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Illustration MA

Take your illustration skills to postgraduate level. Explore, question, and develop your practice. Acquire the tools for a successful career in illustration.

Key information

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Overview

On this MA Illustration degree course, you'll build upon your already impressive illustration skills and develop your creative and technical abilities to postgraduate level.

Whether you’re an arts graduate or a professional returning to creative studies, you'll be able to explore, question, and develop your practice through traditional and innovative techniques.

Our academic team is made up of experienced practitioners in the field of artists' books and zines, practice-based PhDs, and printmaking. They'll provide the expertise and support you need to push your creative boundaries and find your individual artistic voice.

This practice-led Master’s in illustration will culminate in production of your own personal project, where you'll be able to define your role as a creative practitioner within a social, political, and historical context.

With opportunities to network and publicise and market your work, you'll be better prepared to take your creative career to the next level once you graduate – whether by pursuing a career as an illustrator or in related fields such as art direction, design, and publishing.

Number 6 in the UK for student satisfaction

We're ranked sixth in the UK for student satisfaction in creative arts and design in the 2024 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

Course highlights

  • Complete a major body of work which showcases your development and skills
  • 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
  • Consider the question “what is illustration?” and examine the social responsibility of the illustrator as a cultural producer
  • Discover your specialisms and position your individual practice within the creative industries
  • Engage with high profile visiting lecturers, freelance illustrators and other industry connections such as external speakers from Egmont Books
  • Take part in field trips – both to local galleries and London-based museums
  • Access our extensive collection of artists’ books and zines, located within the illustration studios
  • Develop your existing skills through specialist workshops such as laser cutting and 3D printing, photography, etching and letterpress, drawing and print workshops
  • Showcase your Adobe expertise to industry peers by gaining Adobe Certified Professional (ACP) qualifications

Memberships

This course is a member of the Association of Illustrators (AOI).

Graduation Class of 2021

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

Entry requirements

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

September 2024 start

  • A minimum of a second-class honours degree, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, view the equivalent entry requirements we accept for your country

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not 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.

All applicants will be invited to attend an interview or be asked to submit a online portfolio in support of their application.

For more information on how to put together a portfolio, read our MA Illustration portfolio guide.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2024 start)

  • Full time: £8,900
  • Part time: £2,970 in Year 1 (60 credits), £5,930 in Year 2 (120 credits)

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full time: £8,900
  • Part time: £2,970 in Year 1 (60 credits), £5,930 in Year 2 (120 credits)

  • Full time: £17,200
  • Part time: £5,840 in year 1 (60 credits) and £11,360 in year 2 (120 credits)

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

Female Master's student
Explore funding

Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

international business students
Discover your options

Fees and funding for Master's courses

Explore Master's funding options, including loans, scholarships, bursaries and more.

Explore funding

Additional 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. Additional costs could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages.
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: Such as photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Modules

What you'll study (full-time)

Core modules

We'll help you navigate discussions on different research methods and selecting the right one, be it qualitative or quantitative. Dive into a topic that matters to you, following ethical rules. You’ll get to share what you find using presentations and reflective writing, which will help you figure out who you are as a researcher. By the end, you’ll be familiar with the best research strategies—from practical projects to working with other fields—to support your Master’s study.

Become an agile and thoughtful researcher, prepared to explore exciting questions.

With exploratory research, you'll put forward theoretical positions, methodologies and contexts framing your studies. Evaluating different sources, you'll formulate an innovative independent project that extends illustration knowledge.

You'll be empowered to direct your own learning, while aligning research goals to your professional aspirations.

You’ll do deep research to explain your art style and techniques in an artist statement. By building your online profile, you’ll strategically share your creative ideas with the public.

The main goal of this module is to help you understand the real-life world of illustrators. This means you’ll get better at making connections and reaching your full potential as an artist.

You have the creative freedom to build a unique collection of work. This will be based on your own research and trying new things. Your illustrations will show your grasp of theory, masterful technique, and how you understand the world around you. By working on your own, you’ll hone your personal style and special skills.

