Course Information

BA (Hons)


Walter White

View student's work and read their comments about life at Lincoln  

3 years School of Architecture & Design Lincoln Campus [L] Validated BBB (or equivalent qualifications) W220

#1 Illustration is one of the University’s Design courses ranked 1st in the UK, according to National Student Survey 2016.


With established links to the Association of Illustrators, the BA (Hons) Illustration degree aims to enable students to develop their own unique visual signature style and encourages them to prepare for the competitive world of professional illustration.

Illustration informs, illuminates, decorates and entertains across a range of media, stimulating imaginations by interpreting, portraying and enhancing the written word.

In addition to traditional picture making, this course aims to develop the conceptual and technical skills appropriate to a career in illustration and the broader creative industries. There is a balance of focus between creative freedom, communicating specific messages through pictures to target audiences, and developing a professional practice.

Students will have the opportunity to develop a large portfolio of work designed to showcase creative skills and demonstrate an ability to engage with current illustration practice.

How You Study

The first year focuses on providing students with the opportunity to develop visual and conceptual skills through drawing, painting, printmaking, collage and the application of a range of associated processes. Modules give you the opportunity to explore observational drawing, sequential illustration, zines and the production of handmade publications.

In the second year, students can study editorial and book illustration aimed at a range of clients and audiences. The focus is on the expression of conceptual ideas through narrative picture making and ways of expressing visual ideas through illustration. Ethical issues and other cultural debates are explored through research and the production of an extensive body of work.

In the third year, students are asked to respond to contemporary illustration briefs including ‘live’ competitions. In order to encourage increasingly independent practitioners, students have the opportunity to identify and explore self-directed research interests. The focus is on helping students to produce a portfolio that showcases their unique individual abilities and personal style.

Contact Hours and Independent Study

Contact hours may vary for each year of a degree. When engaging in a full-time degree students should, at the very least, expect to undertake a minimum of 37 hours of study each week during term time (including independent study) in addition to potentially undertaking assignments outside of term time. The composition and delivery for the course breaks down differently for each module and may include lectures, seminars, workshops, independent study, practicals, work placements, research and one-to-one learning.

University-level study involves a significant proportion of independent study, exploring the material covered in lectures and seminars. As a general guide, for every hour in class students are expected to spend two - three hours in independent study.

Please see the Unistats data, using the link at the bottom of this page, for specific information relating to this course in terms of course composition and delivery, contact hours and student satisfaction.

How You Are Assessed

Students are assessed on the basis of submitted coursework comprising of practical and written submissions as well as verbal presentations.

Formative feedback is ongoing and advises you on the progress of your work. It takes the form of informal group and individual discussions.

Verbal and written feedback provides students with guidance on their performance during each module.

Summative assessment occurs at the end of each module. Student work is assessed against clearly defined criteria and learning outcomes.

Assessment Feedback

The University of Lincoln's policy on assessment feedback aims to ensure that academics will return in-course assessments to students promptly – usually within 15 working days after the submission date (unless stated differently above)..

Methods of Assessment

The way students will be assessed on this course will vary for each module. It could include coursework, such as a dissertation or essay, written and practical exams, portfolio development, group work or presentations to name some examples.

For a breakdown of assessment methods used on this course and student satisfaction, please visit the Unistats website, using the link at the bottom of this page.

Throughout this degree, students may receive tuition from professors, senior lecturers, lecturers, researchers, practitioners, visiting experts or technicians, and they may be supported in their learning by other students.

Interviews & Applicant Days

Applicants will be invited for interview, whereby they will have the opportunity to go through their portfolio with members of the academic team.

Portfolios should include drawing/design work illustrating evidence of good observational drawing skills, exploration and experimentation with media and surfaces, some evidence of applying drawing/painting skills to textual interpretation.

What We Look For In Your Application

Applicants should have some knowledge of the subject and profession of illustration and how illustration differs from other, related visual communication and creative disciplines; particularly some thoughts about the difference between illustration and fine art. Interest in the creative arts in general is expected. A love of reading and words is a distinct advantage.


Throughout this degree, students may receive tuition from professors, senior lecturers, lecturers, researchers, practitioners, visiting experts or technicians, and they may be supported in their learning by other students.

For a comprehensive list of teaching staff, please see our School of Architecture & Design Staff Pages.

