2
You’ll consider new and responsive ways in which images can and might be used, both now and in future, to deepen engagement, reach users in new and interactive ways, and in so doing broaden the remit of the discipline. This unit builds on the first year Impact 1 unit and asks you to consider the reach and impact of illustration in its current and speculative forms.

Opportunity
This opportunity week will recap on learning achieved in the year to date, and introduce the themes, topics and agendas for both the remainder of the year and progression into Y3. This will be achieved via a series of live challenges and topic reviews, working with other student groups and years as appropriate

Studio 2
This unit builds on the studio skills explored in the Studio 1 unit to prepare your personal line of visual enquiry for final year study via self-written project work.

Real World 2
As part of preparing for practice in future, this unit builds on the positional stance you explored in your first year, as you began to look how illustration is situated within contemporary media and wider creative practice. You’ll be introduced to notions of where you fit into the design world, and what external possibilities might look like, as you prepare to source a work placement. You’ll build and test a portfolio / online showcase, and provide written rationales and visual mapping that explore the specialist areas pertinent to your visual interests.

Placement
You’ll consider and engage with the possibilities of external work and engagement, as they relate to your own image-making practice and ambitions and building on the Showtime unit undertaken in first year. This is all about developing your employability and enterprise skills and equips you with competencies needed for your future career within the world of illustration.

If you opt to complete a professional practice year, this will take place in year three. You will undertake a placement within the creative industries to further develop your skills and CV.

While on your Professional Practice Year, you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee for that year. This fee will be determined using government funding regulations. Based on current regulations, we expect this to be a maximum of 20% of the tuition fee rate that you are charged for your second year of study. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during this year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this as you approach your Professional Practice Year.

Please note: If you are an international applicant, you will need to enrol onto the course ‘with Professional Practice Year’. It will not be possible to transfer onto the Professional Practice Year after enrolment

Launch
This week will be used to introduce students to the scope and possibility of their final year experience, as they refine your own visual voice and build a professional profile as an effective and committed image-maker.

Visual Voice
The final year is a key time to build your own design voice, so that by the end, you can present a coherent body of design work of professional standard that engages and communicates effectively with a given audience. You’ll do a written design project, a collaborative brief, and a competition brief from a recognised national or international competition or awards scheme, such as the RSA, Penguin Design Awards, Folio Society, Macmillan Prize.

Critical Practice
You’ll interrogate a particular theme or topic, research it, gather material and analyse how it informs your ideas and practice.

Opportunity
You’ll recap on learning achieved in the year to date, and introduce the themes, topics and agendas for both the remainder of the year and progression into the workplace.

Final Project
This final provides the opportunity to examine a subject or theme in depth through a self-determined and challenging project, which will demonstrate the maturity of your visual communication skills. Work created in this unit will be exhibited in the end-of-year Degree Show and typically goes on to form a major component of student portfolios upon graduation.

This course is designed to offer you (if eligible) the opportunity to study part of your degree aboard at a UCA partner university, while still earning credits towards your UCA degree.

For more information please visit the Study Abroad section

Industry placement
offer

Preparing graduates for successful careers underpins everything we do, and all students on this course may be offered support to identify and prepare for an industry placement according to their individual needs. We’ll draw on our wide range of contacts within the creative industries to help provide you with opportunities that align with your interests and future career aspirations.

Course specifications

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change in line with our Student Terms and Conditions for example, as required by external professional bodies or to improve the quality of the course.

Explore our gradshow

Each year, we’re privileged to be able to share our graduates’ incredible work with the world. And now’s your chance to take a look.

Visit the online showcase
Fees & funding

Fees & financial support

Tuition fees - 2024/25 entry

  • Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
  • BA course: £9,250

If you opt to study the Professional Practice Year, for 2024 you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee of £1,850. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during your Professional Practice year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this.

Tuition fees - 2024/25 entry

  • Integrated International Foundation Year: £9,250 (see fee discount information)
  • BA course: £9,250 (see fee discount information)

If you opt to study the Professional Practice Year, for 2024 you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee of £1,850. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during your Professional Practice year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this.

Tuition fees - 2024/25 entry

  • Integrated International Foundation Year: £16,950
  • BA course: £17,500

If you opt to study the Professional Practice Year, for 2024 you will be required to pay a reduced tuition fee of £3,390. You will also incur additional travel and accommodation costs during your Professional Practice year. The University will provide you with further advice and guidance about this.

