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Undergraduate study

Illustration BA (Hons)

This course merges traditional practices with future-facing technology to launch your career as a talented image maker with a unique voice. You learn the skills and competencies you need to be an illustrator who can respond across creative and commercial contexts, preparing you for this fast-paced international creative industry.


W221 BA/I

Course routes:


Course overview

Foundation year Work placement

School of Arts & Creative Industries

See what it's like to study at our School of Arts & Creative Industries.

You gain skills in drawing, printmaking, 3D analogue, 3D digital, digital painting, motion and augmented reality, integrated with experimental and practical learning, creative thinking, career development and employability, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a contemporary image maker.

You study at our School of Arts & Creative Industries, led by Teesside University and MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), an international contemporary museum and gallery. You benefit from our strong links with industry, hearing from world-leading illustrators and working on live client briefs.

Learning from accomplished practising illustrators, we develop you as talented creators and prepare you for work in industry as a freelancer, in an agency or working in the wider creative sector.

We’re a member of the Association of Illustrators, giving you access to interactive talks, guidance on contracts and licensing, and your own discounted membership, equipping you with the tools to forge a successful career in industry or as a freelancer.

We are in the top 50 in the UK for our Art & Design courses in the Complete University Guide 2023. (

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Course details

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Analogue Images: Making, Doing and Manifesting

You explore the world of 3D image making and the use of model making, paper play, ceramics, 3D printing, woodwork, photography and laser cutting. You develop visual storytelling techniques through the tangible, tactile and fragile. Gain inspiration from those using these techniques, to push the boundaries of the definition of illustration. This module seeks to shake up your practice and develop new ways of producing visual material.

Digital and Virtual Image Making

You are introduced to digital image-making skills, digital painting and drawing, and learn how to use the full Adobe creative suite. You explore visual languages and experiment with technology to develop your skills and challenging your thinking through short briefs. Foundational workshops and future-facing technology push your image making and seed the start of your individual illustrative voice across a range of media. You learn from tutors who have adapted to a range of technology used within industry.

Digital Images: Moving, Changing and Evolving

Through metaverse, moving image, 3D mailable illustrations and augmented reality, you explore new and evolving digital media. Building a series of short projects and longer creative solutions, you are challenged to rethink illustration in the digital sphere. With an inquisitive mind and an openness to embrace technology, you step into a world of movement and digital 3D drawing. References to industrial practices, emerging creatives and the future of creative industries build on previous learning with a fresh perspective.

Drawing and Printmaking

You explore and expand your approaches to visual investigation and representation through drawing, image and printmaking. You create visual language through observation, response, emotive expression and visual enquiry, experimenting with ideas generation and establishing new ways of looking and thinking.

MIMA History of Art, Design & Architecture

You are introduced to key art, design, architectural and cultural histories that are central to studying a creative subject. You explore a range of contexts and influences including art historical, ecological, critical theory, industrial, technological change, social and political movements, examining the changing face of art and design and informing your future research.

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

Art and Place

You combine theory and practice to examine the challenges facing contemporary societies, and undertake small-scale projects that explore social, political and ecological changes around us. You develop the aims and forms in negotiation with module tutors. The outcome could be a collaborative project that explores the process of making work in a wider context such as: shopping centres, schools, outdoor parks, and other social settings.

Career Context

Develop your understanding of building a career in the creative industries through key skills in creative leadership, collaborative entrepreneurship and sustainability.

Commercial Briefs: Problem-solving and Audience

As an image maker, you are asked to respond to fast-paced briefs exploring the diversity of illustration. You develop your creative thinking and interpretation alongside your understanding of concept, audience and ethnographic research. You are introduced to the commercial application of illustration and encouraged to develop a body of work that opens you up to the world of work with a range of clients. You further develop your creative voice and style.

Global Future Contexts

Further investigate a range of contemporary social, environmental, technological and ethical issues to inform all types of art and design practice. You broaden your understanding of creativity as a practice-based form of contemporary social discourse and explore a variety of issues through the development, production and presentation of potential future scenarios.

