Are you passionate about drawing? Full of creative ideas? Illustration and Design will cultivate your talents. Here at Sunderland, we encourage you to push the boundaries of illustration, blending traditional techniques with computer technology, such as virtual reality and 3D design. You can also combine illustration with other areas, including animation, graphics, advertising, 3D illustration, and web design.
You’ll explore design principles, printmaking, and drawing in your first year, before pursuing a specialist study of illustration during your second and final year. You’ll perfect your craft alongside experienced academics who are all practicing professionals at the cutting edge of their field, bringing their industry insights and experience directly into their teaching.
Throughout the course you’ll build and develop a creative, industry-ready portfolio that will help launch your career as an illustrator or graphic designer, or any other role where these creative skills are needed.
In the first year – the foundation year – you will study five modules; a module about the foundations of art, design, performance and media production, an essential study skills module, a foundation project module, practical numeracy skills, and an introduction to creative practice module. After completion of this foundation, you'll then move onto the Illustration and Design honours degree course.
Your second year introduces you to a range of different media and focuses on the fundamental skills of illustration including observational drawing, printmaking, animation and digital drawing and painting. In your third and fourth year you'll narrow your focus and develop your own personal style of illustration through open briefs based on real-world commercial projects.
You'll have the opportunity to exhibit your work at the end of year degree show. The show is open to the public and invited guests in order for you to showcase your portfolio and meet potential employers from the design sector.
Feedback is given regularly during teaching sessions and at the end of the semester in order for you to develop your work to the highest standard and also to reflect on how you might have approached the project differently.
Teaching sessions are made up of a combination of personal one to one meetings with design tutors and group critiques designed to encourage team working and to create a community vibe among the year groups. This is supported by lectures, seminars, workshops and independent learning. You'll have access to studio spaces outside of teaching time, which facilitates reflection on work and peer evaluation.
The Creative Industries: Arts, Design, Performance, Media Production Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:
Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.
Develop a knowledge and understanding of the important theoretical and historical contexts which have shaped modern design, opening up creative possibilities in your work. Gain a broad view of design disciplines, through lectures and seminars intended to provoke wider debate. Develop analytical and research skills by exploring subjects in design theory and history through assignments. Finish the module with an understanding of various historical and theoretical ideas, intended to encourage you to challenge conventional thinking.
Painting, Drawing and Traditional Media (40 credits)
Develop your visual experience and knowledge through the practice of traditional media and life drawing. Work with a wide range of traditional media and techniques through various set projects, culminating in a body of work that reflects your emerging skills as an illustrator. Support your creative practice through visual research by exploring the subject of Art and Design. Gain an introduction to the principles of communication as well as an understanding of contemporary illustration and design. Build a strong foundation for further development by producing images from concept to final illustration and creatively explore various methods both in taught sessions and independently.
Gain a solid foundation in digital illustration, whether you are beginner or already use digital applications within your workflow. Discover the artistic potential of the three core programs used in contemporary illustration practice: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Bring your ideas to life with industry inspired assignments tailored to suit the unique capabilities of each piece of software while learning key design skills.
Develop the fundamental methods required for professional printmaking by learning a range of skills through the use and application of Collagraph, Reduction Linocut and Drypoint printing. Discover how printmaking can spark and enhance your creative process through the study and reflection of historical and contemporary printmakers within the creative industry. Explore the possibilities of printmaking and its ability to create vibrant physical artwork that can be replicated multiple times through a wide range of methods in a unique form beyond the capabilities of digital format.
Learn to tell stories that inform, entertain, and enthral through the use of narrative and sequential illustration. This module encompasses all the key methods of visual storytelling from children’s books to graphic novels and storyboards for film and animation. Develop the fundamental skills and understanding of the use of line, value, colour and composition in relation to visual narrative and learn ways to depict imaginary worlds and the characters and environments that inhabit them. Learn the about the enormous influence the illustrator has on the story they tell.
Continue your development of digital skills with a series of lectures and seminars dedicated to all aspects of digital illustration. These include bitmap (Photoshop or similar), and vector (Illustrator) as well as techniques including composite images and 3D. Augment your traditional skillset with a fusion of analogue media (paint, pencils, pastels, etc.) with digital media. Create artwork using your favourite traditional methods and bring them in to your chosen package to create work that has a traditional feel but with an enhanced appearance using blending modes and digital adjustments. Add to your growing portfolio with a set of digital illustrations based on creative briefs.
