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BA (Hons) - Illustration (with integrated foundation year)

Have alternative qualifications or don't quite meet our entry criteria? Our introductory year will help will develop your skills and confidence in a supportive environment.

Want to be a great illustrator? One who takes a line and conjures worlds that compel and transfix. Technique is important. Courage is needed. But individuality is demanded. That’s why we’ll give you the space, resources and inspiration to find your voice. That’s why, with our help, you’ll make art that makes a difference.

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Course Overview

Your foundation year will give you the technical expertise and knowledge to progress to our highly respected undergraduate programme.

We will help you develop strong drawing, composition, and colour skills that will underpin your personal visual language, allowing you to develop a unique voice as an artist. You’ll gain the experience, confidence, and advanced technical skills you need to succeed. And once you find your voice as an artist, your personality, passion and the quality of the work in your portfolio will get you noticed. You’ll receive extensive feedback, support, and advice throughout your studies and have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, as well as the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, including ‘live briefs’ to develop and hone your skills.

We are unique amongst illustration courses in giving you a thorough grounding in graphic design. You’ll have the necessary skills and experience to stand out from the crowd.

On this course you will...

  • Learn within an institute recognised by the industry as a course provider that engenders strong drawing skills. Through doing so, we provide our graduates with the backbone of a long career.
  • Be encouraged to develop an individual approach to illustration - allowing you to develop a personal style that stands out from the crowd.
  • Have regular and meaningful contact with tutorials, workshops, and discussions - reinforcing your practice with the support of tutors and peers who know you and your work inside and out.
  • Be included in deciding what direction the course/module/brief should take. Small group sizes mean a supportive and open community of practice.
  • Have access to a large professional studio space that is open plan and shared across all-year groups. Stock up on supplies with our in-house shop and experiment in our reprographic department.
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Course Structure

What you will learn

In a professional sense, the word ‘lllustration’ represents an exciting and very varied discipline that ranges from self-authored graphic novels and comic art, through concept art for film, TV, and games to the more traditional work for magazines, books and advertising, animation, and much, much more. What links all of these disciplines is the ability to connect audiences with ideas, information, or products through engaging and memorable illustrative communications.

Our aim is to inspire you to become an innovative, individual illustrator. We’ll help you develop strong drawing skills as a firm foundation for your life as an illustrator, but our uniquely-designed course will also expand your design skills to give you an insight into one of the major markets for illustration work.

Year one

In your foundation year, you will develop the core skills needed to progress onto our BA (Hons) Illustration course. During this time, you will work with students from across artistic disciplines, exploring your place in the wider creative community.

  • Making Images
    An introduction to a wide range of conventional and unconventional image-making processes.
  • Making Objects
    Examine a wide range of 3D processes in relation to a specific project brief.
  • Visual Enquiry
    Develop your knowledge and understanding to enhance your research methods, contextual awareness, and an evaluative ability.
  • Environment
    Explore your local environment using a range of inter-disciplinary practices such as graphic processes, drawing, 3D, photography, moving image, and collage/montage.
  • Portfolio and Progression
    Produce a professional and substantial portfolio of work.
Year two

In your second year, you will gain fundamental knowledge and practical experience of visual communication, the building blocks of visual language and professional attitudes and practices. During this time, you will work closely with first year graphic design students.

  • Introducing Visual Communication
    Develop effective working practices and habits.
  • Cultural Contexts
    An introduction to the cultural, historical, and social contexts in which creative work from a range of disciplines.
  • Collaborative Practice
    Work with other students to explore and practice the skills involved in creative collaboration.
  • Multi-Dimensional Illustration
    Explore multiple forms and formats, from traditional print to the latest digital platforms, simple symbols to complex information and ideas, ephemeral to iconic.
Year three
  • The Illustrators Toolkit
    Develop and refine your image making techniques, both digital and analogue.
  • Drawing
    Explore the surrounding area to improve your drawing and mark-making skills.
  • Illustration Projects
    Utilise the technical skills developed previously to create appropriate, targeted illustrative communications.
  • The Critical Illustrator
    Develop your understanding of the role of the illustrator in contemporary society.
Year four
  • Advanced Illustration Projects
    An opportunity to work within a design brief and explore a particular area of interest.
  • Independent Research Paper
    Develop specialised and focused knowledge and understanding of a subject of your own choice.
  • Illustration Showcase
    An opportunity to show-off the skills, knowledge, and professionalism developed throughout the course to potential employers and the wider world.

Attend an Open Day at Cumbria

An Open Day is your opportunity to explore one of 5 campuses, meet your lecturers, and find out how the University of Cumbria could become your new home.

Take the next step towards achieving your dreams.
A student stands in front of a wall splattered with paint.