Entry Requirements 2017-18

GCE Advanced Levels: BBB, including grade B from an A Level art, design or media studies related subject.

International Baccalaureate: 30 points overall, with 5 at Higher Level from an art, design or media studies related subject.

BTEC Extended Diploma in an art, design or media related subject: Distinction, Distinction, Merit

Access to Higher Education Diploma in an art, design or media related subject: A minimum of 45 level 3 credits at merit or above will be required.

All applicants should also have a minimum of five GCSEs at grade C or above, to include English.

Applicants will need to complete a successful interview.

Mature students with extensive relevant work experience and a portfolio of work, will be selected on individual merit. All relevant work experience should be noted on the application form.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, or would like to discuss whether the qualifications you are currently studying are acceptable, please contact the Admissions team on 01522 886097, or email

Level 1

Digital and Sequential Images

Initially the module aims to furnish students with a basic understanding, through practice, of the way illustrators exploit digital imaging hardware and software for the creation, production and editing of both still and moving images. It aims to introduce students to prevailing technologies and explores the ways that contemporary practitioners exploit digital media.

The module is also designed to introduce students to the methodologies employed by illustrators when working with pictures in sequence. It explores the potential of using sequential imagery for visual communication establishing the historical context and contemporary practice of artists and illustrators use of visual sequence and pictorial progression including animation.

Drawing and Process

The module focuses on the development and refinement of drawing skills fundamental to the study and practice of illustration. The module also aims to give students the opportunity to explore composition, assemblage, methods of pictorial communication, visual metaphors, and the cultural aspects of image making. Orthodox painting and drawing are supplemented with 3D and model making and students are also introduced to printmaking as a creative medium for image making and communication.

Students are required to focus on the language of visual representation through practical study of the fundamentals of seeing and recording visual phenomena. Within the module students will have the opportunity to examine accepted methods of representation, visual codes, pictorial composition, and exploration of ideas associated with representational drawing and painting.

Illustration Context and Reflection

A lecture and seminar programme will provide a structure within which students will have the opportunity to discuss, analyse, and process a range of subject related information. The module is designed to emphasise the inter-relationship between theoretical contexts and practice through analysis, exploration, evaluation and debate. References will be made to cultural production in a range of contexts with particular emphasis on the relationship between illustration, design and visual culture.

Introduction to Illustration

The module aims to introduce students to the fundamental purpose and creative process of illustration and its primary objective to convey information within pictorial conventions: to inform, describe, express, embellish and represent ideas.

The importance of the pivotal relationships between illustration and related art and design disciplines are stressed. There is emphasis on sound draughtsmanship and good drawing and painting skills as foundations for effective visual communication. Practical projects and assignments are based upon initiatives exploring the breadth of visual expression, from fact to fiction.

Level 2

Books and Story-Telling

The module is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop experiential understanding of the key principles underlying the creation and production of sequential images, including characterisation. The module also addresses core and emerging practical areas of illustration practice.

It continues to encourage exploitation of traditional materials and computer technology in exploration of graphic novel concepts, basic narrative story telling, and animation. The knowledge, understanding and experience gained are intended for cross-module application as related to the discipline of illustration.

Illustration: Audience and Message

The module extends and challenges the framework of technical and creative skills that have been acquired in the exploration of narrative picture-making in previous modules. It encourages students to creatively and practically employ alternative thinking methods, develop technical and craft skills, and exercise sound critical judgment. The need to cultivate a unique way of creating pictures, to acquire a distinct visual signature, is furthered. Appropriate word/image relationships and interpretive skills are cemented as vital components in the illustration process, whilst technical proficiency in mark-making is amplified.

Appropriateness of pictorial content for specific markets and identified target audiences is promoted as a key component for successful illustration.

Words as pictures, and pictures as words are creatively explored and exploited.

Illustration: Context and Practice

This module builds upon level one study by placing greater emphasis upon developing independent learning via the research and study of a range of contemporary visual communication practices and debates. The lecture programme provides a framework for the exploration of key practitioners and historical events relevant to contemporary art and design practice with particular emphasis on the relationship between illustration, design and visual culture.

Students will have the opportunity to explore contemporary visual culture against the backdrop of the post-industrial age, the development of digital technologies, globalisation, brand culture, subcultures, and the influence of the mass media.

The second part of the module is specifically geared towards the development of research and project planning skills essential for the preparation of third level independent study.

