Illustration BA (Hons)
BA (Hons) Illustration
Redefine the world with a pencil or stylus on this BA (Hons) Illustration degree course.
You’ll challenge convention in all spheres: from exploring illustration from new perspectives, to delving into its social, political and historical significance. You'll explore traditional and contemporary illustration techniques and the business essentials of the art form – and you can gain extra professional experience through a one-year placement, client projects, and entering design competitions.
At the end of this course, you'll become an all-encompassing illustrator that stands out among competitors in the creative industries.
- Raise your professional profile by taking on live projects with local and international clients such as Anglepoise
- Catch potential employers' eyes by exhibiting your work at national exhibitions and our annual Graduate Show
- Have the chance to win eminent awards by entering international competitions like Design & Art Direction (D&AD), The Macmillan Prize, and the V&A Illustration Awards
- Enrich your practical and industry experience by taking an optional one-year placement – either with a company or by setting up your own
- Showcase your Adobe expertise to industry peers by gaining Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) qualifications
90% Graduates in work or further study (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted in 2019)
The Illustration course has taught me to get out of my comfort zone, and the way my art has progressed is great proof.
BA (Hons) Illustration
- A levels – BBB–BBC
- UCAS points – 112–120 points (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
- International Baccalaureate – 25
All shortlisted applicants will need to attend an interview with a portfolio of work.
Fore more information on how to put together your portfolio, read our Illustration creative portfolio guide.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Etching and Letterpress facilities
Use our traditional lino-printing, wood-cutting and monoprinting amenities for all your design and print needs.
Use our screen printing and screen coating rooms for your graphic materials, artwork and fabric printing – with a host of traditional and digital equipment.
Eldon Art Shop
In our non-profit art materials shop, you'll find all you need at affordable prices. Open to students, staff, alumni and University affiliates.
Browse Illustration student work
Click on an image below to see more detail and read students' statements.
If you want to see more student work, browse our Graduate Show 2021 Illustration showcase.
" What really stood out was how [the BA course] mixed creativity with the business of art… Because it’s all well and good having incredible work, but if you can’t find a client to pay for it, then where’s your career going?
Bo Sun Lam, BA (Hons) & MA Illustration alumnus
Careers and opportunities
The creative and technical abilities you develop on this course – in sequential storytelling, character animation, and visual storytelling – could lead to a variety of creative roles in design and media.
You can also continue your studies at postgraduate level.
Areas previous graduates have gone on to include:
artistbook making children’sbook illustration narrativeillustration artdirection teaching
Ongoing careers support
Get experience while you study, with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, and work experience. You can also venture into freelancing, or set up and run your own business with help from the University Startup Team.
Towards the end of your degree and for up to five years after graduation, you’ll receive one-to-one support from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to help you find your perfect role.
Placement year (optional)
After your second year, you can take an optional year-long placement to gain on-the-job experience in industries needing illustrators and designers. You can work for a company or organisation, or start up and run your own business. Together with your peers – or by yourself – you'll build and launch a successful venture.
In either case, our Creative Careers team is on hand to assist.
Our in-faculty Creative Careers team has extensive recruitment experience and knows the creative sector well, making it easier for students to find placements within the creative industries.
They can guide you through every step of the application process, including:
- Searching for the ideal job through their database of vacancies
- Giving tips on how to write an interesting CV that will catch employers' attention, no matter the role
- Organising mock interviews, so you can hone your technique and familiarise yourself with the recruitment environment
- Writing your startup business proposal – if you're going down the self-employment route
The team will continue to give you support throughout your placement year.
Our students have been successful in a variety of placement roles, including:
- Creative Media Technician
- Art Facilitator
- Graphic Designer
- Illustration and Production Intern
Our students have completed their placements at companies such as:
- MCI UK Ltd
- Arty Farty Retreat
- Wildern School
What you can do on a placement year
If you're thinking of doing a placement but not sure what role to take or where to go, we can steer you in a direction that fits your aspirations.
Check out our Creative Careers team's blog to find out where fellow art, design and performance students have interned during their studies.
What you'll study
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
- Introduction to Professional Practice
- Introduction to Visual Culture
- Line, Colour And Development
- Research and Narrative
There are no optional modules in this year.
- Graphic Medicine
- Print Menagerie
- Sequential Illustration
- Social Sequences: Application
- Art, Design and Performance Study Exchange
- Comic Book Industries
- Engaged Citizenship Through Interdisciplinary Practice
- Professional Experience
- Professional Skills Development
- Student Enterprise
- Visual Culture: Cult, Taste and Collecting
- Visual Culture: Performing Identity
- Visual Culture: Technology and The Image
- Visual Culture: Visions of The Body
On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
- Applied Illustration Practice
- Illustration: Professional Practice
- Illustration: Project Review
- Illustration: Self-Directed Project
- Visual Culture: Dissertation
- Visual Culture: Research Project
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
Teaching methods on this course include:
- one-to-one tutorials
There's an emphasis on hands-on practical sessions, with a strong studio culture.
You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a Web connection.
For more about the teaching activities for specific modules, see the module list above.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- written coursework
- creative design group projects
- self-led projects from initial concept to finished product
- project presentations
- sketchbooks and portfolio
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
The way you’re assessed will depend on the modules you select throughout your course. Here's an example from a previous year of how students on this course were typically assessed:
- Year 1 students:100% by coursework
- Year 2 students:100% by coursework
- Year 3 students:100% by coursework
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
We're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.
You can also use many of the facilities and get support from Faculty staff in the evenings and weekends.
Your working hours may be different when you're on work placement, being up to 37.5 hours a week.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
Supporting your learning
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Types of support
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
You'll have regular contact with your personal tutor in learning activities or scheduled meetings. You can also make an appointment with them if you need extra support.
In addition to the support you get from your personal tutor, you’ll also have access to a Faculty student support advisor. They can give you confidential, impartial advice on anything to do with your studies and personal wellbeing and refer you to specialist support services.
You'll have help from a team of faculty academic skills tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
If you need support with software and equipment or you want to learn additional skills (including skills not covered on your course), our creative skills tutors provide free workshops, activities and one-on-one tutorials. Skills you can learn include life drawing, film camera operation and video production.
Computing support staff are always available to give technical support in the Faculty's computer suites during normal working hours. There's also some support available from 5pm to midnight at busy times of the year.
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.
They'll help you to:
- discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
- liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
- access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
- liaise with external services
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Course costs and funding
Tuition fees (2022 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year, including our Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £16,200 a year (subject to annual increase)
You won't pay any extra tuition fees to another university for taking part in a study/work abroad activity if you choose to do it for the whole academic year. During a year abroad you'll only have to pay a reduced fee to the University of Portsmouth.
Funding your studies
Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.
You'll need to pay extra printing costs of around £100–£600 on portfolio work.
Material and production costs are around £100–£500 a year.
Any study trips are optional and you will be expected to pay full cost. Optional study trips abroad will cost in the region of £200–£800. UK trips, where offered, will be £50–£150.
How to apply
To start this course in 2022, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – W220
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.