Illustration - BA (Hons)

2025/26 Full-time Undergraduate course

Award:

Bachelor of Arts with Honours

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

Belfast School of Art

Campus:

Belfast campus

UCAS code:

W221
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20

Start date:

September 2025

With this degree you could become:

  • Freelance Illustrator
  • 2D Animator
  • Publishing Editorial Illustrator Designer
  • Designer
  • Editorial Illustrator
  • Multimedia Advertising Illustrator
  • Creative Art Director
  • Motion Designer Story Board Illustrator
  • StoryBoard
  • Packaging
  • Advertising Illustrator

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • UsFolk Design & Illustration
  • Enter Yes Animation Studios
  • Pale Blue Dot Design Belfast
  • No Alibis
  • Penguin Books
  • Harper Collins Publishing
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • The Guardian
  • The Observer
  • New York Times...
  • Belfast Metropolitan College
  • Ulster University
  • Queen's Film Theatre
  • Jameson Whiskey Packaging Design
  • Coca Cola Packaging Design
  • Nike Advertising
  • Adidas...
  • Heart Agency London
  • Debut Art London
  • Bright Agency London...

Overview

Develop as a confident, curious and professional illustrator with a unique creative voice.

Summary

BA Hons Illustration at Ulster will introduce you to a huge range of highly creative practices and skills from experimental drawing/painting/markmaking to 2D animation. We encourage risk-taking and individuality to help you develop your own visual language for working in the diverse and exciting world of illustration.

You will explore multiple illustration contexts including books/publishing, comic novels, packaging, 2D animation/film, gifs, magazines/zines, and many more.The course is taught by dedicated and experienced tutors who work, exhibit and publish internationally. We are passionate about illustration and encourage and support you to become a confident and skilled problem solver.

At Ulster you will learn from alumni and industry leaders. Our Illustration graduates regularly win international competitions and work for clients locally as well as around the world. There are many opportunities to build real world connections alongside your unique individual practice to help you stand out as you begin a career in professional illustration and creative industries.


Foundation Year

A foundation diploma year gives you the opportunity to explore a range of art and design approaches and disciplines to help you choose your undergraduate specialism.

Find out about our Foundation Year

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course

About

On the programme you will explore illustration practice, theory, professional experience and marketing tools to develop a unique portfolio that can reach global audiences. You will respond to environmental, social and ethical challenges using critical thinking, imagination and creative problem solving skills.

You will study a wide range of illustration approaches including observational and experimental drawing, painting, collage, print/mark-making, animation, life-drawing and more. You will be part of the vibrant Illustration studio culture with dedicated work areas, RISO printer, iMacs, scanners, light boxes, exhibition spaces, print making workshops, book making classes etc.

Your tutors work, exhibit and publish locally and internationally. You will be taught through dynamic and playful workshops, studio-based projects, tutorials, seminars, exhibitions, external visits…with lots of opportunities for both collaborative and individual work.

We have an exciting programme of guest lectures from Illustration alumni and industry leaders. Recent speakers include Oliver and Rory Jeffers, Barry Falls, Peter Strain, Ashling Lindsay, Laura Carlin, Jonny Hannah, Val Braithwaite, Harper Collins, AOI (Association of Illustrators)…

You are encouraged to develop your professional illustration practice, confidence and experience with work placements, internships, competition briefs and funded study abroad in Europe and the USA. The optional placement year allows you to work in real world contexts. You might spend time with industry partners for example; in an illustration agency, design company, animation studio, gallery or museum to gain valuable professional skills and experience.

In Year 1 you will explore the principles of illustration through energetic hands-on workshops with an emphasis on drawing, making, experimentation, ideas , imagination and play with a very wide range of tools and techniques. Illustration is studied as a problem-solving process requiring intellectual reasoning as well as creative output. You will be part of a diverse illustration studio culture with support from your peers, technician and tutors.

In Year 2 the focus is on building your individual practice as an illustrator and developing your own voice. You will build on your observational/experimental drawing skills and grow confidence through a range of environmental, social and ethical projects with outcomes in the form of zines/books, exhibition prints, packaging, animation/moving image, book covers, presentations, portfolios...

Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or Diploma in Professional Practice International (DPPI)

On successful completion of Year 2 studies, students have the opportunity to take the optional module Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or (DPPI). This year of study provides an opportunity for students to gain first hand practical experience within a professional environment such as an advertising agency or brand consultancy prior to their final year of study. This module links the education experience to the real-life situation of practice in the creative industries. It provides students with a range of experiences and skills relative to their practice, future career and professional development.

Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS).