Illustration: Thinking and Making

The module aims to provide a framework for students to explore the intellectual, creative and practical processes appropriate to the development of the skills necessary to function as an illustrator. Word/image association and interpretive skills are encouraged, and technical expertise in mark-making is established. Employment of alternative media beyond orthodox painting and drawing is actively encouraged through assignments and projects.

Understanding of contemporary illustration practice is initiated through lectures, seminars, critiques and projects. The module provides students with the opportunity to begin exploration of story-telling through single and multiple images, it also introduces the notion of the illustrator as narrator, both reporter and story-teller, and how to progress visual imagery for specific audiences.

Level 3

Contemporary Illustration

The contemporary illustration module properly establishes thinking and working strategies relevant to contemporary illustration practice.

Building on previous and complementing parallel units, practical projects are initially employed to encourage students to use text or themes as starting points to generate ideas and impart meaning through produced artwork. As the module progresses students are encouraged to adapt and devise projects which test identified areas of interest.

The module gives students the opportunity to secure high levels of craft skill allied to a viable, distinguished visual signature capable of being effectively employed to make functional illustrations. Pictorial content and visual narrative are emphasised in the production of illustrations suitable for identified target groups. Professional ethics, copyright issues and the responsibility of illustrators to their clients are deemed imperative in preparation for a seamless move from academia to industry.

Illustration Independent Study

The independent study module offers students an opportunity to explore in-depth a relevant research topic of an individuals own choosing. The module aims to provide a framework for students to work independently gathering and processing information from a variety of sources into a substantial project. The selection of a suitable topic is negotiated to ensure relevance to individual academic and subject specific interests.

Negotiated Illustration

The negotiated illustration module requires you to accept responsibility for initiating and identifying your academic and personal goals within the subject that will accordingly govern the specific content of the module. Some students may choose to follow a distinctly personal agenda whilst others opt for involvement in more mainstream illustration practice. Whatever pattern of study chosen it is an opportunity for students to explore creative potential without, in some cases, the possible constraints intrinsic to the profession of illustration. The module also provides the opportunity to work in areas or within disciplines not immediately obvious to the study of illustration practice.

Professionalism and Commissions

The Professionalism and Illustration Commissions module aims to empower students to further their visual and professional development isolated from direct illustration problems. Typically these will be national and international competitions, bursaries, live briefs, simulated commissions, and promotional materials. All projects normally require the furtherance of acquired craft skills, creative approach and conceptual thinking.

The availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and will be subject to minimum student numbers being achieved. This means that the availability of specific optional modules cannot be guaranteed. Optional module selection may also be affected by staff availability.

Special Features

This course has a long standing relationship with the Association of Illustrators – AOI, a range of professional practitioners, links to industry and specialist artists agents.


Students on this course will receive a licence for Adobe Creative Cloud free of charge.


Placement Year

When students are on an optional placement in the UK or overseas or studying abroad, they will be required to cover their own transport and accommodation and meals costs. Placements can range from a few weeks to a full year if students choose to undertake an optional sandwich year in industry.

Students are encouraged to obtain placements in industry independently. Tutors may provide support and advice to students who require it during this process.

Student as Producer

Student as Producer is a model of teaching and learning that encourages academics and undergraduate students to collaborate on research activities. It is a programme committed to learning through doing.

The Student as Producer initiative was commended by the QAA in our 2012 review and is one of the teaching and learning features that makes the Lincoln experience unique.


At Lincoln, we constantly invest in our campus as we aim to provide the best learning environment for our undergraduates. Whatever the area of study, the University strives to ensure students have access to specialist equipment and resources, to develop the skills, which they may need in their future career.

View our campus pages [] to learn more about our teaching and learning facilities.

Career Opportunities

Illustration graduates have gone on to develop successful international careers in illustration and art direction for advertising agencies, publishing houses, graphic novels, zines, comics, book illustration, games design, storyboarding for cinema, graphic design and animation. Many work as freelance illustrators, and are successfully represented by a range of specialist agents.

In addition, an increasing number of entrepreneurial graduates have launched their own successful businesses and pursued careers in the broader creative industries.

Careers Service

The University Careers and Employability Team offer qualified advisors who can work with students to provide tailored, individual support and careers advice during their time at the University. As a member of our alumni we also offer one-to-one support in the first year after completing a course, including access to events, vacancy information and website resources; with access to online vacancies and virtual resources for the following two years.

