Study Illustration

Illustration is a tool often used to communicate and convey ideas to others. An effective illustration can usually say more, and have a more powerful impact than words, hence the phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Illustrations allow you to make a statement, evoke emotions or tell a story without using a single word. By studying an illustration degree, you will take your talent and skill, and turn it into a career.

Highlighted courses and degrees in Illustration



An undergraduate degree in illustration will give you a good foundation of knowledge in the area. You will develop your natural and practical talent with theoretical techniques. You will study modules on the theories of art and design, the history and culture of illustration, visual narratives, how to develop your voice through illustration, as well as exploring a variety of illustration styles and techniques.

Your degree will be delivered through a mixture of modes. These will include lectures and seminars, as well as incorporating practical, studio based sessions and potential field trips. You may also be presented with the opportunity to take part in a work experience placement, which will allow you to develop your professional practice.


A postgraduate degree in illustration will help you to build on the skills and knowledge you gained at undergraduate level. You will also be able to find your unique illustration style and technique. The modules you study could include critical analysis in illustration, advanced visual communication, illustration for advertising, graphic design, and the context of illustration. A postgraduate illustration degree will be aimed at helping you to build a portfolio of work in preparation for work in the creative industries.


Depending on where you choose to study, you may be able to specialise towards the end of your illustration degree. This specialisation could influence the area in which you choose to work after you have graduated. It can also help you to decide which area you wish to focus your dissertation or final year project on. Common specialisations include:

  • Contemporary Illustration
  • Digital Illustration
  • Illustration for Fashion
  • Illustration for Newspapers and Magazines

Accreditation and Certification

The accreditation of your degree will depend on where you choose to study. It will also be influenced by your level of study. At undergraduate level, you can expect to be awarded a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), or a Bachelor of Design (BDes). At postgraduate level, you can expect to be awarded a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or Master of Design (MDes). If you choose to study for a postgraduate research degree, you will be awarded a Master of Research (MRes), Master of Philosophy (MPhil), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Timeframe and Further Studies

Generally, an undergraduate degree will take three to four years to complete. Foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates can last up to two years when studied full-time. A postgraduate degree will normally take one to two years. If your course includes a placement, this will usually add another year onto your studies.

Some institutions might offer part-time study options. Studying for a degree part-time normally means that your course will last anywhere between three and eight years, with some universities offering more flexible study options.

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Entry Requirements for Degrees in Illustration


The entry requirements for an undergraduate degree in illustration will depend on where you choose to study. Normally, you will be required to have previously studied a subject related to illustration, such as art, or product design. You may also be asked to present a portfolio of your creative work.

Some universities might require you to sit an entrance exam, where others may rely on previous exam results. Other universities might consider previous relevant work experience. If your first language is not English, it is likely that you will be required to provide evidence that your English language skills are to a high enough standard.


The entry requirements for a postgraduate degree in illustration will depend on your institution of choice. They might also depend on what sort of postgraduate degree you are applying for. Typically, you will be expected to have gained an undergraduate degree in illustration, or a closely related subject. Please note that some universities may require you to submit a portfolio of your previous work as part of the application process.

You should check each institution to see what entry requirements they have for their illustration programmes.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.

Typical entry requirements:

  • UK6.0 IELTS, 2:1 or higher
  • USA6.0 IELTS, GPA 3.0

Fund Your Studies

Tuition fees for international students are not fixed. This means that they can vary greatly from institution to institution. Fees for postgraduate degree courses tend to be higher than undergraduate courses. Exact tuition fees are displayed on institution course pages.

You may be eligible for a scholarship or funding. This could be awarded by your institution, or by a separate funding body. For more information, visit our scholarships and funding section to read more about funding your studies.

Typical course fees (per year):

  • UG£16,750/$26,000
  • PG£15,900/$30,000

Career Options

Illustration graduates will find that there are career opportunities available to them in a wide range of industries. Popular destinations include animator, graphic designer, self-employed illustrator, and printmaker. You will have gained a variety of useful and transferable skills throughout your degree. These could include project development, time management, independent working, and effective communication.

Guides to related subjects

Learn about subjects similar to Illustration with these related StudyLink guides

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