Logo close icon
Studying with us during coronavirus in 2021
Section navigation
Main Baner Image

Children's Book Illustration and Graphic Novels MA

Learn about the course below
January 2022
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£9,000 (UK) *
£14,500 (EU/INT) *
Course leader
Martin Ursell

This practice and research-based course will enable you to explore and develop your interest and skill in all forms of narrative and sequential illustration. You will produce a children's book, graphic novel or illustrated text using our extensive facilities, supported by highly experienced staff and successful practitioners in the field.

Why study MA Children's Book Illustration and Graphic Novels at Middlesex University?

This is a highly practical course that aims to give students the very best opportunity to publish in these fields. The course is staffed by practising illustrators with rich and varied experience in these fields and invaluable insight into all aspects of publishing. The course will draw on the advice and expertise of visiting publishers, writers, editors, designers and art directors offering the best possible opportunity into the seemingly impenetrable world of publishing, narratives and children's books. Middlesex University offers superb facilities, including our exceptional printmaking rooms offering silk screen, lithography, mono print, wood and lino cutting, etching and dry point options and these will be part of our blended learning approach available where possible. Students will have access to our state-of-the-art reprographic department, where circumstances allow, where dummy books and sample illustrations may be printed to the highest professional quality.  Our university printing department CDS will offer the opportunity for students to have their dummy books printed where necessary and delivered to a specific address, enabling students to pitch their final major projects where this is appropriate and relevant.  In addition, we offer practical bookbinding expertise and instruction, enabling students to produce illustrated material to the highest presentation standard.

Course highlights

  • On line or studio visits by professionals working in children’s books and graphic novels, including online visits from publishers, editors and designers.
  • Exceptional research and reference opportunities including collections of artists’ books, a materials and specialist collections room and access, where circumstances allow, to the extensive Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) collection of printed ephemera
  • Strong focus on professional presentation skills such as printing and preparing a publisher’s dummy
  • Workshops and practical advice in creating and launching a website.

Find out more

Sign up now to receive more information about studying at Middlesex University London.


Find out more

Sign up now to receive more information about studying at Middlesex University London.

What will you study on the MA Children's Book Illustration and Graphic Novels?

You will study all aspects of narrative illustration within children’s books and graphic novels. The course combines theoretical and practical work to give you a strong foundation from which to produce your own narrative and sequential illustrations. You will also study historical and contemporary examples of illustration from children’s novels and graphic novels.

What will you gain?

You will gain the skills to create your own narrative and sequential illustration. By the end of the course you will be able to produce your own children’s books and graphic novels, using various printing and binding methods. You will also have an understanding of the market and the knowledge to negotiate the publishing business.


  • Modules

    • Developing Practice - Term 1 (30 credits)

      In this module you will explore a chosen area of illustration in a contemporary context while enhancing your technical skills. You will learn to employ a variety of reflective methods to develop your own creative research proposal with the advanced communication skills to present, discuss and evaluate your work.

    • Critical Debates - Term 1 (30 credits)

      In this module you’ll explore the key concepts, ideas, issues and research methodologies relating to the practice and theory of children’s books and graphic novels. With particular focus on the cultural and social contexts within your chosen discipline, you’ll produce a portfolio of critical responses to contemporary debates in research and professional practice.

    • Pen to Paper - Term 2 (30 credits)

      This module will explore sequential imagery in storytelling, looking particularly at opportunities for gaining access to the publishing industry. As part of this module you will assemble a store of visual proposals, enabling you to present your ideas to publishing houses.

    • Advanced Research - Term 2 (30 credits)

      This module will prepare you for your final major project by enabling you to explore the work of practitioners and scholars in illustration and the contemporary research problems they face. By the end of this module you will have produced an illustrated research survey demonstrating your findings and investigations.

    • Major Project - Term 3 (60 credits)

      The major project is an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired during the course to the process of writing and illustrating your own children’s book or graphic novel, supported by critical and reflective written work that demonstrates your resolution and expertise.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are not offered on every course. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How is the MA Children's Book Illustration and Graphic Novels taught?

