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Illustration (BA Hons)

BA (Hons) - single

School of Arts

This degree course, which takes place at Swindon College, is aimed at students who wish to enter the marketplace as illustrators.

This unique illustration course aims to support and nurture the development of independent practice, versatility and individual creative vision within the field of illustration. The course actively encourages innovation within the application of drawing and image-making techniques; celebrating individual expression, conceptual thinking and diversity within all aspects of visual storytelling. This includes the comic or cartoon strip; the graphic novel; film/TV/theatre/animation storyboarding; instructional diagrams; children's storybooks; computer games characterisation and web illustration.

Typical offers

Available start dates

September 2017 / September 2018

Teaching location

Swindon College

Course length

  • Full time: 3 years

UCAS code

W221

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • You will build the knowledge and skills needed to start a career in illustration or to continue studying at postgraduate level. 
  • You will learn about the latest technology and processes, as well as developing your ability to create innovative illustrative outcomes that will help to move the industry forward.
  • You will learn a wide variety of practical skills that are valued in the workplace, from experienced staff with commercial and professional experience. Our strong links with regional employers will further open up career opportunities for you.
  • During your final year exhibition in Swindon, you will exhibit your work to a variety of representatives from the creative industry. This event offers networking and employment opportunities and ensures the School of Art maintains strong links with regional employers.
  • The course will broaden your understanding of historical, contemporary and contextual influences on illustration and how this affects current practice.

"The interaction with the staff is a big part of my great experience on this course; the student and teacher relationship is unparalleled compared to other courses around the country as the group sizes are kept small." Rian Whiteside, BA Illustration student.

To find out more about what it is like to study at an Oxford Brookes partner college, visit our partnership course pages.

The course is organised over three years. Each year consists of interrelated modules, emphasising the continuity of approaches to making narrative images with creative flair and consistency of style.

The course develops varied approaches to image-making using a variety of media, including digital manipulation. 

We place great emphasis on developing your ability to survive and prosper in a business environment. Self-motivation, personal confidence and marketing skills are all fostered to enable graduates to win commissions in a fiercely competitive field.

Study modules

As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules available may vary from those listed here. All modules are compulsory.

Year 1

  • Visual Communication in Illustration
  • Drawing
  • Visual Narrative and Storytelling
  • Digital Tools for Illustration and Animation
  • Illustration in Context

Years 2 and 3

Year 2

  • Drawing for Illustration
  • Sequential Illustration
  • Live Briefs and Collaborations
  • Illustration Research Project
  • Personal and Creative Style

Year 3

  • Self-initiated Major Projects
  • Extended Research Project/ Dissertation
  • Professional Practice and Exhibition

Field trips

Regular field trips are offered throughout the course and there is also an opportunity to take part in a residential study visit each academic year. Past trips have included New York, Berlin and Krakow. These residential trips are not covered by your fees and additional costs will apply. 

Your course tuition fee covers the cost of all mandatory field trips. The cost of any optional field trips are not included in your course tuition fee, and a separate fee will apply. Please contact the College (see 'Contact us' for details) if you would like more information about the field trip(s) on this course.

Study abroad

You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are studying at Swindon College as an Oxford Brookes student. Most exchanges take place in the second year.

Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:

  • increasing your employability within an international market
  • boosting your language skills
  • building your confidence in adapting to new situations
  • improving your knowledge of different cultures.
  • While on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree.

Oxford Brookes has more than 100 partner universities around the world. However, we currently do not have a partnership arrangement for Illustration. If this is something you would be interested in then we can investigate the possibility of a possible exchange with our current partners.

All costs related to studying abroad are not covered by the College.  All travel, accommodation and subsistence will need to be funded by yourself.

For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges

Attendance pattern

Attendance is typically expected to be two and a half days per week, thirty weeks per year.

Additional costs

Art and design materials are not included in the course tuition fees. You need to provide your own art and design materials to allow you to complete your projects successfully. Costs for projects can vary significantly dependent on your project and the materials used.The exact amount that you will need to budget for will depend upon the projects that you choose; however, the following is a guide:

Materials and equipment  - £200-£300

Final Exhibition costs - £300

Study visits, travel & gallery entrance fees - £100 

The residential study visit may be in the region of £400-800 but this could vary according to the destination. 

Teaching and learning

This course includes formal lectures, software demonstrations, presentations, seminars, discussions and workshop activity.

