If you love to draw and want to forge a creative career in illustration, BA Illustration gives you the space, tuition and support to help you fully develop your own style and prepares you to work as an illustrator in a range of contexts, including book illustration, magazine illustration, design and advertising.
Why study BA Illustration at Middlesex?
“I had a look round the Illustration department during an open day and was blown away by the quality of the work on show”
Alex Moore, BA Illustration graduate
For our BA Illustration degree we have created a studio space that is lively, stimulating and productive. There is a strong emphasis on drawing, both communicative and expressive, and your drawing skills will be developed through classes in life and observational drawing each week throughout your three years of study. Your individual visual work will be developed through a variety of themed projects and image-making processes including print making, animation, typography, bookbinding and digital media.
View this gallery for examples of our students’ work in their final year and on completion of their studies.
You can view more of our students’ work in the student work tab.
- All our staff are experienced professional artists - visit their professional websites here
- We provide each student with an individual work place, something we have identified as essential to the creative happiness of our students
- We are based in The Grove, an £80m state-of-the-art learning facility, complete with art editing and digital publishing labs
- Professional practice is explored at all levels and visiting illustrators, agents, publishers and designers come to our campus to show their work and discuss your portfolios - some students will get the opportunity to get work or be published before they graduate
- In your second and third year, you will be entered for major competitions such as the Macmillan’s Children’s Book Prize
- At the end of your degree, you will exhibit your work at our Art and Design Degree Show, which is a great opportunity to show off your talents to creative industry employers
Did you know
BA Illustration has a 97% student satisfaction rating (NSS, 2013)
- Year 1
- Illustration/Graphics: Visual Communication Workshops 1 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to provide an opportunity to explore a variety of different graphic media and understand the value as methods of visual communication. It aims to encourage an inventive and experimental response to the use of processes and materials in workshop areas which within BA Hons Illustration include printmaking, animation, digital illustration and book binding, and within BA Hons Graphic Design include photography, print making, typography, design thinking and digital inspiration. The module also aims to offer students the opportunity to learn a range of transferable practical and technical skills in art and design, through material handling, exploration of process, production and presentation.
- Introduction to Illustration (60 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to: establish essential thinking and communication skills to enable students to explore, understand and utilise illustration as a possible career. establish visual perception, research and study skills consider issues and concerns common to Art and Design as a basis for further development in this field. establish an understanding of how personal working methods and approaches, are critical to the subject and the development of a personal visual language establish exploration in illustrative and technical processes, media and materials as a way of investigating visual communication
- Understanding Communication Arts (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- To encourage students to question how practicioners from Visual Communication Design the Communication Arts, here understood as Photography, Illustration and Graphic Design, both shape, and are shaped by, our material world. To extend and deepen student s understanding of the relationship between their developing practice and the practices that have developed at other times and at other places. With particular reference to the Communication Arts of the modern and postmodern periods, and using resources available in London, we aim to encourage an appreciation of how the design and consumption of Visual Culture is intimately bound up with cultural change. To enable students to place the history of communication arts and their own practice within the broader contexts of the histories of art and design, and to understand these in turn in their relation to the histories of society, culture and ideas. To enable students to apply a range of critical approaches in order understand a range of images, texts and objects.
- Year 2
- Illustration Practice (60 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to: further encourage the development of a personal way of working and to establish a coherence in processes of image production and visual identity. to develop working processes that utilise enquiry, analysis and research techniques in relating a visual solution to the objectives of a brief. to demonstrate a confidence in articulate, critical analysis and discussion. to introduce and develop an awareness of historical and contemporary illustration practice to introduce professional levels of practice and presentation through participation in external illustration competitions.
- Illustration/Graphics: Visual Communication Workshops 2 (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to develop an understanding of specialist subject areas of creative practice through studio and workshop based activities. It enables students to develop individual approaches to visual communication and to begin to identify broad areas of interest that could form the basis for further specialist study on their programme. It will encourage the acquisition of intermediate specialist skills to work effectively in creative workshop areas chosen from within BA Hons Illustration; life drawing, reportage, screenprint, etchin, lino print, monoprint, and stone lithography, and within BA Hons Graphic Design advertising, bookart, magazine design, moving image, letterpress, interactive and web design. The module aims to further develop skills in using creative processes analysing, evaluating visual pieces of work and presentation methods.
