Study options


BA (Hons)

Key facts

UCAS code:
Stoke-on-Trent campus
Study option:
3 Years
Start date:
23 September 2024

Top 5

Guardian University League Tables 2022 (Design and Crafts)

Flexible studio space

The design of our spaces encourages collaboration and experimentation

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Take advantage of our academic's professional links

Our Illustration degree is ideal if you're interested in image-making, visual communications, printmaking, visual storytelling or animation.

You’ll become a versatile illustrator and will establish a personal voice and vision within an engaging portfolio of work.

With an emphasis on creative visual thinking and craft, this course reflects the rich and diverse nature of contemporary image-making, inviting you to challenge its boundaries through both digital and craft-based media.

Our flexible studio space fosters an integrated approach to learning and we encourage you to collaborate, experiment and engage in a wide range of related visual practices. These include: image making techniques, drawing for illustration, illustration for information and promotion, photography and art direction, visual storytelling, editorial/book illustration, and crafts and animation.

On successful completion of study, we will issue the following award: BA (Hons) Illustration

Course content

Experimentation is key to developing your practice. You’ll do this alongside creative thinking to form meaning and content. Working alongside Graphic Design students, you’ll absorb a broad knowledge of the design and image-making process, problem solving and visual language via a programme of set projects, lectures, seminars, workshops, critiques and studio practice.

You’ll have access to tutorial and group designated zones and digital facilities including the latest Mac computers. Our workshop facilities include a dedicated life drawing studio, textiles, screen printing, letterpress and experimental print, photography, animation, digital suites/labs, laser cutting and 3D crafts.

Our team of specialist and practising lecturers has strong links with industry. As we'll encourage you to engage with students from other disciplines, you’ll work in teams as well as independently.

As the course progresses, you’ll define your personal strengths, competition entry and professional practice. During your final year, you’ll focus on your professional portfolio of work with the chance to enter competitions, exhibit and work on live briefs.

Academic year

The course operates on a modular basis that provides flexibility and choice. The modules are a mix of 20 and 40 credit modules. Each credit taken equates to a total study time of around 10 hours. Total study time includes scheduled teaching, independent study and assessment activity. Full-time students take modules worth 60 credits per semester, with part-time students taking proportionately fewer credits per semester. All students take a total of 120 credits per level and 360 credits for the degree as a whole. Your overall grade for the course and your degree classification are based on the marks obtained for modules taken at levels 5 and 6.  The full-time course has one start point in September.

Award-winning Illustration student, Daisy, recognised for her sustainable packaging design

Award-winning Illustration student, Daisy, recognised for her sustainable packaging design


BA Illustration student, Daisy discusses how she feels about her sustainable packaging design being awarded Gold from national design competition, Brief Cases.

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The tables provide an indicative list of the modules that make up the course for the current academic year. Each module is worth a specified number of credits. Our teaching is informed by research, and modules change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline. We aim to ensure that all modules run as scheduled. If for any reason a module cannot be run we will advise you as soon as possible and will provide guidance on selecting an appropriate alternative module where available.

Year 1 compulsory modules
Year 1 compulsory modules
Animation Principles 20 credits
Drawing For Illustration 20 credits
Visual Exploration 1 40 credits
Visual Exploration 2 40 credits
Year 2 compulsory modules
Year 2 compulsory modules
Application And Narrative 20 credits
Illustration And Communication 40 credits
Research, Analysis And Context 20 credits
Sustainability, Society And Impact 40 credits
Year 3 compulsory modules
Year 3 compulsory modules
Co Creation 1 40 credits
Co Creation 2 40 credits
Creative Futures 20 credits
Research, Analysis And Communication Assignment 20 credits

Entry requirements

112-120 UCAS Tariff points

  • GCE A Levels - grades BBC or equivalent
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma - grade DMM
  • Access to HE Diploma - Pass Access with a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points. Applicants to Staffs who are taking the Access to HE Diploma receive a reduced tariff point offer as part of our access and participation plan activity
  • UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma - grade of Merit overall
  • OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - grade DMM
  • T Levels - Eligible T Level applications will be asked to achieve a minimum overall grade of P (A*-C) or Higher Pass as a condition of offer

All applicants are individually assessed via a portfolio review

We understand that you might have experienced a challenging run up to higher education and may have not met the entry requirements as listed. If this is the case don’t worry, contact us and our team of expert advisors can guide you through the next stages of application, or help you find the perfect course for your needs.

