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Undergraduate Course

Illustration BA (Hons)

Immerse yourself in the world of illustration. Develop your ability to express narratives through images. Start your career as an illustrator.

Hand drawing

We believe in the transformative power of storytelling and visual narratives. On our course you will explore illustration through a focus on drawing, image making and narrative construction. Your study of theory will also inform your illustration practice and help you understand the wider contexts of illustration. We will teach you traditional and digital illustration techniques, using industry standard software and equipment.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – W2W3
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2022, September 2023
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Tuition Fees

    UK 2022 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2022 entry £13,000 per year full time

Course overview

Develop your ability to illustrate with confidence. Your time will focus on drawing, making images and constructing narratives. We will encourage you to experiment with different techniques, covering both traditional and digital creative processes. This will help you extend your practice and discover your specialism. While on the course you will illustrate across different genres, including:

  • Comic art
  • Book illustration
  • Editorial illustration
  • Children's illustration
  • Social engagement illustration

Alongside your practical work, you will carry out contextual studies to develop your practical work. This means carrying out research that helps you understand and explain where, how and why your ideas fit in terms of contemporary illustration practice. You will also examine the social and political events that inspire the work you do. It's also a chance for you to research and explore different perspectives in illustration.

As you work on briefs in the studio, you will be offered the opportunity to:

  • work with students from other courses
  • illustrate a story by a creative writer
  • work alongside photographers and artists
  • bring your illustrations to life through moving image
  • work on illustration briefs with industry clients
  • visit cities around the world to enrich your cultural courses and references
  • take part in work placement opportunities and internships
  • showcase your work at our annual degree show and national graduate exhibitions

Our team of illustrators and specialist technicians are here to support you. Your tutors will really get to know you, your practice and your ambitions.

Course structure

Year 1

In your first year, if you are a full time student, you will study: 

  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 1 
  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will introduce you to the historical, social and political contexts of art and illustration. You will consider the different materials, technologies and cultural circumstances that shape art, illustration and other creative practices. By studying these theories, you will expand your critical vocabulary and knowledge, helping you to reflect on your work. You will explore how mediums have shifted throughout history and examine what caused these changes.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

This module is your introduction to the conceptual, technical and material practices of narrative illustration. We will encourage you to experiment with your drawing and related illustration processes as you learn to apply fundamental technical skills. Using both traditional and digital tools you will focus on creating visual and textual narratives and sequential image creation for illustration and comic work. At the same time, you will begin assembling a portfolio of work and will evaluate your emerging strengths through annotation, reflection and conversations with peers.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Build on your knowledge from semester 1 as you develop your theoretical understanding of art practice from the 20th Century to the modern day. You will focus on the representation of identity and intersectionality, which is a way of understanding how social and political identities combine to create different types of discrimination and privilege. You will then look at how these have shaped the production and reception of art. The knowledge gained on this module will help you consider your work in new ways and learn to understand what influences your aesthetic decisions.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

Continue to build your knowledge and skills in illustration practice by using both traditional and digital image making and editing processes. You will work individually and in groups to explore the possibilities of narrative work and develop your visual language. Throughout the module you will think about how these processes relate to professional specialisms in illustration industries. Some of the skills we will introduce you to include printmaking and digital training in industry standard software.

Year 2

In your second year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 1 
  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will develop your critical thinking and research skills. You will gain the critical tools needed to place your work in the discussions that have informed creative practice. In lectures and seminars you will explore the key ideas, debates and practices that can help you work out your research focus. On the module you might explore:

  • Continental aesthetics and creative practice
  • The human, the animal and the post-human
  • New materialism: making, the studio and the social
  • Documentary and its forms

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

On this module you will develop the skills you learnt in your first year. You will start to make creative choices in line with your specific interests in the field of comics and illustration. You will then create projects by responding to briefs, planning and designing narrative illustration work. We will introduce you to the field of typography and teach you skills in storyboarding and collaboration, helping you to develop your visual narratives. There is also the option for you to explore creative writing on this module.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Continue to develop your critical thinking and research skills as you prepare for your research project in your final year. At the end of the module you will use all you have learnt to write a research proposal. There are many topics you will cover on this module, some of these include:

