BA single honours or in combination with another subject Illustration 2019/20

Year of entry

Images have never been so important in communicating ideas, on screen or in print, and studying Illustration offers you the opportunity to develop your skills to a professional level.

Our exciting new course is highly practical, covering the wide variety of what Illustration means. At its core is drawing: reportage, visual description, and visual note-taking. We place the highest importance on helping you to develop these transferrable skills, but you will also be encouraged to develop your personal interests and realise your creative identity.

Throughout the programme you will engage with ‘live’ projects and industry-focused research and take part in Professional Practice modules that develop your entrepreneurial skills.

You will explore areas including:

  • animation
  • graphic novels and picture books
  • technical illustration

Illustration is one of the most exciting areas to study in the contemporary media industry. Images have never been so important in communicating ideas on screen or on paper. If you are fascinated by making imagery and communicating visual ideas Illustration gives you the opportunity to develop your skills to a professional level.

Our Illustration degree is designed to recognise your individuality, encourage your independence and enhance your creative and technical expertise. It provides a sound basis in technical skills, contextual awareness and industry conditions. It will give you the tools to thrive and survive in a tough but rewarding working environment. The final outcome is a professional portfolio, prepared to get you employment and commissions.

Top reason to choose this course

All staff are creative practitioners and place a high priority on developing creative potential. We use old­school printmaking techniques alongside the latest digital applications: the idea and the product is the focus.

Ilustration is a broad­based and highly practical programme. At its core is drawing, reportage, visual description and visual note­taking. All three are needed to communicate your ideas and develop your individual creative voice, which will help you survive in a competitive job market. You will have the opportunity to develop your personal interests in processes like animation, graphic novels, character design, digital applications, children’s picture books, branding, technical illustration, print­making and much more. The practical elements of the course are complemented by contextual background in the history and theory of illustration and the broader visual realm, both Western and global, through focused theory seminars and integrated studio teaching.

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

more info

Professional practice skills are embedded throughout the programme, and with a dedicated career­focused module in the final year of study. This allows you to develop entrepreneurial, presentation and IT skills and to document your technical skills, with the aim of preparing you for professional life after the degree.

Year 1 is an intense series of modules designed to break down and rebuild ideas about visual representation, communications design, and ideas generation. Concentrating more on ideas than product, we will introduce you to the fast pace you must set and the variety of contexts in which to work: from freelancing, team and group work to competitive bidding and the challenge of maintaining creative energy in a stressful situation.

The focus of Year 1 is to develop your image­generation and development techniques and ability to respond to briefs in a range of contexts and deveolop working habits that mirror industry conditions. It also develops your knowledge of the history, theory and context of Illustration.

Year 2 allows you to expand on specialist areas you have identified and to gain experience and knowledge of the associated markets. You will keep up a strong focus on skills in analogue and digital technology and techniques, and in research. To develop your experience as a professional practitioner you also will be given the opportunity to undertake and reflect upon a vocational industry placement or commission. Year 2 enables you to develop and explore specialist areas of interest, engage with a live professional context and define the focus of your theoretical studies for the Dissertation in Year 3.

Year 3 provides practical research outcomes, a professional portfolio and a skillset appropriate to your interests as a practising Illustrator or as a researcher at a postgraduate level. By this time you should be independent, proactive and ready to go out and find work, and this year is aimed at equipping you for that. The year includes a Dissertation that contextualizes your individual interests and culiminates in Year 3 extends the focus developed in year 2 in a culminating exhibition or ‘live’ project. The dissertation, is used to focus, define and contextualize the your individual interest. By this time you should be independent, proactive and ready to go out and find work, and this year is aimed at equipping you for that.

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese or Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course. You alsom have the opportunity for additional language and cultural training and the possibility of a year studying abroad at one of our international partner universities.  There is abundant evidence that such international experience helps to improve academic performance, enhances employability and improves the pace of career progression (Universities UK International (2017).