On completion of Year 2, students have the opportunity to take the other optional module Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS). This optional module provides an opportunity for students to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland, developing an international perspective and an appreciation of cultural sensitivities which are desirable qualities in any graduate. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Year 3is an exciting and intense experience where you are encouraged to become increasingly independent in your working methods and in your choice of projects. You will take part in major national/international student competitions such as The World Illustration Awards, RSA and Penguin Design Awards. We will support you to develop as a highly-skilled critical thinker, communicator and illustrator as you embark on a career in the creative industries.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Attendance

Full Time

Three years (with option of four years with optional paid placement).

Attendance on the course is made up of taught sessions, lectures, seminars/tutorials, peer review/feedback, supervised studio and independent study.

Attendance at all sessions is mandatory and it is expected that you will engage not only with the taught elements but also with independent learning in the provided studio environment where your individual learning can be expanded through informal conversations with fellow students.

Start dates

  • September 2025

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching methods

Formal presentations, briefings, lectures and ‘hands on’ workshops form the core of each module. Modules include group tutorials, seminars, feedback and IT training sessions in all three years. Illustration students are supported to develop confidence, independence and resilience. Entrepreneurship, employability and professional practice are built into modules. We encourage you to explore the world of art, design, photography, architecture, film, animation and creative industries in the broadest sense and to reflect on experiences through personal development plans.

Assessment

At each level, modules are assessed according to specific criteria and weightings which are published before the beginning of the semester. Assessment is both formative and summative, and, where appropriate, criteria are written to encourage risk-taking, enterprise and experimentation.

Feedback on your work helps you to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses so that you can develop and improve your work throughout the course.

Marks for all Final Year modules contribute to the final classification of the honours degree.

Content

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

Attendance and Independent Study

As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.

The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

Assessment

Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.

Calculation of the Final Award

The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Belfast campus

Accommodation

High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

Find out more - information about accommodation (Opens in a new window)  


Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

Find out more - information about student wellbeing (Opens in a new window)  

Modules

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

Year one

Introducing Illustration Practice

Year: 1

This module will introduce illustration practice as a problem solving process. Students will study image making, visual language and narrative as central aspects of illustration alongside exploration of a range of analogue, digital and experimental drawing practices. Students will be supported throughout via seminars, tutorials and workshops and are encouraged to begin to take responsibility for their own learning through self-directed study and critical self-reflection.

Exploring Illustration Practice

Year: 1

Students will undertake a range of projects of growing complexity aimed at developing their confidence and skills in image making as the semester progresses. The central relationships between image, text and layout will be explored through a variety of projects and media - highlighting the importance of composition and hierarchy in illustration. Students will learn about traditional and digital processes and the variety of contexts where their illustration skills can be used.

The World of Illustration

Year: 1

This module introduces students to a wide range of illustration practice, and allows students to explore the cultural, political, and social factors that have informed illustrators and their work. This cultural awareness supports students in developing an individual illustration practice that is meaningful and relevant to their own time and audience. Students are introduced to research, writing, and presentation skills.

Illustration Research and Writing 1

Year: 1

This module encourages year one students to consider key ideas, issues, concerns and developments within specific illustration contexts. Students will explore the wider social, cultural, economic, political and technological contexts in which illustration work has been made and used and reflect upon their own practice in relation to their findings. The module encourages students in establishing good observation skills and sound research practice, in preparation for year two.

Year two

Illustration Research and Writing 2

Year: 2

The module provides student with an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation and knowledge of the context in which illustration operates. Students will develop their critical thinking and writing and research and presentation skills, and develop a clear understanding of how theory informs practice. This knowledge and skills development will provide students with a solid research foundation for the final year dissertation.

Illustration, Visual Narrative and Motion

Year: 2

The module will introduce a range of sequential design/animation techniques, methods and formats. It will focus primarily on experimentation with narrative and the moving image to express ideas. Workshops in drawing, story, sound and conceptualisation techniques will encourage experimentation with both traditional and digital approaches in an animation/illustration environment. Students will learn about storyboards, animatics, timing, pace, structure, sequencing, viewpoints, professional workflows and output.

Illustration Studio

Year: 2

The module will equip students with skills in a range of emerging and traditional techniques, methods and formats for print and screen alongside exploration of alternative models of practice for industry. Lectures will focus on contemporary practice contexts and case studies to develop understanding of the expansive nature and contexts of contemporary illustration practice. Interaction with visiting professionals will support students to develop deeper knowledge, skills and expertise relating to processes, terminology and applications that are key to working in diverse creative industries.

Professional Illustration Practice 1

Year: 2

In this module students will develop independent thinking and individual approaches to connect with professional communities of creative practice. Students will identify, research and understand specific audiences for their own practice and develop strategies for their career future in the wider global creative industries.

