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Illustration and Design
Illustration and Design BA (Hons)
Illustration and Design BA (Hons)

Illustration and Design BA (Hons)

  • ID:US440032
  • Level:3-Year Bachelor's Degree
  • Duration:
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Admission Requirements

Entry Requirements

English Requirements

  • ​IELTS with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 in each component 
  • PTE 56 with no less than 51 in each skill.

Other Requirements

Portfolio requirements

We are interested in your creative potential; please prepare a portfolio of work you have completed so far.  We are not looking for perfection as we appreciate you may still be developing work. We would like to see: 

  • A variety of work – we want to see a range of styles and technique
  • Work completed in or outside of your studies
  • Ideas that you feel didn’t work
  • Research: examples of various forms of investigation
  • Photographs of 3D, and large 2D, work
  • A USB stick or online link with any digital and screen-based work
  • Accompanied by work in progress, sketch books and development work

If you are an international applicant, please send a link to your online portfolio.


Course Information

If you are passionate about drawing and are full of creative ideas then this course will cultivate your talent. At Sunderland we encourage students to push the boundaries of illustration. The course blends traditional techniques with computer technology, such as virtual reality and 3D design.

Your first year combines an exploration of design principles, printmaking and drawing. You will then pursue a specialist study of illustration during your second and third years.

Perfect your craft alongside experienced academics, all are practicing professionals at the cutting edge of their field; they bring their industry insights and experience directly into their teaching.

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Year 1 (national level 4):

Core modules:

  • Design Theories, Practitioners and Context (20 credits)

Develop a knowledge and understanding of the important theoretical and historical contexts which have shaped modern design, opening up creative possibilities in your work. Gain a broad view of design disciplines, through lectures and seminars intended to provoke wider debate. Develop analytical and research skills by exploring subjects in design theory and history through assignments. Finish the module with an understanding of various historical and theoretical ideas, intended to encourage you to challenge conventional thinking.

  • Illustration - Exploring Media and Techniques (60 credits)

Develop your visual experience and knowledge through the practice of traditional media, printmaking, digital practice and life drawing. Work with a wide range of different media and materials through various set projects, culminating in a body of work that reflects your emerging skills as an illustrator. Support your creative practice through visual research by exploring the subject of Art and Design. Build a strong foundation for further development, by producing images from concept to final illustration and creatively explore various methods both in taught sessions and independently.

  • Key Principles of Drawing for Still and Moving Image (40 credits)

Learn to ‘see’ through concentrated and rigorous practice of the traditional principles of drawing and acquire a strong understanding of and foundation in drawing. Develop the fundamental skills and tools required to broaden and explore the imagination and conceptual thinking necessary for an illustrator from a position of knowledge, understanding and ability. Work with a range of drawing materials in order to explore in-depth observational and life drawing i.e. anatomy, object, architecture, nature, scale, perspective, proportion, composition, chiaroscuro (light and dark), line, space and tone. Develop a core understanding of the principles of colour as well as a practical knowledge of the principles of animation using both classic and modern techniques.

Year 2 (national level 5):

Core modules:

  • Digital Illustration – Contemporary Practice and Innovation (20 credits)

Continue your development of digital skills with a series of lectures and seminars dedicated to all aspects of digital illustration. These include bitmap (Photoshop or similar), and vector (Illustrator) as well as techniques including composite images and 3D. Augment your traditional skillset with a fusion of analogue media (paint, pencils, pastels, etc.) with digital media. Create artwork using your favourite traditional methods and bring them in to your chosen package to create work that has a traditional feel but with an enhanced appearance using blending modes and digital adjustments. Add to your growing portfolio with a set of digital illustrations based on creative briefs.

  • Advanced Illustration Practice and Desktop Publishing (40 credits)

Gain an introduction to the broad subject of contemporary illustration practice and its application in print and digital media. Experience aspects of working in the industry through assignments that reflect the real world. Explore and expand the boundaries of illustration by developing problem-solving and self-critical evaluation skills and exploiting a wide range of influences to help your visual development. Develop desktop publishing skills that enable you to create effective, appealing layouts in order to display your work in the most effective way possible.

  • Advanced Printmaking for Illustration (20 credits)

Explore the varied processes and techniques of the print room and through a range of image making skills that offer the potential to extend your visual vocabulary. Learn how to turn your illustrations into beautiful screen-printed and transfer printed artworks. Immerse yourself in the technical possibilities of this versatile medium and develop valuable new additions for your illustrative portfolio.

  • Global Challenges and the Ethical Designer (20 credits)

Develop a critical understanding of important issues linked to design such as the environment, globalisation, gender representation, equality and diversity. Be encouraged to consider your ethical role as a developing designer. Be introduced to ways of considering a major piece of written work (the dissertation in Stage 3), based on a subject relevant to your own practice. Finish the module with a developing design philosophy that potentially impacts on your ways of working and thinking in terms of studio practice.

  • Experiencing the Creative Industries (20 credits)

Experience a short work placement with an employer. Alternatively, gain other experience of working in the creative industries. Examples include: live jobs; competition briefs; a creative placement; and a collaboration with fellow students from relevant subject areas.

Year 3

Work placement (optional)

Final year (national level 6):

Core modules:

  • Illustrator as Professional Creative (40 credits)

Develop and consolidate a personal aesthetic and way of working through practical projects. Take a more individual approach to your work through a choice of projects tailored to your own goals and aspirations. Connect with industry by entering illustration competitions in which the work will be judged alongside the work of students from other UK institutions, and develop a strategy for professional engagement. Work in a self- motivated way around a given subject, developing your own in-depth inquiring look.

  • Design Dissertation (20 credits)

Develop an in-depth investigation into a particular issue or topic that is relevant to you as a developing designer, or an issue inspired by wider society. Utilise and build on your knowledge of various design and theoretical disciplines and techniques. Gain research and organisational skills through an introductory lecture, tutorials and discussion. Complete the module with a dissertation (3,500 to 4,500 words), supported by a clear central question and hypothesis relevant to the chosen topic. Research conducted in this module can be used as the foundations for your major final project, although this is not compulsory.

  • Design - Final Major Project (60 credits)

Apply your research and analysis skills to develop ideas, concepts and plans for the proposal of a substantial final major project (or series of projects) within strict time limits. Develop a critical understanding of the various theoretical, historical, cultural and contextual dimensions impacting on design practice, to critically position and present yourself and your practice. Demonstrate your ability to select and employ appropriate strategies, media, skills, tools and methods to develop professional standards of creative, technical and conceptual practice, through a body of creative work and effectively communicate your ideas.

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Career Opportunity

Career Opportunity

Our graduates go on to have diverse careers. One of our graduates works for a publishing house in Japan, dealing with the design and illustration of children's wildlife books. Another was offered a three-book contract at a New Designers Graduate Show and has subsequently won further contracts for illustrations.

Many graduates also operate as freelancers as part of a 'portfolio career' alongside other creative work. They create illustrations for advertising, packaging and editorial purposes. Whatever route you choose, your course will put you on a fast track to getting work published and recognised.

Ability to settle

Overseas Student Health Cover

Insurance-Single: 300 GBP/year

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