Illustration is about absorbing the world around you and putting your personal spin on visualising such observations.
Do you love to draw, develop engaging visual narratives, and bring stories to life? Do you want to take your illustration practice to degree level and gain new knowledge and techniques to fuel your creative professionalism? If so, this HNC Illustration course is ideal for you. Enjoy learning to channel your artistic talent and passion into the exciting, fast-paced world of contemporary illustration.
You'll explore industry-standard design software and equipment to produce innovative, dynamic illustrative briefs – as well as make use of our:
- Adobe-equipped digital suites
- 3D modelling workshops
- Spacious photography dark rooms
- Richly resourced print facilities (including screen-printing, dry-point etching, letterpress, and heat-press)
When you graduate, you can progress to the second year of BA (Hons) Illustration at the University of Portsmouth, enabling you to finish the degree in two years. You'll also have a variety of employment options in your reach, including many aspects of design and illustration, graphic art, model making, digital publishing, and marketing – or you can even branch into puppetry, textile design, or animation.
This course takes place at Eastleigh College. While studying at Eastleigh College, you can access the University's student support services and community, including study support, the Students’ Union and our library's online resources.
- UCAS points – 112-120 points to include a minimum of 2 A Levels, or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DMM–DDM
- International Baccalaureate – 25
All shortlisted applicants will need to attend an interview with a portfolio of work.
For more information on how to put together your portfolio, read our Illustration courses creative portfolio guide.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 5.5 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.
What you'll experience
On this course you'll:
- Explore the disciplines, practices and theories of illustration
- Improve your drawing, printing, digital software and fundamental making skills, over a challenging and varied curriculum
- Enhance your exhibition and presentation skills
- Develop an awareness of professional practices in illustration and beyond through talks by creative professionals
- Be enrolled at both the University of Portsmouth and Eastleigh College, so you'll have access to activities and certain facilities at both locations
- Display a selection of your work at a final exhibition and learn the various ways in which contemporary illustration is disseminated
- Be taught by teaching staff who have professional experience as illustrators and digital media specialists
Browse student work
Our students approach illustration in distinct, imaginative, and technically resourceful ways. Click on an image below to view it in greater detail.
You'll also get experience with the software, equipment and facilities used in the industry, such as:
- Dry point-etching facilities
- Mono-print facilities
- Disperse printing heat-presses
- Lino printing rolls and presses
- Stencil printing screens
- Photography dark room
- Editing suite for film and photography
- Sculpture studio – for 3D modelling and material exploration
- Fashion studio
- Textile studio
- Computer labs with comprehensive software suites
- Laser cutter
- Time management
- Critical analysis
- Problem solving
- Team work
- Drawing and construction skills
- Design software skills
Skills and qualities needed for this course
We're looking for students who love drawing, making, thinking and stories, and are fascinated with history and research.
To maximise your potential on this course, you should be:
- Determined to explore ideas in depth
- Able to see the value in experiment and play
- Passionate about creating professional artwork that makes you stand out within the design industry
- A team player and an independent worker
- Keen to meet deadlines and complete set tasks in a creative, dynamic environment
Careers and opportunities
Completing this course successfully allows you to enter university-level study of illustration and other visual design disciplines. For instance, you'll only need to complete a further 2 years of study to gain a BA (Hons) Illustration degree.
The skills and knowledge you develop could also allow you to advance your existing career or secure your first role in the industry. Areas you could work in include:
- Traditional print-based media
- Digital publishing
- Graphic design companies and agencies
- Animation/model-making industries
Industry work also delivers a range of flexibility not seen in more traditional sectors and the knowledge and skill that you obtain from this course will be applicable to work in small start ups businesses, global multi-national companies, as well as in a freelance capacity.
What you'll study
You'll study modules worth 120 credits.
The core modules you'll take on this course are:
- Introduction to Illustration
- Cultural Studies and Critical Theory
- Line, Colour, Form and Development
- Narrative and Storytelling
There are no optional modules on this course.
Changes to course content
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.
How you'll spend your time
We recommend you spend at least 40 hours a week studying for your Illustration HNC. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures and workshops for about 16 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Wednesday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
Teaching on this course includes:
- group critiques
This course has a practical focus, covering the traditional and digital technologies used by professionals.
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 entirely through coursework on this course.
The academic year runs from October to May with breaks at Christmas and Easter.
- October to January – teaching block 1
- February to May – teaching block 2
Supporting your learning
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your course might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get face-to-face support from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
Student support services team
If you require support for learning difficulties or disabilities then the student support services team at the University of Portsmouth can offer their expertise and help during your course.
Student finance team
If you have financial concerns or are looking for funding options available to you, then the University's student finance team are available to help.
Academic skills support
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 have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.
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.
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.
Course costs and funding
September 2022 start
- UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £6,165 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU residents – £6,165 (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £15,500 per year (subject to annual increase)
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.
How to apply
Preparing for this course
To prepare for this course, we recommend reading a few key texts that give you a grounding in critical thinking and ways of seeing, including:
- ‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger
- ‘Disaster Drawn’ by Hilary Chute
We'd like you to arrive with an open mind for discovery and visual adventure.
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.