This service can include one-to-one coaching, CV advice and interview preparation to help you maximise our graduates future opportunities.

The service works closely with local, national and international employers, acting as a gateway to the business world.

Visit our Careers Service pages for further information. []

Additional Costs

For each course students may find that there are additional costs. These may be with regard to the specific clothing, materials or equipment required, depending on their subject area. Some courses provide opportunities for students to undertake field work or field trips. Where these are compulsory, the cost for the travel, accommodation and meals may be covered by the University and so is included in the fee. Where these are optional students will normally (unless stated otherwise) be required to pay their own transportation, accommodation and meal costs.

With regards to text books, the University provides students who enrol with a comprehensive reading list and our extensive library holds either material or virtual versions of the core texts that students are required to read. However, students may prefer to purchase some of these for themselves and will therefore be responsible for this cost. Where there may be exceptions to this general rule, information will be displayed in a section titled Other Costs below.

Other Costs

Students on the illustration programme are likely to incur some additional costs for specialist art materials throughout the duration of their three years study. Information about specialist materials will be communicated to successful applicants via the University’s ‘Getting Started’ web page.

Related Courses

The BA (Hons) Animation degree aims to introduce students to the innovative world of moving image, digital visualisation and contemporary narrative. The aim of this course is to develop creative animators and artists with the flexibility to practise their craft in a variety of media.
The BA (Hons) Fine Art degree focuses on the artist as a socially responsive, publicly-aware practitioner operating within physical, intellectual and digital networks and referencing local, national and global artistic platforms.
The BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree encourages students to become skilled visual communicators and provides the opportunity to work on project briefs that require practical skills and creative insight to find innovative solutions using a variety of media.

Tuition Fees

Full-time £9,250 per level £14,500 per level
Part-time £77.09 per credit point  
Placement (optional) Exempt Exempt

The University undergraduate tuition fee may increase year on year in line with government policy. This will enable us to continue to provide the best possible educational facilities and student experience.

In 2017/18, subject to final confirmation from government, there will be an inflationary adjustment to fees to £9,250 for new and returning UK/EU students. In 2018/19 there may be an increase in fees in line with inflation.

We will update this information when fees for 2017/18 are finalised.

Please note that not all courses are available as a part-time option.

For more information and for details about funding your study, please see our UK/EU Fees & Funding pages or our International funding and scholarship pages. [] []


Student Work — Illustration

  • Success Stories

    Illustration graduate's artwork goes viral

    Scott Mitchell, an Illustration graduate from the University of Lincoln, is now selling his artwork across the globe after his last piece went viral.

    Inspired by the award-winning television series Breaking Bad, the acrylic painting of characters Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) became an instant hit on sites such as; where it became the highest ranked link on the website within an hour of being uploaded. His painting has been featured on many blogs and sites, and caused Scott's website to receive so much traffic that his server crashed!

    Since then Scott has been inundated with requests and messages for illustration work, and has set up an account with the online art website Society6.

    Illustration student work Breaking Bad

    Working for Hallmark has given me a useful insight into the greetings cards industry, I would really love to have a career in illustration and this is a great starting point Rebecca Sands

    Prize draw for illustrator Nat

    Lincoln student Nat Everard won first prize of a coverted yellow Pencil award and £1,000 in the British Design and Art Direction Student Awards.

    The D&AD Student Awards are the premier showcase for design students in Europe, and the ‘yellow pencil’ is like the Oscar of the design world – design groups spend years trying to get one and Nat has won one at the age of 21.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in,” said Nat. “It was an amazing night and I was really surprised to have won first prize.

    “At dinner I was sitting next to the creative director of Good Housekeeping magazine and lots of other top designers and illustrators – it was fantastic.”

    Nat intends to invest his prize money in a new computer and then keep himself available after graduating for any commissions that come in. “I made a lot of good contacts at the ceremony and I’m hoping that being in the D&AD book and on the website will get me noticed,” he said.

    After I graduated from Lincoln I did an internship with The Bright Illustration Agency, and I am now represented by them and work as a freelance illustrator. The illustration course helped me through its industry connections and my style was encouraged and supported by the tutors Kim Barnes

    Learn more about the School of Architecture and Design, our courses and what we do.

    The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions. []