course

Illustration BA (Hons)

Key Facts

  • UCAS Code

    BA: W220
    BA with Foundation: W221

  • Level

    UndergraduateUG

  • Duration

    Full Time: 3 years
    Full Time Foundation: 4 years
    Part Time: 5 - 6 years

  • Starting

    September

  • Fees UK 24/25

    Full Time: £9,250
    UK Part Time: £1,540 per 20 credit module
    Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250

  • Fees International 24/25

    Full Time: £15,200
    Integrated Foundation Year: £15,200

  • Location

Get in touch


For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

UK/EU Students enquiries

study@northampton.ac.uk
0300 303 2772

International Students enquiries

international@northampton.ac.uk
+44 (0)1604 893981

Follow the Illustration team

Overview


The BA Illustration degree at the University of Northampton puts the power of storytelling and visual communication at the heart of what we do. Supporting students through an open, diverse, and enquiring approach to image making, our undergraduate illustration course provides a nurturing space for creative ‘play’ in which students can experiment and explore. Through a range of media, project briefs and critical thinking, we create work with meaning and purpose. This intellectually stimulating environment allows personal development, entrepreneurial skills, a practical approach to problem solving, and the opportunity for the individual student to find their own personal ‘voice’ as an illustrator.

Through this integrated programme of study students have the freedom to discover a range of processes and outcomes using traditional and digital media – from page to screen, 3D, installation, and interaction – supporting the development of their own visual language. We prepare students to be confident and competent professional practitioners during their time on the course and for their long-term careers. We invite a variety of leading people from the creative industries to give talks, workshops, and portfolio reviews to enhance your learning. Through professional practice field trips, students get the opportunity to visit illustration agencies, publishers and leading art directors responsible for commissioning illustration.

Membership of Professional Body – Association of Illustration (AOI).

Updated 29/05/2024

Highlights


Course Content


  • The BA Illustration degree at UON is a member of the internationally recognised body for the sector The Association of Illustrators and Varoom and has successful freelance illustrators and industry partners working with the course.

    Our Illustration degree course prepares you primarily for a career as a freelance illustrator or on to postgraduate study. For example, some of our students have gone on to Masters programmes in art therapy, visual communication at the RCA or onto teaching. Other students have gone on to be successful author/illustrators, concept artists, marketing and design roles.

    You will primarily learn through practical studio sessions that will include: workshops, lectures, tutorials, crits and seminars that equip students with idea generating methodologies, technical skills, knowledge and understanding of illustration and design. You will have access to your studio, excellent digital media, printmaking and photography facilities.

    This BA Illustration course begins by providing you with a foundation on which to build your knowledge, understanding and visual communication skills with an emphasis on developing your visual language, and drawing in particular. Across the three years you will be given a range of staff-set, live, International and National competition briefs that allow you to experience a range of illustration challenges.

    As you progress through the course you will be given more and more autonomy with which to choose the brief and shape your portfolio. An important aspect for a contemporary illustrator is to continually develop their own practice and this is reflected in the course structure, students have opportunities to write their own self-directed projects and make choices within set projects.

    Illustration can be used to communicate about any subject so collaboration and working with other disciplines within the university is something we often do.

    As well as developing your ideas, technical skills and approaches to different aspects of narrative, the course offers students the opportunity to attend design and illustration conferences, get feedback on your portfolio from industry experts, and to travel with the course on an annual cultural trip.

    Over the past few years we have visited: Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome and Madrid. We regularly host visiting speakers, industry experts and creative agencies giving you practical learning and advice from professionals.

    Student Successes

    Through the Professional Practice module, our students regularly secure exciting internships, jobs and commissions. Recently students have interned at The House of Illustration in London and gained a tattoo apprenticeship at Elixir Ink in Milton Keynes and graphic designer for Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

    While commissions have ranged from a window display for Gosh comics in London’s Soho, working with the local council to create a character and animation for school children to stay safe online, surface pattern illustration for UK organic underwear company Thunderpants, advertorial for First Chop brewery in Flavourly magazine, beer bottle labels for a UK craft beer brewery and a mural for a local artisan coffee shop and bakery – among many others.

    Past illustration university graduates have pursued their own publishing careers by networking with comic groups, crowd funding their own comics, stories, and books. Running tables at DIY Cultures, one of the largest comics fairs in London. Students have gone on to postgraduate study in art therapy and illustration with articles about their success in Creative Review and Varoom. We invite our alumni students back to give talks to our current students. Each year, third year students exhibit their degree show work at the summer show held at the university and then in London at the D&AD New Blood exhibition.

    Illustration Instagram logo

    You can follow Illustration BA (Hons) on Instagram to see all the fun stuff our students get involved in.

    Changing Futures Week

    Our annual Changing Futures Week is an exciting event and an excellent opportunity for our students to explore the potential of their course and understand where their university experience can lead them beyond graduation. It offers a unique chance to network with high profile industry professionals from the arts, TV, film, fashion and more.