The course combines lectures, seminars, reading groups and practical studio time.

Each module is designed to be flexible, allowing you to bring your own specific interests to the course work while developing and expanding your visual language and understanding of the requirements and demands of successfully seeing through the activity of writing, illustrating and preparing a text for publication.

Additional time will be spent looking at the available avenues and opportunities for publishing, including co-editions, book fairs (a dominant and crucial factor in successful publishing), self-publishing and the international publishing market.



Your skills, knowledge and understanding will be entirely assessed by coursework including practical project,oral presentations and supporting written work.

There are no exams. Your final major project will require you to create your own children’s book or graphic novel.

Support services

Teaching and learning

Changes for students in 2021

If you’re a new student for January 2021, your teaching will start online due to national lockdown restrictions. We plan to start in person teaching on campus sometime after mid-February when the lockdown ends. When restrictions are lifted, we’ll be teaching you in different ways to make sure you get the best learning experience possible. You’ll learn through live sessions with teaching staff and have the chance to study independently too, with access to all the online resources you need through our globally available student portal.

We’re planning different scenarios for teaching so that we can be flexible. While we’re social distancing, we’re aiming to teach you through some small group sessions on campus, with other interactive teaching as well as larger lectures delivered online and recorded sessions available to you on-demand. If you’re unable to make it to campus at first, or we need to limit access to campus in the future, your course can be delivered fully online.

The table below shows current plans for your learning across a typical week, including scheduled live online teaching and an indication of what we hope to teach face to face, where you can make it to campus. While some weeks might look different to this, due to how we schedule classes and make arrangements for any face to face sessions (for example, in some cases these could take place every two weeks with an increased number of hours), the table gives you an idea of what to expect based on the overall number of teaching hours on your course.

You’ll receive final arrangements for your teaching and a full course timetable before you start.

Scenario 1: Course delivered fully online

Live learning Contact time per week, per level:  11 hours a mix of asynchronous and synchronous learning
Self-paced learning time      Average hours per week, per level:
9 hours independent learning 18 hours independent learning and research
On demand resources Average hours per week, per level: As and when necessary 

Scenario 2: Course delivered with a mix of online and face to face learning with social distancing in place

Live learning Contact time per week, per level:  11 hours a mix of asynchronous and synchronous learning
Self-paced learning time      Average hours per week, per level: 9 hours independent learning 18 hours independent learning and research
On demand resources Average hours per week, per level:  As and when necessary 
Face-to-face sessions Contact time per week, per level:   Face to face sessions if and when conditions allow.

Read more about our scenarios for returning to campus and what they might mean for your teaching and learning experience, and how you’ll be able to access student support.

Future plans for teaching

We’re developing our timetable for face to face teaching  with current government advice on social distancing to keep you safe. If social distancing requirements are lifted, we’ll start to safely move back towards our usual teaching arrangements with more opportunities for face to face learning. Some learning and support might stay online in this scenario. If more restrictions are put in place, or there is another lockdown, we’ll be prepared to deliver your learning and support fully online, with alternative arrangements made for any required placements. We’ll always give you notice of any changes that we make.

Definitions of terms

  • Live learning – Live learning will cover everything you’ll do with teaching staff like lectures, seminars, workshops and other classes, and we’ll schedule all of this for you. This might include some study outside your regular timetable, like taking part in discussion forums or online blogs where you’re supported by academic staff.
  • Independent learning – Independent learning is all the studying you’ll do outside your live learning sessions with teaching staff. This self-paced study will give you the chance to learn, prepare, revise and reflect in your own time as you need to, and you’ll have access to on-demand resources and materials to help you do your best.
    • Self-paced study – Self-paced study will give you the chance to learn wherever and whenever you want to and at your own pace, outside your live learning sessions. This independent learning could include reading and reflection, preparation for classes, revision or homework along with access to other online activities such as quizzes.
    • On-demand resources – You'll have access to on-demand resources like pre-recorded video lectures and workshops as part of your independent study. You’ll be able to review and revisit whenever you need to at your own pace.
  • Face to face sessions – Wherever it’s possible to do so, and we can make the necessary arrangements to ensure your safety, you’ll be able to attend scheduled sessions, workshops or appointments on campus as part of your live learning. The number of hours given in this scenario provides an indication of the number of hours of face to face learning you could expect, and a full timetable will be provided to you before the start of your course.


