BA (Hons) Illustration


Course code W220

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Course code W220

Key course details

Duration Full-time, 3 Years
Start date September 2021
Entry Requirements Programme specification (PDF)
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Our aim is to inspire you to become an innovative and individual illustrator, graduating with an impressive professional portfolio of work that will lead to commissions or employment. We are members of The Association of Illustrators, partners in The Lakes International Comic Art Festival and will also give you the opportunity to showcase your work in London at the New Blood Festival.

We’ll help you develop essential drawing and compositional skills – something we’ve been congratulated on by commissioning editors and professional illustrators alike – and our unique course will also expand your animation and graphic design skills giving you real career flexibility.

Art and Design ranks 3rd for Student Satisfaction in the North West
- Complete University Guide 2021

We’re very proud of what our students achieve. Why not read their stories and see what happens on our course through our social channels or by visiting our 2020 Vision Student Showcase?

Read Our Blog  Follow on Instagram 

2020 Vision Showcase

Partners & Memberships

Association of Illustrators Logo, Blue association of illustrators logo Logo Licaf Lakes International Comic Art Festival,  

Your Career with an Illustration Degree

Our key aim is to help you successfully make that transition from being an illustration student to a professional freelance illustrator. We make sure you have the necessary skills and experience to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

We also are unique amongst illustration courses in giving you a thorough grounding in graphic design allowing you to also potentially work for a design studio as a designer/illustrator. In this role our graduates have gone on to work for national and international newspapers and magazines, design and advertising consultancies, multi-media agencies, animation companies, publishing houses and many now run their own design studios.

Illustration Destinations 01, student year 3 illustration, Hazel Mason

Thanks to the skills they learnt on this course, our graduates have become outstanding members of the illustration industry. Amy Holliday works for a wide range of national clients and 2018 graduate Hazel Mason not only won a prestigious Colour in Design award at the London, New Designers graduate showcase – for her amazingly successful, crowd funded production of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – but also a placement at the Hallmark Studio

Jenny Cox is a creative product designer and illustrator at Toucan Box and 2016 graduate Rachel Tunstall is forging a successful freelance career producing illustrations for the likes of The Daily Telegraph, Scoop Magazine, The Portland Mercury and The American Alliance of Museums.

Illustration Destinations 02, Former student, Rachel Tunstall work which has been published internationally

Essentially, we want to help you develop to your full potential as a creative, motivated, professional illustrator and would love to talk to you about how we can help get you started in the inspirational and exciting world of commercial illustration.

Why Choose University of Cumbria

You'll be prepared for the commercial world because we’ll focus on developing your image making skills through exciting, fast-paced, industry-focused projects and you’ll learn from plenty of renowned professional illustrators and comic artists too. This will allow you to graduate with the one thing that all successful illustrators have in common, a highly personal, unique and memorable portfolio.

Graphic Design overview 1, Huge Graphic design and illustration studio

And, you’ll do it at our beautiful, dedicated arts campus in the vibrant border city of Carlisle, where you’ll be within 20 minutes of Scotland and the stunning Lake District National Park – now a UNESCO World Heritage site. So, when you’re not being creative in the studio you can be creative in the great outdoors.

  • Small classes mean we get to know you well and provide plentiful, detailed, personal feedback throughout your studies
  • Practical demonstrations, visits and feedback from professional illustrators and comic artists
  • We’re members of The Association of Illustrators
  • Our excellent industry links give you good networking opportunities, boosting your career prospects and you can also exhibit at a London graduate showcase
  • Annual international visits and participation in The Lakes International Comic Art Festival and New Blood Festival
  • Our annual Futures Festival – a three-day event offering you the opportunity to hear from industry professionals, get involved in networking and meet potential employers
  • Quality of life – our specialist Arts Campus is set in beautiful parkland just a short walk from Carlisle’s vibrant city centre and don’t forget the Lake District is on our doorstep
  • 80% of your studies will be practical; You’re not just learning, you’re doing
  • You can use any of our well-equipped workshop facilities including print-making, 3D printing, laser-cutting, photography and animation suites
  • Become ‘part of the family’ and create a base in our huge, modern and professionally-equipped studio
  • Encouragement to develop your own unique voice and style as an illustrator
  • A fantastic, well stocked arts library, so you can keep up-to-date with contemporary illustration practices
  • Use the latest technology and software that you’ll use as a real-world professional
  • All tutors are experts in illustration, graphic design and typography

You’ll spend a lot of time life drawing, developing a sound understanding of the human figure and we’ll also teach you how composition and colour can bring an illustration to life. You’ll work across a range of traditional and digital media, including drawing, painting, 3D and moving image - and you'll be encouraged to do it at a level hitting industry expectations.

What we don't want is for you to be a clone of another artist. We give you the artistic freedom and training to discover and develop your own unique style, creating work that will help your portfolio stand out from the crowd and gain you commissions.

Graphic Design overview 2, Students talking with tutors

Course Study Options

We also offer this course with an integrated foundation year.

Foundation Degree

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News and Events

Art steps up for fragile landscapes

Posted: 29 Mar 2021

People Land Art Culture and Ecology (PLACE) is bridging with the university's Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas and linking artists with those who work in and on celebrated but often fragile landscapes. Amid pressing concerns over climate change, habitat declines and post Brexit farming, an ambitious five-year mission aims to be a catalyst for shifting dynamics. The PLACE Collective is inspired by the Lake District’s World Heritage success in celebrating cultural heritage.

Students capture wildlife wonders for 2021 calendar 

Posted: 11 Dec 2020

Aspiring wildlife photographers and filmmakers have pooled their talents to create a 2021 calendar.  University of Cumbria’s Wildlife Society has selected 13 stunning images of nature for its calendar. Showing a diversity of animal, bird, insect and plant life, the collection features coastal birds such as the Sandpiper, forest and woodland’s Tawny Owls, the nocturnal badger and, shining a light on the importance of invertebrates, the role of bees and moths in pollination. 

Inspirational Women: A Q&A with women of the University of Cumbria

Posted: 8 Mar 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day and inspire the girls and women of Cumbria, we have reached out to our wonderful academic team to hear a few of the inspirational stories that make the University of Cumbria the thriving, supportive community that it is. From women who were told their potential was limited or had to overcome barriers to achieve professional success, our message to you today is that it’s possible and you can do it. Happy International Women’s Day!

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