Year 1

Semester 1

  • Observational Drawing (20 credits): equips the student with the technical and theoretical knowledge to approach drawing with an objective and professional attitude, enabling a view of visual recording as the main source of primary research for illustrators. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • The Articulate Image (20credits): develops the students’ ability to generate original and useful ideas for projects, commissions and briefs. Addressing the question of creativity directly, the module concentrates on the content rather than the technical output.  It will use a series of project; covering a wide range of illustration, design, fine art and visual communication applications; to develop skills in visual thinking. Students will put colour theory into practice and be introduced to ‘Basic Design’ ideas about visual communication. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • Image and Communication in Context (20 credits): develops critical awareness along with skills in image analysis and visual communication through written and multi-media outcomes. It offers an introduction to key historical and contextual themes and concepts in illustration and relate them to practices. Assessment: 50% Essay, 50% Visual Journal

Semester 2

  • Visual Recording (20 credits): explores and develops students’ ability to respond to visual stimuli through recording, selection and analysis. Students will be expected to apply an increasingly sophisticated and personal set of techniques including 2D, 3D and digital methods. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • From Concept to Visualisation (20 credits): provides a context for the development and realisation of ideas, based and expanding on the sort of client briefs that an illustrator might encounter in an industrial setting. The module focuses on how narrative content matches technical output, ideas-generation and presentation.Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • Sequential Narrative in Context (20 credits): develops critical awareness and skills in visual narrative communication through written and multi-media outcomes. It offers an introduction to narrative as a key historical and contextual theme and concept in illustration and relates it to practice. Assessment: 50% Essay, 50% Visual Narrative

Year 2

Semester 1

  • Drawing for Purpose (20 credits): develops the student’s drawn response to specific briefs. The visual enquiry will be both studio and location-based. Students will refine their material approaches including reportage and other information-recording techniques, both analogue and digital. They will consider the multifarious applications of drawing in the creative industries. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • Exploring Process (20 credits): explores process-based visual enquiry as diverse as analogue printmaking techniques; digital applications; 3D media; animation methods; photography; and typeface. Students will synthesise and develop an individual approach to visual presentation. A variety of creative contexts around the theme of persuasion will be presented to give the student experience of industry conditions. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • Visual Persuasion in Context (20 credits): develops critical awareness and skills in persuasive visual language and image-making through written and multi-media outcomes. It explores strategies of visual persuasion both historically and theoretically. It introduces contemporary issues in global visual culture related both to the illustration industry and to the students’ own practices. Assessment: 50% Essay, 50% Visual Campaign

Semester 2

  • Professional Practice (20 credits):  develops students’ understanding of the concepts of entrepreneurship, marketing, online presence, business activities and highlight key transferable skills which enhance employability.  Students should develop increasing levels of confidence and professionalism in their specialism, recording and promoting skills and attributes as they acquire them. Students will commence an ongoing professional portfolio, evaluating their working practices and experiences in terms of potential employability in the creative industries. Assessment: 70% Professional Portfolio, 30% Individual Presentation
  • Negotiated Project (20 credits optional): encourages students to recognise and exploit their strengths and interests. Students will develop their personal portfolio within the broad field of illustration, using experience gained in previous semesters to detail and undergo a project aligned with the individual’s interests. Outcomes may be either practical, theoretical or a mixture of both. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • Site and Audience in Context (20 credits): develop students’ independent thinking about illustration from a historical and theoretical point of view and to locate their practice within the broader creative industries. The module will pay particular attention to the sites and audiences for a range of illustration practices. Assessment: 50% Essay, 50% Proposal Presentation
  • Global Experience in Media, Art and Design (20 credits): the option of a 5-10 day field trip abroad develops students’ potential for intercultural awareness, while also developing their employability and work-related skills for a wide variety of professions related to the media, culture and communication industries. It will do so by engaging students in a media project conducted abroad. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio.

Year 3

Semester 1 & 2

  • Live Major Project (40 credits): supports students in demonstrating the conceptual and technical expertise they have acquired by undertaking the production of a substantial illustration project from conception through to completion.  Students will be expected to employ the full range of multi- and inter-disciplinary skills in completing a self-directed practical project. It is expected that students will produce work that sits within their specialist field, in a ‘live’ context i.e. competition entry, submission of publication, self-publication, exhibition or other publicly accessible context. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio
  • Negotiated Specialism 1 & 2 (20 credits each semester): encourages students to recognise and exploit the strengths and skills sets they have built in the previous semesters. The module is designed as an extension or support for the Live Major Project or Dissertation modules. Outcomes may be either practical, theoretical or a mixture of both. Assessment: Coursework Portfolio

