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BA (Hons) Illustration

Illustration is a way of seeing and understanding the world. You'll discover how to connect and communicate with different audiences across a range of platforms.

Illustration course information

In our dynamic studio environments, you’ll learn to experiment, test and develop your illustration practice. You can explore drawing, painting, sewing and printmaking, as well as photographic, digital, moving image and interactive media.

In our studio environment, you'll learn to experiment, test, and develop your work through the diverse world of illustrative practices.

Course duration

3-years (full-time)

UCAS course code


UCAS institution code


Level 4 (first year)

Level 4 is all about experimentation and taking creative risks as you're introduced to the diversity of illustration.

The emphasis is on learning through gaining practical experience and critical reflection, in order to form your own unique visual vocabulary. You’ll attend workshops led by our dynamic group of tutors, as well as visiting lecturers with expertise in specialist areas.

You’ll undertake independent learning to help you develop ideas and outcomes through ongoing studio practice. You’ll test and discuss your ideas during tutorials and group critiques and benefit from regular formative feedback.

We encourage you to undertake independent research, evaluating and analysing your findings in relation to your Illustration practice.

Level 5 (second year)

At Level 5, your practice will become increasingly independent and critically reflective. You’ll develop a critical understanding of key concepts and principles. We’ll ask you to create a presentation of your study proposal.

Level 5 units give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the eclectic nature of imagemaking and you’ll explore the synergy between traditional and digital modes. In doing so, we encourage you to challenge the parameters of your Illustration practice.

You’ll explore the evolving contents for Illustration and the place of your practice within the world that we live in. You’ll have the option of articulating your ideas through animation or printmaking, with the option of graduating with a specialist named award at the end of Level 6 – if this is appropriate to your practice and future career aspirations.

The specialist awards available are:

BA (Hons) Illustration (Animation)
BA (Hons) Illustration (Printmaking)

You’ll learn the professional skills that provide a foundation for the development of independent, entrepreneurial practitioners ready for Level 6 study.

Level 6 (third year)

At Level 6 the emphasis is on professionalism, ambition and innovation. You’ll be encouraged to manage your own practice.

Through the ‘Pre-Major Project’ and ‘Investigative Study’, you’ll identify the subject matter and contexts that influence and position your practice.

These findings will then be developed, tested and refined within the ‘Major Project’ and ‘Professional Practice’ units.

We’ll encourage you to relate your research and learning to you professional aspirations and you’ll build a portfolio of work that will prepare you for career opportunities within the creative industries.

All students are registered for the award of BA (Hons); however, exit awards are available if you leave the course early, having successfully completed one or two levels. If you successfully complete a level of the course, you will automatically be entitled to progress to the next level.

For the award of a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 120 credits at Level 4. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the first year of your course.

For the award of a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 240 credits of which a minimum of 120 must be at Level 5. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the second year of your course.

For the award of a BA (Hons) you must have achieved a minimum of 360 credits of which a minimum of 240 must be at Level 5 or above, of which a minimum of 120 credits must be at Level 6. This qualification will be awarded upon successful completion of your course.

A BA without Honours may be awarded if you have achieved 300 credits, at least 180 of which are at Level 5 or above, and at least 60 of which are at Level 6.

You can find out more about our talented and experienced BA (Hons) Illustration teaching staff by exploring their profiles below.

AUB Course team fallback

Dr Christian Edwardes

Christian is an artist and research student based in Dorset. He completed his PhD at Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2016, and is...

Photo of Joel Lardner

Joel Lardner

MA (Kingston University), BA (Hons, Leeds Metropolitan), PGCE (University College for the Creative Arts) Joel is an Illustrator...

Photo of Sharon Beeden

Sharon Beeden

MA (RCA) Having graduated from the Royal College of Art, Sharon Beeden embarked upon a successful freelance practice working...

Photo of Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts

HND (Illustration), MA (Mass Communication), Post Graduate Certificate (HE) Paul has worked in Higher Education for 10 years...

Photo of Gabrielle Cariolle

Gabrielle Cariolle

MA (RCA) Gabrielle has a global experience of Higher Art Education having studied in Paris (ENSAD), New York (Cooper Union)...

Photo of Vincent Larkin

Vincent Larkin

MA (Authorial Illustration), BA (Fine Art) Vincent Larkin is an illustrator and artist who works in print and drawing. His practice...

AUB Course team fallback

Laura Hamp

MA (RCA) Laura Hamp studied BA Fine Art at University College Falmouth, and then went on to Study Printmaking at the Royal College...

Photo of Jenni Saarenkyla

Jenni Saarenkyla

Jenni is a Finnish illustrator and designer based in the UK. She creates work both...

