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Illustration BA (Hons)


3 or 4 year options

UCAS Code:

W220 (3 Year)
W221 (4 Year)

Institution Code:


Sandwich courses:

Creative Professional Development (1 year, Level 5 diploma), or Creative Computing (1 year, Level 5 diploma), available between years 2 & 3

Experiment with different illustration mediums and tools as you build your creative identity and professional skills.

This course nurtures individuality and challenges conventional thinking, valuing the power of illustration to communicate through different media and creative applications. BA (Hons) Illustration is designed to inspires the development of a unique illustrative language with conviction and confidence, opening opportunities in freelance, publishing, design, education and further study.

Engaging in live projects, competitions and collaborations you’ll be immersed in real-world scenarios that prepare you for a successful career in illustration. Throughout the course, you will develop your own way of thinking about illustration, storytelling and the connection of images to text or the spoken word. We will help you develop your personal style as your expertise grows in drawing, print, collage, and multimedia.

You will explore visual storytelling and digital and analogue image-making: from the page to the screen, to installations and interactive experiences. Our support extends beyond the artistic realm to encompass practical insights into navigating the creative industries. We provide valuable advice on freelance careers freelance careers, employment and entrepreneurship, and practical tips on handling commissions and negotiating with clients.

Awards and accolades

The course has a long track record of student and course successes including the RSA Student Design Award, D&AD New Blood, Penguin Design Awards, Carmelite Prize for Children’s Picture Books, YCN Awards and New Designers Best in Show

Why study with us

  • Develop core skills and techniques through digital and analogue workshops including printmaking, laser cutting, photography and bookbinding along with essential training in industry standard digital software.
  • Understand drawing languages, observational drawing, mark-making, print, collage and multi-media processes.
  • Consider your work and how it is situated within a global context, develop your critical evaluation skills, and reflect on your creative practice with awareness of sustainable and responsible ways of thinking.
  • Learn to communicate and present ideas clearly to different audiences while developing critical evaluation skills to reflect on your creative practice in a global context.
  • Explore storytelling and representing your understanding of the changing world through a range of creative contexts.
  • Be inspired by industry visitors including agents and industry organisations such as Arena, The Artworks, Jelly London, The House of Illustration and the Association of Illustrators (AOI).

“The biggest development I’ve had at Norwich is really understanding who I am as an illustrator, and what my personal practice is.”

Tamara Asidi | BA (Hons) Illustration

Course Content

Year 1

  • Develop and explore methods of researching
  • Examine storytelling through visual narrative and sequential design
  • Explore analogue and digital image making
  • Develop an understanding of visual communication, informed by design principles and cultural ideas
  • Understand drawing languages, observational drawing, mark-making, print, collage and multi-media processes

Year 2

  • Develop and apply experimental approaches to Factual and Fictional ideas
  • Initiate and manage illustration projects in collaboration with students from other courses and external partners from outside of the University
  • Apply research and creative skills across a range of commercial and experimental narrative illustration applications
  • Take the opportunity to enter a variety of competitions, stage exhibitions and present work to peers and industry panels to broaden your professional profile
  • Illustrate Fictional and Factual stories (written and un-written)
  • Identify research and practice subject matter and illustration specialism for final year study.

Year 3

  • Apply specialist skills and employ advanced research methodologies (e.g. field trips, site visits, archived-based research)
  • Complete a Research Report that provides a broad contextualisation of your illustration practice
  • Focus on your promoting your individual creative direction to target appropriate professional roles and opportunities
  • Engage in professional practice and ‘live’ experiences, and channel your specialist illustration knowledge towards the creation of final degree show and graduate portfolio.

Careers Information

Our graduates head into jobs at globally recognised organisations including the BBC, MTV the V&A, get roles as designers at publishing houses such as Little Brown, Hachette, Harper Collins and Penguin Random House and at creative agencies such as Havas Lynx and Mullen Lowe. Many enjoy success as freelance illustrators.

Typical career paths include

  • Freelance illustrator
  • Self-publisher
  • Printmaker
  • Designer
  • Picture book designer
  • Public artist
  • Artist in residence
  • Book publisher
  • Animator
  • Filmmaker
  • Curator
  • Director
  • Editorial publisher
  • Gallery assistant
  • Illustration agent

You’ll also get specialist creative careers advice from our Business and Employability Team to help support you as you plan your career.

Maisy Dainty

Tabbed Section

Typical UK offers

A / AS Levels – GCE
GCE A/AS Levels 3 A-level qualifications at grades BCC (104 UCAS Tariff points) or above. Where candidates are not taking 3 A-levels, Norwich University of the Arts will consider combinations of A-level/AS-level and other Level 3 qualifications.

BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Distinction, Merit, Merit in an art, design or media related subject

BTEC Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Distinction*, Distinction* in an art, design or media related subject

T Levels
A T Level in any subject with overall grade Merit or above

UAL Extended Diploma

UAL Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

UAL Level 4 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Art and Design)

International Baccalaureate Diploma
A minimum of 26 points

Norwich University of the Arts welcomes applicants of all ages from all backgrounds. Your application will be primarily assessed through your portfolio (if required), responses to questions asked and personal statement, so even if you have no formal qualifications or do not meet our typical offers it can still be worth applying.
If you are studying at the time of your application and your application is successful it is likely that you will receive a conditional offer.

If the qualification that you are studying is not shown, do not worry as we are able to accept other pre-entry qualifications as well as combinations of different qualifications. Please do contact our Student Recruitment Team if you have any queries.

International applications

We accept qualifications from all over the world. To find our entry requirements from a specific country, please check our dedicated international pages.

Most international students are required to hold an English language qualification. Applicants are required to have a minimum UKVI approved IELTS exam score of 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each section. Equivalent English language qualifications are acceptable such as, IB English language syllabus A or B/English Literature (Grade 4).

We also accept some alternative English qualifications. Learn more about our English entry requirements.

You can email us on if you’d like to discuss your application individually.

BA (Hons) Illustration degree portfolio guidance

Portfolios should show examples of your work — both finished and work in progress — that demonstrate your interests and skills. Your portfolio should be made up of work that reflects your creativity, personal interests and influences, as well as demonstrating your technical skills and ability. It doesn’t have to be perfect as we can assess your potential from your work in progress.

Your portfolio should be relevant to this course, but you can include a wide range of work that shows your creativity, technical competence and understanding of storytelling.

You may wish to include some of the following:

  • Drawings, painting or illustrations that demonstrate your skills, including life drawings, still life and images drawn from observing people and landscapes or from your imagination
  • Collages and mixed media
  • Experimental workbooks
  • Animations
  • Work created using Adobe Creative Suite or other appropriate design software package
  • Photography and photo-montage
  • Sequential art including graphic novels/comic strips and story boards
  • Examples of experiments with print making processes
  • Illustrated stories or comics

Further portfolio advice and tips

Get more advice on presentation formats, layouts and when to submit your portfolio in the application process.

2024/25 University fees for new entrants

Norwich University of the Arts will assess students’ tuition fee status using the guidance provided by the UK Council for International Student Affairs

Students from the UK or Ireland and EU students with ‘Settled’ or ‘Pre-Settled’ status will be charged ‘Home’ fees if they meet the relevant residency requirements.  They will usually be eligible for a tuition fee loan from the UK government, meaning that they won’t have to pay Norwich University of the Arts’ tuition fees upfront.

Students who do not meet the necessary residency requirements will usually be charged ‘Overseas’ fees and will not be eligible for the UK government tuition fee loan. Since 2021/22, this includes new entrants from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland who do not have ‘Settled’ or ‘Pre-Settled’ status, because the UK has now formally left the EU.

Fee status Course Annual fee
Home Undergraduate degree (full-time three and four year degree) £9,250
Overseas Undergraduate degree (full-time three and four year degree) £18,000

Inflation in subsequent years

The rules for inflation on fees in subsequent years depend on the type of fee status and level.

  • For Home undergraduate students starting in 2024, inflation may be applied to your fees in later years, if the UK government were to increase the fee cap beyond the current limit of £9,250 per year. If such an increase were to apply, we would confirm this in advance to you of each academic year, and we would limit the increase to the maximum allowed by the Office for Students.
  • For Overseas undergraduate students starting in 2024, inflation will be applied to your fees in later years. We will confirm this in advance to you of each academic year, and we will limit the increase to no more than the Office for Students’ recommended inflationary measure, which is RPI-X. RPI-X is calculated by the Office for Budget Responsibility. In setting fees for the following year, we will use the Office for Budget Responsibility’s RPI-X forecast for quarter 3 of the relevant year.

For Home and overseas postgraduate degree students starting in 2024, fees will remain the same for each year of your course.

Financial support for UK students in 2024

Tuition fee loans and loans for living costs are usually available to UK and some EU students, as well as non-repayable Norwich University of the Arts bursaries based on family income. Find out more about applying for funding.

International students

We offer a range of scholarships for international students to support your studies with us.

Learning and teaching at Norwich is a blend of on-campus practical sessions in our studios, workshops and labs, live-streamed digital sessions, and pre-recorded digital materials you can use on-demand. We emphasise learning and discovery through studio and workshop practice, critical reflection and experimentation with ideas, processes and materials. Our approach reflects the mix of in-person and digital interaction that has become the way that creative industries work—helping to prepare students for their future careers. You will have many opportunities to broaden your skills and experience by attending talks and workshops, gaining new networks and by taking part in community projects, programmes and competitions. The course is taught through a mixture of learning and teaching methods including (but are not limited to):
  • Group briefings
  • Academic tutorials
  • Group tutorials
  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Critiques (crits)
  • Seminars
Find out more about Learning and Teaching at Norwich
Assessment is 100% coursework. Assessment is the process of evaluating or assessing your learning. Sometimes it will involve consideration of work in progress, while at others it concentrates on work which you have completed and submitted as assessment requirements for each unit of study. It consists of both formative and summative assessment. Formative assessment is the process whereby your work and progress are assessed at regular intervals with accompanying feedback from staff to help to improve your performance. Staff feedback provides students with guidance on their performance during each unit. Summative assessment occurs at the end of each module. A summative mark is awarded based on the evaluation of your work and given a mark. Summative assessment formally records your achievement of the unit’s learning outcomes. The University assesses you through the coursework that you produce as you complete each unit. Each unit will require that you present a portfolio of work which may include:
  • Finished pieces of work
  • Presentations
  • Written work
  • Your research
  • A reflective journal
Find out more about Assessment at Norwich

Work-based Learning Opportunities

Between Years 2 and 3 of this course, you’ll have the opportunity to undertake one of the following additional qualifications:

Creative Professional Development (1 year, Level 5 Diploma)

Our Creative Professional Development Diploma gives you the chance to spend a year exploring your post-uni job options through a structured programme of input sessions and work-based learning. This year offers two much-sought-after industry placements – the first lasting six weeks, the second 12 weeks, and a group project or ‘hackathon’ exploring freelancing and business start-up.

Creative Computing (1 year, Level 5 Diploma)

Our Creative Computing Diploma introduces you to coding and computational skills that will advance and complement your creative practice. No prior experience of coding is needed, just a curiosity about creative computing and a desire to push your own practice into new realms. You’ll also develop a wider knowledge of the creative tech industries, available roles and opportunities.

Integrated Foundation Year

Four year degrees are exactly the same as our three year degrees but include an extra year of study at the beginning – an Integrated Foundation Year.

An Integrated Foundation Year is about developing the skills, knowledge and the confidence you need to successfully complete your degree course. Building on your experience from A Level or equivalent courses, the Integrated Foundation Year curriculum allows time to develop the practical, creative and conceptual skills that are critical to successfully completing an undergraduate degree at Norwich. You will achieve this, making full use of the University workshops and studio facilities.

While studying an Integrated Foundation Year on BA (Hons) Illustration you’ll develop visual research strategies through studio-based workshops, considering narrative, and illustration as a mode of communication.

Within the first project you will explore the potential for ‘story-telling’ and sequence. You’ll explore a range approaches to image making, building upon this as you move through the second project, which is focused on specific environments; their past and their present.

As you negotiate the unit you will begin to develop you own visual language, and greater degrees of independence. Projects will be led by course tutors and as part of the Illustration course you will join all years for guest lectures and course events.

Typical UK offers and entry requirements for Integrated Foundation Year entry

GCE A/AS Levels
2 A-level qualifications at grades CC or higher.

BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Merit, Merit, Pass in an art, design or media related subject

BTEC Diploma (QCF or RQF)
Distinction, Merit in an art, design or media related subject

T Levels
Pass (D or E on the core)

UAL Extended Diploma
An overall Pass

UAL Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
An overall Pass

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design 

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Art and Design)

International Baccalaureate Diploma
A minimum of 24 points

Norwich University of the Arts welcomes applicants of all ages from all backgrounds. Your application will be primarily assessed through interview and portfolio review so even if you have no formal qualifications or do not meet our typical offers it can still be worth applying.

Find out more about four year degrees at Norwich


Bee Willey
Adam Avery
Toby Morison
Adam Larkum


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