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.
On this 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
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.
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.
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.
- A good honours degree in a related subject, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.
- An interview or online portfolio submission may be required as part of the selection process.
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
Tuition fees (2019 start)
UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
- Full time: £7,500
- Part time: £2,500 in year 1 (60 credits) and £5,000 in year 2 (120 credits)
- Full time: £13,900
- Part time: £4,630 in year 1 (60 credits) and £9,270in year 2 (120 credits)
Fees may be subject to annual increase.
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 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.
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 of any material and reprographic requirements for your work. The specific costs will vary depending on the nature of the work and media used, though are normally in the region of £100 - £1,000.
You'll need to cover the cost of any optional study trips. Trips in the UK will usually costs around £50 – £150, other optional study trips will cost in the region of £200 – £800.
What you'll study
Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits You need to study units worth a total of 180 credits. For example, 2 units worth 30 credits and 2 units worth 60 credits.
Core units include:
- Illustration Major Project
- A Question of Research
- Illustration in Context
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 units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.
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:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
Teaching methods on this course include:
- independent learning
- group tutorials
- 1-to-1 tutorials
- peer-to-peer learning
How you'll spend your time
Each academic year is divided into 3 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods.
Teaching takes place during the day on Tuesdays.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- illustration project
- reflective document
Apply for this course using our online application form.
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us 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.