Please note: The fees listed on this webpage are correct for the stated academic year only, for details of previous years please see the full fee schedules.

UCA scholarships and fee discounts

At UCA we have a number of scholarships and fee discounts available to assist you with the cost of your studies.

Financial support

There are lots of ways you can access additional financial support to help you fund your studies - both from UCA and from external sources. Discover what support you might qualify for please see our financial support information.

Additional course costs

In addition to the tuition fees there may be other costs for your course. The things that you are likely to need to budget for to get the most out of a creative arts education will include books, printing costs, occasional or optional study trips and/or project materials.

These costs will vary according to the nature of your project work and the individual choices that you make. Please see the Additional Course Costs section of your Course Information for details of the costs you may incur.

Facilities

This course has dedicated illustration studios with natural lighting for workshops, independent and group working. On campus, there are digital media suites programmed with design software for high-quality print production; printmaking studio with relief and block printing, plate or stone lithography, intaglio, letterpress, photopolymer plate printing and screen-printing; and a modern library with a wealth of books, journals, special collections and online resources.

View 360 virtual tour

Illustration studios, UCA Farnham

Digital Media suite, UCA Farnham

Print studios, UCA Farnham

Library, UCA Farnham

Beth Peters

"The course has opened up new ways of thinking and taught me to apply this to my practical work. We have been encouraged to experiment and we've had the resources to try new things. We have also been lucky to meet people working in the industry."

Beth Peters

Entry & portfolio requirements

Entry & portfolio
requirements

BA (Hons) course
BA (Hons) course with Professional Practice Year

The standard entry requirements* for these courses are one of the following:

  • 112 UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma / BTEC National Extended Diploma
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 112 UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 27-30 total points in the International Baccalaureate Diploma with at least 15 IB points at Higher level, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade 9-4/A*-C 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.  

Portfolio requirements

For these courses, we’ll need to see your portfolio for review. We’ll invite you to attend an Applicant Day so you can have your portfolio review in person, meet the course team and learn more about your course. Further information will be provided once you have applied. View more portfolio advice

 


BA (Hons) course with Integrated Foundation Year
BA (Hons) course with Integrated Foundation Year and Professional Practice Year

The standard entry requirements* for these courses are one of the following:

  • 32 UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Pass, Pass, Pass at BTEC Extended Diploma / BTEC National Extended Diploma
  • Pass at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 32 UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 24 points from the International Baccalaureate, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade 9-4/A*-C 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. 

Portfolio requirements

For these courses, we’ll need to see your portfolio for review. We’ll invite you to attend an Applicant Day so you can have your portfolio review in person, meet the course team and learn more about your course. Further information will be provided once you have applied. View more portfolio advice

 


*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. We consider the strength of our applicants’ portfolios, as well as their grades -  in these cases, a strong portfolio is especially important.

BA (Hons) course
BA (Hons) course with Professional Practice Year

The entry requirements for these courses will depend on the country your qualifications are from, please check the equivalent qualifications for your country:

Any additional entry requirements listed in the UK requirements section, e.g., subject requirements, work experience or professional qualifications, also apply to international applicants applying with equivalent qualifications.

Portfolio requirements

You will be required to submit a portfolio for review. Further information on specific portfolio requirements and how to submit your portfolio will be sent to you after we have reviewed your application. View more portfolio advice

 


BA (Hons) course with Integrated International Foundation Year
BA (Hons) course with Integrated International Foundation Year and Professional Practice Year

For these courses you need to have completed 12 years of schooling (with good grades) and show strong evidence of your ability to successfully complete the programme and progress onto your chosen degree.

Any additional entry requirements listed in the UK requirements section, e.g., subject requirements, work experience or professional qualifications, also apply to international applicants applying with equivalent qualifications.

Portfolio requirements

These courses don't require a portfolio.

 


English language requirements

To study at UCA, you'll need to have a certain level of English language skill. And so, to make sure you meet the requirements of your course, we ask for evidence of your English language ability, please check the level of English language required:

Don't meet the international entry requirements or English language requirements?

You may be able to enter the course through the following entry pathways:

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