Illustration (Top-Up) BA (Hons)

Key Facts

  • UCAS Code


  • Level


  • Duration

    Full Time: 1 year
    Part Time: 2 years

  • Starting


  • Fees UK 24/25

    Full Time: £9,250
    Part Time: £1,540 (per 20 credits)

  • Fees International 24/25

    Full Time: £16,500

  • Location

Get in touch

For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

UK/EU Students enquiries
0300 303 2772

International Students enquiries
+44 (0)1604 893981


The Illustration (Top-Up) BA (Hons) at the University of Northampton puts the power of storytelling and visual communication at the heart of what we do.

The course emphasises the importance of supporting students to develop their own visual language through a range of media and approaches from page to screen, 3D, installation, and interaction. Through this holistic programme, you can experiment and innovate using idea generation and real-world application to create work with meaning and purpose.

Updated 19/03/2024


Throughout the Illustration top-up course, you will have access to a specialist studio space, specialist workshops, along with a range of specialist resources. The course has guest lecturers supporting the team with a wealth of professional experience. Visiting speakers add insight into a range of topics and roles within the creative industry. In addition, the course offers the opportunity to work with live briefs, international competitions, and self-initiated projects.

Our students go on to a wide range of roles and recently these have included: art therapists, education/teachers, freelance illustrators including comic author/illustrators, children’s book author/illustrators, as well as into the games industry as concept artists.

You will have the opportunity to showcase your work during the Summer Degree show at our Waterside campus, and our students have participated in industry graduate showcases in London.

Each year we plan a week-long, self-funded trip to a European city as an extra-curricular cultural experience. In the past, we have visited Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, and Madrid.

At the University of Northampton, we support you to achieve your career in illustration with the Northampton Employment Promise.

Course Content

  • The Illustration top-up programme provides you with the specialist skills and knowledge needed to further your understanding of visual communication and storytelling, working in the creative industries, or potentially progressing onto master’s study. Having already developed the skills and qualifications for years 1 and 2 on your previous course, with us in year 3 you’ll be able to focus on expanding your conceptual and technical skills and honing your portfolio with a focus on illustration.

    You will learn through studio practice, specialist media workshops, lectures and seminars to help you understand contemporary illustration practice.

    As well as active learning and studio practice, the Illustration course offers you the opportunity to develop a self-initiated project around your illustration interests and passions. Alongside this your tutors will set a brief and others will be international competitions and a public facing, collaborative brief.

    There will be opportunities to work on live projects as they come up and the course runs a paid professional field trip and cultural trips. Visiting speakers and alumni will offer valuable insights into areas of the profession as well as feedback on your work and portfolios.

    We regularly host visiting speakers, industry specialists and illustration agencies giving you practical learning and advice from the professionals.

    Paid professional practice fieldtrip

    As part of the course, you will take part in a paid trip to support the professional practice aspects of a module’s assignment. These trips have included visiting a range of publishers such as Nobrow press, Penguin Random House, Egmont publishers and The Guardian to hear from commissioners about the process of commissioning work for their publications. We have also visited illustration collectives such as Le Gun and illustration agency Artworks.

    European trip

    Each year we plan a week-long, self-funded trip to a European city as a extra-curricular cultural experience. The trip is offered to all year groups on both the illustration and Graphic Communication Design courses and runs around February – March each year. In the past, we have visited Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, and Madrid.

    Please note the modules shown here relate to the academic year 23/24. The modules relating to the academic year 24/25 will be available from June 2024.

      • Module code: 2DD4005
        Status: Compulsory
        This module enables students to advance their practice to a professional level, honing career preparations. Students will originate a body of work informed by research and planning that explores `illustrator as author? and `illustrator as problem solver?. Professionally resolved, quality outcomes will be presented through portfolio and by exhibition.
  • Standard entry requirements apply. Applicants are expected to have studied an illustration, animation or related Art and Design subject at Foundation Degree/HND or equivalent.

    We welcome international applications and applications from students with a range of non-traditional educational or professional qualifications.

    Applicants are requested to send a digital portfolio of their own work in Art and Design and attend a 30-minute online interview with a member of the Illustration team.

    Receiving an offer may also be subject to qualifications and standard entry requirements.

    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.

    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.

  • 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
    • International – Full Time: £16,500
    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
    • International – Full Time: £15,500
    2022/23 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 22/23 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • UK – Full Time: £9,250
    • UK – Part Time: £1,500 per 20 credit module
    • International – Full Time: £14,500


    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.

  • How will I be taught on Illustration (Top up) BA (Hons)?

    You will be taught through a variety of methods such as;

    • Project briefs (staff-set/self-set /live/competition)
    • Workshops/demonstrations
    • Individual and group tutorials
    • Group critiques and presentations
    • E-tivities/Active Blended Learning / Online
    • Visiting speakers and Industry Guests
    • Seminars

    You will be taught by a team of Senior Lecturers, Lecturers and Associate Lecturers – this is the core team that you have contact with week in, week out. It is these lecturers that deliver the majority of your taught experience, set project briefs, assess your work and lead study visits.

    How will I be assessed?

    You will be assessed through a range of illustration and visual communication assignments, including portfolios, presentations, essays, and self-assessment.

    Is there any suggested reading and materials?

    You are expected to have a core kit of art materials that at year 3 will generally be the materials you now favour in your work. In addition, you will need a sketchbook, notebook and SD card for use with cameras and importantly some storage for your work such as external hard drive.


    • Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials by Gillian Rose (available in UON library and as PDF)
    • The A-Z of visual ideas: how to solve any creative brief by John Ingledew (available in UON library and as PDF)
    • The Power and Influence of Illustation by Alan Male (available in UON library)
    • Illustration: A Theoretical & Contextual Perspective by Alan Male (available in UON library)
    • Illustration: Meeting the Brief by Alan Male
    • Illustration Research Methods by Rachel Gannon and Mireille Fauchon


    • Journal of Illustration by Intellect Books Ltd (available in UON library and online)
    • Studies in Comics by Intellect Books Ltd  (available in UON library and online)
    • Varoom by AOI (Association of Illustration – available in UON library and online)


    • AOI (Association of Illustration) and Varoom as a section of this site
    • Its Nice That
    • Creative Lives in Progress


Zoe Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Illustration
Zoe Taylor

Senior Lecturer in Illustration

Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology

Chris Gibbs, Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration
Chris Gibbs

Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration

Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology

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

Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration

Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology


Careers and Employability

Our Illustration top-up degree equips you with a wide range of specialist and transferrable skills which can open up your career options. You will not be limited to one specific type of role, but rather be able to pursue numerous career paths.

Our Illustration graduates use their creative skills to work in:

  • Freelance Illustration
  • Animation
  • Games industry as Character designer, concept artist and storyboarding
  • Teaching / education
  • Art therapy
  • Working within communities and councils to engage with social and environmental issues
  • Tattoo artist
  • Comic book illustrator /author
  • Children’s book illustrator /author

Throughout your time on the course, as well as master’s-study support, we offer on-going support to ensure you receive the guidance and information needed to succeed in your chosen field of work.

Master’s Opportunities

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


When you study Illustration at the University of Northampton, you will enjoy access to a number of different facilities and services to help you in your studies, including:

  • Large specialist studio spaces with dedicated access to Mac-books, digital cameras, lighting kits and sound recording equipment. Additionally, we have access to a vast collection of magazines and books in studio.
  • Additional iMac design suite
  • Subsidised digital printing
  • Printmaking facilities and professional photography studios with controlled lighting studios
  • Video editing suites
  • Free Adobe Creative Cloud software account for your duration on the course

Onsite printmaking workshop

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