Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Belfast School of Art
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20
Develop as a creative, unique and innovative illustrator.
BA (Hons) Illustration will introduce you to a huge range of highly experimental practices and skills that will help you to develop your own visual language and prepare you for working in the diverse and exciting world of Illustration.
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 skilled creative problem solver through innovative and experimental use of pictures, language and ideas to convey specific meaning and messages. You will explore multiple illustration contexts including books/publishing, comic novels, packaging, 2D animations/films/gifs, magazines/zines, and many more.
At Ulster you will learn from creative experts, professionals and alumni. Our Illustration graduates have won high profile prizes and work for clients around the world. You will build real world connections and develop your unique practice to help you stand out as you begin a career in vibrant Illustration industries.
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.
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Our Illustration course prepares you for working in the exciting and fast changing world of illustration. You will explore practice, theory and professional experience to develop your innovative and unique Illustration work.
You will study a wide range of Illustration approaches using experimental analogue and digital methods. Our facilities include a dedicated Illustration studio with access to iMacs - available in our UU Mac Labs, scanners, light boxes, exhibition spaces, print making, bookbinding workshops etc. Technician help and support is on hand.
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. Past guests have included speakers such as Barry Falls, Peter Strain, Ashling Lindsay, Laura Carlin, Jonny Hannah, Val Braithwaite from Harper Collins…
Our Illustration students and graduates have won high profile international prizes including BAFTA, World Illustration Awards, Royal Society of Arts, Bologna Rigazzi and Penguin Design Award.
There are many opportunities 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 making, experimentation, ideas 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. Learning takes place in our dynamic illustration studios with support from your tutors and technician.
In Year 2 the focus is on building your individual practice as an Illustrator and developing your own voice. You will grow confidence and skills through a range of projects and outcomes including zines/books, exhibition prints, packaging, animation/moving image, book covers, presentations and 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 3 is 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 support you to develop as a highly-skilled critical thinker, communicator and illustrator as you embark on a career in the creative industries.
Diploma in Professional Practice DPP
Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS
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.
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. Graphic Design and Illustration students are given assistance in directed and independent learning, so that they can make the most effective use of resources and of the image/information networks. We also expect Graphic Design and Illustration students to be interested in design, art and the media in the broadest sense and to reflect on such work through personal logs. The professional aspects mean that elements of entrepreneurship are built into almost every module.
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.
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:
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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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 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 Masters 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 correct for academic year 2019-2020.
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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
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) by Advanced 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 correct for academic year 2021-2022.
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.
At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.
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.
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This module is designed to introduce the basic principles of Illustration. There will be an emphasis on making, doing, and decision-making. The module helps students understand Illustration as a problem-solving process requiring intellectual reasoning as well as creative output. The core area of study will be an introduction to the role of drawing and image making in Illustration - through static and motion forms across a diverse range of print and digital media. Importantly it will explain and contextualize the role of Illustration in contemporary and wider practice. The module also introduces students to the important concept of 'taking responsibility for their own learning', helping students understand that degree level study requires high levels of critical self-reflection. The module is diagnostic in approach and it is based around a series of tasks across a number of areas all of which are central to visual literacy and which are relevant across a spectrum of Illustration practices.
This module is designed to further develop understanding of Illustration practice. Students are introduced to practical and theoretical issues relating to working with layout, type and image across different media. Students are taught the importance of hierarchy and working with image, text, composition as fundamentals to Illustration - therefore it is important to establish clear best practice at this early stage of the course. The module seeks to explore the constant evolution of Illustration through practical projects alongside historical and theoretical material. Students are required to discuss these issues in class. Awareness of contexts for Illustration practice such as publishing, animation, art direction, book design, branding, editorial design, digital design and moving image will be explored.
This module immerses students in the widest possible range of cultures and practices around Illustration. Students will be empowered to begin researching and reflecting independently on themes and practices within areas cognate to the cultural/creative industries. Lectures will open up areas for investigation by introducing the notion of influences on Illustration and the influence of Illustration. Fundamental research, writing and presentation skills will be developed by students publishing a digital blog of reflective material. Students will gain an essential understanding of the role of Illustration within wider cultural/commercial/societal contexts by actively seeking out and engaging with studios, professionals, museums, galleries. Importantly, students will be encouraged to see how it is essential to their studio practice.
This module introduces students to key developments, ideas, movements, methods of practices, and key practitioners found within the history of Illustration. The lecture series is structured to give students an overview of the historical map of illustration practice and provide the necessary references for further independent research. The seminar series focuses on developing fundamental research, academic writing and referencing, and presentation skills and approaches, while individual and group tutorials will guide students in the intellectual debates of their topic. Students will gain an essential understanding of the role of illustration within a cultural context and, importantly, how it is essential to their individual studio practice.
The module extends understanding of the individual contemporary contexts for Illustration. Students will examine the role that materials and media play in how Illustration is conceived, produced and experienced while at the same time considering the professional, cultural and business issues that inform Illustration production. The importance of entrepreneurship throughout the cultural and commercial sectors will be introduced and developed. The module further develops working processes, methods and terminology required for Illustration in print, online, motion and environmental contexts. Fundamental principles are re-enforced but there is a requirement to experiment with new and traditional media. Indicative content: Exploring and understanding contexts for practice - online, print and environment. Exploration and further awareness of professional practice in areas such as: advertising, animation, art direction, book design, branding, editorial design, digital design, illustration and moving image. Exploring and developing further awareness of materials, form and production skills. Cultural and commercial entrepreneurship.
In Professional Practice 1 students are introduced to career paths in Illustration and cognate areas. Students will be encouraged to gain awareness of their own professional context, which will provide practical experience and greater insight into their chosen future, for example, discipline specific preparation for placement, work based learning, or professional engagement. The direct experience of professional working contexts increases student employability. This module will assist students in developing visual, written and oral presentation skills in professional forms and they will acquire knowledge about wider professional contexts, opportunities and businesses pertinent to their discipline.