Year three

Placement

Year: 3

This is an optional placement year for students who have completed Level 5 prior to the final year of study. The placement must be a minimum of 25 weeks duration and can be in a broad range of Art/Professional practice. A programme of work is agreed by the student, the Placement Tutor and the Placement Partner and usually takes place in Europe with respect to the relevant health and safety and disability regulations (SENDO). The placement is designed to increase experience of workshop/studio/communal and technical practice, while broadening and enhancing the student's social, personal and professional development.
Upon successful completion of the placement year the student is awarded a Diploma in Professional Studies (DPP) or a Diploma in Professional Practice International (DPPI) upon graduation from the course.

International Academic Studies

Year: 3

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Year four

Illustration Research and Writing 3

Year: 4

This module facilitates students developing a critical awareness and understanding of their individual illustration practice within contemporary visual culture. Students are given the opportunity to integrate their practice with theoretical debate and analytical approaches, by identifying pertinent ideas and issues surrounding their practice and practice interests. This will form the basis of a student-directed research project, which will culminate in a dissertation, written, or moving image format. The student-led nature of this module, through researching, and writing a dissertation, or employing a moving image approach, will develop and support intellectual confidence and self-expression.

Illustration Development

Year: 4

In this module students will work critically and ambitiously to make, develop and refine work that integrates risk taking, practical, aesthetic and intellectual knowledge. Students will expand and refine understanding of the wide range of professional applications of illustration through set and self-initiated projects, competition briefs and live industry assignments, using creative and analytical abilities developed earlier on the programme. Students will focus on developing highly individual, confident and inventive approaches to their illustration practice. Project activity, weekly peer discussion, presentations, small group and individual tutorials will extend critical awareness and evaluation skills in preparation for professional illustration practice and/or the rigours of postgraduate study.

Professional Illustration Practice 2

Year: 4

The Professional Illustration Practice 2 module will develop research, strategic planning, self-reflection, marketing and professional management skills. Students will document, critically review, evaluate and present their illustration practice from the concurrent Illustration Development module. Student will apply skills, knowledge and understanding of their own practice to the professional illustration environment.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

A level

Grades CCC

Applied General Qualifications

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma

Award profile of MMM

We will also accept smaller BTEC/OCR qualifications (i.e. Diploma or Extended Certificate / Introductory Diploma / Subsidiary Diploma) in combination with A Levels or other acceptable level 3 qualifications.

To find out if the qualification you are applying with is a qualification we accept for entry, please check our Qualification Checker - https://www.ulster.ac.uk/study/entrance-requirements/equivalence

We will also continue to accept QCF versions of these qualifications although grades asked for may differ. Check what grades you will be asked for by comparing the requirements above with the information under QCF in the Applied General and Tech Level Qualifications section of our Entry Requirements - https://www.ulster.ac.uk/study/entrance-requirements/undergraduate-entry-requirements

Irish Leaving Certificate

96 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

Scottish Highers

Grades CCCCC

Scottish Advanced Highers

Grades DDD

International Baccalaureate

Overall profile is minimum 24 points (including 12 at higher level)

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall profile of 55% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)

Overall profile of 45 credits at Merit (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)

GCSE

For full-time study, you must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass at Grade C/4 or above in English Language.

Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Communication will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE English.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants


The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Additional Entry Requirements

Applicants to this course will be required to submit a portfolio.

Acceptable alternative qualifications include:

Pass HND with overall Merit to include distinctions in 15 Level 5 credits/units may be specified.

Pass HNC with overall Merit to include distinctions in 45 Level 4 credits/units may be specified.

You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met).

Careers & opportunities

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • UsFolk Design & Illustration
  • Enter Yes Animation Studios
  • Pale Blue Dot Design Belfast
  • No Alibis
  • Penguin Books
  • Harper Collins Publishing
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • The Guardian
  • The Observer
  • New York Times...
  • Belfast Metropolitan College
  • Ulster University
  • Queen's Film Theatre
  • Jameson Whiskey Packaging Design
  • Coca Cola Packaging Design
  • Nike Advertising
  • Adidas...
  • Heart Agency London
  • Debut Art London
  • Bright Agency London...

Job roles

With this degree you could become:

  • Freelance Illustrator
  • 2D Animator
  • Publishing Editorial Illustrator Designer
  • Designer
  • Editorial Illustrator
  • Multimedia Advertising Illustrator
  • Creative Art Director
  • Motion Designer Story Board Illustrator
  • StoryBoard
  • Packaging
  • Advertising Illustrator

Career options

Illustration graduates are successful in the illustration/design/publishing/animation/multimedia/ photography/broadcasting/marketing/editorial/magazine/film/creative/advertising and promotional industries.