Gain an introduction to the broad subject of contemporary illustration practice and its application in print and digital media. Experience aspects of working in the industry through assignments that reflect the real world. Explore and expand the boundaries of illustration by developing problem-solving and self-critical evaluation skills and exploiting a wide range of influences to help your visual development. Develop desktop publishing skills that enable you to create effective, appealing layouts in order to display your work in the most effective way possible.
Explore the varied processes and techniques of the print room and through a range of image making skills that offer the potential to extend your visual vocabulary. Learn how to turn your illustrations into beautiful screen-printed and transfer printed artworks. Immerse yourself in the technical possibilities of this versatile medium and develop valuable new additions for your illustrative portfolio.
Develop a critical understanding of important issues linked to design such as the environment, globalisation, gender representation, equality and diversity. Be encouraged to consider your ethical role as a developing designer. Be introduced to ways of considering a major piece of written work (the dissertation in Stage 3), based on a subject relevant to your own practice. Finish the module with a developing design philosophy that potentially impacts on your ways of working and thinking in terms of studio practice.
Experience a short work placement with an employer. Alternatively, gain other experience of working in the creative industries. Examples include: live jobs; competition briefs; a creative placement; and a collaboration with fellow students from relevant subject areas.
Develop and consolidate a personal aesthetic and way of working through practical projects. Take a more individual approach to your work through a choice of projects tailored to your own goals and aspirations. Connect with industry by entering illustration competitions in which the work will be judged alongside the work of students from other UK institutions, and develop a strategy for professional engagement. Work in a self- motivated way around a given subject, developing your own in-depth inquiring look.
Develop an in-depth investigation into a particular issue or topic that is relevant to you as a developing designer, or an issue inspired by wider society. Utilise and build on your knowledge of various design and theoretical disciplines and techniques. Gain research and organisational skills through an introductory lecture, tutorials and discussion. Complete the module with a dissertation (3,500 to 4,500 words), supported by a clear central question and hypothesis relevant to the chosen topic. Research conducted in this module can be used as the foundations for your major final project, although this is not compulsory.
Apply your research and analysis skills to develop ideas, concepts and plans for the proposal of a substantial final major project (or series of projects) within strict time limits. Develop a critical understanding of the various theoretical, historical, cultural and contextual dimensions impacting on design practice, to critically position and present yourself and your practice. Demonstrate your ability to select and employ appropriate strategies, media, skills, tools and methods to develop professional standards of creative, technical and conceptual practice, through a body of creative work and effectively communicate your ideas.
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Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.
Eligible entry qualifications:
If you're unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!
** If you've studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you'll need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you're able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.
If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.
The annual fee for this course is £9,250 if you are from the UK/Ireland/EU settled/pre-settled.
If you are a full-time UK/Irish/EU settled/EU pre-settled student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fees for the full four years. UK and EU settled students may also be eligible to receive a maintenance loan.
Please note, this course is not available to international students.
Learn more about settled status, pre-settled status, special discounts, visa requirements and Common Travel Area (CTA) agreements for the Republic of Ireland applicants in our Help and Advice article.
Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.
This information was correct at the time of publication.
Throughout the course you'll build a creative and industry ready portfolio that will help you launch a career as an illustrator or graphic designer, or take up any other roles where creative skills are important. You'll exhibit your work at our final year Degree Show, visited by industry professionals and creative employers and may have the opportunity to take your work to London.
Our graduates have gone on to work in a variety of illustration and design roles, such as freelance illustrators for Oxford University Press, The Guardian newspaper, Hallmark cards, design studios at the Open University and Virgin's design department. Other students have gone on to be employed in design companies throughout the UK and many choose to progress onto our MA Design course.
Our graduates go on to have diverse careers. One of our graduates works for a publishing house in Japan, dealing with the design and illustration of children's wildlife books. Another was offered a three-book contract at a New Designers Graduate Show and has subsequently won further contracts for illustrations.
Many graduates also operate as freelancers as part of a 'portfolio career' alongside other creative work. They create illustrations for advertising, packaging and editorial purposes. Whatever route you choose, your course will put you on a fast track to getting work published and recognised.
You will have opportunities to apply for internships and other live projects where you can work alongside professional illustrators and designers.
In addition, our academic team organises visits to arts and design venues and companies in London and across the UK. This is to provide you with the opportunity to travel around London and visit illustration agencies, design studios and experience private viewings of famous artwork at the British Museum.
We hold specific 'employability days' to help give you that essential cutting edge. We invite former graduates and employers to come into the University to look at student portfolios and give advice.
Through our connection with the Association of Illustrators and strong links with professional illustrators, we are able to attract a range of top names to give guest lectures. The input of these internationally-known speakers helps broaden your learning and provide fresh perspectives.