This module examines seminal and recent directions in academic research and writing on illustration, visual communication and current design discourse. Students, through coursework, research, write and present ideas and issues that inform and/or influence contemporary practice in visual communication and the broader context of art and design. Students will gain critical skills in explicit approaches and methodologies and learn how they might apply to practice.
The module introduces students to the key concepts, methods, formats and techniques required for developing Illustration practices to include sequential, narrative and motion design. Fundamental Illustration and design principles are re-enforced but there is a requirement to experiment with digital and analogue media, materials and methods and to develop a rigorous approach to the acquisition of knowledge and skills related to narrative and sequence. It introduces working processes and methods required for narrative and motion applications using appropriate tools and software.
This module is optional
This optional module provides an opportunity for students to gain first hand practical experience within a professional environment prior to their final year of study. This module integrates education with the creative industries. It provides students with a range of experiences and skills relative to their practice, future career and professional development. The module is designed to facilitate opportunities for students to interpret and practice their academic knowledge, develop personal, transferrable, professional and entrepreneurial skills and develop a knowledge and understanding of the role of the practitioner within the creative industries. 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.
This module is optional
An international perspective and an appreciation of cultural sensitivities are desirable qualities in any graduate. This module provides an opportunity to develop these and other graduate attributes through undertaking an extended period of study with the University's partners outside United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
This module facilitates a critical awareness and understanding of the context of Illustration and visual communication in a broader art and design discourse via history, theory and analysis. Students learn to integrate practice with theoretical debate and analytical methodologies by identifying pertinent ideas and issues, and then researching and presenting their research in either a solely written or written and multimedia format.
This is an 80 credit module spanning two semesters. This allows for the expanded risk taking, ambition and reflection on practice required to achieve a high-quality body of work. Students will demonstrate a rigorous approach to the practice of Illustration as a discipline integrating exploration of a diverse range of techniques, technologies, materials and media. Students will explore the practical and professional context of their work and how their ideas can be framed, communicated and received by specific audiences. This module will build on and expand the student's knowledge of fundamental Illustration and design principles, gained from lectures, seminars, workshops in the preceding years of the course. Students will use their practice - thinking, making, doing - to develop their understanding of creative problem solving to a more advanced level. The module will be project focused, relating closely to other final year modules and serving as a preparation for the professional illustration context. Students will explore current issues in Illustration/visual communication relating to specific areas via lectures and seminars bringing the creative and production aspects of the Illustration/design process much closer.
Professional Illustration Practice 2 is the final Professional Practice module on the course. The key focus of this module is to develop research and professional skills and to identify wider industry opportunities. Students further develop professional and dynamic approaches to planning, documenting, managing, presenting and critically evaluating practice made in the level 6 80 cps Illustration Development practice module. Through exploration, discussion and Personal Development Planning (PDP), students identify an individual, professional and appropriate body of work, manage their time effectively and plan appropriately for project delivery. The module extends and further develops knowledge, understanding, experience, skills and requirements of the professional illustration and communication environment.
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.
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QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DDD
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DMM
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DD plus A Level Grade C
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Introductory Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of D plus A Level Grades BC
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate (2016 Suite)
Award profile of D plus A Level Grades BC
112 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.
Overall profile is minimum 25 points (including 12 at higher level)
Overall profile of 63% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)
Overall profile of 15 credits at Distinction and 30 credits at Merit (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)
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 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.
Applicants may be selected through portfolio submission and/or interview.
Acceptable alternative qualifications include:
Pass HND with overall Merit to include 45 distinctions in level 5 credits/units may be specified.
Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 75 distinctions in 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).
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Graduates from this course are now working for:
With this degree you could become:
Illustration graduates Illustration graduates are successful in the illustration/ design/ publishing/ animation/multimedia/ photography/ broadcasting/ marketing/ editorial /magazine and promotional industries.
Many of the Illustration, Publishing and Design Studios in Northern Ireland are staffed or run by graduates from the course. Graduates include illustrators Oliver Jeffers, Barry Falls, Jacky Sheridan, Ashling Lindsay, Jamie Beard and Peter Strain. In addition graduates find employment in diverse media, television 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…
Awards: 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 including at: 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
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)
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.
Fees illustrated are based on academic year 22/23 entry and are subject to an annual increase.
If your study continues into future academic years your fees are subject to an annual increase. Please take this into consideration when you estimate your total fees for a degree.
Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply.
International Undergraduate Scholarship
Other scholarships :https://www.ulster.ac.uk/international/apply/scholarships
Recent International Student Prizes and Awards include:
D&AD (Design and Art Direction) Awards, London, 2014
James Kirkpatrick - Best in Book (App Design);
ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) Awards 2014
D&AD (Design and Art Direction) Awards, London, 2013
Christopher Dunlop - Yellow Pencil nomination (Graphic Design/Illustration)
Catherine McConalogue - Best of Year (Open Craft);
ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers)Awards 2013
Paul McNally and Karen Shearer;
ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers)Awards 2012
Karla Burns, Sarah Panasch, Declan Mount;
D&AD (Design and Art Direction) Awards, London, 2012
Stephen Pierce - Yellow Pencil Award (Advertising)
Stephen Moffet - Best of Year (Branding)
Tori Phillips - Best of Year (Communication);
D&AD Awards, London 2011
Jonathan McKee - First Prize (Animation);
AOI Best of British Illustration 2011 (Association of Illustrators, London)
Peter Strain - National Critics Award (Illustration).
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.
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.
Course Director: Ruth Brolly
Admissions: Fiona Murphy
International Admissions Office