Graphic Design and Illustration students take on OFFF Barcelona

Graphic Design and Illustration students visit Barcelona for the 3 day OFFF Design Festival

For equivalent entry requirements in your home country, please see the information on our country pages.

Choose your country

Check our entry and English language requirements for your country.


Our Illustration degree will prepare you for a career in a variety of fields, including: book arts and publishing, editorial, animation and printmaking. It will also act as a firm foundation for postgraduate study. Many of our graduates successfully run their own freelance businesses. They work on commissions for children’s books and publications for companies such as Digital Arts magazine, AOL, New Scientist, Ammo magazine, Ikea, Anorak Press and Kooga.

Greek myths and colourful cocktails - Illustration Degree Show 2022

Greek myths and colourful cocktails - Illustration Degree Show 2022


Illustration students Amy and Charlotte talk about their final-year work which explored everything from Greek myths and deforestation to colourful cocktail recipes.

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Teaching and assessment


The teaching on this course is firmly rooted in studio practice. You develop your skills across a wide range of project-based activities, which take place within a studio setting appropriate to the subject. Sometimes you will work in whole groups, sometimes you will working in teams, with presentations of your work to your peer group and the academic staff. At other times during your study, you will be working on individual self-initiated projects. During projects, there will be tutorial sessions with academic staff where you explore your practice in more detail.

In addition, you take part in lecture and seminar activities which allow you to explore the contextual and professional background to the projects you are undertaking. These are led by your lecturers and also guest tutors from industry who bring their specialist insight into the sessions. You also participate in technical skills instruction sessions with Technician Instructors enabling you to enhance your making and digital skills across a wide range of techniques and approaches.


You are assessed in this course by a range of different types of coursework and practical activities. The assessment task for each module will vary dependent upon its content but may include:

  • A portfolio of completed artwork, professionally presented in the format required by the assignment, project or brief.
  • Workbooks, sketchbooks etc., documenting the process of generating, developing and resolving thoughts/ideas, and demonstrating the influence of research on practical work.
  • Research books, folders, dossiers, etc. documenting the gathering, sorting and presentation of research material.
  • Technical Exercises demonstrating your skills and competencies using particular equipment and/or techniques.
  • Written essays or reports, in which you are exploring the contextual or professional background to a specific project.
  • An individual or group seminar presentation and/or the accompanying material which you have used to create the presentation.

Learning support

In addition to the excellent support you will receive from your course teaching team, our central Academic Skills team provides group and one-to-one help to support your learning in a number of areas. These include:

  • study skills such as reading, note-taking and presentation skills
  • written English, including punctuation and grammatical accuracy
  • academic writing and how to reference
  • research skills
  • critical thinking and understanding arguments
  • revision, assessment and examination skills
  • time management

Additional support

Our Student Inclusion Services support students with additional needs such as sensory impairment, or learning difficulties such as dyslexia.


Throughout the modules you take on your course you are provided with formative, developmental assessment opportunities, which are carried out in tutorial and critique situations. Feedback is usually provided to you orally, with a written record kept either by the tutor or by you. This is sometimes produced as the result of peer or self-assessment exercises.

All modules also included formal or “summative” assessment tasks and the grades from the formal assessments count towards your module mark. You will normally receive feedback on coursework assessments within 20 working days following the date of submission.

Annie Lind - Illustration

Annie Lind - Illustration


Illustration student Annie talks about the ways her degree has given her confidence in areas she did not expect and the varied ways illustrators can express themselves.

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Your study time will consist of class contact hours, self-directed learning, assessment and placements where appropriate. Your actual contact hours will depend on the subject area, on the option modules you select and professional body requirements. A typical composition of study time for this course is:

Year 1

13% of time in lectures, seminars or similar
87% of time in independent study
0% of time in work based learning

Year 2

12% of time in lectures, seminars or similar
88% of time in independent study
0% of time in work based learning

Year 3

12% of time in lectures, seminars or similar
88% of time in independent study
0% of time in work based learning

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars, laboratory or other timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve utilising a range of digital resources including our virtual learning environment; reading journals, articles and books; working on individual and group projects; undertaking research in the library; preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations. Your independent learning will be supported by a range of excellent facilities. These include the library, open access computer facilities, informal learning zones, a range of laboratories and performance and studio spaces.