This module will help you produce industry-standard work. This will prepare you for a successful career in illustration.

What you'll study (part-time)

Core modules

You’ll explore different strategies and methods for impactful arts, design, and media research. Our lecturers will help you form an engaging research question. You’ll then choose and use the right critical methods to answer it. By doing hands-on projects, you'll get better at analysing, taking notes, gathering information from different sources, and sharing your findings.

By the end, you’ll know how to research on your own and have the critical thinking skills and confidence to do it well.

Follow your curiosity to new discoveries that will change the creative world.

With exploratory research, you'll put forward theoretical positions, methodologies and contexts framing your studies. Evaluating different sources, you'll formulate an innovative independent project that extends illustration knowledge.

You'll be empowered to direct your own learning, while aligning research goals to your professional aspirations.

Core modules

You’ll do deep research to explain your art style and techniques in an artist statement. By building your online profile, you’ll strategically share your creative ideas with the public.

The main goal of this module is to help you understand the real-life world of illustrators. This means you’ll get better at making connections and reaching your full potential as an artist.

You have the creative freedom to build a unique collection of work. This will be based on your own research and trying new things. Your illustrations will show your grasp of theory, masterful technique, and how you understand the world around you. By working on your own, you’ll hone your personal style and special skills.

This module will help you produce industry-standard work. This will prepare you for a successful career in illustration.

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. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Facilities

A person with gloves using a letterpress

Etching and Letterpress facilities

Use our traditional lino-printing, wood-cutting and monoprinting equipment for all your design and print needs.

Explore facilities

A person using a screen coating unit

Print workshops

Use our screen printing and screen coating rooms for your graphic materials, artwork and fabric printing – with a host of traditional and digital equipment.

Explore workshops

A woman using a 3D printer

Eldon Production Centre

Our centre is ideal for modelmaking, with high-grade kit for crafting wood, metal, plastics, polyurethane, concrete and plaster works.

Explore Centre

Rows of paint tubes in different colours

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.

Explore Shop

A group of students on computers in a room

Open Access Suite

Our open-plan space includes PCs and Macs equipped with Adobe Creative Suite and other professional software.

Explore Suite

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take:

  • 1 year (full-time study)
  • 2 years (part-time study)

At the moment, teaching takes place on Tuesdays (between 10.00am and 5.00pm), leaving you the rest of the week for self-guided study.

You can expect:

  • 1 day of teaching per week (pro rata for part time students)
  • Between 20–30 hours of dedicated independent study each week (pro rata for part time students)

Teaching

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • Independent learning
  • Group tutorials
  • 1-to-1 tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Peer-to-peer learning 

Assessment

You’ll be assessed through:

  • Illustration project (major body of work)
  • 2 pieces of written coursework
  • Presentation (around 10 minutes)

Meet your course leader

Jacqueline Batey Portrait

Dr Jac Batey

Associate Professor of Illustration

Jackie.Batey@port.ac.uk

School of Art, Design, and Performance

Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

PhD Supervisor

Read more

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project/dissertation.

See key dates

Career development

Careers this Master’s in Illustration prepares you for

As a successful graduate of this course, 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.

Graduates of this course have found jobs such as:

  • 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
  • Zinester
  • Creative developer
  • Art Teacher/Lecturer

You'll also have the option of progressing to doctoral level in your specialised area of illustration. We're on hand to give you help, support and advice, whatever you decide to do next.

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert careers advice from our Careers and Employability Centre, your tutors and our Student Placements and Employability Centre. You can access support from our Careers and Employability Centre for up to 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

Career support

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events, including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

Supporting you

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from 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 5.00pm 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
  • referencing
  • 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.

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

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.

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.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start date in September, as long as there are places available. If you wait until September to apply, you may find that the course is full.

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could 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.

Ready to apply?

Start this course in September 2024

Apply now (Full-time)

Apply now (Part-time)

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2023, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

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.

Contact information

Admissions

+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions