This BA is an independent, studio-based programme which looks specifically at illustration as professional practice. Learn to challenge the boundaries of illustration in a creative studio environment with your peers, and discover where you can make a difference in the exciting world of illustration.
Our course is specifically focused on developing your skills as a professional illustrator and finding your personal visual language. The course has a strong focus on drawing and you'll be able to continue developing your drawing skills in life and observational drawing classes each work throughout the three-year degree.
Our facilities are state-of-the-art and as part of your blended learning, you'll have access to The Grove, an £80 million learning facility. We have a number of illustrators, agents, publishers and designers who make themselves available to discuss your portfolios. Many of our students get the opportunity to publish their work before they graduate.
Our north London campus is perfectly located for you to explore museums and galleries to gain inspiration. In previous years, illustration students have also visited Edinburgh and Lisbon to be inspired by new surroundings.
Year after year our students produce outstanding industry-standard work and leave the course with an impressive portfolio to launch their career. Take a look at some of the work from last year’s graduates on our Creative Graduates 2022 exhibition site.
We ensure that you graduate from our course with the specialist skills you’ll need to approach agents, set up studios, and produce a website as you start on your career path. Many of our students go on to work in magazine publishing, editorial illustration, advertising, animation, and more. We have strong industry links with art and design employers, and all the teaching staff are all creative practitioners.
Our course is unique, in that we provide you with an individual workspace in the specialist illustration studio, that you can treat as your own throughout your studies. Previous students have told us that they have really enjoyed this lively and supportive learning environment. As part of your blended learning, you will also have access to our amazing workshops, illustration students often use the printmaking and digital media workshops, laser cutting and photographic studios.
In your second and third year, you'll have the opportunity to enter many Creative Industry competitions. Past graduates have won many yellow pencils in the D&AD while others have been shortlisted for the Folio Society and Macmillan children’s book prize.
We know that sometimes you’ll need assistance and support when it comes to your studies. During your time with us you’ll get assistance from a Personal Tutor. If you require a little extra help, then we have Student Learning Assistants and Graduate Academic Assistants on hand to help.
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On BA illustration you will be taught specific creative skills such as animation, bookbinding, printmaking processes, relevant digital programmes and drawing both life and location. The course concentrates on contemporary applications and traditional illustration processes, and the success of our graduates in both international competitions and employment in the creative industries is testament to this approach.
In your first year, projects and workshops are centred on exploration, interpretation, and communication. Core activities exploring areas such as, narrative and graphic novels, magazine and editorial illustration, and reportage and are supported by sessions on printmaking, animation and observational and life drawing. By your second year, you will be well-placed to begin expanding your knowledge of illustration through entering creative industry competitions, tutored and personal projects, in order to develop an individual visual language. The final year's emphasis is on consolidation of skills, analysis and a diagnostic approach to personal practice and the production of a professional portfolio.
This module aims to establish essential thinking and communication skills to enable you to explore, understand and utilise illustration as a possible career. The module will help you establish visual perception, research and study skills, and consider issues and concerns common to art and design as a basis for further development in this field. You will develop an understanding of how personal working methods and approaches, are critical to the subject and the development of a personal visual language. You will be encouraged to experiment through the use of illustrative technical processes, media and materials as a way of investigating visual communication.
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. You will develop working processes that utilise enquiry, analysis and research techniques in relating a visual solution to the objectives of a brief. You will demonstrate a confidence in articulate, critical analysis and discussion. The module will introduce and develop an awareness of historical and contemporary illustration practice and introduce professional levels of practice and presentation through participation in external illustration competitions.
This module takes an interdisciplinary approach to the critical study of historical and contemporary illustration practice. You will have the opportunity to specialise in an extended range of visual communication workshop subjects over the year, selected from printmaking, moving image and animation, interactive and relevant digital and internet formats, life and observational drawing sessions are provided weekly. Projects will cover a broad range of themes including (but not limited to) ecology and environmentalism, globalisation, identity politics, intersectionality and urbanism.
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. You will consolidate a professional approach to pictorial and non-pictorial communication skills and work in an increasingly independent and self directed way. The module will encourage the use of collaborative and interdisciplinary consultation and develop your understanding of professional and/or statutory issues informing your discipline, the illustration process and your specific projects. You will be encouraged to audit and articulate your practice in relation to the different fields of knowledge - design and communication, professional practice, technologies and processes, history and theory - developed throughout your studies for the major project.
This module reflects recognition of the need for BA illustration graduates to be well prepared professionally to meet the requirements of the creative industries. In order to succeed you will need to be aware of the contextual and ethical issues relevant to today’s practitioners. The module is designed to allow you the opportunity to work on a wide variety of visual communication problems that will be recognised, understood and appreciated by potential employers.
See the course specification for more information about typical course content outside of the coronavirus outbreak:
Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. 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.
Illustration has an excellent record of success in many national and international competitions. We have won many yellow pencils in the D&AD and been shortlisted for the Folio Society and Macmillan children's book prize, Penguin Book cover prize and both printmaking and app design competitions.
Take a look at our blog for some of the stellar work created by our Illustration students, and follow us on Twitter for regular updates.
Download our Alumni Achievement roundup featuring excellent examples of our graduates' real-world work and success stories.
Many of our graduates do extremely well.
Just this year, James Oses created an illustrated poster for TNT to help promote the second season of The Alienist which sees a newspaper illustrator and criminal psychologist joining forces to investigate a serial killer in New York during the late 19th century.
James also illustrated the cover for Penguin Book Jaipur's Journals, Namita Gokhale’s ode to literature featuring diverse stories of lost love and regret, self-doubt.
Graduate Chloe Smith was commissioned by creative agency Adjust your Set to create an illustrated guide to digital dating in the age of COVID-19 for Durex.
Charlot Kristensen has created an illustration for September 1st’s Google Doodle. The portrait celebrates Jamaican-born British doctor, humanitarian, and activist Dr Harold Moody who dedicated his life to helping others, advocated against discrimination, and helped pave the way towards a more equal future.
She has also just written and illustrated her new book from Avery Hill which examines contemporary issues of race, entrenched bigotry and the difficulties faced by interracial couples. “It’s the debut graphic novel from a burgeoning talent devoted to representation and empowering women of colour.”
Graduate Fred Campbell and our Graduate Academic Assistant Alex Moore both reached the long-list for the WIA Awards and Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition respectively.
Alex also illustrated the cover art for BBC Radio 3’s The Sound of Gaming, a new series exploring the world of video game music with composer Jessica Curry.
Graduate and Teaching Assistant Shazleen Khan created the poster and identity for Glasgow’s 10th annual Comic Con scheduled to take place this summer.
During his time at Middlesex, graduate Daniel Duncan's picture book South was both selected for the Macmillan Children’s’ Book competition and AOI awards. Shortly after graduating he signed with the Bright Agency and has been producing picture books ever since.
Our 2020 graduates have also started making an impact! Tyrell Osbourne, Ha Tung Anh Nguyen and Suadah Mukadam have all been selected as part of the D&AD Newblood Festival’s One's to Watch. The Newblood Festival is a celebration of emerging design talent and an opportunity for new graduates to not only showcase their work but also receive guidance and mentorship from leading figures in the industry.
The 2020 Senior Show was an international online exhibition organised by Minneapolis-based art gallery Light Grey Art Lab in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As arts courses around the world were forced to cancel their end of year shows the gallery organised a digital alternative with sponsorship from the likes of Adobe and mentorships from leading illustrators and art directors.
We are delighted to say that outgoing students Beatriz Marmelo and Katie O’Donnell were both selected for the online showcase Get Started with Gouache.
Graduate, Emma Block's follow up to her debut book, The Joy of Watercolour, will be released by Watson-Guptill in September in the UK.
You are Positively Awesome is a colourful and practical book for an everyday burst of positivity and an extra dose of self-kindness from graduate Stacie Swift and Pavillion Books.
What The Dickens?! is the latest of our annual exhibitions with the Poetry Society now on show at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. Inspired by the works of Charles Dickens in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the author’s death, the exhibition features a selection of work produced by students across our cohort.
The Chair We Sit On features 9 iconic moments in design with words by Erik Nash and illustrations by graduate James Boast, published this September.
To mark the Centenary of WWI, Illustration staff and students worked for two years on a collaborative project with the RAF Museum in Hendon. The students worked extremely hard to tell the stories in an exiting but challenging format and in a way that made them relevant to today’s audience whilst maintaining historical accuracy. The resulting work is an online 'animated' graphic novel telling the history of the RAF aerodrome, from its earliest days to the present day, told through 9 illustrated stories from different periods of time and an illustrated landing page.
They cover a story about young women in 1919 loosing their important wartime jobs as men return from the front. There is a story about the WAAF stationed at the base in 1943 and another about young men invalided out of the RAF re-applying for flying jobs at the base in 1946.
The RAF museum received lottery funding as part of a very large regeneration project and this project was identified as an important part of the outreach programme. Please visit the RAF museum website to view this project in it's completion and have a look at our gallery of student work.
In February 2018, the Walthamstow Village Window Gallery hosted "High Spec", an exhibition showcasing a selection of innovative, award winning work by some of our recent graduates. They all have their own visual language but are joined by a love of storytelling.
Chloe Smith’s beautiful and lurid images tell the tale of how Antwerp got its name, Nakim Brown unfolds the history of the universe in a glowing graphic novel, and Summer Du Plessis unpicks Bowie’s Star Man in luminous print. Awarded a D&AD prize for best show at New Blood, the exhibition includes risographs, drawings, screen prints, linocuts and digital paintings.
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 professional practice lectures and visiting illustrators, agents and publishers inform students of the issues involved. Our students gain work in writing and illustrating children's books, magazine publishing, editorial illustration, advertising and design.
Middlesex has strong links with art and design employers and many of our students gain work during or soon after graduating, they have published books and gained full time employment working within the creative Industry as graphic designers, in-house illustrators, magazine, games and web designers.
Illustration has an excellent record of success in many national and international competitions. We have won many yellow pencils in the D&AD, including 2016 graduate Nicole Cowan who was awarded best in show and have had students shortlisted for the Folio Society, Macmillan children's book prize and Ben Hendy was joint runner up in the Mall Galleries, Threadneedle Prize.
Our graduates have also gone on to find success upon completing the course. Graduate Amber Cooper-Davies’ animation ‘The Nuclear Age in Six Movements’ was shortlisted for the 2016 WIA awards. Alex Foster was awarded the New Talent Advertising Prize at the 2015 WIA Awards. Other successes include Fay Brown who was selected for the Royal Watercolour Society’s 2017 exhibition. Ben Hendy who was joint runner up in the Mall Galleries, Threadneedle Prize.
Here are just a few more notable mentions:
Corban Wilkin is a cartoonist and illustrator based in London. He was the winner of the 2012 Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize for his comic But I Can’t and was nominated for the 2014 British Comic Awards in the Emerging Talent category for the graphic novel Breaker’s End. His most recent book is the 2018 graphic novel Grand Theft Horse, written by G. Neri and published by Lee & Low Books. Aside from his graphic novels, his range of illustration work includes magazine graphics, story illustrations, video game art, and animations.
While studying at Middlesex, Summer was shortlisted for the Prize for Illustration 2015: London Places & Spaces and her artwork was exhibited at the London Transport Museum. The brief for the competition was to capture London's quirks and unique qualities through drawing. Summer drew and painted the Abbey Mills Pumping Station in Stratford, an elaborate Byzantine-style building which operated as a pumping station until very recently.
During her 2nd year Eva, was one of the winners of the 2015 Worldwide Picture Book Prize. Organised by Walker Books and the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society, the competition takes submissions from all over the world. Eva's children's book 'Poor Dragon Willy Dinkywing' is a picture book and colouring book in one and tells the story of a dragon with a cold who needs to learn to breathe fire again. Eva's work is now part of a touring exhibition and is featured in a catalogue presented to publishers at international book fairs.
Graduate Salome, whose distinctive illustration style is garnering her much attention, was shortlisted for the Penguin Random House Design Adult Non Fiction Cover Award. Her proposed design for Jeanette Winterson's 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit' translates a motif from the story into a striking cover image reminiscent of washing hanging on a line.
Take a look at our blog for some of the stellar work created by our Illustration students, and follow us on Twitter for regular updates.
The facilities, studios and workshops at our £80 million purpose-built Grove building on campus in North London are recognised as among the best in country. With a wide range of specialist workshops, digital media, equipment, software and library facilities on-site you'll benefit from unique levels of access to both the latest forms of technology and traditional tools with expert support to help you develop your work.
Illustration students have access to all the University’s excellent workshops but in our particular specialism we regularly use the Printmaking workshop, Digital Media workshop, photographic studios, 3D and laser-cutting workshops. Many of the activities in these areas are embedded into the illustration curriculum and students are able to explore and develop their work through an understanding of these applied processes.
Senior Lecturer in BA (Hons) Illustration and MA Children’s Book and Graphic Novels. Graduated from Middlesex and the Royal College of Art. Previously worked for Pentagram, combining teaching with freelance illustration practice for publishing, packaging and editorial clients such as, Campaign Magazine, Pan Books, BBC Panorama, British Airways, and Chase Manhatten Bank. Currently exploring personal research into photomontage and solar etching. www.nancyslonims.com
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.
A fine artist, who paints pictures, makes films and audio works. He gained a BA in illustration/printmaking from Bristol Polytechnic in 1974 and an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in 1984. Since 1976 he has been holding one-person and group exhibitions each year at home and abroad and has been nominated for the D&AD award for illustration in 2001 and 2004. http://www.aldouseveleigh.com.
Paul has a particular interest in traditional and digital animation. He balances his teaching with a busy freelance career working as an animator and illustrator and has produced a series of ground breaking shows combining live-action theatre and animation with his troupe 1927. They recently returned to the Berlin Komische Opera House with a double bill of Stravinsky’s Petruschka and Ravel’s L’enfant Et Les Sortilèges. Paul is the winner of 7 awards including Edinburgh Festival Fringe First 2007 and currently tours all over the world with 1927.
A practising painter, graduated in painting from Leeds Polytechnic and San Francisco State University. She has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe and the USA, and was selected for the BP Portrait Award. Other selected exhibitions include the Chichester Open, Hunting Art Prizes, the Discerning Eye and NEAC; her work is in the Ruth Borchard permanent collection of artists' self portraits. www.susanlight.co.uk
Samantha Lippett is a London based curator and lecturer with a background in visual communication. Working across both galleries and community settings, her projects explore the radical potential for learning through participation and interdisciplinary collaboration. Alongside her teaching, she currently runs a programme of residencies and outreach projects with emerging and international artists for South London Gallery (SLG) on three local housing estates.
Louise has worked on a wide variety of Illustration commissions for UK and International clients, including The Royal Mail, Nat West and regular commissions for The Telegraph and The Guardian. Louise has received a number of awards including The World Illustration Awards and 3x3 America, and her work is cited in many anthologies of Illustration.
Illustration BA graduate
In 2015, Alex received the World Illustration Award for Advertising (New Talent) in recognition of his Totally Thames campaign.
Since leaving the Illustration course at Middlesex I've been working on a variety of different projects and developing my products.
One of the first big projects fresh from university was a book called The Poetry Train which I worked on with the Poetry Society. The book is a free resource for primary school teachers. This was distributed to many primary schools throughout the country and is based on brilliant poems by top poets such as Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay. This project was made possible through previous exhibitions and links with the Poetry Society that were gained at Middlesex.
My biggest and most widely seen project to date was a poster campaign with Totally Thames. This was the main advertising campaign for the event and featured in 250 London tube stations, 500 National Rail stations and 10,000 brochures. Another great print project was with artist Amena Menia for the Folkestone Triennial. Undélaissé is a bread recipe book based on recordings of people from around the world who currently live in Folkestone.
After sending out postcards and contacting Art Directors I managed to secure a commission with one of my favourite illustration-driven magazines, Anorak. This was posted by me and Anorak on Instagram, which led to my House Portrait service being featured on the Guardian Christmas gift guide and ITV's This Morning. Since this exposure I have had my products stocked in more shops and online retailers, like Not On the High Street, Artfinder and The Lost Lanes. I hope to continue to push my business with strong branding, packaging and new personalised products in the future. Exciting stuff in the works!
Other areas of work include working with Animate and Create on two animations, working on print editions with the Turner Contemporary, and personal print projects like wedding maps and area illustrations.
Illustration BA graduate
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.
Illustration BA 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.
Illustration BA graduate
It felt like a family away from home in many ways. I made friends with both staff and students alike, and still keep in touch, almost 3 years after graduation!
It allowed me to spread my wings artistically, and discover new techniques and experiment with subjects I would've never considered before.
Plus, I got a lot of exposure out of uni - each year there were many projects and competitions announced by the tutors, that you could be a part of, so I already had some great projects and known clients on my CV the second I graduated!
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.
Start: October 2023, EU/International induction: September 2023
Duration: 3 years full-time
Start: September 2023
Duration: 3 years full-time
Start: September 2023, EU/International induction: September 2023
Duration: 3 years full-time, 5 years part-time