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Illustration BA (Hons)

What is Illustration BA (Hons)?

We are a community of illustrators that tell stories through images. We emphasize curiosity and innovation in our approach to illustration, and we embrace mistakes as part of our process.

  • Experimentation
    Exploration and experimentation are at the core of our practice. As artists we ask why, and use materials and images to find the answers.
  • Socially engaged practice
    We engage in a critical and socially engaged understanding of the world around us so that our illustrators can embark on an inclusive, sustainable and self-aware artistic practice.
  • Research
    We emphasize practice-based research as well as written critical analysis, exploring personal objectives and extending our understanding of how illustration can make positive changes both locally and globally.
  • Travel
    Travel expands our horizons and helps us grow. We attend Thought Bubble Comics Festival (UK), Angouleme BD (France), Bristol Artist’s Book Event (UK), and also visit museums in London, Oxford & Birmingham.
  • Industry
    We bring our practice to industry! Third year students go to London to meet art directors and agents before graduation, and we have a full slate of visiting artists that come to us, both virtually and in person. Past visiting artists and critics include Anh Cao (animation), Matthew Dooley (comics), Emily Dumas (US), Handsome Frank (agency), Adam Jeffcoat (Studio NX), Self Made Hero publishing, Laurie Stansfield (children’s), Nicholas Stevenson (alum).

Study style

The first year is an open approach to learning that will allow you to find what drives your practice. The second year explores audience, the wider world, and your place in it as an artist. In the third year students develop practice-based research methods and bring to life an independent project for the degree show.

Our modern design facilities include printmaking studios, an Apple Mac suite, Risograph machine, letterpress workshop and book-binding equipment. We encourage students to explore illustration through all kinds of media and you can also learn on our laser cutters, 3D printers, and have access to our woodshop and ceramics studio.

We teach to develop students into autonomous learners, where curiosity leads the work that you do. Our studio provides a desk for each student and you can expect to be in the studio 30 hours a week.

You’ll also begin preparing for industry, developing your expertise in self-publishing and promotion. You’ll be equipped with the creative, technical and enterprise skills you need to progress into the creative industries on graduation.

View our students work and more about BA (Hons) Illustration

Get Illustration BA (Hons) course updates and hear more about studying with us.

Entry requirements

    • 96 – 120 UCAS tariff points, CCC – BBB at A levels, MMM – DDM at BTEC, or a Merit in your T-Level.

      Entry to this course is by interview. Check out our Interview Guide to learn what to expect and help you prepare.

    • We welcome applicants with a pass in a relevant Foundation or Extended Diploma (Level 3 or 4).

    • English Language or Literature and Maths Grade 4/C in GCSE (or equivalent) are normally required.

    • This course is available with an integrated foundation year to help you prepare. A degree with an integrated foundation year starts your studies with a year spent learning the skills required to progress onto a full honours degree. You will develop valuable study skills, communication, team work and problem-solving techniques which help to build your confidence and prepare you for the rest of your course.

      Typical offers
      48 UCAS tariff points, DD at A levels, PPP at BTEC or a Pass in your T Level.

      Grade C/4 in English Language/Literature and Mathematics, or equivalent (e.g. Level 2 Functional Skills).

    • We welcome applications from mature students (aged 21 and over) and do not necessarily require the same academic qualifications as school leaving applicants, although some entry requirements may still apply for Professionally Accredited Courses. We accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas and make offers on an individual basis.

Course modules


Fees and costs

See the further details of fees and potential extra costs when studying a course at the University of Gloucestershire.
Start date Location UCAS code Fee (UK)
per year
Fee (international)
per year
Sep 2023 Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham W220 £9,250 £15,450
Sep 2024 Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham W220 TBC TBC

Ready to apply?

Possible careers

Our graduates work in many fields:

  • Children’s Books
  • Comics & Graphic Novels
  • Animation
  • Editorial Illustration
  • Surface Pattern Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Concept Artist
  • Game Art
  • Publishing.

Industry links

Our students have worked with ELCAF (East London Comic & Arts Festival), London Book Fair, BD Angouleme, and Cheltenham Literature Festival. We invite publishers, agents, and working illustrators throughout the year including Jelly London, NoBrow Press, and Handsome Frank.

Get your work published

We provide the platform for you to publish, exhibit and sell your work under the university’s imprint, Pittville Press. Students produce a publication for the imprint in the second year, and also have the opportunity to do their part-time placement with Pittville Press. The Press tables at a variety of festivals and expos through the year and students can attend and learn how to promote, market, and sell their work.

Cheltenham Illustration Awards

Pittville Press also runs the international illustration competition the Cheltenham Illustration Awards. It’s an international competition aimed at emerging and professional illustrators that attracts over 700 submissions from more than 20 countries worldwide. World-famous illustrators jury the awards and speak to students. Past invited illustrators include Shaun Tan, Rebecca Green, Kristyna Baczynski, Stephen Simpson, and Selina Alko.


A part-time placement is a core component of the Entrepreneurship module in the second year. You will be supported in finding a part time work placement that will broaden your knowledge of what you can do after graduation. Students share their experience in the module so you will learn from your peers as well as your own placement.

You can also study abroad during the second year. We help you find an international experience that will deepen your studies and expand your horizons.

Drawing is Contagious

Can students catch creative concentration from their teachers? Kim explores this topic in the academic zine she published with Pittville Press in 2022 called Teaching/Not Teaching. It is in the collection and travelling exhibition of the zine library at Washington University, St. Louis.

Her research on how we teach and learn through drawing is presented as a zine, which is a lo-fi publication that’s meant to be accessible rather than academic. She explores artists and writers like Lynda Barry (a comics artist), Liz Lerman (a choreographer), Eleanor Duckworth (a psychologist), and bell hooks (an academic writer) to consider how teachers and students might work more collaboratively in the classroom to make the learning process better for all.

Kimberly Ellen Hall, Academic Course Leader for BA (HONS) Illustration

"I was born in Tokyo and grew up with the Manga and Anime cultures of the 1970s and 80s."

I moved to the UK in 1991. After working as an animator with the likes of Duran Duran and Channel 4, I joined Redkite Animations and worked on a number of projects with DC Thompson.

In 2008, I undertook a residency at La Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’image in Angoulême, France. Since then I have chosen graphic novels and comic books as my main creative outlets and my current project is a reflection on natural disasters in Japan, including the aftermath of 2011’s tsunami.

Teaching is a great passion of mine, especially supporting young talents to develop their own unique artistic voices in various contexts, such as animation, graphic novels and children’s books.”

Fumio Obata, Comic Book Author, Visual Artist and Lecturer of Illustration

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