Photo of Harriet Mummery

Harriet Mummery

Harriet is currently the Technician Demonstrator for BA (Hons) Illustration, MA Illustration and BA (Hons) Drawing courses, providing...

Lucia paganini

Lucia Paganini

Lucia trained as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator in Italy and in the UK...

How to apply

Once you've found the perfect Undergraduate course, you can apply to study via UCAS, including direct entry applications to second and third year.

When applying through UCAS, use the institution code A66. All of our courses take place on one site, so we don't have a campus code. We'll then use your completed UCAS form to make decisions about your application. You can find out more on entry requirements in our apply section.

When you apply to one of our courses, it's important that you help us get a good picture of both you and your work – so you'll need a great personal statement. We want to know more about why you're interested in the course, your key influences, and what you hope to do after your studies.

If you're invited for an interview, many of our courses will ask to see a portfolio of your work so we can get more insight into your ideas and abilities. To help you, we've created guidelines outlining what we expect from your portfolio for each course.

Want to know more about the kind of work our students are working on? Browse the gallery below to explore the work of our current BA (Hons) Illustration students.

Students studying this course achieve great things and have won prestigious and high profile awards, such as:

  • The Macmillan Prize 2019 – Winner & 2 x ‘Highly Commended’ entries
  • Pictoplasma (#Secretsidekick) 2019 – 2x Winners
  • Creative Conscience 2019- Winner & Bronze award
  • Penguin Book Prize – Children’s Cover Award: 2nd & 3rd Place
  • The Cheltenham Illustration Awards – 2x Student Award winners & 1 ‘Highly Commended’ entry
  • Batsford Art Prize: Illustration – Runner-up
  • Northern International Illustration Prize – Finalist
  • Carmelite Prize 2019 – ‘Highly Commended’
  • Lauren Childs Illustration Awards – Finalist

Entry/Portfolio requirements

We're looking for curious candidates who produce creative and original work.

Top tips on how to prepare your portfolio:

For courses that require a portfolio review or an audition, the Admissions team will be in touch with you and request a digital portfolio or audition.

We'll hold Offer Holder days in Spring and invite applicants to visit the campus and meet the course team, or if you're unable to visit us you'll be able to attend a virtual Offer Holder Day.

We’re looking for your portfolio to demonstrate your drawing, design and graphic skills. Try to think about drawing in the broadest possible way: illustrators use all kinds of approaches, media and processes in their work. We’d love to see your ability to experiment.

You should include a selection of the projects that you're working on in your current course and any self-initiated work that you’d like to show us.

We’d like to see examples of drawing, developmental work and finished outcomes. We are particularly interested to see your sketchbook and how research that you have done informs your practice.

Your portfolio should show:

  • An enthusiasm for exploring ideas through drawing
  • Evidence of a thoughtful, enquiring mind and a commitment to the subject area
  • Evidence of ability to interpret a brief intelligently and execute with innovation and flair
  • An understanding of contemporary illustration practice and formats
  • A willingness to engage in debate on a variety of topical and cultural issues

Consider how your portfolio is organised and presented as this is important.

Universities interviewing for creative courses will expect to be presented with a portfolio to help them understand your ability and range of work. Your portfolio could be your golden ticket into receiving an offer so making sure it’s presentable, well-organised and accessible is essential.

In our visually-rich world, new approaches and technologies are continually changing the way we create and encounter images. Illustration is right at the heart of this evolving visual culture. Our illustrators are agile, adaptive, curious and confident. We encourage individual creative voices who explore the edges of these disciplinary possibilities.

Dr. Christian Edwardes, Course Leader 

Fees and funding

The fee that you pay the Arts University Bournemouth provides the necessary equipment and training for you to complete your course.

You may also choose to buy some items of personal equipment such as a laptop or tablet computer, but this is not required; desktop and laptop computers are available for you to use in common study areas, including a loan system in the Library.

Studios and resources

As a BA (Hons) Illustration student, you’ll work in a combination of multi-use studio spaces and tutorial areas.

You’ll benefit from access to a number of University facilities, such as specialist print areas, workshops and lecture theatres.

Teaching and learning

Learning is through intellectual enquiry, research and practice. The course outcomes are met by deploying a wide variety of teaching and learning methods supervised by members of the team, visiting support staff, practitioners and consultants from industry.

In consultation with the Course Leader, Level Leaders are responsible for co-ordinating individual units of study, and for selecting appropriate methods of delivery according to subject matter and the student experience.

The study time allocated to each unit in the course incorporates a balance of formal teaching, tutorial support and independent learning.

Theoretical, contextual, studio and professional practices are embedded within all units. This integration dissolves the artificial barriers between these forms of engagement, such as recognising theory in making, allowing you to fully realise your potential and truly understand the rich relationship between these elements of practice.

The course is structured progressively to provide increased opportunities for independent learning as you reach the later stages of the course. The promotion of independent learning reflects your anticipated maturity as a student and allows you to direct your learning towards individual goals.

Importance is placed upon you acquiring the skills to be able to learn independently and to develop a critical awareness. This is facilitated through a variety of learning and teaching methods such as tutorials, group critiques, discussion groups, peer learning activity, projects, lectures, workshops, seminars, study visits, demonstrations, skills-based workshops, educational visits, on-site learning, ‘live projects’, learning agreements, exhibition and group presentation.

Contact hours include all scheduled teaching sessions, but also supervised time in the workshop or studio. In line with national guidance, we include in our calculation of contact hours all the time which is scheduled in the studio for independent study which is also supported by staff (either academic staff, or technicians).

The information provided below gives the proportion of your study time which constitutes contact hours. Where there are optional routes through the course, we have used the figures for the most popular option.

Year 1 (% time) Year 2 (% time) Year 3 (% time)




Each unit is assessed separately, and the assessment forms part of the unit. Assessment both provides a measure of your achievement, and also gives you regular feedback on how your learning is developing.

For every unit of your course, we will inform you of what you're expected to learn; what you have to submit; how your work will be assessed; and the deadline for presenting your work for assessment. This is made available through Unit Information, which is on your course blog.

You will receive a final mark for each unit in the form of a percentage, which will be recorded on your formal record of achievement (transcript). Each component of assessment is graded using a notched marking scale, whereby only certain marks are used within each grade. The only marks available within any ten-point band are *2, *5 and *8 (e.g. 62, 65, 68). These marks correspond to a low, mid, and high level of achievement within each grade band.

The University has agreed that, during 2019/20, it will run a pilot project. This will mean that on some courses, one unit at Level 4 will be assessed on a Pass / Fail basis only, with written feedback but no numerical grade. If your course has been selected for the pilot, your Course Leader will tell you this, and the details will be clearly expressed on the Unit Information Sheet.

All learning outcomes must be passed to successfully complete the unit.

On successful completion of your Honours degree course, you will be awarded a degree classification based on your unit marks. The final classification is determined using all unit marks at Levels 5 and 6 using two different algorithms, which are detailed in the HE Student Regulations. If the two algorithms produce different results, you will be awarded the higher class of degree.

If you have joined Level 6 through either the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route or having completed a Foundation Degree (FdA), the final classification is determined using only your unit marks at Level 6.

For further information on assessment, progression, awards and classifications, please visit

What our graduates are doing

Our BA (Hons) Illustration graduates are working within the creative industries across a range of diverse visual art and design practices.

Some graduates are employed by creative agencies, design departments or digital businesses – while others work as independent freelance illustrators or form illustration collectives.

You can find out more about what some of our graduates are up to below – click on the alumni below to read more.

Figures of naked people

Liv & Dom

Liv & Dom didn’t really happen until the last couple of months of university...

Inside of a soap shop

Emma Caswell

I decided to base my final project at AUB on multiple briefs for competitions and some self-directed surface patterns...

Drawing of butchery

Tom Hovey

I loved my time at AUB. I had just finished a sequential illustration HND which was quite focused...

Students studying this course achieve great things and have won prestigious and high profile awards, such as:

  • The Macmillan Prize 2019 – Winner & 2 x ‘Highly Commended’ entries
  • Pictoplasma (#Secretsidekick) 2019 – 2x Winners
  • Creative Conscience 2019- Winner & Bronze award
  • Penguin Book Prize – Children’s Cover Award: 2nd & 3rd Place
  • The Cheltenham Illustration Awards – 2x Student Award winners & 1 ‘Highly Commended’ entry
  • Batsford Art Prize: Illustration – Runner-up
  • Northern International Illustration Prize – Finalist
  • Carmelite Prize 2019 – ‘Highly Commended’
  • Lauren Childs Illustration Awards – Finalist

Trips and visits

As part of your course you may also get the opportunity to take part in course trips, previous trips have included:

  • London
  • Stourhead
  • Oxford

*These trips are optional and some may incur additional costs

The following Visiting Tutors also contribute to the teaching on the course:

Due to the current travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, it is unlikely that any trips will be planned in the first half of the new academic year. We will follow Government advice as soon as it is available for the remainder of the year.

BA (Hons) Illustration news

See more of our student work

Illustration is a way of seeing and understanding the world. You'll discover how to connect and communicate with different audiences.