Studio practice modules focus on conceptual problem solving whilst fostering creativity and innovative approaches to communicating effectively with a range of potential audiences and target markets. These modules also focus on building the practical skills necessary to produce effective illustrative solutions to a professional standard.

Contextual studies modules enable you to appreciate the role that illustration has played in developing and enhancing contemporary visual culture alongside further developing research, analysis and communication skills.

Teaching and learning strategies are supported by a formal academic and pastoral tutorial programme. Additional one to one tutorials are available on request. You will also be able to access online educational support materials through our virtual learning environment (VLE).

Approach to assessment

Assessment methods involve formative and summative strategies.

Formative assessment is designed to provide you with feedback on your progress and inform you of your ongoing development.  Formative assessments such as in-class discussions, presentations and activities do not form part of your grade.  You will receive verbal and/or written feedback after the formative assessment, and it is very important that you reflect on both the feedback and your performance during the formative stage.

Summative assessment tasks include the submission of work in a portfolio, dissertation or presentation and this will result in a grade for a module.  We will also give you feedback designed to provide a measure of your achievement against the intended learning outcomes of the course.  Summative marks help to indicate your performance for the whole module and will determine your progression on the course.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time off-campus fee: 2017/18: £7,000

International - full time off-campus fee : 2017/18: £8,500 2018/19: £8,800

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees may increase in following years.

Undergraduate fee levels for 2018/19 have not yet been announced by the government and are therefore yet to be confirmed. Oxford Brookes University intends to continue to set fees at the maximum level permitted for new and returning Home/EU students.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088
finance-fees@brookes.ac.uk

Funding and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see:

Typical offers

  • BTEC National Extended Diploma with two / three merits and five GCSEs at Grade C or above, one of which must be English, plus a portfolio of practical work.
  • AVCE (Double Award) in Art & Design and five GCSEs at Grade C or above, one of which must be English plus a portfolio of practical work.
  • Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art & Design) or Access to Art and Design Diploma plus a portfolio of practical work.
  • Two years' industrial experience plus a portfolio of practical work (mature students, for example).

Specific entry requirements

A-Level: 2 A-levels in subjects appropriate to the degree

GCSE: 5 subjects at grade C or above, including English

Alternatively, candidates must have one of the following:

  • Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art & Design)
  • Access to Art & Design
  • AVCE (Double Award) in Art & Design
  • National Extended Diploma in Design
  • Other equivalent qualifications or experience (for example: mature students without formal qualifications, but with evidence of relevant industrial experience, will be considered).

Entry into Year 2 may be considered for those students with a Higher National Diploma or Certificate in a subject appropriate to the degree, with merit passes in at least three final-year modules, one of which should be in the Contextual Studies area.

In addition, all candidates must present a satisfactory portfolio of practical work at interview.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

Selection process

All candidates must present a satisfactory portfolio of practical work at interview.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements

International and EU applications

Preparation courses for EU students

We offer a range of courses to help students meet the academic and English language entry requirements for their courses and also familiarise them with university life.

Find out more about the international foundation pathways we offer and our pre-sessional English language courses.

Country specific entry requirements

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information and local representatives who can help you to apply, please have a look at our country specific information pages.

How to apply

Full-time students should apply for this course through UCAS.

Applications must be made via UCAS. Please check with UCAS for any amendments before submitting your application.


International applications

An eportfolio can be submitted instead of a physical folder of work at interview. Interviews can be held via Skype or telephone.

This course is not available to international students requiring a Tier 4 visa.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Oxford Brookes operates the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Support for students studying Illustration (BA Hons)

Swindon College's School of Art provides a stimulating environment in which students at all levels work together developing common skills and values. 

Highly qualified staff will guide you through your course and you will be supported by a Programme Leader who will help you on a day-to-day basis and advise you on your plans for further study or progression to professional life.

Specialist facilities

Swindon College's School of Art is located across three different locations within the North Star Campus. The department has its own network of computers and has full use of the college’s PC networks. You will benefit from excellent access to educational and professional, industry-standard creative software packages and from using the latest computing equipment.

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

General support services

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Career prospects

Students may enter the publishing or broadcasting industries as either freelance practitioners or staff artists. Increasingly, sequential specialists are finding employment opportunities within the electronic publishing sector (eg computer games, web design).


Further study

Some students choose to continue their studies at postgraduate level or undertake teacher training.