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Are you a creative individual wanting to progress into the world of illustration? This course helps you gain the thinking and understanding you’ll need to tackle industry briefs. From narrative to traditional and digital technologies, we’ll give you the skills, all you need is an imaginative and artistic flair.
I have learnt so much more than I previously knew about the variety of opportunities within the many different areas of illustration including editorial, product design, digital and print. Learning how to follow and complete professional briefs and entering competitions were such valuable experiences. My skills have improved greatly and I am confident in the many different approaches I now use in my work.Sue Elder
We understand that when it comes to deciding where you’d like to study, there are a lot of things to consider. Come along to our Open Day and discover why BNU could be the place for you. You can find out more about your course, meet the course team, and get all your questions answered.
For everything you need to know about applying, check out our Application Guide. You can find useful information for each stage of your application journey – from before you even apply to what to do if you receive an offer, and everything in between.
Why study this subject?
As an illustrator, you have the opportunity to create and design visual imagery for everything from publishing to advertising campaigns.
Whether you end up in a studio, working as a freelance visual-artist or following one of the other many routes illustration offers, you can be sure that your designs and creations can help convey a message to consumers and artistically inspire the next generation of image makers.
This course is also offered as a four-year programme, including an initial Foundation Year. The Foundation Year will allow you to develop your academic study skills and build confidence in your abilities, identifying your own strengths and development needs for progression onto an undergraduate programme.
Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?
With a history of delivery expert craft, art and design education for more than 130 years, Buckinghamshire New University is the perfect place to start your creative career.
Led by our dedicated and supportive course team, you will have the freedom to explore all areas of Illustration, whether that’s digital such as vector art or traditional methods such as printmaking. You’ll work on a diverse range of creative projects written by the course team or self-written as well as external competition and industry briefs.
During your time with us you’ll get direct access to guest lectures and can benefit from live project briefs, master classes, and plenty of networking chances. As well as this, through lectures, seminars and workshops, we equip you with important skills that prepare you for a successful career.
Our Small group sizes enable staff and students to work together as a friendly and collaborative community of learners and designers. And with London only a short journey away, you can take the opportunity to visit some of the world’s best exhibitions, galleries, and museums for inspiration.
Opportunity modules are a key part of the BNU curriculum. You’ll choose modules in both your first and second year from a broad selection in areas such as sustainability, entrepreneurship, creativity, digital skills, personal growth, civic engagement, health & wellbeing and employment. Opportunity modules are designed to enable you to develop outside the traditional boundaries of your discipline and help you to further stand out from the crowd to future employers.
I received a lot of support from my tutors whilst at the University. They supported me through each project and were always there to offer guidance if needed. The tutors really helped me to develop my illustration style and experiment with media I had never thought to try before.Rebecca Thick
What facilities can I use?
The course is located within the School of Art, Design and Performance, giving you access to a community of creative learners and diverse resources to help you achieve your creative outcomes. You’ll be encouraged to explore both traditional and current mediums to craft your design solutions, you can do this through our;
- silkscreen equipment
- plotter cutters
- letterpress equipment
- photography studios
- litho equipment
- laser cutting
- 3D printing technology
- Adobe Creative Cloud
You also benefit from our specialist technicians and demonstrators on site, who can support you in the area you want to explore.
What will I study?
On this course you are encouraged to solve visual problems with your own unique aesthetic solutions, experiment with image and type and explore appropriate digital technologies.
Through practical hands-on, project-based learning you will explore the fundamental core aspects of the subject such as narrative structure, hierarchy, composition and layout, typography, information design, image creation and conceptual thinking skills. Students are encouraged to take risks in their work and learn to challenge established languages and processes through questioning and individual experimentation.
Central to the ethos of the Illustration course is the development of two aims; the first is self-authorship, where your point of view and vision play the pivotal role in identifying and communicating images and messages that are central to your own personal interests, opinions, and core values, and secondly a multi-disciplinary confidence and ability to accomplish communication tasks across a range of media and client bases. These aims reflect the current contemporary vocabulary of a modern illustrator.
We have a good employment rate with many of our graduates going into work or further education after the course. As you develop a wide range of skills and abilities ready for your career, you’ll be able to specialise in a multitude of different areas. We have graduates working as freelance as illustrators, graphic designers, typographers, web designers in areas such advertising, publishing whilst others have started their own businesses. Some of our graduates making waves in the industry;
- Rob Flowers successful freelance illustrator represented by Blink Art
- Alex Tait is a successful freelance image-maker represented by Jelly Agency
- Elissa Gay commissions illustration at Random House Publishing
- Laura Carlin, who won first prize in the V&A Illustration Awards, is represented by Heart Agency, and her work is seen in the national press.
