Do you want to develop your creative and technical abilities and take your illustration skills to postgraduate level?
If you're an arts graduate or a professional returning to creative studies, this MA Illustration degree course will give you the opportunity to explore, question and develop your practice through traditional and innovative techniques.
On this course you'll produce a personal project that defines your role as a creative practitioner within a social, political and historical context.
Our academic team is made up of practitioners in the field of artists' books and zines, practice-based PhDs and printmaking – and they'll provide the expertise and support you need to push your creative boundaries.
If you're imaginative, ambitious and ready to improve your already-impressive illustration skills, our MA Illustration degree course will give you the tools you need for a successful career as an illustrator, or in related fields such as art direction, design, and publishing.
MA Illustration Master's degree entry requirements
Qualifications or experience
- A minimum of a second-class honours degree in a related subject, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
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.
An interview or online portfolio submission will be required as part of the selection process.
For more information on how to put together a portfolio, read our MA Illustration portfolio guide.
What you'll experience
On this Illustration degree course, you'll:
- Reflect on and challenge your illustration practice through a mix of lectures, seminars, group critiques, themed events, workshops and individual tutorials
- Engage with high profile visiting lecturers alongside the University’s dedicated careers department to build your Professional Practice skills
- Access our extensive collection of artists’ books and zines, located within the illustration studios
- Consider the question “what is illustration?” and examine the social responsibility of the illustrator as a cultural producer
- Develop your existing skills through specialist workshops such as laser cutting and 3D printing, photography, collage, drawing, print workshops, and Adobe workshops with Adobe Certified Associate status
- Explore themes such as narrative and sequential illustration, humour and satire, ethical and social positioning of the artist, literary sources for inspiration, limited edition publications, small presses and artists’ books
- Complete a major body of work which showcases your development and skills
Careers and opportunities
Once you graduate, you'll have the practical skills necessary to compete in a commercial arena, and the rhetorical skills to promote your own work. You'll be able to position yourself as a creative individual, giving you a competitive edge as an illustrator or artist.
What jobs can you do with an Illustration degree?
Career opportunities include:
- Animator, storyboard artist and digital illustrator
- Graphic/editorial designer
- Art director
- Toy and character designer
- Comic book or graphic novelist
- Printmaker and small press publisher
You'll also have the option of progressing to doctoral level in your specialised area of illustration. We'll also be on hand to give you help, support and advice, whatever you decide to do next.
What you'll study on this MA Illustration degree course
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
You need to study modules worth a total of 180 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 30 credits and 1 module worth 60 credits.
Core modules in this year include:
- Illustration Major Project – 60 credits
- Illustration in Context – 60 credits
- Proposal for Illustration – 30 credits
- a Question of Research – 30 credits
There are no optional modules in this year.
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.
Work experience and career planning
We'll help you to identify internships, voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies.
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work.
After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
As well as support by faculty teaching 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:
academicwriting notetaking timemanagement criticalthinking presentationskills referencing workingin groups revision, memory and exam techniques
Teaching methods on this course include:
- independent learning
- group tutorials
- 1-to-1 tutorials
- peer-to-peer learning
The academic year runs from September to September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
It's divided into 3 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- Teaching block 1 – September to December
- Assessment period 1 – January (and early February for some courses in 2020/21 only)
- Teaching block 2/3 – January to September
- Assessment period 2 – September
Teaching takes place during the day on Tuesdays.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- illustration project
- reflective document
Course costs and funding
Tuition fees (2022 start)
UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
- Full time: £8,100
- Part time: £2,700 in year 1 (60 credits) and £5,400 in year 2 (120 credits)
(including Transition Scholarship)
- Full-time: £8,100
- Part-time: £2,700 in year 1 (60 credits) and £5,400 in year 2 (120 credits)
- Full time: £16,200
- Part time: £5,400 in year 1 (60 credits) and £10,800 in year 2 (120 credits)
Fees may be subject to annual increase.
Funding your studies
If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government postgraduate loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.
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 cover the costs relating to the purchase of materials and/or reprographic requirements for work. These costs are normally in the region of £100–£1000, and will depend on the nature of the work and the media used.
You'll need to cover all of the costs for optional study trips. Trips abroad normally cost in the region of £200–£800. Trips around the UK will cost in the region of £50–£150.
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us (above) or you can 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.