  • Postmodernism: difference and intertexuality
  • Feminism and painting
  • Art after the internet
  • Ethics in illustration
  • Autobiographical practice

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

On this module you will explore your ideas and artistic interests in both research and practice. Through this, you will work towards developing your specialism in the field of comics and illustration. You can choose whether to work with traditional techniques or digital software, but you will have to consider the audience and context of the work you create. You will also consider the realities of working in the illustration industry, start to build a professional network and develop a professional online presence for your work. This module also gives you the opportunity to explore a professional placement, if appropriate.

Year 3

In your third year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 1 compulsory module across semesters 1 and 2
  • 1 compulsory module in semester 1
  • 1 compulsory module in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module you will complete a piece of research that shows your ability to educate yourself and to construct a solid argument. Your idea for this project will come from your encounters with practice and theory and will be in an area of your choice. You will work with peers researching a similar topic to support each other and critique each other’s work. You will also be supported by a project supervisor in 1 to 1 tutorials.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on creating a body of illustration work that expresses your approach as an illustrator and demonstrates your specialism. You will be supported in this work through group critiques, 1 to 1 tutorials, seminars and workshops. By taking this module you will learn the diverse nature of professional practice by engaging in exhibition curation, marketing , project management, selling your work and creative production.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

You will consider your future as a professional practitioner in illustration. We will help you to gain an understanding of different professional situations in your area of interest and prepare for them. You will start to build a professional network with external partners and create a career plan for your future. You will also create a website to present yourself and your work professionally.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

We deliver your modules through:

  • Tutorials
  • Practical workshops
  • Group critiques
  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Studio demonstrations

Each module has 3 to 6 of contact time a week. We schedule our taught sessions between 9.00am and 8.00pm, Monday to Friday.

You will need to conduct independent study outside of this time. This might include creative exploration, reading, writing tasks and research. You can also arrange individual tutorials with your module tutors throughout the semester to receive feedback on your work and discuss the course content.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


There are no exams on this course. Assessment types vary from module to module. Some of your assessments might include:

  • Portfolios of work
  • Sketchbooks and developmental work
  • Exhibitions
  • Research reports
  • Essays
  • Personal critiques and reflections
  • Presentations

On each module you will receive ongoing feedback on your work from staff and fellow students. This will help you reflect and refine your work before your final submission or exhibition at the end of the module. Each assessment will be marked and returned with feedback so you can improve your work.

Career outcomes

Your future with a degree in Illustration

On this course you will gain the specialist creative and practical skills you need to pursue a career in illustration. You will also build skills in communication, independent working and collaboration that can lead to a range of other creative roles.

This degree could be the first step toward your career as a:

  • Illustrator
  • Storyboard artist
  • Editor
  • Artist
  • Printmaker
  • Graphic designer

Discover more career options on Prospects careers advice pages.

You could also progress onto a postgraduate degree and take your learning even further.

Postgraduate degrees at York St John University

Illustration MFA

MA by Research

Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.

Our careers service, LaunchPad provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed. It's your career, your way.

Entry requirements


Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Portfolio Day

If your application is successful, you will be invited to a portfolio day. On the day, you will show your work to our tutors and discuss your work and the ideas behind it.

Mature Learners Entry Scheme

If you have been out of education for 3 years or more and have a grade C GCSE in English Language or equivalent, you are eligible for our entry scheme for mature learners. It's a scheme that recognises non-traditional entry qualifications and experience for entry onto this course. Information on how to apply can be found on our dedicated page.

Mature entry offer scheme

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and Funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK, or internationally (outside the UK). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK 2022 entry

The tuition fee for 2022 entry onto this course is:

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time

These prices apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page:

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

Tuition Fees

    UK 2022 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2022 entry £13,000 per year full time

International 2022 entry

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to this course is £13,000 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a Student Visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree:

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

For detailed information on accommodation and living costs, visit our Accommodation pages.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

For advice on everything from applying for scholarships to finding additional financial support email

Course highlights

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