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BA (Hons)

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What is Illustration BA (Hons)?

Learn from award-winning illustrators and graphic novelists who will teach you publish, exhibit and sell your work.

The Illustration course is all about drawing stories. Learn how to use visual narrative to communicate. Refine your creative and professional skills with support from our award-winning illustrators. Gain experience through events such as
East London Comic & Arts Festival (ELCAF), BD Angouleme (France) and Cheltenham Illustration Awards.

You’ll focus on drawn ideas, a gateway to areas such as concept art and digital visualisation ‘ and a key employment area in the wider creative industries. You also have the opportunity for work experience  within the industry.

We’re in the UK top 20 for graduate prospects in design and crafts according to the Guardian University Guide 2020 and is rated at 92% for overall student satisfaction (NSS 2019).

Study style

Our modern design facilities include printmaking studios, an Apple Mac suite, Risograph stencil printer, letterpress workshop and book-binding equipment. You’ll explore a range of print and production options through practical learning and creative assignments. These include publishing, exhibiting, selling products and attending book fairs.

You’ll develop skills in life and location drawing, printmaking, specialist techniques and animation. Taking your work to a professional level through modules such as Sequential Illustration which focuses on using drawn images to create visual narratives such as comics and graphic novels.

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.

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

Entry requirements

    • Because we want to offer this course to creative students with talent and potential (and because we know that exam grades don’t always tell the whole story), we make offers following an interview instead of using tariff points.

      You will need to have, or be studying for, a NQF level 3 qualification – that’s A-level/BTEC/Welsh Baccalaureate or equivalent.

      Once you apply, we will invite you to interview so we can decide whether to make you an offer.

      Check out our Interview Guide to learn what to expect and help you prepare.

    • We welcome applications from mature students (aged 21 and over) and do not necessarily require the same academic qualifications as school leaving applicants though the entry requirements still apply.

      Some courses require several years of working experiences in the relevant industry.

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

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 2021 Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham
Sep 2022 Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham

Possible careers

Graduates from this course can go on to work as:

  • Self-Published Illustrator
  • Animator
  • Creative Entrepreneur
  • Game Artist Animation
  • Graphic Designer
  • Advertising.

Industry links

Our students have recently worked with ELCAF (East London Comic & Arts Festival), London Book Fair, BD Angouleme, Cheltenham Illustration Awards and Cheltenham Literature Festival. They’ve also worked with Cheltenham Festivals to produce illustrations for global children’s book publisher Walker Books.

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 have also produced illustrations for books published by leading global independent children’s books publisher Walker Books.

Student hanging up their artwork

Exhibit your work alongside famous illustrators

You will have the opportunity to exhibit alongside world-famous illustrators at the Cheltenham Illustration Awards, an international competition that attracts over 700 submissions from more than 20 countries worldwide.

Student sketching a female with a coal pencil
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Design Studies - Student Voice - NSS 2020

Our Design Studies courses rank top 25 in the UK for student voice according to the National Student Survey 2020.


As part of your course you can gain valuable experience on an optional placement year.

  • Duration – 12 months, full-time (minimum 35 hours a week)
  • Location – popular destinations include the UK, USA, China and Europe
  • Visa – you may need a visa if you’re on placement abroad
  • Finance – your tuition fee is reduced for your placement year – and you can still apply for a maintenance loan and get money advice
  • Placement support – we’ll help you find a great placement and get the most out of the experience

Kieren Phelps has been illustrating since 1982.

He has worked for the Radio Times, Country Life, Car Magazine and the Nursing Times, among many other national publications. He has also illustrated books for a number of well-known publishers, including Penguin, Longman and Oxford University Press.

His practice included digital painting and animation for a decade before returning to natural media, and he now uses a large amount of black ink on paper, drawing every day. He self-publishes books and comics, and completes weekly GIF animations based on observations of those around him.

Kieren Phelps, Academic Subject Leader for Illustration

Kieren Phelps

"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

Lecturer in illustration studio

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