Illustration BA (Hons)

Study level: Undergraduate
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Turn your passion for art and creativity into an exciting professional career in illustration.

Year of entry

Location

Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode

Full-time
Sandwich

Duration

3 years full-time
4 years sandwich

Course code

W225

Start date

September 2025

The information on this page is for 2024-25 entry and should be used as guidance for 2025-26 entry. Please keep checking back on this course page to see our latest updates.


Course overview

This course is designed and taught by successful practicing illustrators, artists and designers, who all share a common desire to explore your personal interests in drawing and storytelling and push the boundaries of illustration.

The course has an inter-disciplinary and student-centred approach, enabling you to develop your individual creative practice and direct your portfolio towards a wide range of potential career paths.

  • A programme of traditional and digital technology workshops.
  • We aim to teach you transferable skills and how to use a wide range of tools to bring your ideas to life.
  • On successful completion you should gain business and marketing skills, which aim to guide you through the steps you need to be industry ready for a successful career in illustration and other creative careers.
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Joint Top Modern University for Career Prospects

Guardian University Guide 2021 and 2022

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5 QS Stars for Teaching and Facilities

QS Stars University Ratings

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Top 10 UK Student City (Coventry)

QS Best Student Cities Index 2024

Why you should study this course

  • Professional practice and employability skills are taught and embedded into the course from day one and run as a strand throughout. You will be taught by staff who are active practitioners in the field of art and design and have relevant industry experience (staff may be subject to change).
  • Industry standard software teaching and workshop skills are embedded into the course structure and its delivery.
  • You will seek to develop your professional understanding of illustration and associated creative practices and develop a portfolio to target your career goals and aspirations. 
  • You will have the opportunity to work on live and real-world briefs to develop your confidence in working with and presenting to external clients.
  • Following the University’s recent major investment in Art and Design, Illustration is now located in the newly re-configured, state of the art, city centre development. It benefits from a vibrant array of advanced facilities, including state-of-the-art teaching spaces and technical workshops, multi-use, lens-based, immersive technology and hyper studios as well as a public gallery space. 

Memberships

The course and students benefit from membership to the AOI (Association of Illustrators).

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What you'll study

This course has a common first year.

The common first year enables you to work alongside students doing similar courses to you, to widen your knowledge and exposure to other subject areas and professions. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with other students, so you can share your insights and experience which will help you to develop and learn. 

If you discover an interest in a specific subject you have studied, upon successful completion of your first year, you could swap degrees with another course in your common first year (subject to meeting progression requirements

Common first year courses

  • Illustration BA (Hons)
  • Fine Art BA (Hons)
  • Photography BA (Hons)

In the first year, the curriculum is shared across related courses allowing you to gain a broad grounding in the discipline before going on, in the second and third years, to specialist modules in your chosen field. 

Modules

  • In this module you will investigates the ideas and inspirations that underpin creative practice. Introducing you to a range of approaches to visual research, you will explore themes, concepts and readings connected to image making, which will help you to shape your own creative outcomes.  Over the course of this module, you should learn to develop your own creative investigations and collate research material to underpin your own areas of interest.  

    Compulsory

  • The focus of this module will encourage you to take an experimental approach to gaining skills, shaped through an ongoing evaluative process, that enables you to reflect, evaluate and develop your own experimentation. In particular, you should develop a broad set of skills in a range of specialist fields, exploring different processes, which will become the fundamental tools and techniques that help you to shape your creative practice.   

    Compulsory

  • Within this module you will make creative outputs that respond to briefs, ideas or themes. You will be encouraged to identify the contexts in which your creative practice is situated, creating an informed body of research that will help drive your creative responses. Supported by staff, you will learn to make independent investigations that respond to theoretical and contextual ideas, before going on to produce a range of experiments and outputs that help you to develop your own creative voice.

    Compulsory

  • Within this module you are encouraged to experiment and develop innovative approaches to your creative practice. You will have access to a wide range of workshops and technical spaces, from which you can shape and develop a unique set of skills4. The focus of this module will be on trialling, testing and developing your own creative skills, with a creative freedom that should help you to build up a stronger understanding of the processes and techniques that underpin your creative work.  

    Compulsory

  • This module explores key ideas and themes of narrative as a theme to help you develop creative outcomes. To support you in this investigation, you will be introduced to personal development planning, which will support you to become a reflective practitioner, who uses the ongoing reflective process, to continuously develop your communication skills, to talk actively about your ideas and intentions throughout the creative process.   

    Compulsory

  • Within this module you will consider the importance of audiences in the production of creative work. You will explore the different contexts in which work is seen, learning to shape work to maximise engagement and communicate your ideas effectively. Over the course of the module, you will be encouraged to continually reflect upon the appropriate contexts and environments in which you are producing your creative work to ensure it has maximum impact. 