- The Visual Activist (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to provide students of Illustration and Graphic Design with a broad understanding of Critical Theory with a view to arming and empowering them for engagement with the political and social context in which design practice takes place. Students will be introduced to concepts from Critical Theory and Cultural Studies as well as to the application of these theories and concepts to practice within their own discipline and the wider cultural sphere. Emphasis will be placed on the engagement of the practitioner with current political and social debates and on an understanding of the role of the designer in shaping opinion and taking a political stance. The module will promote discussion and debate as key elements in the consideration of the context of illustration and design practice and seek to foster students capacity for the discussion of ideas in both spoken and written expression. It will also encourage the student to develop an activist voice and to understand the potential of their area of practice in making a contribution to political action and debate and to civil society. It should prompt students to see themselves as citizen designers and illustrators with an active role to play in society and the political process.
- Year 3
- Critical and Contextual Research Project (30 Credits) - Compulsory
- This module aims to enable students to identify and deliver a research project related to their studio practice. The project will involve an analytical engagement with a range of research resources in order to have a greater understanding of an aspect of studio practice through its historical, theoretical and social contexts. The module will consolidate the development of skills of project identification, research organisation and development, time management, visual analysis and critical argument. Students will extend their ability to think creatively about the presentation of conceptual, critical and contextual material in both written and visual form. Students will further consolidate the development of skills required for autonomous learning.
- Illustration Major Projects and Portfolio (90 Credits) - Compulsory
- This Module aims : - to reinforce and extend previously acquired skills in pursuing specialist illustration projects from analysis and research through to image production, presentation and final critical evaluation. - to consolidate a professional approach to pictorial and non-pictorial communication skills - to work in an increasingly independent and self directed way - encourage the use of collaborative and interdisciplinary consultation within their peer group and externally - develop students understanding of professional and/or statutory issues informing their discipline, the illustration process and their specific projects. - encourage students to audit and articulate their practice in relation to the different fields of knowledge, design and communication, professional practice, technologies and processes, history and theory - developed throughout their studies for their major project
What will you study?
In your first year your projects and workshops are centered on exploration, interpretation, and communication. These core activities are supported by sessions on printmaking, animation and observational drawing. By your second year you will be well placed to begin expanding your knowledge of illustration through professional and personal projects so you can develop an individual visual language. The final year’s emphasis is on consolidation of skills and the production of a professional portfolio.
You can find more information about this course in the programme specification.
What our students say
BA Illustration graduate
Corban won the Observer/John Cape/Comica Award, a national graphic art competition, in 2012 with his four page graphic short story, entitled But I Can’t.
“I chose Middlesex University mainly because of the quality of the course. The degree programme seemed to be exactly what I was looking for compared to what other Universities were offering as most courses just seemed to focus on the fine art aspect while Middlesex was very much about illustration and how to actually draw.
“The course taught me the practical skills that I have today. All of the tutors were actual illustrators so they really knew what they were talking about. The number one aspect of the course for me was the life drawing lessons. That was where I learned the most, particularly because we had such a great life drawing lecturer."
“Winning the Cape award would be my highlight to date. The key to success, I think, was that it was the fourth time I’d entered, so it came down to sheer persistence. If you have persistence you can do anything! It’s hard to get yourself out there but it is incredibly enjoyable if you are into it.
“Currently I am really focusing on publishing my debut graphic novel Breaker’s End. I have illustrated for magazines and I also get a lot of personal commissions, often from people looking for fan art. I have had a lot of interest from publishers who want to work with me but I just need to hone what I am producing to make it more ‘sellable’. I’m also doing short comics for a couple of clients.”