Many of the illustration, publishing and design Studios in Northern Ireland are staffed or run by graduates from the course. Alumni include illustrators Oliver Jeffers, Barry Falls, Jacky Sheridan, Ashling Lindsay, Jamie Beard, Peter Strain... in addition graduates find employment in diverse media, television, film and publishing roles.

Our Illustration alumni achieve regular success and awards in book design and illustration, publishing and animation for companies competitions and clients: such as:

Clients: BBC, The Guardian, New York Times, , The New Yorker, The Financial Times, Random House, Channel 4, Orange, UNICEF, FILM4, The New Yorker, Harry Potter, Empire, Fox Sports, The Guardian, Island Records, ADIDAS, TIME magazine, Sonia Friedman Productions, BBC, Esquire, Queens Film Theatre, POLITICO, Random House, Time Out, The Washington Post, The Big Issue, Jameson, High Life Magazine, Unilever, MOJO, WWF, The Lancet Medical Journal, Faber & Faber, Macmillan Books, American Express, Brand USA, Aviva...

Those wishing to research and develop their own work to a higher level go on to pursue a Masters qualification either at the University of Ulster, or at other institutions in the UK and further afield. There is also the potential for entry onto a PhD.

There are also opportunities for those wishing to teach after the completion of a postgraduate teaching qualification (PGCE).

Work placement / study abroad

On successful completion of Year 2 studies, you have the opportunity to take the optional module Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or (DPPI). This year of study provides an opportunity for you to gain first hand practical experience within a professional environment such as an advertising agency or brand consultancy prior to your final year of study. This module links the education experience to the real-life situation of practice in the creative industries. It provides you with a range of experiences and skills relative to your practice, future career and professional development.

You also have the opportunity to take the other optional module Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS). This optional module provides an opportunity for you to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland, developing an international perspective and an appreciation of cultural sensitivities which are desirable qualities in any graduate. You will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2025

Fees and funding

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Our students and graduates enjoy a reputation for winning national and international awards including:

The World Illustration Awards, The Kate Greenaway Medal, British Book Awards: Children's Book of the Year, BAFTA, New York Times Best Illustrated, Children’s Books Award, Bologna Rigazzi Award, An Irish Book Award, United Kingdom Literary Association Award, RSA Design Award (Animation), Penguin Design Award, Macmillan Prize…

Our graduates exhibit their work locally and internationally to include Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Palais Auersperg in Vienna, Ulster University, The Naughton Gallery, Belfast.

Additional mandatory costs

Students purchase materials for their own coursework.

Consumable workshop contribution of up to £100 is optional and contributes to materials used by students.

Field trips may incur additional costs.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.

Contact

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.


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Disclaimer

  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.

Testimonials

Feedback from our Illustration students 2023/2024

‘I am very thankful to have such great staff on the Illustration course and I have learnt so much, preparing me to enter the Illustration industry very soon after graduation.’

"I feel like there are many opportunities throughout the course, and resources provided to really be a part of the design community in Belfast and beyond. I really loved this course, and it was amazing to be a part of it - I couldn't think of a better way to be introduced into the design community.”

‘The Illustrators and others that have come into talk to us have been very helpful with their lectures, presentations and classes, these various people that have spoken to us helped make more sense of the working world of art and added a different dynamic to the classes that they attended.’

‘The Illustration course has been so kind and supportive of my work and has given me so much confidence in my ability. The staff have been extremely welcoming and have given fantastic feedback and knowledge about the field.’

‘It is very evident that they [tutors] care for each student and they are also very good at encouraging mental wellbeing within the Illustration course.’

‘One-to-one teaching and feedback sessions were very usual and incredibly helpful especially on my dissertation module.’

‘Constantly on the ball with feedback and replying to emails.’

“The lecturers are very supportive of students and their work, strong and positive communication, project feedback is constructive, helpful, and timely. Lecturers cover relevant topics in classes ensuring we have the right knowledge to complete our work. Class content uploaded online for easy access. Good communication with lecturers. Lecturers encourage students to think outside the box and achieve their full potential.”

“I have really enjoyed the course and it has given me so many opportunities that I would never have had. Lecturers are always very supportive and want the best for us.”

“I would really like to highlight how in-depth and insightful this course is, and how everything taught is actively applicable to jobs in the field. "

"They (tutors) have been supportive throughout the years, with extra help when needed in second and final year. They acted efficiently and supportively through COVID-19 and they have been understanding and incredibly helpful when it came to illnesses and absences - making it easier to work from home and you didn't feel like you were forgotten about."