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Undergraduate study
Comics and Graphic Novels (with Foundation Year)

Comics and Graphic Novels (with Foundation Year) BA (Hons)

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 routes:


Course overview

Accredited Work placement

Kirsty Stebbings, BA (Hons) Comics and Graphic Novels

Kirsty talks about her experience of studying comics and graphic novels at Teesside.

'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 this course. 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.

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.

Teesside is ranked joint 17th out of 73 institutions for Design & Crafts in the Guardian University Guide 2021. (121 institutions participated.)

This course includes a foundation year - ideal if you need additional preparation or if you don't have sufficient grades to join Year 1 of a degree.

Download pdf Order prospectus


Course details

Course structure

Foundation year core modules

2D Digital Art

You are introduced to the creative possibilities of image making using digital tools. The fundamental principles of design and composition will be addressed and a range of image creation techniques will be explored using appropriate graphics software. Skills and topics introduced include: layers, transparencies, vectors, bitmaps, Outcomes & reproduction (web/print/screen) and Input devices

Drawing Principles

You gain confidence in creating rudimentary images using traditional tools such as pencil and charcoal. The teaching enables you to develop your drawing technique and approach, and helps you produce images that effectively communicate simple ideas.

With a range of traditional materials, you are encouraged to experiment with different approaches to drawing. You learn methods and techniques to improve your observational skills in relation to still life drawing. You also look at other formal elements including tone, proportion, perspective and basic human anatomy.

Final Project

This module aims to guide you through the production of a small-scale individual project defined in part by you, with guidance from the tutor. The final project aims to develop an individual working approach and good project management. You will develop original ideas and concepts for an appropriate project in your chosen field of study. These may take the form of a short story, artefact, report, campaign, comic, concept art or other appropriate form related to the arts and media industries.

Modelling Principles

You learn some of the basic principles of 3D computer modelling, lighting and texturing. You use 3D software to produce a simple 3D model that will be textured and rendered with basic lighting. Through guided tutorial tasks, you learn some of the first principles of 3D modelling with the view to creating a small collection of elementary assets for computer games and animation. You create simple textures in appropriate software, such as Photoshop, and consider basic CG lighting.

Study Skills

You explore learning skills for undergraduate study at University, providing you with a range of learning material and practical sessions. You develop your professional skills including teamwork, researching a topic, report writing and delivering presentations, as well as time management and learning practice.
You learn by a combination of lectures, e-learning material and support.

You are introduced to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) at Teesside University, exploring e-learning material and reading lists, and student support and learning resources.

Your assessment is a portfolio based on set tasks, including research into set problems.

Visual Narratives

You gain confidence in comic and narrative creation through short, well-defined creation briefs to encourage experimentation and an openness to new techniques, tools and methods.

Through practice-based briefs and seminars you are introduced to the key tools and techniques of both comic and artistic media.

You experiment with different styles of drawing for pre-defined narrative purposes; to different ways of generating or structuring a story. You also produce images that communicate a narrative, short comics and other visual narratives.

You work with the tutor and other students to discuss work in response to the briefs You explore the fundamental formal elements of narrative creation, such as the use of the panel, the cover, page design, speech bubbles, thought bubbles and captions, through workshops, briefs and challenges.

Your assessment is 100% ICA, a visual portfolio that covers a range of narrative based or comic-specific storytelling techniques.


Year 1 core modules

Comic Book Studies

You explore the richness and diversity of the comic medium, and through discussion of its most significant works and creators, recognise how your own creative practise can be developed further.

You think critically, expand your understanding of what comics are and can do, and recognise new examples of the form to inspire, influence and educate your own practice.
Your assessment is 100% ICA

Drawing for Games and Animation 1

This module develops your visual perception and drawing skills – these are essential for a productive artist to communicate ideas effectively, swiftly and efficiently.

You are guided through a range of drawing exercises including figure drawing, environment drawing, and still life, enabling you to work through a variety of approaches to drawing. These exercises develop your observational and imaginative drawing abilities, and build on your artistic skills and range of techniques, using traditional tools.

Idea Generation

You explore a range of method and techniques to generate and develop creative ideas.

You carry out a range of challenging tasks to encourage and develop an effective working practice. The unique challenges faced by comic book creators will be identified and explored in terms of the visual image and the written word.

You generate original ideas and develop skills in the areas of narrative development, thumbnailing, iteration and rewriting.

The skills you acquire in this module will be developed and expanded in the subsequent modules and will underpin future learning.

Your assessment is a portfolio of work created in response to a provided brief.

Narrative and Storytelling

Narrative and Storytelling provides you with the opportunity to learn a range of approaches to the creative development and writing of a script.
You explore the structural dimensions of your work including aspects such as three act plotting, character arcs and story sequencing and utilises professional techniques derived from established practice in the creative media industries.
Your assessment is 100% ICA.

Sequencing Images for Comics

You are introduced to the fundamental design, communication and narrative skills to create a story in comic form.

You examine the forms and methods established by some of the most significant creators in the medium; through experimenting and workshopping with these methods; and through developing your understanding of their mechanisms.

You explore the unique visual language of comic books; how it has evolved and how it is read. You look at the effects of panel and page design, of techniques including thumbnailing and composition, and how different cultures have produced different ways of telling stories within comics.

Your assessment is 100% ICA.

Visual Perspectives

We live in a visual culture. This modules explores how we see and take meaning from images across a range of media platforms including television, cinema, the press and the visual arts.


Year 2 core modules

Advanced Comic Book Studies

You investigate established comic creators and understand their unique motivations and practice. You explore the different creative approaches comic book creators have used to engage with theme and meaning in key canonical pieces of work to develop a more distinctive and informed creative approach.

