Illustration (BA Hons)

BA (Hons)

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Key facts

UCAS code


Course length

Full time: 3 years


School of Arts


This Course is now suspended for entry for September 2024

Please check back for September 2025 entry.

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.

Piece of coursework completed by an Illustration, BA (Hons) degree course student at Oxford Brookes University

Course details

Course structure

In year one you will learn how visual language and graphic communication work within illustration through practical investigation with a range of materials and processes including drawing, pictorial storytelling and various digital applications. You will also explore the history of illustration and its position in the wider context of the creative arts and culture.

In year two you will develop an experimental approach to drawing, examine a variety of formats, conventions and styles of storytelling, and work on industry-standard illustration briefs and national competitions. You will learn how to develop your unique ‘personality’ as an illustrator and extend your critical understanding of illustration and its place in the creative industries.

In year three you will develop and manage two major illustration projects, undertake an in-depth investigation into an area of visual culture of your choice and extend your knowledge of employment opportunities in the creative industries.

Group of Illustration BA (Hons) degree course students walking together on campus at Oxford Brookes University

Learning and teaching

You will be taught a very broad approach to illustrative practice which combines traditional hand skills with more contemporary digital practice. This will provide you with the opportunity to learn a wide range of illustration approaches such as printmaking, animation, sequential illustration and digital applications. You will learn in a studio culture and will predominantly work within the HE ‘Creative Hub’ at New College Swindon, where you will be part of a wider community of creative practitioners. You will have access to a variety of specialist equipment and materials to develop and present your illustration projects.

You will be taught the theoretical elements of the course, principally the core modules in Historical and Contextual Studies and Business Studies, using a mix of formal lectures, seminars and tutorials. Your studio-based practical modules will be taught using a mix of lectures, discussion, seminars, workshops and tutorials.


You will be assessed on your practical and written coursework. For each practical module, you will present your final work in the form of a portfolio of illustrations or a presentation. For each theory module, you will be assessed on written coursework, through essays, reports or verbal presentation. In year three you will also submit an extended essay as a final dissertation alongside a major public exhibition of your Illustration projects.

You will receive regular verbal feedback on your learning through individual and small group tutorials, and written feedback once you have submitted practical or written work for assessment. Our feedback will support you to develop your work further and will help you to identify and promote your strengths.

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time off campus

Home (UK) full time off campus

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time off campus

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time off campus

Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

How to apply

Further offer details

  • 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).

Entry requirements

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 applications

New College Swindon cannot accept international applicants at this time.

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

Many of our courses consider applications for entry with credit for prior learning. Each application is individually assessed by our credit entry tutors.

If you would like more information about whether or not you may be eligible for the award of credit, for example from an HND, partly-completed degree or foundation degree, please contact our Admissions team.

We operate 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.

Application process

Full time Home (UK) applicants

Apply through UCAS

International applicants

Apply direct to the University

Full time international applicants can also apply through UCAS


You will develop the knowledge and practical skills to enter the creative industries as an illustrator with a particular emphasis on narrative and sequential work. This includes:

  • the comic or cartoon strip
  • the graphic novel
  • film/TV/theatre/animation storyboarding
  • instructional diagrams
  • children’s storybook
  • computer games characterisation
  • web illustration.

You will develop the business acumen, critical sensibilities and entrepreneurial skills to practice in a competitive marketplace. You will be able to embark on a career not only familiar with the latest technology and processes, but also with the ability to create innovative illustrations that will help in moving the industry forward.

You can expect a career as a Narrative or Children’s Book Illustrator, a Graphic or Storyboard Artist, a Cartoonist, a Web Designer, or a Computer Games Designer or you could continue your study to Masters level.

Learn more about this course

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.