BA (Hons) Illustration - welcome



Hope you all are having brilliant summers – we’re just preparing the studios for your arrival.

As you know, the Illustration course is a close-knit and friendly student community – a community of learning. You’ll learn off each other as much as from the tutors and visiting lecturers (not that we’ve got our feet up and drinking tea all day!) and we’re looking forward to the energy that you bring to the mix.

It’s going to be a really busy year and you’ll be doing loads of new things – some you’ll find tough going and others will be a breeze – hopefully all are interesting and challenging and you enter into the spirit of creative exploration along with us – who knows where you’re going to lead us!

Our course philosophy

Illustration in the 21st Century is a vibrant and diverse subject, and we, as staff, are practitioners in areas such as editorial, animation and film, children’s markets, comics, printmaking, drawing, design, curatorship and critical writing, and as well as active in contributing to lively debate at national and international levels. It is our aim to involve you in those debates right from the start of your course, and to give you every opportunity to develop your own critical voice. Indeed, the Illustration course philosophy is designed to encourage you to develop your own intellectual strengths, enthusiasms and personal visual voice. 

We are interested in your experience and opinions and look forward to hearing from you what it is about Illustration that you find particularly inspiring.

Year One (Level 4) includes the following:

  • The design process
  • Image and text relationship
  • Sequential imagery
  • Life drawing
  • Location drawing
  • Theoretical study into the contexts of illustration
  • Creative and critical writing
  • Introductions and workshops
  • Printmaking
  • Digital software
  • Bookbinding
  • Visting lecturer programme
  • Social events
  • Optional overseas and national field trips

Illustration studio

List of the modules where all this happens:

Semester 1

ILLUS403   Character (20 credits)

You will explore the making and development of effective characters. Looking at physicality, backstories and environment will be a part of the module. From a loose, experimental 3D starting point you will develop your characters into the world of platform gaming, challenging each other to duels and power ups.

ILLUS413 Narrative Sequence (20 credits)

You will visually explore sequence creation within your work via a range of traditional and digital media and formats. You will be introduced to the study of visual storytelling through sequential imagery and the relationship between imagery and text.
You will explore creative writing as a means of generating and developing ideas and develop your awareness of other practitioners operating within similar contexts

ILLUS443   Contextual 1 (20 credits)

In this module and ILLUS453, the continuous practice of drawing will underpin all your studies as will a gaining an overview of the key art and design contexts of the last century as a framework for the development of cultural visual languages. You will investigate the cultural contexts that illustration has existed in, its current state and look forward at various possibilities for its future.

Along with exploring writing strategies you will also be introduced to the creation of visual research journals as a method of contextualising and reflecting upon your discoveries to develop a practical, theoretical and critical awareness. 

Printmaking workshops will run alongside this module.

Semester 2

ILLUS423   Meaning / Ideas (20 credits)

This module introduces Illustration as a means to communicate issues of social, ethical, environmental or political interest. Through discussion students share personal beliefs and values. You’ll explore and challenge received communication via the interpretation and manipulation of imagery. 

Projects emphasise creative thinking and ideas generation as essential skills for illustrators by identifying a well-defined focus for enquiry, planning and investigation from a range of sources.

ILLUS433   Play (20 credits)

You will initiate a line of visual enquiry based upon self-reflection of outputs to date to explore, develop and identify positive practice via the notion of 'play' as a method for the development of ideas.

The module establishes the importance of developing a broad visual vocabulary and awareness, expanding analytical and technical skills and developing visual confidence.

ILLUS453 Contextual 2 (20 credits)

Continuing the work commenced in ILLUS443, this module also prepares you with the necessary writing skills and critical evaluation of cultural contexts in readiness for Stages 2 and 3.

As we said, loads to do!

Overseas trip

We organise an overseas field study trip every year and this may be outside of the official term time of study. The proposed destination this year is for the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair, Italy – an amazing event of superlative illustration.

The trip needs to be booked very early in the year to enable us to make firm bookings and ensure the cheapest possible flights and accommodation, so please bring:

a) the number of your passport
b) 2 x colour photocopies of the information page (on separate sheets of A4)

Please ensure that your passport will be current for the whole year. 
Please note if you need to apply for a new passport your number will change and this will incur an additional cost from the airline – if that applies to you then get on it now! 

London trip
Every year we organise an optional field study trip to London in October / November. 

Before you arrive…

Induction week

This week starts on Monday 16th September 2019 and is designed to help you to orient yourself within the University and to introduce you to the Illustration staff. As part of your Induction Week there will be a small project for you. 

Induction week project 2019

Induction Week starts on Monday 16th September – further details re the schedule are online, but if in doubt email Ashley or come into University Roland Levinsky Building at 11:15 room RLB111.

Please bring your normal drawing materials Tuesday 17th September.

Dead fly

You will also need to have ready for 8th October:

  • a good specimen of an ordinary, dead house fly (Musca Domestica)


This is your first studio module (not the same as the Induction Project) and you’ll need to collect some materials to ensure you have a strong start.

It is very important that you collect the following scrap materials:
A collection of throw away ‘rubbish’ ie packaging from anything - Oxo cube /toothpaste cardboard packaging to old broom heads, bits of wire /cables, plastic cartons, any unwanted objects, broken machinery, etc.
Raid the garden shed/attic/re-cycling/skips.
The more you collect and the more varied in shape the better; at least a good bin bag full.

These materials will form the start of your first studio project so it’s really important that you come prepared.

Please bring the materials with you on Monday 23rd September to the first year studio, RLB111 (Roland Levinsky Building).

Materials list

The equipment listed will help you to be prepared for the various activities you will be engaging in.
You will be receiving some materials during the first weeks, but please bring your preferred materials (lucky pencil etc) as well.
There are some items you need to provide for yourself – please look at the list.

Here’s a list of materials that you should bring for the year ahead:

  • Whatever you normally use
  • A range of pencils from 2H to 6B
  • White palette (A3 is fine – this can be a cut down piece of melamine shelving (Conte board from a DIY shop is ideal) or an old white plate.
  • Water pots (2 x old large jam jars or cut down 2ltr plastic drinks bottles)
  • Household sponge
  • 1” and 2” wide house paint brushes (1 or 2 would be good – can be cheap quality)
  • White candle
  • Some cheap hobby brushes for glues and inks etc.
  • Masking tape: 1” wide
  • Glue/ gluestick
  • A magnifying glass
  • Collected, rather than bought range of papers (keep costs to a minimum......looking for interesting textures, patterns, colours and shapes to collage with and to draw on)
  • Collection of magazines/newspaper for collage
  • Paint - acrylic and gouache – a range of colours
  • vermillion / cadmium red / alizarin red / crimson / orange / cadmium yellow / lemon yellow / hookers green / cobalt blue / cerulean blue / windsor blue or monestial blue / ultramarine / purple / deep violet / yellow ochre / raw sienna / burnt sienna
  • Black and white acrylic paints

Any questions?

If you have any questions about any of the above, please email Ashley Potter, the Programme Leader.

We really look forward to welcoming you!

Ashley, Claire, John, Dean, Emma, Stephanie and Dane.

The Illustration team

Image: Ben Aslett