Through specialist 2nd year modules in Editorial Applications and Narrative Illustration students explore a range of media, techniques and theoretical ideas which build an understanding of the role of a professional illustrator. By investigating contexts and audiences through practical projects and live briefs, students develop their personal visual language, consolidate critical and strategic thinking, complex problem-solving and presentation skills, to build an awareness of the wider contextual role of an Illustrator.
During the year students are introduced to the Professional Studies module which focuses on preparing students for their career. Practical work is supported by a range of guest speakers who help contextualise project work in an industry environment.
Towards the latter part of this academic year you will begin work on your dissertation topic, which culminates in the final year. The dissertation can be developed and submitted in either a traditional or alternative format such as a film or a designed artefact as a way to facilitate practice based research.
The 3rd year focuses on personal exploration, application and developing personal voice through a Major Project module. We encourage students to investigate their own interests by writing a brief that challenges students to create innovative and imaginative solutions to problems in areas that are important to them. At this stage studies are tailored towards individual career paths, or further study, for example at MA level.
The Professional Practice module is centred upon students own career aspirations, and through guest lectures from industry specialists, seminars and live and industry projects students build their own distinctive portfolio that demonstrates your unique strengths and interests to prospective work opportunities upon graduation.
The final year normally culminates in taking part in the graduate Art and Design Showcase exhibition at the university. I addition, students are offered the opportunity put forward work for the D&AD New Blood exhibition in central London, where a selected group of students are also invited to attend.
How will I be taught and assessed?
During your time with us you'll study modules that are centred around your own career aspirations and, through guest lectures from industry specialists, seminars and live industry projects,
You’ll work alongside a diverse community of illustrators and graphic designers, each working on their own projects, just as a ‘real-world’ design studio would function. You’ll study in a close-knit tutor group where everyone’s input is recognised and valued. Not only will you make friends for life, you’ll also make important connections that will last through your career, and you’ll form a network, just like you’d find in any design group.
You’ll also work with professional illustrators who will give you feedback and pointers on how you can develop your imagery. Workshops, lectures and seminars with other students in the art and design department help you prepare you for life in an agency or studio environment where you will need good presentation and ideas generation skills as you meet and impress clients. We have many visiting tutors running workshop-based sessions in fields as diverse as stencil print, bookbinding, branding, ideas generation, storytelling, and ethical design.
Individual and small group tutorials led by industry professionals, are not only to support you throughout the degree but more importantly to prepare you the professional world afterwards with an outstanding portfolio and a network of employers.
You’ll also be assessed though; 1:1 or small group tutorials, Portfolio and presentations, written assessments, sketchbooks, group critiques and self-directed study. To build your experience, we also support work placements for the right students with companies that we have long relationships with. Students have worked for publishers, advertising agencies and magazines as well as winning awards such as the V&A Illustration Award.
At the end of your studies, you’ll have the chance to take part in the graduate Art and Design Showcase exhibition at the University.
What are the course entry requirements?
A typical offer will require a UCAS tariff score of: 88 - 112 (Full-time) or 32 - 56 (Foundation Year)
A minimum of two full A-levels (or equivalent) is required. Every application is considered on an individual basis.
Applicants will need to complete an interview and/or demonstrate portfolio work, further guidance is given on the interview and portfolio advice pages.
For further details of our international English entry requirements, please visit our international pages.
Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements for the three-year undergraduate programme, or those who do not feel fully prepared for a degree course, can apply for a four-year programme including a Foundation Year; find out more.
Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements for the three-year undergraduate programme, or those who do not feel fully prepared for a degree course, can apply for a four-year programme including a Foundation Year.
This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.
This course has Opportunity modules.
Opportunity modules are a key part of the BNU curriculum. You’ll choose modules in both your first and second year from a broad selection in areas such as sustainability, entrepreneurship, creativity, digital skills, personal growth, civic engagement, health & wellbeing and employment. Opportunity modules are designed to enable you to develop outside the traditional boundaries of your discipline and help you to further stand out from the crowd to future employers. Find out more.
What are the tuition fees
Home, Academic Year 2023 - 2024
£9,250 per year
Overseas/International, Academic Year 2023 - 2024
£15,000 per year
What are my career prospects?
Throughout your time with us we’ll support you on the route to your chosen career. We’ll help you to develop crucial skills, encouraging you to become enterprising, employable and good leaders. Our Careers and Employability Team also help you find employment after graduation.
Our BA (Hons) Illustration course will help prepare you for a range of career possibilities, such as:
- Graphic Designer
- Story Board Artist
- Concept Artist
- Print maker