Mode of StudyFull-time, Full-time sandwich with work placement
Duration3 years full-time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
Start dateSeptember 2023
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 Professional (ACP) qualifications
of graduates in work or further study 15 months after this course
(HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19)
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 to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- T levels – Merit
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
- International Baccalaureate – 25
You may need to have studied specific subjects – see full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept
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.
Traditional printmaking and letterpress facilities
Use our traditional lino-printing, wood-cutting and monoprinting equipment 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.
Our Workshops are ideal for model-making, with high-grade kit for crafting wood, metal, plastics, polyurethane, concrete and plaster works.
Eldon Art Shop
Whether you're studying a creative degree or want to pick up some supplies, our Eldon Art Shop has the materials you'll need for your coursework or project.
CCI Open Access Suite
Our open-plan space includes PCs and Macs equipped with Adobe Creative Suite and other professional software.
The theme I chose for my project is aliens. I wanted to create a light-hearted, fun project because I think that everyone needs a bit of joy in their life, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the negativity that surrounds the ongoing pandemic. The focus on aliens helped me to escape all that and allowed me the freedom to work on something fun, bright, and colourful. Aliens served as the perfect focus, as they are free from the laws of physics and can take the form or shape of anything.Read less
Amelia Russell - Cordelia May Fantastical Day
For my self-directed project I have written and illustrated my own children’s picture book using traditional techniques such as ink and watercolour. I enjoy working in this way because it makes the outcome feel more personal and organic, particularly in an increasingly digitised age. The story follows a headstrong young girl who is musically gifted and finds a strange invitation on the beach inviting her to a midsummer ball. I wrote the story to encourage musical interest in children as well as to subvert common misogynistic archetypes often found in traditional fairy tales.Read less
Charlotte Lake - itchy, scratchy, rashy
The 'itchy, scratchy, rashy' zine is an exploration of the skin condition, eczema. This has been a chronic aspect of my life since I was a child and has largely ruled my life. This project is my opportunity to gain control and process my feelings through art by creating a concertina book that illustrates my daily routine with the disease.
The aim of this is not only to show to myself that eczema is not the heroic battle I feel if I lose every once in a while, but to show how it can be conquered on a daily basis.
The book is to document my experience of working with eczema and not against it, in the hopes of reconciling with eczema sufferers and individuals who want to learn about the topic. 'Itchy, scratchy, rashy' will also be available in limited quantities on the Tea Cup Press shop and in zine libraries.Read less
My project is about raising awareness about our oceans and their importance for our planet's survival. Its first aim is to promote understanding of the causes for the destruction of our oceans, marine animals and ecosystems. The second, more important, goal of the project is to show the changes needed to be made to prevent further damage.Read less
Conor Clements - Hallan and the Adventures of Gumshoe Boy
My project ‘Hallan and The Adventures of Gumshoe Boy’ is a multimedia project based upon the development of visual content to accompany the release of an EP by my post-punk band Hallan. Throughout the project, I have examined the work of other visual artists such as Jonny Hannah and David Lynch and explored how they implement unique and striking visuals to create self-contained narratives and universes. The outcome of my project intends to take influence from these artists as I use collage, digital manipulation, film and design to create my own self-contained world.Read less
For my project, I created my own version of Tarot cards from the Major Arcana. Each card depicts a scene and a character. I used themes from mythology as well as contemporary issues such as the pandemic. The modern elements of the cards make them relatable to the younger people growing up in the current climate. The cards still maintain an escapist and entertaining feel, using references to mythology as well as humour.Read less
For my final project I decided to illustrate some of the most popular Lithuanian folk tales, which I think every Lithuanian child is familiar with. I chose a couple of tales that I wanted to approach in a contemporary manner and add my own interpretation of the visuals. The tales targeted for children usually mean creating bright, colourful and cheerful illustrations. However, my art style is completely different - I wanted to portray how dark these tales can become and the uneasy atmosphere that can be felt while reading the tales.Read less
Nightmares And Daydreams is an artist book exploring the subconscious mind, the smokescreens and unknown corners within the mind and the emotions associated with dreams and nightmares. The book was formed from initial ideas on contrasting human experiences relating to dark and light. It developed into an exploration ofmemories and fragments of photographs, and visual examples of nostalgia. My illustrations reflect my interest in perspective and how the mind can alter reality.Read less
Emily Hedges - Adult Life
My Self-Directed Project titled ‘Adult Life’ focuses on young adults and their experiences with venturing from the comfort of home into the real world. As an outcome, I illustrated a Zine, with each comic going (eventually) onto the platform ‘Webtoon’, with promotional material such as posters and stickers being used to support my work.