Year 1

6% practical assessments
94% coursework
0% written exams

Year 2

6% practical assessments
94% coursework
0% written exams

Year 3

0% practical assessments
100% coursework
0% written exams


You will be taught by an expert teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes senior academics and professional practitioners with industry experience. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teaching training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Matt Buckingham

Senior Lecturer

Matt Buckingham is an internationally published author, illustrator, educator and designer with specialisms in children’s publications and picture books.

Matt's profile

Sarah Rushton

Senior Lecturer

Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design and Illustration

Sarah's profile

Molly Turton


Molly is a Lecturer on BA(Hons) Illustration at Staffordshire University and since graduating has been working as a freelance Illustrator as well as exploring work within education, feeding a passion for teaching

Molly's profile


For the course starting on 23 September 2024 the tuition fees are:

Tuition fees for BA (Hons)-Full-time
Study option UK / Channel Islands International
Full-time £9,250 per year of study £16,750 per year of study

UK and Channel Island students: This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation. If the UK government passes appropriate legislation, the fee for subsequent years of study may increase in each academic year. But this increase will not exceed the rate of inflation as measured by RPIX**. Any change in fees will apply to both new and continuing students. The University will notify students of any change as early as possible. Further information about fee changes would be posted on the University’s website once this becomes available.

**RPIX is a measure of inflation equivalent to all the items in the Retail Price Index (RPI) excluding mortgage interest payments.

Art and Design Show 2019

Art and Design Show 2019


Art and Design Show 2019 report from Nat and Nom.

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Included in tuition fees
Included in the fees:

Travel, and accommodation costs incurred by compulsory trips and visits away from the University that are directly linked to the learning requirements of a specific module.

The use of all workshops, studios and specialist technical facilities and hire of equipment relating to the course of study.

Not included in tuition fees
Not included in the fees:

The estimated cost of text books over the duration of the course. All essential text books are available from the library, but some students chose to purchase their own copies.

Travel, subsistence, entrance fees etc. incurred by optional trips and visits away from the University related to the course.

The cost of materials for the development of a student’s individual practice and work. Additional costs vary dependent upon student’s own choice of materials and approach to their practice.

Optional personal insurance when borrowing equipment such as cameras, lighting equipment etc. for extended period of use off campus [Approx £50-£100]. It may be possible to add some items to home contents insurance.

Accommodation and living costs
Accommodation and living costs

Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Sources of financial support

If you receive funding from Student Finance you may be eligible to apply for additional benefits. Details can be obtained by reading our additional funding web pages, or visiting

Scholarships and additional funding

As an undergraduate student at Staffordshire, you may be eligible for additional financial support through one of our scholarships and bursaries. You can visit our funding page to find out more and check your eligibility.

Our students

I can’t express how much I enjoyed my time on the Illustration course at Staffs. I was always excited to come into the studio and work alongside the friends I’d found on the course. The Degree Show was the best part for me, watching each project come together was really great to see.  

Amy Robinson

Illustration graduate

I’ve always enjoyed Illustration as I knew I wanted to have a career in this field in the future - but wasn’t sure if it would be possible. The lecturers here at Staffs really supported me with my projects and all the facilities are easily accessible. After winning the Briefcases Competition this year, it’s made me realise that I really can turn my once hobby into a real job.

Mai Duay


The school has excellent facilities and there is constant encouragement to experiment with imaginative methods of image-making. Beyond graduation, there is also academic support and an active alumni community.

Katie Forrester

Completing a PHD in Printmaking at Edinburgh University

I have been designing and illustrating children's books, which is my passion and am looking forward to the books I have worked on getting published soon.I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for Staffordshire University and all of the great lecturers that helped me to achieve my dream job!

Jenny Addison

Now working at Usborne Publishing


Location Award Study option Start date Apply Link
Stoke-on-Trent campus BA (Hons) Full-time 23 September 2024 Apply now

Rules and regulations

If you are offered a place at Staffordshire University, your offer will be subject to our rules, regulations and enrolment conditions, which may vary from time to time.

Students of Staffordshire University enter into a contract with us and are bound by these rules and regulations, which are subject to change. For more information, please see: University Policies and Regulations.

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Study options
in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021