    Compulsory

In year two you will continue to develop the skills and knowledge you’ve learnt. We do this by embedding the following four principles into the curriculum and developing your: 

  • Technical skills – digital fluency, backed with the right academic knowledge
  • Study skills – to be an adaptive, independent and proactive learner
  • Professional skills – to have the behaviour and abilities to succeed in your career
  • Global awareness – the beliefs and abilities to be a resilient, confident and motivated global citizen

You will develop more advanced knowledge and skills to do with: materials and style, contextual illustration, and narrative illustration, amongst others. 

Modules

  • You will be encouraged to extend and develop your ideas and approaches in a unique, explorative context. This will be done through the production of artworks with in-depth research relevant to your own personal ideologies. You will work in response to current events and develop your visual language in order to communicate your opinions through a socially engaged body of work. 

    Compulsory

  • The aim of the module is to explore and navigate the inter-dimensional nature of your art and design practice, integrating and innovating through a diverse mixed media approach. You will extend these areas to create new and exciting visual languages and artefacts that are relevant to contemporary practice. Exploration of an iterative process based upon experiment, evaluation and modification is the focus for the module. 

    Compulsory

  • In this module you will continue to produce a body of portfolio work to a diverse range of contextually significant illustration briefs. You will be expected to extend and develop your ideas and approaches and start to formalise an adaptable and unique style of creating. Individual work will take the form of a series of briefs and self-initiated projects modelled on current professional and creative practice and will culminate in a body of work that reflects a resolved and focused application of ideas. You may pursue live project briefs, exhibitions, competitions and commissions within the module. 

    Compulsory

  • In this module you will explore materials and approaches that are unfamiliar to you as part of your continued development. The emphasis of this module is to explore new concepts and technical approaches to aid artistic development through project work and practical exercises, with a focus on experimentation and risk taking being key. You will be given the freedom to make mistakes and embrace the ‘happy accident’ with outcomes being judged on the process rather than the final outcome. 

    Compulsory

  • This module aims to develop your skills and abilities to construct visual narratives appropriate to identified age groups and produce portfolio pieces for publishing. You will be introduced to various types of narrative formats including children’s picture books, graphic novels and comics. The module will explore ways in which consecutive imagery, linear and non-linear sequences can communicate ideas, drawing on both personal and socially relevant subject matter. You should develop the ability to express your ideas through the use of dynamic page layout, sequencing, image to text relationships, stylistic considerations, digital image making processes and script development and writing. 

    Compulsory

  • You will propose and present work in a range of contexts, that straddles various media including; print, photography, digital drawing /painting. The module should increase your understanding of professional illustration practice and particularly focuses on identifying appropriate contexts and contemporary markets for your work. The outcome from the module will culminate in a professionally presented piece of work, which will be marketed within an additional group collective context. You will also be expected to contribute to the creation of a coherent identity for the group and take an active role in the organization and marketing activities. This may involve design, publicity, or other online promotional activity. 

    Compulsory

There’s no better way to find out what you love doing than trying it out for yourself, which is why a work placement can often be beneficial. Work placements2 usually occur between your second and final year of study. They’re a great way to help you explore your potential career path and gain valuable work experience, whilst developing transferable skills for the future. 

If you choose to do a work placement year, you will pay a reduced tuition fee3 of £1250. For more information, please go to the fees and funding section. During this time you will receive guidance from your employer or partner institution, along with your assigned academic mentor who will ensure you have the support you need to complete your placement.

For more information please go to the fees and funding section. 

Modules

  • This module provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved placement2 undertaken during your programme. A placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes. 

    Optional

  • This module provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved international study/work placement2 undertaken during your programme. A work/study placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes. 

    Optional

Year three aims to bring you to the level to enter the world of work by consolidating your knowledge and skills from year one and two. 

Modules

  • This module should enable you to consider what it takes to become an entrepreneurial illustrator, research the marketplace and test the viability of your plans post-graduation. Building on career aspirations you should have identified in the previous year, you will undertake research into your desired role within the industry and formulate a plan to achieve your goals. You will write a clearly articulated plan across a range of time frames, and this should include a detailed understanding of audience/ clients, brand values, pricing, revenue streams and financial planning. 

    Compulsory

  • Building on the previous year's diagnostic elements of the course, this module should provide you with the opportunity to develop your skills and experience towards a specific area of illustration practice. You will critically appraise your own practice in relation to your professional goals, building a portfolio of work which is underpinned through theoretical, contextual and professional research carried out in the adjacent professional practice module. 