You analyse and evaluate the work of key comic book creators within a social, historical and cultural context, before applying this learning to a practice based research project.
Your assessment is 100% ICA, through a portfolio of work and a critical reflection.

Advanced Sequencing for Comics

You bring your visual and narrative practise to a new level of professional and creative skill. Through practice, you explore new ways of creating and using images for narrative, including: interpreting written descriptions as images, drawing as a non-verbal form of communication and experimenting with comics’ unique interplay of words and images.

You practically explore the relationship between writing, design and drawing in your work. Through critical review of the tools and techniques used by the medium’s most significant creators, you develop your understanding of the power of the comic medium to tell stories in a variety of ways.

You explore capturing action, emotion, drama and movement; look at representation, documentation and communication, and the unique use of time in sequential art. You experiment with ways of converting text into images, and translating dramatic tension, atmosphere and pacing into the design, text and visuals of your comic.

Your assessment is 100% ICA.

Drawing for Games and Animation 2

The module is designed to develop further skills in drawing and to develop methods of applying drawing in more specific situations. The main focus is communicating emotional responses through the artwork. It will encourage you to start developing your own style, and to progress your narrative storytelling in an image.

Life drawing will form a key part of the module, encouraging you to think about showing personality through posing and developing an understanding of characterisation, exaggeration and the use of shape language in developing characters and environments.

Exhibition Project

You collaboratively initiate and develop an original and self-directed project. You work together with your fellow students to secure a space such as a local gallery, commercial space, community centre to organise and execute an exhibition of new work; or to create, fund, design and publish an anthology of new professional work. You develop your portfolio of professional networks and skills, including project management, group working skills, promotion, as well as learning networking and presentation skills. You also work collaboratively online and to plan, create, execute and promote the artefact or exhibition. You are assessed by a group project and reflective log.

Pitching the Story

You pitch for a professional comic, graphic novel or other narrative art creation. You gain experience of portfolio construction, presentation and pitching to develop and mature your individual creative voice.
Emulating current comic and publishing industry standards, you demonstrate your individual creative take on a set brief, showing how you would explore and develop a character or situation into a visually and narratively developed world.

You explore your career goals and undertake primary research into the historical and contemporary creators, publishers and movements relevant to your ambitions, resulting in the creation of a career development plan.

Your assessment is 100% ICA.


Optional work placement year

Work placement

You have the option to spend one year in industry learning and developing your skills. We encourage and support you with applying for a placement, job hunting and networking.

You gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment, including communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

Many employers view a placement as a year-long interview, therefore placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process. Benefits include:

· improved job prospects
· enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
· a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
· a better degree classification
· a richer CV
· a year's salary before completing your degree
· experience of workplace culture
· the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

If you are unable to secure a work placement with an employer, then you simply continue on a course without the work placement.


Final-year core modules

Comics and Graphic Novels Project

You demonstrate your learning and showcase your storytelling style or ‘visual voice’.

You work individually on a large-scale, negotiated, self-directed project guided by your own creative instincts under the supervision of academic staff, alongside working collaboratively to display or publish your work as a collective.

You develop a sense of work discipline coupled with a professional outlook, take responsibility for the planning and execution of your extended piece of work, including the consideration of associated legal, social, ethical and professional issues.

You explore your negotiated project area, and demonstrate the ability to analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply what you have studied on the alongside demonstrating critical and evaluative skills and professional awareness.
You produce a substantial artefact related to the field of comics, graphic novel and sequential art and document your research and development process and a viva consisting of the presentation, demonstration and discussion of the artefact.

Your assessment is 100% ICA.

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.

Professional Practice in Comics

You explore the different routes into the contemporary comic industry by responding to mock industry briefs, as well as one real commission or competition entry.

You explore how to identify opportunities; how to present and promote yourself professionally; how and when to use portfolios; the practice pitching to publishers; and current professional practice in networking and promotion through conventions, festivals and the internet.

You gain an overview of the business and legal information relevant to professional creative career. You analyse career opportunities, job specifications and potential employers related to your specialist areas of interest.

You gain greater confidence and independence in your professional portfolio of work and your future career planning.
Your assessment is 100% ICA.

Studies in Transmedia Properties

You explore the professional comics world in a wider context, and the myriad opportunities that the current transmedia industry presents to work in innovative creative forms.

You engage with new technologies and approaches to audiences to create work that develops a flexible, adaptable creative style to promote, publicise and deepen a creative approach to your work.

Your assessment is 100% ICA.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

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

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

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


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Any combination of level 3 qualifications. Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis.

We may also be able to help you meet the entry requirements through our Summer University modules.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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



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.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

Select your country:


Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

Talk to us

Talk to an international student enrolment adviser


Professional accreditation

We are a member of the Association of Illustrators, a professional organisation that supports illustrators at all stages of their careers. You gain access to a wealth of supporting material, a business masterclass each year, discounted portfolio reviews and discounted entry to the World Illustration Awards. Find out more about the Association of Illustrators.

Other course routes

Work placement

Study this course with an optional work placement year, at no extra cost. Alongside this, you can gain valuable experience and engagement with the sector through our shorter work placements, internships and work experience opportunities.

Work placements


Entry to 2022/23 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£14,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 4 years (or 5 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: W219 BA/CGNFY
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: Offers tailored to individual circumstances

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



  • Not available part-time

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    James Brady

    James BradyBA (Hons) Comics and Graphic Novels

    I’d 100% recommend Teesside to anyone looking to pursue an artistic career in games, animation, comics or film. The facilities are fantastic, and I really benefitted from having input from industry professionals.

    Meet James

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