MA Illustration

The course allows you to further refine your creative identity, offering a bridge between HE and professional illustration practice. It offers a great opportunity for creative professionals to return to university in order to reflect upon their creative practice and change direction.


Course info

Course duration

1 year full-time (45 weeks)
2 years part-time (90 weeks)

Contact admissions


Head shot of Lisa Richardson

Lisa Richardson - Course Leader

Postgraduate Higher Diploma (Slade) UCL, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Lisa Richardson graduated from The Slade School of Art with a Post Graduate Higher Diploma in Fine Art (Sculpture). She's exhibited her work at the Serpentine Gallery, The Royal College of Art and the ICA. Her diverse practice includes sculpture, drawing, photography, performance and moving image.


Course philosophy

MA Illustration will appeal to you if you’re open to participating in a broad range of creative strategies, utilising traditional and digital methods.

These include drawing and printmaking, lens and time-based media, with ideas and concepts that might be realised through exhibition, publication or exciting new hybrid forms.

Students studying on the course come from a number of diverse backgrounds including Illustration, Graphic Design, Printmaking, Drawing, Photography and Painting. Others come from outside of art and design, having had experience across other subject disciplines, but demonstrating a passion for illustration.

MA Illustration is structured and delivered in order to encourage and support you in developing your own distinct visual language, recognising an expansive understanding of contemporary illustration through the exploration of relationships between illustrator as author, audience and context.

Ideas are developed through specific individual approaches to research into practice and reflective enquiry. This deeper understanding and commitment to practice assists students in identifying, exploring and achieving your future career aspirations. The course encourages you to engage imaginatively with illustration, in relation to both the academic subject and practice of illustration.

MA Illustration encourages you to question the nature of your practice and its context and position relative to the creative industries. The course encourages you to engage imaginatively with your practice in relation to the evolving academic subject and practice of illustration. Your practice will be considered in a global context, with an awareness of the emergence of new and innovative approaches that interrogate, challenge and advance traditional. As a graduate from MA Illustration, you’ll be able to carve your own niche in an evolving market for visual materials.


Course outline

The course is structured and delivered in order to encourage and support you in developing your own distinct visual language, recognising an expansive understanding of contemporary illustration through the exploration of relationships between illustrator as author, audience and context.

You’ll deepen your knowledge and your ability to focus on your chosen field in relation to the key aspects that inform it. The course devises specific discipline-focused project work to enable you to take the right path towards your chosen career in industry or progress to further study at doctorate level.

Unit one: Strategies for Practice
This unit requires you to identify and critically review the attitudes and understanding underlying your illustration practice.

You’ll be encouraged to return through practice to an engagement with the fundamental components of illustration. This is supported by a Professional Development Portfolio which offers the opportunity to place your practical work in a professional context in writing.

Units two and three
The following two units are self-initiated. With the support of your tutors you will agree upon a suitable study plan to further push your practice forwards.

This may include entering external competitions. Graduates have previously won awards from The House of Illustration/Folio Society, the V&A and Smart Car (Mercedes), and past projects have included artist residencies, artists books, children’s books, graphic novels, animations, and editorial illustration.

All units include plenty of opportunities to share your work and to develop confidence in presenting your work to an audience, both verbally and visually.

The final unit resolves in a final year exhibition, alongside MA students from other courses including Graphic Design, Fine Art and Photography. You’ll have the opportunity to curate the show alongside your tutors, ending in an exciting event to invite friends, family and potential clients to.

You’ll also have the opportunity to attend professional practice workshops, where you will be advised on important skills such as self-promotion, entrepreneurship, approaching clients and pricing your work. We’re highly aware of and very responsive to the needs and professional aspirations of graduates as they progress to meet the future demands of the professional work-related environment. In this respect we are constantly alert to the trends within each of the respective, discipline-specific, market places.

Set within a community and culture of makers, students engage in dialogue and debate with their peers irrespective of their preferred discipline and collaboration internally or across course is encouraged.

This experience provides dynamic and interactive sessions, which are vital to the enhancement of new thinking and ideas generation as well as offering a critical arena for discussion of student work.

You can download the programme specification for the course or read more about any course costs.

Part-time pathway
The part-time pathway is carried out over a period of 90 weeks – rather than 45 weeks as in the full-time pathway.


What are students doing

Looking to be inspired? Browse our gallery of student work to find out more about the kinds of projects that our students get involved in.

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Your interview and portfolio

As part of your application, we require a portfolio of your work. You can find out more about what to include in your portfolio by downloading our Portfolio Guidelines.


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