My narrative focuses on a lazy human, Gary Gastropod, who one day woke up transformed into a sea slug. I wanted my work to focus on how he copes with adult life using the absurdity of the scenarios to add comedy and provide relatability to viewers.Read less
This project raises awareness of ocean environmental issues relating to the rapid increase of oxygen-depleted dead zones in the ocean caused by sewage leaks to ocean acidification. Plastic pollution and other hazards caused by garbage, as well as human-caused boat pollution, oil spills and overfishing are the main causes for this issue.Read less
Heather Booth - Star People
Star people is an experimental comic that explores themes surrounding fulfilment and friendship between two main characters, with each character representing different age groups as well as different points of view. The narrative follows Lilith, a young lady who has been created to serve a specific purpose, and Bastet, a god whose spirit is trapped in a mortal cage, forcing her to live continuously as a mortal. Both women band together to fight and survive in the cruel universe that they live in. Seen as a very low species on Earth within the hierarchy of alien races, many of the humans have died or live on in slavery, servitude or fear.Read less
This project is based on Norse mythology, and mainly focuses on the Norse Gods themselves. My intention for the project from the beginning was to create a fun educational book that both fans of Norse mythology and the general public at large would find interesting. Each book centres on one God telling their story and interesting facts about them. I illustrated and wrote the books and used traditional bookbinding techniques to create a professional piece.Read less
Jack Deaney - The Monster in the Woods
For my final self-directed project, I explored the true origins of famous myths and monsters. As my project developed, I leaned into the premise of fear and what fear does to the mind. As a result of my research, I created a short graphic novel, ‘The Monster In The Woods’, created entirely out of handcrafted sculptures and characters. The plot follows a couple lost and stranded deep in the forest who eventually encounter a dark creature stalking them believed to be BigFoot. I want to create more graphic novels as a future career because of the outcome of this project.Read less
James Lejeune - Darker Shadows
A sinister look into a dystopian world, this artwork is a small set of pages from a long graphic novel. From front cover to finish, the novel is 72 pages long and keeps you on the edge of your seat, introducing a theatrical element.
The main book is made up of hand-drawn dip-pen illustrations and then coloured with inks, with the background and shading finished off digitally to enhance the experience. Also included are oil paintings and sculptures used as featured artwork.Read less
Josephine Collins - Mischievous Creatures
My self-directed project ‘Mischievous Creatures’, reflects on ‘bad’ and the burden of ‘good’ habits caused by the effects of mental disorders. Aimed towards those who are joining a work environment, these creatures attempt to spread awareness of what may happen. The pieces displayed resemble my transforming art style and my most beloved work throughout university, which includes the ‘Mischievous Creatures’ Zine, Plushie and Baoding balls.Read less
Katherine Bale - Interconnectivity
The project that I chose to explore in my final year is named ‘Interconnectivity’. It centres on the links between our inner selves and natural surroundings. The outcome is a two-piece children’s mural design based on a natural scene.
These have been created digitally for a young audience to be printed onto vinyl and installed in paediatric wards. The mural images can be sized according to the available wall space and are equipped with accompanying instructions to scan a QR code using a phone or tablet, which in turn connects you to an application called Artivive. This allows viewers to see the images animated with sound.Read less
Mia Rapson - Lonely Falice
I created a series of models for my short stop motion film ‘Lonely Falice’. The concept was influenced by the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and readers' different interpretations of it. I created a visual representation of how long periods of isolation can affect your mental health in a humorous way, with a mix of realism and fantasy in order to create a more approachable space for a difficult topic. The focus for my final piece was on designing models for stop motion animation developed from a storyboard of three scenes.Read less
Madison Ford - A Day in my (Not Quite) Zero-Waste, Reasonably Sustainable Life
This project focuses on how each one of us can make small, sustainable changes in our day-to-day lives that add up to a positive impact. My final outcome is a zine entitled “A Day In My (Not Quite) Zero-Waste, (Reasonably) Sustainable Life”; an autobiographical story of the small daily decisions that can positively impact the planet, with some supporting notepads and extras.
