Undergraduate study
Comics, Graphic Novels and Sequential Art

BA (Hons) Comics, Graphic Novels and Sequential Art

UCAS code: W211 BA/CGNSA

Through our comics, graphic novels and sequential art degree, we aim to produce a new breed of storytellers, each with their own individual, formidable voice. The course covers and caters to all styles of cartooning, from manga to journalism, adventure to Amerimanga, superhero to memoir.

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years

More full-time details

Part-time

  • Up to 6 years

More part-time details

  • Daytime
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 342639

Contact details

Further information

'Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.' Dr Seuss

Creating comics is more than a job - it's a vocation. We live in a golden age for the comic book, in which Far Eastern manga is now part of the popular culture of the West. We have seen a graphic novel awarded the Pulitzer Prize, 50c funny books of the 1960s turned into iconic, billion dollar franchises and the internet change the way we make and read comics forever. The combination of words and pictures can produce something more powerful, more exciting and more personal than either alone.

The mastery of communication through words and pictures is at the heart of BA (Hons) Comics, Graphic Novels and Sequential Art. We aim to produce a new breed of storytellers, each with their own individual, formidable voice. You emerge as experts at communicating through cartooning, understanding how the medium works from the technical aspects of perspective, composition and figure drawing to the founding theories of modern literature. The course covers and caters to all styles of cartooning, from manga to journalism, adventure to Amerimanga, superhero to memoir.

Comics are also entering into more mainstream areas of advertising, marketing and public relations - anywhere where a message needs to be communicated in as unforgettable and universal a manner as possible.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Creative Skills and Techniques 1

This module introduces you to the basic drawing, design, communication and narrative skills for comic arts and sequential arts. It provides you with a strong basis for the practical skills required for drawing comics. You are introduced to life drawing, anatomy, perspective, expressive drawing, landscapes and sketching, with an emphasis on comic book and narrative applications. You learn how to keep a sketchbook for recording ideas, research, developing ideas, line work, colouring and finished concepts.

Creative Skills and Techniques 2

This module continues to introduce you to the key creative skills and techniques required for drawing comics – basic drawing, design, communication and narrative skills for comic arts and sequential arts – providing a strong basis in practical skills. By examining common and traditional techniques used in sequential storytelling and understanding their purpose, you explore the visual language of comic books, how it has evolved and how it is read. This module also looks at how design and composition effects storytelling, and how cultural differences influence audience interpretation. You develop a drawing portfolio and demonstrate your awareness of these key principles.

Development of the Industry

You explore how industry trends are informed by technology and the culture of comics. You focus on practices of making and interaction in the cultural practices of comics and those that consume them. You look at how blogs and social platforms give voices to individuals and how they can be used for audience interaction. You also look at the relationship between fans, creators and publishers and the impact the internet has had on this relationship. Your understanding of the field is nurtured and you expand your knowledge of the social relations developed through the creation of comic cultural practices. You generate an understanding of international forms of making and the unique differences between culture and fans across global practices in comic and graphic cultural practices.

Making Waves: the Politics of Graphical Representation

You develop your critical thinking and understanding of current issues and debates in the field of comics as well as broader world views and current events. You reflect on and examine your own beliefs, ideas and ideologies and how you can express these concepts through a visual narrative medium.

Narrative Arts

You explore storytelling through character and narrative development and place the sequential narrative of comics and the graphic novel within the broader literature of narrative arts. You are invited to draw comparison and explore the similarities and differences between comic book and film narrative techniques. You examine the different aspects of character design including the use of colour to tell a story, costume as character information, scenery as character, scene transitioning, narrative devices, scriptwriting, layouts, panels and composition.
You explore the range of sequential arts from hieroglyphs to web comics and also explore transferable techniques used in other narrative arts such as storyboarding, infographics and other forms of sequential imagery.

Theoretical Approaches: The State of the Art

You are introduced to the history of comics and encouraged to explore the diverse applications of the medium such as medical, political, information and historical narratives. The teaching and learning explores a range of discourses that situate the development of the comic and carton within art history, advertising, the development of graphic design and the print revolution, charting the rise of the cartoon and comic character within political and cultural dimensions.

 

Year 2 core modules

Advanced Creative Skills and Techniques for Graphic Communication 1

You explore the relationship between writing and drawing. You explore capturing action and movement, representation and documentation. This module encourages an experimental approach to visual narratives. You look at abstract ways to express stories, explore non-linear narratives, disjointed narrative or disrupted narrative, and develop alternative approaches to mark making and storytelling.

Advanced Creative Skills and Techniques for Graphic Communication 2

Building on Advanced Creative Skills and Techniques for Graphic Communication 1, this module extends experimental approaches to visual narratives. You explore abstract ways to express stories, explore non-linear narratives, disjointed narrative or disrupted narrative, and develop alternative approaches to mark making and storytelling. You also explore creatively experimental, surreal and innovative approaches to visual narrative arts and the visual story.

Comics and Identity Politics

You explore gender, race, sexuality and identity in comics. You look at how these issues are represented and portrayed in comics. You also look at diversity in the comics industry. You examine political comics, comix and zines with an overview of the underground movement and a look at contemporary authors, artists and publishers working in the underground and alternative comics medium.

Drawing as Communication

You explore the relationship between writing and drawing. You explore capturing action and movement, representation and documentation. You look at ways of interpreting written descriptions as images, drawing as a non-verbal form of communication and the unique interplay between words and images in comics. You also explore how sequential visuals are used for informative and instructional purposes.

Minor Project

You collaborate on design, develop and market an exhibition or publication or similar output. You plan the project in a professional manner that displays key project management skills and exploits the whole process from conception to realisation including budget, marketing plans and distribution. You work collaboratively to secure space at a local gallery or create a collaborative publication and plan, create, install and promote an exhibition or publication. You build up professional contacts as well as learning networking and presentation skills.

Shaping the Future

You bring together the theoretical and practical exploration that you have undertaken in previous modules, allowing you to step back and assess your future goals. Historical overview, contemporary scene as well as your personal artistic, political and social journey are considered as you undertake primary research in relation to your personal career. This research shapes your negotiated projects for the final year.

The Industry Today

You look at the current comic industry and examine the different sectors, genres and cultural output. Is digital publishing the future or is print still a viable product? How will comic books be sold in the future? How will audiences interact with them? You are asked to make to an informed prediction. You look at how the digital world has affected the creation, distribution and marketing of comics. You examine the impact of crowdfunding on publishers, audiences and creators. You explore digital art, motion comics and other current and emerging techniques.

 

Final-year core modules

Contemporary Debates in Drawing

You look at current practice and its theoretical context. What is drawing today? Material and virtual. Trends vs style. Use of tools and materials. You question conventions and explore practice and praxis in drawing.

Developing a Personal Style

You draw on the techniques and theories previously explored and develop your own personal style of storytelling and your own approach to work. You build and present a professional portfolio that reflects your style.

The Visual Voice

You demonstrate all you have learned and showcase your storytelling style or visual voice. You work individually on a negotiated project which is exhibited and work collaboratively to display or publish your work as a group. You also practice pitching your ideas and gain feedback from industry professionals.

Where to From Here?

You explore different aspects of the comic industry and different paths to professional practice. You gain an overview of the business and legal information you may need. How to identify opportunities. How to present and promote yourself professionally; Portfolio, pitching, conventions and online presence.

This is a a tutor led exploration of the personal agenda developed in the Shaping the Future module.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

You learn through a mixture of personal project and group-based development.


Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs

Career opportunities

The course draws on existing and new relationships in targeted sectors to offer live briefs for

  • film and TV - Vertigo Films, Double Negative, BBC, Channel 4
  • games - 22 Cans, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft
  • advertising - Drummond Central, Cravens Advertising, Guerrilla, Sumo Digital
  • comics - Marvel, DC, Rebellion Publishing, Journalism, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent

Expected career routes include self publishing, graphic novel publishing, advertising, marketing, public relations, journalism, brand management, publishing and graphic design.

You are expected to do at least one two-week work placement between your second and third years, though opportunities will be available for significantly more workplace experiences through our placement officer in the School of Arts & Media.

Entry requirements

A typical offer is 96-112 tariff points from at least two A levels (or equivalent).

You are normally invited for interview and will be asked to submit a portfolio of work which will be reviewed during the interview. The interview determines your potential to succeed and helps set appropriate entry conditions matched to your personal circumstances and the demands of the course. The interview also enables you to see our excellent facilities, meet staff and students.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

Part-time

What is KIS?

How to understand the Key Information Set

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years

More full-time details

Part-time

  • Up to 6 years

More part-time details

  • Daytime
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 342639

Contact details

Further information