BA (Hons) Illustration - Course overview
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​BA (Hons) Illustration

We believe that the most engaging and memorable illustrations come from people with a distinct approach.

By studying Illustration at Plymouth University, you’ll learn how to create images that are different to everyone else’s. We don’t have a ‘house style’ and will actively encourage you to discover and develop your own illustrative voice. Our students know that by standing out they will get the attention of commissioning agents and publishers and find work doing what they love. You could be one of them.

Are you ready to meet a different kind of you?

These days, illustration can be found pretty much anywhere.

At Plymouth you’ll be encouraged to explore a range of different media, techniques and formats, with potentially surprising results. By the end you’ll be just as likely to see your work on the side of a building or within an interactive iPad game as in the pages of a printed book or magazine.

You’ll be supported on this journey by award-winning, committed tutors who are working at the forefront of illustration and are passionate about image making. There’s an ample amount of tutor contact to be had, yet you’ll also learn a lot from other students on the course. Within our dedicated open-plan studios you’ll get your own space, allowing you to work, mix and share ideas, pencils, and even the odd slice of pizza with other students from all three years of the programme.

Our students seem to like our way of doing things. For three years in a row now, the course has scored 100% overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey.
In the second year you can choose to keep a broad area of study, or concentrate on a particular interest, such as:

Children's Markets

This can include not only illustration for picture books, but also character design and related merchandise, printed and online learning materials, stationery, toys, games, interactive media, clothing, interior furnishings and more!


Illustrators are used heavily in the animation preproduction process can be involved in concept design, character and background design, storyboarding, keyframing and the creation of animatics (moving storyboards set to sound).


Comics are branching out from their superhero origins and becoming a much broader creative medium with both mainstream appeal and critical acceptance. With this option you could learn to master the dark arts of the panelled narrative!


This technique-led option allows you to explore a range of processes including woodcut, silkscreen, etching/mezzotint, drypoint, lithography and collagraph, to name a few. Doing so allows you to find different ways to communicate concepts, that connect to contemporary illustration practice.

Our students win national and international competitions.
  • Design and Art Direction
    - D&AD New Blood awards best in show and best of year
  • Association of Illustrators
    - Best of British Illustration, and AOI Illustration Awards, 3 golds
    - 'Images' Annual and Exhibition, students consistently selected
  • Penguin Design Award
    - Shortlisted and second prize winner
  • MacMillan Prize for Children’s Book Illustration
    - Several ‘Highly Commended’ entries
Our students have also worked on many live and external briefs including:
  • Production Design for Warner Brothers
  • Production Design for the 2012 London Olympic Mascot Films
  • Ghost of Gone Birds Project
  • Digital Artist Magazine
  • ‘Leviathan’ 24 Hour Comic in conjunction with the ‘Moby Dick Big Read’
  • ‘Draw me a Story’ project for Plymouth City Museum (Finalist in National Museums and Heritage Excellence Awards) 
  • Twitter Visual Narrative Project ‘The Repurposed Magical Tent’
As a student on Graphic Communication with Typography, you can explore our range of printmaking workshops - etching, lithography and silkscreen. Alongside these, you'll have access to professional photographic studios and Apple Mac workstations. The University also has one of the best letterpress workshops in the UK. Here is a video all about it:
Our open plan studios are based on campus in the fantastic Roland Levinsky building, bang in the centre of the city.

Student accommodation is on the doorstep, as are the City Museum, art galleries, theatres, restaurants, shops, bars and clubs. Stunning beaches and Dartmoor are just a stone’s throw away and then there is the spectacular countryside of Devon and Cornwall at your disposal.

Plymouth has recently hosted the America’s Cup and British Art Show. It has a new Life Centre and is developing a network of 100 affordable studios in the Royal William Yard. Each year the city also hosts an International Book Fair and even the National Fireworks Competition!
let-me-think.jpgTo help you be a better illustrator we will encourage you to think critically and grow your knowledge and understanding of illustration. You will be taken on international study visits, and attend conferences and exhibitions. Past students have been to the Bologna Book Fair, Javier Mariscal’s studio in Barcelona, Pictoplasma Berlin and D&AD New Blood London. You can also take part in an international exchange programme and spend part of your second year studying in other countries such as Japan.

Our visiting lecturer programme has included prestigious names from the world of illustration – to name but a few:
  • A. Richard Allen
  • Dave McKean
  • Ben Newman
  • Alex and Sam from NoBrow
  • Simone Lia
  • Dave McKee
  • Arena Artist Agents
  • Viv Schwarz
Those who teach you are actively researching and practicising illustration. Associate Professor Jo Davies wrote the two leading texts on illustration practise Making Great Illustration and Becoming a Successful Illustrator and course leader Ashley Potter was production designer for the London 2012 Olympic Mascot films.
Studying to become an illustrator is a great way of turning your creative and artistic talents into a professional vocation. Graduates from this course have gained international praise and recognition, including:
  • Jack Teagle
  • Mark Smith
  • Emma Carlisle
You could also continue studying at Plymouth and take either our MA Publishing: Illustration programme or a post-graduate teaching qualification.

The UniStats 2013 survey shows  that 75% of graduates from the course found work within 6 months of graduation. We keep in touch with them and we’re proud of what they achieve!

Studying Illustration at Plymouth University puts you in great stead for a bright and successful career within the creative industries.

Are you ready? Find out more about the course and how to apply using the links at the top of this page.

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