Semester 1

  • Dissertation (20 credits): provides an opportunity for students to research a topic, independently and in depth, that relates to their illustration practice specialism. It encourages the further pursuit of contextual and theoretical issues raised in the programme. The dissertation engenders a culmination of the students’ research, analytical and critical skills through reflective academic writing. Assessment: 4000 word dissertation

Semester 2

  • Work Related Learning (20 credits): places the student in a live professional context which has a direct relationship with their developing professional interests. The nature of the engagement will be self-initiated and the experience reflectively appraised in a portfolio and substantial presentation. Students can work individually or as a team with defined roles, but of importance is the students’ ability to communicate and cooperate with external agencies or the public. Students will have the opportunity to develop an understanding of a work environment, freelancing or community engagement either through a placement, client relationship or public project. Assessment: 50% Professional Portfolio, 50% Individual Presentation

Combined Honours

Illustration offers a perfect opportunity for a combined study programme; Creative and Professional Writing might attract a budding Graphic Novelist, or someone interested in political satire could study Politics with Illustration. BA (hons) Illustration is in the X timetable slot allowing combinations with the following selected Y and Z subjects: Archaeology, Digital Marketing Communications, English Literature, English Language and Communication, History, Marketing, Media and Communications, Tourism, Advertising, Creative and Professional Writing, Film, Radio and Television, International Relations, Politics.

Career paths include publishing, book design, magazines both analogue and digital, as well as the classic self­employed, freelance Illustrator’s route. Illustrators can also take their image generating skills into theatre design, work for film or television, into web design and the digital world, as a fashion illustrator or as a designer, or even into the world of fine art. Illustrators work in all areas of the visual arts, from Hollywood studios to local government departments.


The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  UK / EU Overseas
Full-time £9,250 £11,900

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

Please read the 2019/20 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2019/20 tuition fees and year on year fee increases.

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.


You will be taught through a combination of practical workshops, seminars, tutorials and field trips. Your precise contact hours depend on the option modules you select, but you will typically have around 12 contact hours per week.

Practical workshops and studio –time will be focussed on projects that are reflected in the theory-based seminars – you will be making work about what you are talking and reading about.

You will use industry-standard software in your digital work, and you will have access to specialist facilities throughout your course.

Independent learning

When not attending seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study.  Typically, this involves working on projects and preparing for coursework assignments/examinations, workshops and seminars. Indfepen dent learnif wioll occupy you for up to 24 hours per week.

Overall workload

Your overall workload during the two 12-week Semesters will be up to 36 hours per week.

Academic input

The team consists of highly qualified academics with a range of expertise and experience.

All team members have post-graduate and teaching qualifications. They are research-active and have professional practises and they have experience in delivering research-informed teaching. You should note members of the teaching team might change.

Experienced academics teach the vast majority of workshops and seminars, and professional, practising illustrators from a wide range of specialisms will be employed on a sessional, visiting and/or part-time basis. 

All programmes are informed by the University’s  Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020.

BA (Hons) Illustration with Foundation Year

This course can also be studied over four years with an additional foundation year (Year 0) for those without the formal entry qualifications. The foundation year is designed to provide you with the grounding you need to progress on to the degree.

Illustration will be delivered in the new Arts Building, on the main Canterbury campus, which is scheduled to open in September 2018.

The Canterbury campus has city-centre facilities on its doorstep and, of course, you will benefit from all the new arts building has to offer.

You will have access to an analogue print­making studio, digital print­ room, Risograph, design/drawing studio, mac­labs, iPad pros, mac­ books, animation facilities, digital imagery software, bookmaking equipment and specialist library resources.

There are many extant links with practicing illustrators, illustrators’ agents and publishers, and guest lecturers.


Full-time study

Apply via UCAS


Full-time study

Need some help?


For advice on completing your application please contact the Course Enquiry Team:

Tel: +44 (0)1227 928000
Tel:+44 (0)1227 928000  (0)1227 928000


Contact our International Team

Fact file

UCAS course code

  • W220 Illustration

UCAS institution code

  • C10


  • 3 years full-time


  • September 2019

Entry requirements

  • A typical offer would be 88-112 UCAS Tariff points. More entry requirement details.

    Submission of a portfolio of practical work in a digital format or on an online platform.



More about

Last edited 21/01/2019 12:30:00

Save, Print or Share this page

Connect with us

Last edited: 21/01/2019 12:30:00