    Compulsory

  • In this module, you will explore and produce self-promotional work that takes into account your understanding of your specific area of creative practice, career path and your professional aspirations. You should learn about a range of marketing and promotional strategies relevant to Illustration and to the wider creative arts sector and a range of professional contexts.   

    Compulsory

  • You will produce a creative digital portfolio and online presence to enable you to present and promote yourself as a creative practitioner in your specific community of practice and to potential clients. This module is designed to support and assist you in preparing for your future career and develop a range of online connections to a global community of practice.  

    Compulsory

  • This module provides you with an extended period of studio practice, to allow the opportunity to consolidate and refine your illustration practice. This module should help you to produce a substantial, sustained and coherent body of work leading towards a relevant professional portfolio. It also provides you with the opportunity to both conceive and manage complex and challenging projects in a variety of media, by responding to a mixture of live externally set briefs, and/or by extending your own studio practice. Projects may be hypothetical or personal, providing suitable context and purpose can be evidenced and supported. You may choose to work collaboratively with either clients, organisations and audiences, or individually, establishing a realistic and externally tested personal practice. 

    Compulsory

We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.


How you'll learn

Teaching and learning on the course is student-centred and focuses on working with students to develop your individualised creative practice and professional goals. You will be taught through a range of methods including workshops, lectures, studio practice, software skills sessions, tutorials, and seminars. You will engage in team working, active learning and problem-solving.

Modules are practice based and revolve around working to specific briefs that focus on various aspects of developing a professional and job ready creative practice. 

Additionally, you should be prepared to invest a proportion of your time exploring and self-directing your practice.

The School of Art and Design may provide opportunities to engage in external or collaborative activities such as competition/Industry briefs and speakers beyond your course studies2. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to support your learning journey.


Teaching contact hours

The number of full-time contact hours may vary from semester to semester, however, on average, it is likely to be around 15 to 18 hours per week in the 1st year, 12 to 15 hours per week in 2nd year and 10 hours per week in the final year as you become a more independent learner.  

Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study each week of approximately 15 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules. 

The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, and online sessions/ tutorials.

Part of university life is undertaking self-directed learning. During a typical week you will have time that allows you to work independently to apply the skills and knowledge you have learnt in taught or facilitated sessions to your projects or assignment briefs. This self-directed learning allows you to use your research skills, consolidate your knowledge or undertake collaborative group work.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the University may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the University may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

Since COVID-19, we have delivered our courses in a variety of forms, in line with public authority guidance, decisions, or orders and we will continue to adapt our delivery as appropriate. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


Assessment

Your learning journey will be wide ranging, developing your work to have integrity, resilience and be authentic in its production and delivery. The learning that you will undertake will include sessions that are led by staff, group projects, guided learning and directed skill sessions.

This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which may vary depending upon the module concerned. Assessment methods include practical coursework, essays/reports, presentations, individual assignments and/or group work elements.

This course is predominantly assessed by coursework.

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes. 


International experience opportunities

Each year, when possible, we also offer study trips abroad2. For example, second- and third-year students will be provided with opportunities to voluntarily visit an international university as part of their studies.  

Students can also engage in Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) projects with participating institutions and other international universities around the world. 

I know that working within the field of creative illustration opens possibilities and is a hugely rewarding creative career. We teach students professional skills and knowledge to be industry ready and able to pursue their passion with confidence.

Joy Monkhouse, Senior Lecturer in Illustration (2022)
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Entry requirements

Typical offer for 2024/25 entry.

Requirement What we're looking for
UCAS points 112
A level BBC
GCSE Minimum 5 GCSEs at grade 4 / C or above to include English.
BTEC DMM
IB Diploma 29 points
Access to HE The Access to HE Diploma. Plus GCSE English at grade 4 / C or above.

Portfolio

You may be required to attend a portfolio showcase, activity session or audition or submit a portfolio via email (as is appropriate to your course), either virtually or face to face, as is practical to arrange. Invites for these sessions will be sent directly to your contact email.

Each application will be considered on its merits.

Other qualifications and experience

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, each with a unique story. We recognise a breadth of qualifications. If your qualifications differ from the above, contact our Admissions Team who will be happy to discuss your qualifications and routes into your chosen course.

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Contextual offers and Fair Access Scheme

If you meet the criteria for our Fair Access Scheme, you could automatically receive a contextual offer that may be up to 24 UCAS points lower than our standard entry requirements. View the criteria for our Fair Access Scheme.

Select your region to find detailed information about entry requirements:


You can view our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page.

Alternatively, visit our International hub for further advice and guidance on finding in-country agents and representatives, joining our in-country events and how to apply.

If you do not have the typical entry requirements, you may want to consider studying this course with an international foundation year. Upon successful completion our International Foundation Year - Art, Design and Media will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to progress onto this undergraduate degree.