You’ll have a strong support network available to you to make sure you develop all the necessary academic skills you need to do well on your course.

Our support services will mainly be delivered online and you’ll have access to a range of different resources so you can get the help you need, whether you’re studying at home or have the opportunity to come to campus.

You’ll have access to one to one and group sessions for personal learning and academic support from our library and IT teams, and our network of learning experts. Our teams will also be here to offer financial advice, and personal wellbeing, mental health and disability support.

More on teaching for your subject in 2020/21

Read our guide to what’s been happening in your subject area recently and more about what to expect this autumn.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. EU fees from October 2021
  3. EU/International
  4. Additional costs
  5. Scholarships and bursaries

Scroll through the images below to view the great examples of our student work. Make sure to follow us on Instagram too to see the latest events and displays.

Download our Alumni Achievement roundup featuring excellent examples of our graduates' real-world work and success stories.

Book Illustrations

Graphic Novels

How will the MA Children's Book Illustration and Graphic Novels help your career?

The course will prepare you for a career in children’s books, illustrating stories and graphic novels. There will be chances to meet with agents, publishers, writers and practicing illustrators. Almost all illustrators working in children’s books and graphic novels work in a freelance capacity and advice will be given on how to establish yourself, based on first hand experience, in this field.

Advice is given on how to approach publishing houses, including presenting your book at the world’s biggest children’s book fair at Bologna, Italy and at the Frankfurt book fair in Germany.

Possible alternative careers include teaching and studio-based work.

With strong links to art and design employers in the UK and abroad, we support the individual ambitions of every one of our students while they are studying with us and after graduation.

Martin Ursell
Programme Leader

Martin Ursell has illustrated many picture books for children, including the award-winning Song of Pentecost by W. J. Corbett. He has illustrated stories by Roald Dahl, Marina Warner, Ted Hughes, Pippa Goodhart, Linda Jennings and Dick King Smith and as well as the bestselling Gruesome series. Martin was a regular illustrator for Jackanory and visiting illustrator for The National Federation of Children’s Books, South East Arts and Kent Young Peoples Services. His own story Hairy Hairy was televised by the BBC. He was the author and illustrator of the popular Draw books published by b small and he is currently working on an epic, three-part graphic retelling of the Reynard the Fox stories that date back a millennium. Martin wrote Illustrating Children’s Books for the Crowood Press in 2013, currently in its third edition, and a companion text Keeping Sketchbooks published in 2016.

Woodrow Phoenix
Visiting Lecturer

Woodrow Phoenix is a writer, artist, comics creator and graphic designer based in London and Cambridge.

His work regularly appears in UK and US publications. His groundbreaking book 'Rumble Strip' (Myriad Editions) was reviewed in The Times as "One utterly original work of genius. It should be made mandatory reading for everyone, everywhere.” He co-edited ‘Nelson' (Blank Slate) which won The British Comics Award for Best Book of 2012 and an Eisner nomination. 'Crash Course', an extensively revised and updated version of 'Rumble Strip', was published in the USA by Street Noise Books in August 2020.

His other comic books and strips include 'Donny Digits' which appeared weekly in The Guardian; The Sumo Family', which appeared weekly in The Independent on Sunday and then monthly in Manga Mania magazine; and 'The Liberty Cat', published quarterly in Japan by Kodansha in Morning magazine.  ‘SugarBuzz!'  an anthology comic made in collaboration with co-creator Ian Carney), resulted in multiple television projects for Walt Disney, The Cartoon Network and other independent tv production companies.

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

Other courses

Graphic Design MA

Start: January 2022

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGW207

(No Results) (Id: #336737) 288247

Fine Art MA

Start: January 2022

Duration: 1 year full-time, Usually 2 years part-time

Code: PGW103

Back to top