    Modules
    Year 1
    • 2DD1035 – Fundamentals of Illustration – 60 Credits (Compulsory)
    • 2DD1036 – Potential of Illustration – 60 Credits (Compulsory)
    Year 2
    • 2DD2025 – Audience, Collaboration and Context – 60 Credits (Compulsory)
    • 2DD2026 – Expanding Practice – 60 Credits (Compulsory)
    Year 3
    • 2DD3010 – Research Focus – 40 Credits (Compulsory)
    • 2DD4005 – Practice Realisation – 80 Credits (Compulsory)
  • A typical offer for Illustration would be:

    • BCC at A-Level or,
    • DMM at BTEC/Cambridge Technical or,
    • Pass (C and above) at T Level

    A Foundation Diploma in Art and Design will also be accepted.

    Applicants are interviewed and are requested to provide a portfolio of their own work in Art and Design. International students may submit their portfolio electronically.

    Students with a relevant HND or Foundation Degree with a suitable profile of achievement may be admitted onto year two or three.

    We welcome applications from students with a mix of A levels and BTEC/Cambridge Technical qualifications.

    For more information on how to make an application, please visit our How to Apply page.

    If you are an International student and would like information on making an application, please see our How to Apply page.

    Integrated Foundation Year Entry Requirements

    Admission to this foundation programme is normally:

    • DEE at A-Level or,
    • MPP at BTEC or,
    • Pass (D or E) at T Level

    However, we would also like to hear from you if you have professional or industry experience instead, a range of other qualifications or self-developed subject knowledge that relates to the programme you wish to study.

    Interview

    Once your application has been reviewed, you may be invited to attend an interview with us.

    Your interview for Illustration could be held either on campus or online, and both interview styles would require you to show us some portfolio work, either physically or digitally.

    For your portfolio, please include examples of your sketchbook pages, life drawing, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture/3D, photography, digital painting and drawing or animation. If you have examples of animation/moving image online, please include web links too. We’d also like to see some sketchbook work examples too, so bring these along on the day, or include images in your online portfolio. Not all your examples need to be polished and finished, we’re looking to see your research, ideas, and development, so we’re happy to see works in progress as well as finalised projects!

    Your interview will be with a member of the programme team, and you’ll go over your portfolio with them. They’ll ask you some questions around your work and your interest in the course. If you’re coming on campus for your interview, you’ll get the chance to meet a current student and chat with them about their work and their experience on the course and have a tour of the studios. This is also a great opportunity for you to ask them any questions you may have about the course.

    If your interview will take around 30 minutes.

    English Language Requirements

    All International and EU students applying for a course with us must meet the following minimum English language requirements:

    • IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) with a minimum of 5.5 in all bands
      for study at undergraduate level.

    For information regarding English language requirements at the University, please see our IELTS page.

    Interview Information

    After applying via UCAS and meeting the entry requirements, you will be invited to an interview  – either virtual or face-to-face – and you will need to bring along a portfolio of your work.

  • 2024/25 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 24/25 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • UK – Full Time: £9,250
    • UK – Part Time: £1,540 per 20 credit module
    • UK – Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
    • International – Full Time: £15,200
    • International – Integrated Foundation Year: £15,200
    Additional Costs

    Materials, Events and Visits
    Materials for workshops and Masterclasses, entry to competitions associated with your programme of study, and those visits that are necessary for your course are all made available at no additional charge.

    We recommend that you budget for printing costs (approximately £50 per year for laser and large format printing) and any specialist materials that you may require (£50 or more depending on materials).
    There are optional trips, both within the UK and overseas: UK visits and Trips will cost approximately £50 per year. Overseas trips or visits will cost approximately £350 per trip.

    Display and exhibition materials for end of year shows in years 2 and 3 will cost approximately £40 per year. Year 3 – Your end of year summer show additionally requires contributions (or your own fund raising activities) for a catalogue and marketing materials costing approximately £30-£50, along with a further contribution to exhibit at the D&AD New Blood Industry Graduate Showcase in London, approximately £20. You may want to buy a laptop or desktop computer (Apple Mac is recommended, from £400 upwards). We have our own suite of MacBooks to use in the design studios and access to iMacs however, buying your own is recommended.

    2023/24 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 23/24 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • UK – Full Time: £9,250
    • UK – Part Time: £1,540 per 20 credit module
    • UK – Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
    • International – Full Time: £14,750
    • International – Integrated Foundation Year: £14,750
    Additional Costs

    Materials, Events and Visits
    Materials for workshops and Masterclasses, entry to competitions associated with your programme of study, and those visits that are necessary for your course are all made available at no additional charge.

    We recommend that you budget for printing costs (approximately £50 per year for laser and large format printing) and any specialist materials that you may require (£50 or more depending on materials).
    There are optional trips, both within the UK and overseas: UK visits and Trips will cost approximately £50 per year. Overseas trips or visits will cost approximately £350 per trip.

