BA (Hons) Illustration

Course details

UCAS Course code W220

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Unlike most universities, we understand that Illustration is part of the wider graphic design profession. Rather than teach it in isolation, our unique course will provide you with a full education as an illustrator, while also ensuring you have the necessary graphic design skills so that you can thrive in both areas, opening your employment options.

Building an online portfolio, you will explore a variety of visual mediums from life drawing and painting to animation and digital media. We teach illustration from a number of contexts to help you find your specialist area. Our small year groups (around 20 students) allow for individual support and feedback, and working from a huge, modern and multi-functioning studio space, you will be able to interact with students from all years to help share ideas and inspire each other to greatness.

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.

Visit our course blog Blog Spot

Many of our full-time programmes can be studied over a longer period on a part-time basis. Please contact the course enquiries team for further details.

Throughout the course, you will gain the experience, confidence and creative skills to stand out from the crowd when it comes to getting a job. We will help you develop strong drawing skills to underpin your unique visual language, growing your voice as an artist.

Illustration student work

Renowned for our teaching of drawing, we will develop your two-dimensional and moving image skills with state-of-the-art digital resources and technical workshops. To allow your confidence and ambition to grow, we cover a lot of ground and you do a huge amount of drawing, painting and digital work.

Illustration student work

Year one

Compulsory Modules

  • Design Fundamentals
  • Design in Context 1
  • Communicating Idea

Optional Modules (Subject to availability and demand)

  • Life Drawing
  • Thinking through Drawing
  • Traditional Photo Techniques
  • Pictures for Publication
  • Visual Arts of the 21st Century
  • Fibre Arts 1
  • Advertising Practices
  • Creative Writing
  • Ebroidered Textile Decoration

Year two

  • Principles of Illustration
  • Principles of Multimedia
  • Exploration of Illustration
  • Design in Context 2

Year three

  • Illustration Application
  • Professional Context
  • Illustration Practice
  • Professional Practice

Programme specification

For detailed summary of all course content please read our programme specification for this course.

Download the programme specification (PDF)

2017 entry

96-112 UCAS tariff points.

The UCAS tariff has changed for 2017, you can find out more about the new tariff and qualification options from the new UCAS tariff table

Please check selection criteria for any additional entry requirements.

2018 entry

112 UCAS tariff points.

Please check selection criteria for any additional entry requirements.

Selection criteria

Find out more about Illustration including what our interviews are like (very friendly) and the kind of work we would like to see in your portfolio (wide-ranging).
Many of the students we accept on to Year 1 of the course have normally studied for a Foundation Diploma or a National Diploma in Art and Design (or equivalent). Some applicants from other backgrounds (for example school leavers or people returning to education) may need further time and support to help them progress to degree level education - this is where the Foundation Entry (known as 'Year 0') comes in.
This specialist, preparatory year, will provide you with an extensive range of underpinning practical, technical and theoretical skills. You experience a wide range of project work and have extensive inductions into virtually all of our technical workshops. The pace is fast, the projects are fun and successful completion of 'Year 0' gives you automatic progression to Year 1 of the BA(Hons) Illustration course.

Full-time courses

Apply online through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), between September and January; they will send your application on to us. Applications submitted after this date will be considered late and the course you have applied for might be full by this time; however, we will consider you for alternative suitable courses.

Their website provides all the information you need about universities, courses, locations, entry requirements and financial support. You are allowed to select up to five course choices. You need to use the correct UCAS campus and course codes as not all courses are offered at every campus. You will be asked for the following information when you apply online:

Institution code name: UoC

Institution code: C99

Campus location:

  • A Ambleside
  • B Brampton Road, Carlisle
  • E University of Cumbria at Energus, Workington
  • F Fusehill Street, Carlisle
  • L Lancaster
  • T University of Cumbria in London
  • Y University of Cumbria at Furness College, Barrow-in-Furness

Part-time courses

Applications should be made online directly to the university; visit our website or contact for details and guidance. There is no official closing date but we would encourage you to apply as early as possible, as many courses are competitive.

What makes a good application?

We consider all aspects of your application, not simply your qualifications and grades. We look at your academic background and performance, relevant experience (particularly for professional courses where some voluntary or paid experience is required) and your reference. Above all, we look for motivation, commitment and potential-evidence that you can benefit from study at higher education level.

Make sure you include:

  • Relevant qualifications/evidence of ability: check our website for the specific entry requirements required for each course. Tell us your previous academic results and your projected grades.
  • A supportive reference, from an employer or your school or college.
  • A good personal statement.
  • Explain clearly what attracts you to the course and tell us about your wider interests and experience. If you are applying for a course that incorporates professional training and placements, you should include any relevant experience or visits you have made in the workplace. Highlight your individual strengths and qualities, personal skills, capacity for teamwork, contribution to the community and your enterprise, originality and determination. Select some activities which bring out these qualities.

What next?

When we receive your application, we will send you an acknowledgement and if you are successful at this stage you will get either an offer (with an invitation to visit the campus to which you have applied), or an invitation to interview on a particular date. If we are not able to offer you a place on your chosen course we will usually try to offer you a place on a similar course and will contact you to discuss this. Alternatively, if we think you are suitable, but cannot offer you a place on your preferred campus because of the level of competition, we will offer you a place at another campus if one is available.

And if I accept?

The admissions team will contact you and send further information from February onwards about accommodation, and from May/June onwards about preparing to join the university. If you have any other queries, please telephone the admissions offices for information and advice on 0845 6061144.

Deferred entry

We welcome applications for deferred entry on some courses. If you have specific plans during your year out, indicate these on your personal statement as they may be relevant to your course and could enhance your application.

International students

Applications for full-time undergraduate study are made through UCAS. Please see the international pages of our website for full details of our entry requirements (including English-language skills) as well as contacts for advice and support.

From 2009 the UK Border Agency introduced a Points-Based Immigration System (PBS) for students coming to the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Students entering higher education will need to obtain a Confirmation of Acceptance (CAS) plus finance confirmation to obtain a Tier 4 student visa. UK education providers are licensed by the UK Border Agency. When students apply for their visa (or entry clearance) they will need a valid Certificate of Acceptance of Studies from the university. Please note that a CAS is not a guarantee that a visa will be issued.

See the following websites for further details:

Our students have gone on to illustrate for books, magazines, advertising campaigns, web design, animation, and film and TV title-sequences. Our course will teach you to be versatile with new media, meaning your skills will always be relevant throughout your working life.

Thanks to the skills they learn on this course, our graduates have become outstanding members of the industry. 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, leading her to be represented by Lemonade.

Illustration student work

Graduate Jenny Cox was asked to join the agency Lipstick and Jade Wall is now professionally represented by The Artworks. 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 and Laura 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!

Illustration student work

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 at UCSU, Samantha Davison works for Chic Magazine, Samantha Priestley is a designer atCaterite, Ami Swift is with Fleishman Hillardand Ruth Fogden is at Neomam.

We are immensely proud of our fantastically well-equipped and spacious studio space. Containing over eighty Mac workstations, small tutorial and lecture spaces, staff offices, and lots of space for student work bases, it really offers everything a graphic design student could need for the best results. It also has an in-house reprographics department for all your printing needs. The mix of students from all years of the course creates an inspiring, dynamic, stimulating and continually changing environment that will help you get the most out of your degree.

Illustration studio

Unlike most other universities, we also believe you should be able to exploit any technical areas your project work may require. You will have access to 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! No matter what you require, we give you the option to create it. 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.

Brampton Road

What our students say:

"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)