Portfolio

You may be required to attend a portfolio showcase, activity session or audition or submit a portfolio via email (as is appropriate to your course), either virtually or face to face, as is practical to arrange. Invites for these sessions will be sent directly to your contact email.

Each application will be considered on its merits.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall (with at least 5.5 in each component area)

If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.

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Fees and funding

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man 2025/26 fees TBC
2024/25 fees - £9,250 per year
Not available
EU 2025/26 fees TBC
2024/25 fees - £9,250 per year with EU support bursary**
2025/26 fees TBC
2024/25 fees - £19,850 per year without EU support bursary**
Not available
International 2025/26 fees TBC
2024/25 fees - £19,850 per year
Not available

If you choose to study this course with a professional placement2 or study abroad year, you will need to pay a tuition fee3 of £1,250 to cover your academic support throughout your placement year.

For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Undergraduate Finance page and see the university’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.

The university will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The university will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permits an increase in tuition fees, the university may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the university reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.

We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).

Find out what's included in your tuition costs.

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU Support Bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.


Facilities

The course facilitates learning and production of innovative design solutions through access to specialist facilities4 including: PC and Mac suites running the latest industry standard software, traditional print-making and making workshops (etching, silk-screen printing, relief printing, woodwork, laser-cutting) as well as a generously stocked letterpress room.

You will be encouraged to use our spaces and facilities to explore multiple materials, techniques and equipment. Teaching and learning on the course incorporates these into module activity and project work enabling students to work toward developing these skills to the highest possible level and to industry standards.

You will be taught by dedicated software demonstrators on our up-to-date Apple Mac studios industry standard Adobe Creative Suite software.

You will have access to workshops such as print workshops, wood and metal workshops, 3D workshops, Print Bureau, and rapid prototyping and laser cutting.

You will have access to the media loan shop where you can hire out professional cameras, video and lighting equipment.  


Careers and opportunities

On successful completion of this course, you will:

  • Develop your understanding of illustration from a professional and historical standpoint
  • Develop your ability to originate ideas that effectively communicate to specific audiences
  • Be given the opportunity to experiment with both traditional making techniques and contemporary technology as means to innovate within the field of illustration
  • Embed a philosophy of continued independent learning, critical reflection, and fluid engagement in multi-disciplinary activities, resulting in the acquisition of valuable transferable skills
  • Produce a portfolio of professional work relevant to your chosen career aspirations
  • Develop contacts and become part of a global community of practice
  • Be equipped with the entrepreneurial skills and resilience to turn your passion into a sustainable career.

The university's Talent Team is on hand to offer tailored career and enterprise support if you wish to gain employment or take advantage of professional practice opportunities within course specific industries. It aims to provide specialist careers information, advice and guidance to all our students from their first year through to final year and beyond graduation, helping them receive the opportunities to reach their desired career outcome.

The course offers a creative and exciting range of employability destinations in illustration, as well as underpinning many other creative professions. After studying, our students have gone on to work as freelance illustrators, comic book artists, graphic designers, games designers, children's book writers and illustrators, animators, marketing professionals, textile and homewares designers, printmakers, artists, as well as working in associated creative professions such as fashion editorial, advertising and marketing, tv and film production, arts management, self-publishing, teaching, and study at postgraduate level.

Where our graduates work

Graduate destinations include: Post-graduate study, internships, freelance work and commissions, creative design and visualisation roles including; 

  • Codemasters Gaming, Warwickshire 
  • Design-by-Touch toy and app design agency, Leamington Spa  
  • Nettl Web Design, Birmingham  
  • Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • McCann creative agency – Birmingham
  • HanSpringett Ltd, Bucharest Romania
  • Armstrong Wolfe, Cheltenham
  • 22 Digital Ltd, UK
  • Havas Design, London UK
  • Uncrowd, Germany 
  • Hutch, UK

Our students have been shortlisted and won various National and Internationally recognised competitions including: D&AD, The Silent Book Prize, The House of Illustration, Macmillan Prize for Children’s Picture Book Illustration, Adobe Championships, the Creative Conscience Awards, and ‘The one to watch’ Award at New Designers. 

Further study

You can choose to continue your studies at Coventry University with:

You may be entitled to an alumni discount on your fees if you decide to extend your time with us by progressing from undergraduate to postgraduate study.

Tutors do everything they can to give you an engaging and interesting course with all the help and support needed.

Georgia Baldassarra, BA (Hons) Illustration graduate and Digital Designer at TwentyTwoDigital Limited
student studying in the hub

How to apply

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University.

    1Accreditations

    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.

    4Facilities

    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2024/2025 contract is available on the website for information purposes however the 2025/2026 contract will apply for the 2025/2026 intake. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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