BA (Hons) Illustration (with integrated foundation year)


Course code W222

Course overview
  • Course overview
  • Course details
  • Finance
  • Resources and Facilities
  • Meet the staff
Apply Now Book An Open Day Book An Open Day

Course code W222

Key course details

Duration Full-time, 4 Years
Start date September 2022
Entry Requirements Programme specification (PDF)
Need more information about this course?

Speak to an advisor

To break into the competitive but rewarding illustration industry, you’ll need an exciting portfolio, excellent technical skills and your own unique voice in creatively solving communication problems. So, if you’re looking for an illustration foundation course that will develop your skills and confidence in a supportive, dynamic environment then look no further. Your introductory year will give you the technical expertise and knowledge to progress to our highly respected undergraduate programme.

Following your foundation year, our aim is to inspire you to become an innovative and individual illustrator, graduating with an impressive professional portfolio of work that will lead to commissions or employment. We are members of The Association of Illustrators, partners in The Lakes International Comic Art Festival and will also give you the opportunity to showcase your work in London at the New Blood Festival.

We’ll help you develop essential drawing and compositional skills – something we’ve been congratulated on by commissioning editors and professional illustrators alike – and our unique course will also expand your animation and graphic design skills giving you real career flexibility.

The Creative Industry contributes over £111 billion to the UK economy every year

We’re very proud of what our students achieve. Why not read their stories and see what happens on our course through our social channels.

Read Our Blog  Follow on Instagram 

Partners & Memberships

Association of Illustrators Logo, Blue association of illustrators logo Logo Licaf Lakes International Comic Art Festival,


Your Career with an Illustration Degree

Our key aim is to help you successfully make that transition from being an illustration student to a professional freelance illustrator. We make sure you have the necessary skills and experience to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

We also are unique amongst illustration courses in giving you a thorough grounding in graphic design allowing you to also potentially work for a design studio as a designer/illustrator. In this role our graduates have gone on to work for national and international design and advertising consultancies, multi-media agencies, animation companies, publishing houses, magazines and many now run their own design studios.

Illustration Destinations 01, student year 3 illustration, Hazel Mason

Thanks to the skills they learn on this course, our graduates have become outstanding members of the industry. Amy Holliday won the prestigious Computer Arts Graduate Showcase, Illustration Award. Amy's work was judged outstanding in its class against stiff national and international competition and she is now a successful freelance illustrator.

Graduate Jenny Cox is a creative product designer and illustrator at Toucan Box and Jade Wall is now working as a freelance illustrator based in London. Two of our graduates, Dan Sutherland and Laura Willis, went on to work as illustrator/animators at the dynamic TV company MTV.

Illustration Destinations 02, Former student, Rachel Tunstall work which has been published internationally

Essentially, we want to help you develop to your full potential as a creative, motivated, professional illustrator and would love to talk to you about how we can help get you started in the inspirational and exciting world of commercial illustration.

Why Choose University of Cumbria

You'll be prepared for the commercial world because we’ll focus on developing your image making skills through exciting, fast-paced, industry-focused projects and you’ll learn from plenty of renowned professional illustrators and comic artists too. This will allow you to graduate with the one thing that all successful illustrators have in common, a highly personal, unique and memorable portfolio.

Graphic Design overview 1, Huge Graphic design and illustration studio

And, you’ll do it at our beautiful, dedicated arts campus in the vibrant border city of Carlisle, where you’ll be within 20 minutes of Scotland and the stunning Lake District National Park – now a UNESCO World Heritage site. So, when you’re not being creative in the studio you can be creative in the great outdoors.

  • Small classes mean we get to know you well and provide plentiful, detailed, personal feedback throughout your studies
  • Practical demonstrations, visits and feedback from professional illustrators and comic artists
  • We’re members of The Association of Illustrators
  • Our excellent industry links give you good networking opportunities, boosting your career prospects and you can also exhibit at a London graduate showcase
  • Annual international visits and participation in The Lakes International Comic Art Festival and New Blood Festival
  • Our annual Futures Festival – a three-day event offering you the opportunity to hear from industry professionals, get involved in networking and meet potential employers
  • Quality of life – our specialist Arts Campus is set in beautiful parkland just a short walk from Carlisle’s vibrant city centre and don’t forget the Lake District is on our doorstep
  • 80% of your studies will be practical; You’re not just learning, you’re doing
  • You can use any of our well-equipped workshop facilities including print-making, 3D printing, laser-cutting, photography and animation suites
  • Become ‘part of the family’ and create a base in our huge, modern and professionally-equipped studio
  • Encouragement to develop your own unique voice and style as an illustrator
  • A fantastic, well stocked arts library, so you can keep up-to-date with contemporary illustration practices
  • Use the latest technology and software that you’ll use as a real-world professional
  • All tutors are experts in illustration, graphic design and typography

You’ll spend a lot of time life drawing, developing a sound understanding of the human figure and we’ll also teach you how composition and colour can bring an illustration to life. You’ll work across a range of traditional and digital media, including drawing, painting, 3D and moving image - and you'll be encouraged to do it at a level hitting industry expectations.

What we don't want is for you to be a clone of another artist. We give you the artistic freedom and training to discover and develop your own unique style, creating work that will help your portfolio stand out from the crowd and gain you commissions.

Graphic Design overview 2, Students talking with tutors


Course Study Options

We also offer this course without an integrated foundation year.

Standard Degree

Chat to a student on The Access Platform