BA Illustration graduate (2009)
“The Illustration BA at Middlesex was great, partly due to being taught by talented tutors and also because of the wonderful facilities. We had a big studio with our own desks - this really instilled a very strong work ethic in me.
“One of my most enjoyable experiences at Middlesex was making a magazine created by Middlesex Illustration students. Every month the magazine was sold on campus, online, on the street and in selected artists' bookshops across London. Designers and established artists contributed to it so it was a great way to make contacts in the industry and gain real experience of magazine production.
“I am currently a graphic artist, working in a number of areas including print design, illustration, sub-cultural research, layout design and silkscreen printmaking. I work from a studio based in North London, which I share with two other painters. I am freelance, sometimes collaborating with other creative agencies and organisations. I've just finished working on a project commissioned by The Phoenix Cinema Trust, where I created illustrations for a century of cinema, one for each decade.”
BA Illustration graduate
“I had a look round the Illustration department during an open day and was blown away by the quality of the work on show. It was clear that the students had been given the chance to develop their own voices. I really enjoyed how closely knit the course felt. Everyone had their own desk space and we were encouraged to work in the studio every day. It was a supportive environment where you could always bounce off your peers.
“Recently, I've been producing flyers and banners for Rumpus. They organise bi-monthly parties that are like mini, pop-up festivals and for their last party I produced background pieces for their main stage. I also helped organise an exhibition celebrating the life and works of Lewis Carroll and have more shows planned.
“I honestly think that applying for the course was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I honed my own practice and had the opportunity to learn how to animate, screen and lino print, etch, use programs such as illustrator and build a website. I also got to visit New York, Rome and Antwerp on the annual drawing trips. If you're prepared to give it your all, there's so much to get out of it in return.”
BA Illustration graduate
“I visited Middlesex University on one of their Open Days, and sort of fell in love with the Illustration studio and facilities. I really enjoyed how small and intimate the course was, so you actually got to know the people you worked alongside. It was such a great environment to work in.
“At Middlesex you're broadened as an artist. As well as developing your illustration style, you have the opportunity to learn screen-printing, lino-printing, etching, animation, Photoshop, Illustrator, AfterEffects and more. It was tough but I loved it.
“I'm currently a freelance illustrator and one of three organisers for 'The Drawn Chorus Collective', a collective of over 20 artists, including other Middlesex University graduates. I have an upcoming show in Margate this summer, as well as several commission-based works, and one of my illustrations, The Queen of Hearts was shortlisted in the AOI Illustration Awards 2013 alongside my tutor, Andrew Baker. I have also co-founded a lino-printed illustrative clothing brand, Y.h Clothing [www.yhclothing.co.uk] with my twin sister.”
Teaching and learning
As well as presentations by professional illustrators, you will attend demonstrations, seminars, lectures and one-to-one tutorials, and develop your skills in our studios and workshops. You will work on practical assignments individually and in groups, and will have the chance to go on visits and interview professionals. You will also give presentations, take part in discussions and do your own research. In your final year you will do a major research project.
Assessment is entirely through coursework. As well as your practical work, which you will display at the end-of-term exhibitions, and your portfolio, you will be assessed through written work and presentations. We will be looking at the standard of your practical work, but also the depth of your research, your analytical abilities and your time management, among other things. Some assessed work will be done in groups. Students will give feedback on each other’s work, and you will also be asked to evaluate your own work.
We normally make offers on 220 UCAS tariff points. BTEC National Diploma/International Baccalaureate/Advanced Progression Diplomas/Level 3 Diploma in Art Design at equivalent tariff are also accepted. We accept Access to HE Diploma. Applications from mature candidates without formal qualifications are welcomed provided they can demonstrate appropriate levels of relevant ability and experience. We normally invite students to submit a portfolio and attend an interview.
The UCAS deadline for guaranteed consideration of applications for Middlesex art and design courses is 24 March.