    Display and exhibition materials for end of year shows in years 2 and 3 will cost approximately £40 per year. Year 3 – Your end of year summer show additionally requires contributions (or your own fund raising activities) for a catalogue and marketing materials costing approximately £30-£50, along with a further contribution to exhibit at the D&AD New Blood Industry Graduate Showcase in London, approximately £20. You may want to buy a laptop or desktop computer (Apple Mac is recommended, from £400 upwards). We have our own suite of MacBooks to use in the design studios and access to iMacs however, buying your own is recommended.

     

    For information on the scholarships available to you, please see our scholarships page.

    For more information about possible funding options, please visit our Fees and Funding pages.

  • At the University of Northampton, everything we do, from funded trips to paid internships, is to give you everything you need to make a difference when you leave.

    If you join this full time Illustration degree at Northampton, you will receive a laptop when your course begins*. The laptops are built to a bespoke custom specification ideal for use in the seminar room, collaborative group work or studying at home.

    Whatever your ambitions, we’re here to help you to achieve them. We’ll support you to identify the skills you’re learning during your course, find your strengths and secure practical experience so that when it comes to applying for jobs or further study you’ll feel confident in standing out from the crowd. We’ve created the Northampton Employment Promise because we are so confident that if you focus on your studies and complete one of our awards you’ll be highly employable by the time you graduate. Putting you in a great position to secure employment or continue your studies.

    To check out the full list of perks, visit our Student Perks page or dedicated International Perks page.

    *UK fee payers only (see Terms and Conditions for further details).

  • The Integrated Foundation Year (IFY) offers a new and exciting route into studying for a degree, attracting ambitious and driven students who are willing to learn and advance.

    If you have non-standard qualifications or do not quite meet the admissions requirements we can offer you a fantastic opportunity to study a four year programme which includes an Integrated Foundation Year. The Integrated Foundation Year will help you develop the theoretical/practical and academic skills you need, in order to successfully progress to the full award.

    Our four-year courses will enable you to successfully follow the degree pathway of your choice while gaining essential study skills. The foundation year of your chosen degree will be studied on a full-time basis and is aimed at supporting the transition to higher education. Years two, three and four are then studied as a standard degree programme.

  • How will I be taught on the Illustration degree?

    All classes are taught face to face in the specialist studio space or resource areas.

    How many hours per week of teaching?

    In the first year there are 15 hours taught time usually spread over 3 days of the week, typically 10am – 4pm. The rest of the week is independent study time where you can continue to work on your project briefs.

    How will I be assessed?

    Assessment happens at the end of each module at the end of a  semester through a range of methods including; by portfolio of project work, presentation, essay or report. Leading up to assessment, feedback is given weekly/daily via tutorial conversations in the studio, through whole group and small group critiques and formative reviews.

    What jobs can I go into from studying this course?

    Illustration university graduates have a gateway into many job roles and the skills you gain are transferrable to other routes too. The most obvious job is freelance illustrator but students go on to art therapy, forensic illustration, teaching, designer, producer, agent, author/illustrator and many more.

    What specialist facilities will I have access to?

    Our illustration degree course has access to many specialist workshop areas including printmaking and photography where students can develop their own image making techniques. The course also offers free field trips each year where we take students to visit publishing houses, editorial commissioners such as The Guardian, illustration collectives and agencies as well as exhibitions and museums.

Staff


Placeholder image for Louise Bird, Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration
Louise Bird

Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration


Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology

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Zoe Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Illustration
Zoe Taylor

Senior Lecturer in Illustration


Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology

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Chris Gibbs, Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration
Chris Gibbs

Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration


Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology

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Careers and Employability


Throughout your time on BA Illustration degree, there will be opportunities to exhibit publicly and promote your work through exhibitions, pop-up shops and events, ensuring you graduate with a professional portfolio of work.

Past students have gone on to:
  • Art therapy
  • Graphic design
  • Teacher
  • Freelance illustrator
  • Author illustrator
  • Animator
  • Concept artist
Other job roles include:
  • Producer
  • Surface pattern designer
  • Artist in residence
  • Storyboard artist
  • Illustration agent
  • Gallery assistant/manager
  • Childrens book illustrator
  • Self-publisher/author
  • Film maker
  • Printmaker
  • Model/scenery/puppet maker
  • Designer
  • Book publisher
  • Editor
  • Curator
  • Editorial publisher
  • Director
  • Illustration agent
  • Picture book designer
  • Public artist
Postgraduate Opportunities

Our postgraduate courses are a great way to enhance the skills you have already learnt. Benefit from our 20% alumni discount on postgraduate fees to give yourself a CV that will catch the eye of employers.

Facilities


While studying for your Illustration degree at UON, you will have full access to a Mac suite and, following a health and safety induction, specialist workshop spaces including:

  • Printmaking
  • Photography
  • 3D and sculpture

Dedicated studio space with specialist kit such as:

  • Risograph
  • Book binding
  • Guillotines
  • Cutting mats
  • A3 scanners
  • Desktop Macs and MacBook Pro laptops

Onsite printmaking workshop


Our onsite printmaking workshop can enhance the creative practices of students on a variety of courses

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