Why study with us?

Although Illustration is a specialist creative discipline it’s also part of the wider profession of graphic design. Most universities teach illustration in isolation but we know that this can limit your prospects in a world where flexibility is a highly prized asset. We’ve produced a unique course that not only provides you with a complete education as an illustrator but also ensures you have the necessary graphic design skills to allow you to thrive as an illustrator who can also work as a designer.


It’s a sad truth that students at many other institutions rarely see their tutors due to huge group sizes – happily we’re very different! We know that small year groups are best and so we recruit around twenty students each year. This means that you receive individual support and feedback. We also believe that you should work from a studio base. In our case this is a huge, dynamic, modern, multi-functioning space in which all years of our Illustration and Graphic Design and courses mix, share ideas and inspire one another.

If you are visually inquisitive, motivated and ready for the challenge of one of the most exciting and fastest changing fields in the creative industries, then this is the course for you. 

To see much more of what we do please visit our website


and our course blog


What can this course lead to?

Our graduates' work can be found in books, magazines, advertising campaigns, web design, animation, and film and TV title-sequences. In fact as new media come into existence, we expect the versatility of our illustrators will enable them to be at the very forefront of developments, creatively exploiting the communication possibilities.

Many of our students become freelance illustrators. Year 3 student Amy Holliday won the prestigious Computer Arts Graduate Showcase, Illustration Category Excellence Award. Amy’s work was judged outstanding in its class against stiff national and international competition and she is now represented by Lemonade. Graduate Jenny Cox was asked to join the agency Lipstick and Jade Wall is now professionally represented by The Artworks.

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Local student Yvette Earl found a job that combined her illustration and design talents as a designer/illustrator in the marketing department of Derwent Art Materials.

Two of our graduates, Dan Sutherland andLaura Willis, went on to work as illustrator/animators at MTV.

Upon graduating, Fredrick Aven joined Unit 9 in London, progressed rapidly and is now a creative partner at Helpful Strangers in Stockholm.

Fredrik Öst and Magnus Berg returned to their native Sweden to start their own, highly individual, multi-disciplinary company Snask, a design and illustration studio, which is now so successful and famous, you can buy a book about them!

It is their ability to be creative and effective image-makers within a design context that allows our illustration graduates to stand out from the crowd. 

Recent news, awards and jobs

This year our students were busy with a wide variety of live project work.

Luvena Petty created a complete identity and website for TV antiques expert Paul Laidlaw’s new auction house. Ford Mason created the packaging design for TMR’s revolutionary new ‘ Imprint’, mountain bike grips and Ruth Fogden created a website for a large renewable energy company.

Josh Ford saw his work for Bear Alphabites win a YCN award.

As for visiting speakers, Gary Bovill and James McCarthy, who are both Cumbria graduates, visited us. Gary now works at Energy Design Studio in London and James is a senior designer atDrumbeat Creative in Manchester.

We also welcomed graphic illustrator Nik Holmes and the wonderful Jill Calder who came to talk about her recent illustration work.

Perhaps the most memorable visit of the year was the triumphant return to their former University of Snask’s Freddie and Magnus who not onlygave a lecture but also brought along a rock band (like you do)!

As for jobs, in a challenging economic climate, our recent graduates have been amazingly successful at quickly gaining good jobs in the design industry. Derrian Bradder achieved her ‘dream job’ as a designer at Penquin Books, Adam Peel joined Think Publicity, James Cope works for Benoy, Jasper Van Looveren Baines joined thePMN Group, Adam Norfolk is at Turley, Luci Ormrod is a designer atFoot Asylum, Luvena Petty is the in-house designer atUCSU, Samantha Davison works forChic Magazine, Samantha Priestley is a designer atCaterite, Ami Swift is with Fleishman Hillardand Ruth Fogden is atNeomam.

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Our students and staff also produced the fourth edition of Bagatelle, a magazine devoted to sequential art, which was launched at The International Festival of Comic Book Art.

Resources and facilities

We are immensely proud of our fantastic, huge and well-equipped studio space. It contains over eighty Mac workstations, small tutorial and lecture spaces, staff offices, and lots of space for student work bases. It also has the advantage of having an in-house reprographics department for all your printing needs. The benefits to you of working alongside students from all years of the course are immense and the mix creates an inspiring, dynamic, stimulating and continually changing environment.

Unlike most other universities, we also believe you should be able to exploit any technical areas your project work may require. We make sure you have access to life drawing, computer training labs, animation suites, printmaking studios, moving image editing suites, wood, metal and plastic workshops, textile studios, photography studios and even our ceramics department! One of our students even converted a caravan into a travelling contemporary design gallery...

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Please feel free to browse the photos in our course gallery of the studio, campus and resources our students use and enjoy on a daily basis.

Teaching, Assessment and Learning

We believe that assessment is not the end but the beginning of the process of learning. Feedback can come not only from lecturers, but also from their peers, or the student themselves. We have our own website with more information about teaching, learning and assessment in graphic design and illustration: www.grillust.com/tal.

Have a look at our learning resources for Illustration.

What our students say

Watch the video above to find out what design superstars Freddie and Magnus of SNASK had to say about their old university...


“I was given my design schooling up in Carlisle at the University of Cumbria. It’s north of the Lakes, but do not let the country roots deceive you! The UoC Graphic Design and Illustration course was astounding, more like an apprenticeship than a uni course, they really cracked the whip and taught us everything we need to be top-notch designers and visual communicators. As a result a load of my friends are kick-ass designers – I’d love to see where we all are in a few years time!” – Jenny Cox (BA (Hons) Illustration graduate 2012, now based in Wimbledon, London and represented by Lipstick of London illustration agency).

“I love the location of the university – a lot of things are inspiring here. The facilities available and the atmosphere were totally different to other universities. The studio space and facilities are great, there’s a friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere and we have smaller teaching groups.” – Leanne Smith (Year 1 student, originally from Gateshead)

“I feel passionate about illustration and feel that the tutors here are just as passionate and motivational. Other Unis didn’t have the community and sense of motivation that Cumbria has.” – Harry Willmott (Year 1 student, originally from Lancaster)

“I really liked how both Graphic Design and Illustration courses blend together at the beginning. I’ve learned more than just illustration. Everyone was super friendly and down to earth compared to other Unis that I visited.” – Jake Barker (Year 2 student, originally from Leyland, Lancashire)

“I like the variety of the course and the fact that I learn about the world of Graphic Design on top of my Illustration work. Everyone here is so friendly and approachable, the university has great resources as well. – Hayley Newell (Year 2 student, originally from Harrogate)

“There are a massive variety of processes and techniques taught on the course which I otherwise wouldn’t have been aware of.” – Emma Hodgson (Year 3 student, originally from York)

“I love the fact that when I graduate I have the option work as both an illustrator and as a designer.” – Rae Valters (Year 3 student, originally from Leeds)


Home and EU students: £9,000 per academic year

International students: £10,500 per academic year

For more information on finance: