School of Art, Design and Architecture

BA (Hons) Illustration with Foundation

Come and study Illustration in beautiful, lively, purpose built studios with access to amazing resources with a friendly creative, collaborative body of students and award winning staff. Where we will help you to forge your own individual visual voice to succeed in today's fast-paced developing creative worlds.

This course provides opportunities for students from non-standard entry points to develop the skills and knowledge needed to successfully complete an undergraduate degree. Upon successful completion of your first year, you’ll join the undergraduate BA (Hons) Illustration course.

BA (Hons) Illustration 

Key features

Your foundation year will:

  • Welcome you to an engaging, experiential learning environment with a focus on active exploration, experimentation and discovery across a wide range of material, methods and media.
  • Help develop your practical, technical and creative skills through studio and workshop based projects.
  • Provide training in key learning skills for further undergraduate study and build an awareness of practise, context and theory.
  • Introduce you to the accessible community of experienced academics, practitioners and technical staff that will support you on your studies.
  • Give you access to a wide range of enviable specialist workshops, laboratories and facilities across the campus and become part of our vibrant student community through the various opportunities available within the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
  • Enable you to explore and develop your personal interests and strengths as a creative practitioner.

This course is an integrated part of the BA (Hons) Illustration degree at the University of Plymouth. Successful completion of your foundation year (Year 0) will not lead to a separate award or qualification in its own right but provides progression onto Year 1 of the illustration degree.

When you join the BA (Hons) Illustration with Foundation, you will:

  • Be inspired by a varied studio-based culture and practise in our easy-access workshop facilities. Take part in everything from life and location drawing to printmaking and media exploration.
  • Develop your Photoshop, Premiere, InDesign and Flash skills in digital workshops, and explore typography basics, bookbinding, creative writing and more.
  • Gain invaluable knowledge, confidence and professional awareness by seizing work experience opportunities in years 2 and 3. This can range from simple studio visits to longer-term placements and collaboration, such as graduate Kate Mowbray’s placement as a Publishing Assistant with BBC History Magazine.
  • Develop your personal visual ‘voice' and start getting noticed in the professional world by taking part in external commissions and competitions. Get an insight into the world of our award-winning students with freelance illustrator, Jack Teagle.
  • Define your illustrative direction within specific routes such as comic/graphic novels, children’s markets, printmaking, and design for animation/screen – or continue to explore within a broad range of practice.
  • Build up your analogue and digital portfolios and develop your professional profile and confidence, ensuring you’re ready for whatever future direction you wish to pursue, whether freelance, studio-based or within further education such as MA or PGCE courses.
  • 88 per cent of students agreed staff were good at explaining things and 88 per cent of students agreed they got sufficient advice and support. 80 per cent of students were in work/study six months after finishing the course (source: 2016 NSS and 2016 DLHE survey results available on Unistats*).
  • You will set your work in a global context through inspiring overseas study trips to places such as London, New York and Barcelona. You could also choose to take part in an International Exchange programme in your second year, broadening your cultural references and forging new contacts in the international illustration scene.

Course details

  • Year 0
  • Core modules
    • ADA001 Materials, Methods and Media

      This module will introduce students to various techniques, materials and mediums through practise-based experiments, play and problem solving. You will be introduced to different creative processes and methods of working that will help you to develop your ideas and engage in critical and reflective practice.

    • ADA002 Image, Type and Narrative

      Students will experiment with media, photography and typography to explore the relationship between image and word. This module enables students to gain knowledge within subject areas and explore the importance of developing an independent voice. Projects will become increasingly student driven as they develop their ability to propose ideas and solutions through self-directed inquiry, discovery and production.

    • ADA003 Risk and Resolution

      Students will consolidate their skills, knowledge and understanding in initiating, researching, developing and presenting a final project and exhibition. This module will also enable students to continue to research and develop their strengths as an independent art and design practitioner and prepare them for their next stage of study.

    • ADA004 Critical Themes in Art & Design

      This module introduces students to transformative phases within the historical and contemporary context of art, design, photography and media. Students will learn to ask critical questions and find answers through information gathering, reading and research. Through articulating responses, students will be introduced to academic conventions in preparation for progression to further Higher Education.

  • Year 1
  • Core modules
    • ILLUS403 Character

      Students visually explore character creation via a broad range of traditional and digital media and formats whilst being introduced to some of the design processes utilised within illustration practice. Practical character development, narrative and creative writing are a feature. Critical reflection underpins practical work and help to identify strengths and weaknesses. Potential collaborative practice is also a feature.

    • ILLUS413 Narrative Sequence

      You will visually explore sequence creation within your work via a range of traditional and digital media and formats. Character development, narrative pacing, creative writing are a feature. Critical reflective writing underpins practical work. Reflection and planning help to establish personal ambitions and identify strengths and weaknesses. Potential collaborative practice is also a feature.

    • ILLUS423 Meaning / Ideas

      This module introduces Illustration as a means to communicate issues of social, ethical, environmental or political interest. Through discussion students share personal beliefs and values. Students explore and challenge received communication via the interpretation and manipulation of imagery. Projects emphasise creative thinking and ideas generation as essential skills for illustrators by identifying a well-defined focus for enquiry, planning and investigation from a range of sources.

    • ILLUS433 Play

      Students reflect upon prior outputs and practice and negotiate proposals for areas of visual development and exploration, preparing them for Level 5 study directions. Critical reflection underpins practical work and helps to identify strengths and weaknesses. Potential collaborative practice may be a feature.

    • ILLUS443 Contextual 1

      This module establishes drawing and critical contextual evaluation as fundamental activities within illustration practice. It aids in the development of an individual visual vocabulary expanding practical, analytical and technical skills, developing visual confidence. Critical reflective writing builds confidence and underpins practical work. The module operates within the life-room, the general studio, lecture theatres and on location.

    • ILLUS453 Contextual 2

      Students examine the theoretical, social, cultural, ethical and political thinking and current trends which shape contemporary visual culture with particular emphasis upon illustrative outputs and concerns. Critical reflective writing continues to build confidence and underpin practical work. Students follow a programme of drawing projects and approaches which seek to inform and empower them to make mature and original responses to external stimuli.

  • Year 2
  • Optional modules
    • ILLUS500 Thematic: Finding Your Context

      Working on a shared theme students identify a context within illustration practice and in consultation with tutors write an individual which reflects personally identified objectives proposal. The resulting diverse array of outcomes developed from one central topic helps you to consider the impact audience and context have upon communications. The potential strand exit awards are highlighted.

    • ILLUS501 Technique and Approach 1

      Engaging with representational theories within the global, historical, contemporary and cultural landscape you express your findings as part of a group. Study trips offer the opportunity to gain primary research. Lectures, individual and group research, meetings and tutorials, run concurrently throughout the module, culminating in a presentation representative of the whole group's efforts. A visual research journal that includes a written report is submitted at the time of the presentation by each of the group members. Drawing skills are defined and explored as a test bed for ideas and a reflective tool-kit for discovery. The module is also designed to extend your visual research skills and awareness of the value of drawing within illustration.

    • ILLUS510 Interpreting Information

      Choosing from a selection of information from a variety of sources, you negotiate a project brief that allows you to interpret that information visually for a specific illustration context. By reflecting upon your output to date and considering the variety of illustrative fields open to study (including the exit award strands), negotiated learning helps you to question and, where appropriate, reinforce your ambitions. Competition briefs and/or work-based learning through placements or studio visits may be undertaken as part of this module (subject to negotiation and the nature of the project undertaken).

    • ILLUS511 Technique and Approach 2

      Individual research identifies, analyses, and communicates an investigation into the work of an individual or a group of practitioners in illustration or an allied practice. Lectures and research run concurrently throughout the module, to support the writing of an essay. Preparation for dissertation is undertaken. Drawing skills develop along with knowledge of the value of drawing within your illustrative practice.

    • ILLUS520 Japanese Exchange and Report

      This module enables you to extend your experience and understanding of illustration through study abroad. You spend a minimum of twelve weeks at the Hokkaido College of Art & Design, Bisen, Japan. This offers the opportunity to increase communication skills, self-reliance, a greater awareness of cultural values and increased vocational prospects. You write and present a critical evaluation of your educational, cultural and personal experience.

    • ILLUS531 International Exchange and Report

      The module is designed to extend your experience and understanding of subjects through study abroad. You spend a minimum of twelve weeks at an approved international institution offering illustration or complementary design options as a major subject. This offers the opportunity to increase communication skills, self-reliance, a greater awareness of cultural values and increased vocational prospects. You write a critical evaluation of your educational, cultural and personal experience.

  • Final Year
  • Core modules
    • ILLUS600 Consolidating Your Approach

      After an initial period of preparation, research, consultation and project work, you submit a portfolio evidencing your practice to date and a typewritten report identifying aims and learning objectives for the year ahead reflecting your practice and professional aspirations. At the end of this module you may opt (subject to negotiation) to focus your studies towards one of the specific exit award titles

    • ILLUS610 Negotiated Project 1

      A number of broad themes are presented. After reflection and evaluation of previous conclusions and future ambitions, you select one theme and submit a typed brief associated with the selection to satisfy your personally identified goals. Upon acceptance of your brief, you undertake an in depth study of the chosen theme (or the identified aspect of the theme) and produce a body of work that responds to your written brief, demonstrating a full engagement with the task defined within the brief. Competition or live briefs may be undertaken as part of this module provided they fit within the agreed proposal and cover the Learning Outcomes.

    Optional modules
    • ILLUS620 Negotiated Project 2A

      This module is designed to consolidate the learning achieved throughout and fully prepare you for your professional ambitions. After an initial period of preparation, research and consultation, you submit a written brief identifying aims and objectives reflecting your practice and professional aspirations. Following approval of the proposal you undertake an extensive period of self-directed, negotiated study leading to the production of a substantial body of work. The work is presented verbally and visually. Competition or live briefs may be undertaken as part of this module provided they fit within the agreed proposal.

    • ILLUS621 Negotiated Project 2B

      This module is designed to consolidate the learning achieved throughout and fully prepare you for your professional ambitions. After an initial period of preparation, research and consultation, you submit a written brief identifying aims and objectives reflecting your practice and professional aspirations. Following approval of the proposal you undertake an extensive period of self-directed, negotiated study leading to the production of a substantial body of work. The work is presented verbally and visually. Competition or live briefs may be undertaken as part of this module provided they fit within the agreed proposal. You equip yourself for entry into professional practice or post-graduate study through production of promotional materials.

    • ILLUS630 Dissertation (written)

      You propose, research and communicate knowledge and understanding of a subject related to their Illustration studies, via writing an essay of between 5,000 and 6,500. You receive a formal document, (Guidelines for Dissertation Writing) and attend an initial explanatory lecture, after which you submit a proposal for your intended area of study. You are allocated a tutor for the duration of the module. Field study trips to gain first hand research may be undertaken.

    • ILLUS631 Dissertation (presentation)

      You propose, research and communicate knowledge and understanding of a subject related to their Illustration studies via giving a presentation of up to 25 minutes with accompanying essay of 2,200 - 2,500 words. You receive a formal document, (Guidelines for Dissertation Writing) and attend an initial explanatory lecture, after which you submit a proposal for your intended area of study. You are allocated a tutor for the duration of the module. Field study trips to gain first hand research may be undertaken.

    • ILLUS632 Practice, Research and Analysis

      A practical research project appropriate to your practice and ambitions and commensurate with Level 6 study is negotiated as an alternative to ILLUS630. A visual research journal is used to record your process of enquiry of a negotiated project and then as a basis for an illustrated, reflective report of not less than 1000 words that analyses and critiques your explorations, findings and practical outcome. This incremental, applied research approach facilitates the development of your critical thinking skills and creates a record of the reflective dialogue between you, your practical development and relevant cultural and historical materials.

    • ILLUS633 Dissertation Extended

      Research of a topic in considerable depth with methodological and conceptual sophistication, using primary/secondary sources to complete a dissertation of critical writing (between 10,000 and 12,000 words). You receive 'Guidelines for Extended Dissertation Writing', an initial lecture, after which they submit a proposal. You are allocated a tutor for the module. Field study trips to gain first hand research may be undertaken.

    • ILLUS640 Professional Practice

      You locate your studio-based practice within a context of your chosen area of professional specialism and articulate this understanding through production of a report. You gain a deeper understanding of the business and professional dimensions of the subject of illustration. You equip yourself for entry into professional practice or post-graduate study through production of promotional materials. Live briefs and / or work-based learning through placements or studio visits may be undertaken as part of this module. Field study trips to gain first hand research may be undertaken.

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

32 - 48

Don’t have 32–48 UCAS tariff points? We will consider ‘non-standard’ applications on a case-by-case basis.

A levels: For Level 3 entry the Tariff points entry level will normally be 32–48 points from A level or equivalent. Non-standard applicants will normally be interviewed.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended

Irish Leaving Certificate: Irish Highers, H5 in five subjects equivalent to 32–48 points.

International Baccalaureate: 24 overall

Proficiency in English: Students for whom English is an additional language will need to demonstrate ability in spoken and written English equivalent to an IELTS score of 6.0 and/or successfully complete the university’s special test before entering the foundation year.

We are looking for applicants with good potential including with non-standard qualifications and background, so will consider every application on a case by case basis. Alternatively, if you have any questions or concerns about meeting the entry requirements listed above we would encourage you to contact the Admissions Team on 01752 585858 or email ug-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk, where a member of the team can offer you further advice.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts and Humanities additional costs.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.


 

What our students say

The course

“I absolutely love the course. It’s great to be given tasks which help me to grow as an artist. I also benefit from help with so much extra-curricular work e.g. local fairs, advice with commissions etc. – I feel that the lecturers are genuinely invested in helping us to set strong foundations for our careers going forward”

"The course teaches a lot of practical life skills, offers industry opportunities and has fantastic studio space”

“The fact that you have your own desk in the studio space is amazing and a great way to talk and engage with creative people working in different areas of Illustration”

“There are lots of opportunities to participate in events, competitions and workshops to gain experience and explore new mediums.”

“Very free – I don’t feel limited in what I’m able to make. Tutors are very helpful”

“The course pushes you, at no point have I felt in my comfort zone. Encouraging lateral thinking. There’s never a dull moment working in the studio. Banter. And the facilities are really really really good.”

Plymouth

“Coming from the Midlands, it was a nice discovery that the locals were friendly. I have heard ‘lovely’ quite a lot. The ocean is cool. Seen that a few times. Quite like the ice cream here too. It’s like being on holiday part-time.”

“For anyone who prefers countryside to cities, Plymouth has all the advantages of city life without feeling too urban and crowded, especially with the sea right on its doorstep.”

“Close to the sea and countryside, whilst living in a city. Chilled atmosphere.”

“The University of Plymouth is perfectly central with all shops, transport and the train station in a walkable distance. It feels incredibly safe and being by the sea allows you to feel relaxed and free, like you can escape any stresses or worries.”

“Plymouth is a great city in general, because everything you need is within walking distance, but more broadly because the local illustration scene is fantastic”

“Plymouth Hoe is usually a really peaceful place for drawing out and winding down.”

How to become an award-winning illustrator

University of Plymouth's lecturer and programme leader Ashley Potter talks about how he became a professional illustrator, his biggest achievements and why he enjoys teaching at the University.

Read the interview

Illustration is all around us, in all forms of communication. 

We’ll encourage you to explore a range of techniques, media and approaches – so you’ll be just as likely to see your work on the side of a building or on a tablet screen as on the pages of a book or magazine.

We have 5 Exit Award Strands within Illustration:

BA Hons Illustration (core award)
BA Hons Illustration: Animation & the Screen
BA Hons Illustration: Children’s Markets
BA Hons Illustration: Comics & Visual Narratives
BA Hons Illustration: Printmaking

These allow you to either follow a broad practice or a more specific one.

Explore the strands.

At Plymouth Press Club, we make small run print publications (books, zines and newspapers) from invited guests, students and staff on the BA (Hons) Illustration course. 

All publications are produced on one of our Risograph machines or in our amazing print rooms (screen print, etching and letterpress). Each edition is hand-made by individuals or small teams.

All our publications are for sale through the e-store, and as a press our work can be found in book fairs around the country including Tiny Mart, Counter (Plymouth) and BABE (Bristol).

Plymouth Press Club is currently run by John Kilburn and Dean Owens.

What will it be like to start university?

Beginning university is for many people a pivotal moment in their lives, embarking on new experiences, meeting new people and facing the exciting challenge of independence.

BA (Hons) Illustration and BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing students worked together to create a comic reflecting their experiences of starting university. Flavoured with some creative interpretation, it has been written, illustrated and designed using the skills that they have developed with us.

This diverse collection of comic-book-art and creative writing demonstrates how we can help you to nurture your talents.

Download a PDF of the comic 

Image www.cargocollective.com/samrennocks

Whale mural by Ben Wills

Big show off

Our students win national and international competitions and work on many live and external briefs.

Graduate Steve Panton recently won a Penguin Design Award for his book cover for The Big Sleep.

Find out more about our prize-winning students

Student success

Reuben places first in global challenge

BA (Hons) Illustration graduate Reuben Lane has won first place in the THU 2019 Desirable Future Golden Ticket Challenge, student category.

"I felt instantly inspired by the theme of Desirable Future, which compelled me to explore mixing forms from nature with functions of the future."

Find out more about student success

Winning artwork by Reuben Lane for THU Golden Ticket Challenge

People