From my experience, it is easy to become overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations of a zero-waste and vegan lifestyle at first. Therefore, in this work I focus on small, simple changes that are accessible to anyone, in order to look after our mental health at the same time.Read less
Kirsty Wakefield - Little Waves to Hold Onto
‘Little Waves to Hold Onto’ - An artist’s book exploring the comfort that can be drawn from embracing the constants in our lives. It is a capsule of little moments of happiness, joy and calm. Just like waves on the shore, these waves of positivity will always be able to roll into our present. Therefore, it highlights the value in taking time to acknowledge the little things that keep us going. The things which cannot be restricted or tainted by the unpredictable, modern world. It is for anyone and everyone who may need a reminder of the invincibility of joy.Read less
Non-Dualism is the philosophical concept that all things are in fact undivided or two sides of the same coin. Non-Dualism can be experienced during many spiritual practices where you start to feel centreless, or as if the lines between yourself and the rest of all other existing things, blend together. To believe in Non-Duality is to recognise this connectivity between ‘you’ and all other things. This understanding can lead to a productive view of the world encouraging kindness and acceptance. If there is no line between you and your enemies, why be angry? If there is no real change between life and death, why be afraid of dying.
My short film is for multiple audiences; people who would benefit from learning about the concept of Non-Dualism and people who may already know about non-dualism but would appreciate aesthetically the puppetry and mystical nature of it.Read less
Sara Peacock - Snakes and Doves
My self-directed project is titled ‘Snakes and Doves’ and focuses on British coastal folklore. I have produced a board game, based on the existing game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, with elements of folklore interwoven into it. In certain squares are illustrations of folklore tales from British coasts, with ‘good’ folklore (such as St George and the Dragon) sending the player up, whilst ‘bad’ Folklore (such as the UFO of Rendlesham) sending the player downwards.
Included are images for the board game, box and an information sheet telling the player a bit about the folklore.Read less
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?
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:
- artist book making
- children’s book illustration
- narrative illustration
- print making
- art direction
Ongoing careers support
Get experience while you study, with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, and work experience.
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, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.
Core modules in this year include:
- Illustration Level 4 Event – 0 credits
- Introduction to Professional Practice – 20 credits
- Introduction to Visual Culture (Illustration) – 20 credits
- Line, Colour and Development – 40 credits
- Research and Narrative – 40 credits
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Book Arts – 20 credits
- Graphic Medicine – 20 credits
- Illustration Level 5 Event – 0 credits
- Sequential Illustration – 20 credits
- Social Awareness – 20 credits
Optional modules in this year include:
- Comic Book Industries – 20 credits
- Engaged Citizenship Through Interdisciplinary Practice – 20 credits
- Modern Foreign Language – 20 credits
- Professional Experience – 20 credits
- Professional Skills Development – 20 credits
- Student Enterprise – 20 credits
- Visual Culture: Cult, Taste and Collecting – 20 credits
- Visual Culture: Performing Identity – 20 credits
- Visual Culture: Technology and the Image – 20 credits
- Visual Culture: The Body in Practice – 20 credits
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.
Core modules in this year include:
- Applied Illustration Practice – 20 credits
- Illustration Level 6 Event – 0 credits
- Illustration Professional Practice – 20 credits
- Illustration Project Review – 20 credits
- Illustration Self-directed Project – 40 credits
Optional modules in this year include:
- Visual Culture: Dissertation – 20 credits
- Visual Culture: Research Project – 20 credits
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.
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.
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.
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 use a blended learning approach to teaching, which means you’ll take part in both face-to-face and online activities during your studies. As well as attending your timetabled classes you'll study independently in your free time, supported by staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
Course costs and funding
- 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 – £17,200 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.
If you take a placement year or study abroad year, tuition fees for that year are as follows:
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £925 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £925 a year, including Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £1,800 a year (subject to annual increase)
How to apply
To start this course in 2023, 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.