For a comprehensive list of qualifications accepted by Middlesex, see further information under entry requirements
English language requirements
You must have competence in English language and we normally require Grade C GCSE or an equivalent qualification. The most common English Language requirements for international students are IELTS 6.0 (with minimum 5.5 in all four components) or TOEFL internet based 72 (with at least 17 in listening & writing, 20 in speaking and 18 in reading).
Middlesex also offers an Intensive Academic English course (Pre-Sessional) that ranges from 5-17 weeks depending on your level of English. Successful completion of this course would meet English language entry requirements. For more information on applying for the pre-sessional please email [email protected].
Entry into year two or three (transfer students)
If you have achieved a qualification such as a foundation degree or HND, or have gained credit at another university, you may be able to enter a Middlesex course in year two or three. For full details of how this works see transfer students
UK/EU applicants with existing higher education qualifications
If you have already been awarded a qualification at the same level as the course you are applying for, you may not be eligible for a tuition fee loan, see fees and funding for more information.
The application is just the first step in our selection process, we also invite you to an interview and review your portfolio of art and design work.
We've put together a short video to help you prepare your portfolio.
The interview itself usually lasts about 15 minutes, but please allow an hour as this usually includes a tour of our facilities. We use the interview to allow us to find out more about you, to better understand your aspirations and interests and for you to learn more about us. The interview will explore why you want to study the subject with us, there will be no trick questions, so don't be too nervous.
What are the career options with a degree in Illustration?
On our BA Illustration course there is an emphasis on identifying specialist skills, and equipping students with the knowledge to enable them to set up studios, approach agents or produce websites in order to embark on their future careers. There are specific lectures and visiting illustrators, agents and publishers to inform students of the issues involved. Our students gain work in writing and illustrating children's books, magazine publishing, editorial illustration, advertising and design.
BA Illustration at Middlesex equips you with the specialist skills and knowledge to enable you to set up studios, approach agents or produce websites as you embark on your future career. Typically students gain work in writing and illustrating children's books, magazine publishing, editorial illustration, advertising, design and animation.
Middlesex has strong links with art and design employers. Our industry partners sponsor final year students and give visiting lectures, and hundreds of art and design agencies, organisations and other employers attend our final year degree show each year.
Illustration has an excellent record of success in many national and international competitions including Corban Wilkin winning first prize in the 2012 Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica award and Ben Hendy who was joint runner up in the Mall Galleries, Threadneedle Prize. We have won many yellow pencils in the D&AD and been shortlisted for the Folio Society and Macmillan children’s book prize.
You can view a selection of our students’ work in their final year and on completion of their studies in the galleries below.
Illustration students also produce animation work as part of the degree, the calibre of the work recognised as award-winning on numerous occasions. You can watch some examples by clicking on the images below.
Alex Moore 3rd year Illustration graduate
This animated film was part of Alex Moore’s final major project to create an interactive graphic novel. Alex adapted Sharp Teeth, a 2008 free verse novel by American writer Toby Barlow which won the 2009 Alex Award and is the Horror entry on the 2009 Best Adult Genre Fiction Reading List. She also produced a large scale wall piece of this work and has been working on other graphic novels and interactive projects since graduating in June 2012.
Amber Cooper Davies 3rd year Illustration student
Amber’s first animated film is a response to the Just So story How the Whale got his Throat by Rudyard Kipling. The simple silhouettes reflect her interest in combining collage, a process she works in extensively with animation. Amber’s final project at college was to produce a major large format animation, back projected on to her paper collages.
Daniel Duncan 3rd year Illustration student
Dan has always been interested in football and as a keen-semi professional player decided to make an animation based on some of his experiences. The animation he has produced is both affectionate and thought provoking as he looks at the effect the beautiful game can have on those around it.
Rae Henry 3rd year Illustration graduate
Rae’s film was part of a body of work looking into Victorian circus acts and bizarre characters. Her short film was continued into work with full size puppets. She also created potion bottles with beautiful labels.
Dan Fairbairn 3rd year Illustration graduate
Fish and Chips is an animated film in response to a second year brief asking students to find a short article in a national newspaper and illustrate it. The result is a funny although rather disturbing film, simple but very effective.