Narrative Briefs: Illustration and Storytelling

The illustrator is a storyteller. You are introduced to sequence, visual clues, colour, composition, texture and the character – a world where visual clues accompany, enhance or replace text. From roughs to scamps, storyboarding to the dummy book, and sketches to creating other worlds, you are taken though the journey of what it means to be a narrative illustrator in the wonderful world of publishing. From children's books to an adult audience, you are presented with a variety of creative briefs.

Self-promotion: Industry and the World

You discuss the evolving industry of illustration with further conversation around self-promotion, clients, social media and agencies. You are invited to create a self-initiated project in the form of effective and influential self-promotion. You can involve radical interventions, new media, experimental practices or traditional mediums for the world to see. You consider innovative marketing and advertising, viral marketing, the manifesto and DIY techniques. Nothing is too big or small in your project.


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

Clients and Competitions

You undertake one or more competition projects or fulfil a live project brief, producing graphic or illustrative work that will influence the direction of your portfolio and be meaningful to prospective employers and/or clients.

Commercial and Professional Practice

Who are you? This is the central question to this module where you create your own personal branding, digital presence and website, supported by tutors with industrial experience.

Major Final Project: Illustration

This project is the finale – it’s your major project that highlights all of the expertise, skills, design thinking and innovation you have built up as a soon-to-be illustration graduate. You propose and develop a project alongside a 5,000-word accompanying critical essay, and you present the final work in a professional and industry-ready standard.

Negotiated Project

The aims of this module are for students to be given an opportunity to tailor part of their level 5 studies to their own interests and motivations. A key aim is to stimulate intrinsic motivation and encourage autonomous learning, and critical discussion with peers and the tutor. Developing the skills necessary to identify and engage with literature in a critical way, in the process and develop research skills. From this module, further links to research modules in level 6 will be made.

Students will negotiate with the module leader, a choice of topic for a manageable project and submit a plan (ICA). It is foreseen that the topics chosen will be from a range of subjects within the field of education. The students will carry out a narrative review of literature and link theory to contemporary themes and occurrences in education. Using a project diary, the students will record their progress. The process and the products of their learning will then be reflected upon in a report (ECA).Negotiation will also take into account the non-duplication of existing modules and focus students on deepening their knowledge on their chosen topics. They will be given initial inputs on searching texts, project management and current issues in education.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

This course develops curious, innovative and future industry-ready illustrators open to working both within your discipline and in the wider creative sector. Foundational workshops develop and build practical skills, alongside learning innovative practices to stretch and challenge. You are introduced to historical and contemporary perspectives of illustration and its wider creative context to inspire and develop your own accomplished projects.

Throughout the course you undertake individual and group activities. You receive timely and responsive feedback from tutors and peers, as well as feedback at the end of every module.

How you are assessed

The modules are generally project based and assessed through a portfolio of designed work, sometimes accompanied by a verbal presentation. Creative projects are normally assessed on the final communication and visualisation of the work but also the development process of research and evidencing the analytical journey towards your final project. You get verbal feedback during the studio sessions on work in progress with written feedback on the final submission.

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

Year 1 entry
96-112 points, including a creative subject, from any combination of recognised Level 3 qualifications. Consideration is also given to students without formal qualifications but with evidence of practical illustration experience at an appropriate level. Applicants are invited to share a portfolio where applicable to show creative skills in illustration.

Applicants are invited join us on campus for an applicant day, enabling you to see our illustration facilities, meet staff and students and learn more about studying at Teesside University.

Non-EU international students who need a student visa to study in the UK should check our web pages on UKVI-compliant English language requirements. The University also provides pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements.

Helping you meet the entry requirements
We may be able to help you meet the requirements for admission by offering you the opportunity to study one or more Summer University modules, some of which can be studied by distance learning.

Alternative degree with integrated foundation year
If you are unable to achieve the minimum admission requirements for Year 1 entry you could, subject to eligibility, join one of our degree courses with an integrated foundation year.

Direct entry to later years
If you have previously studied at higher education level (for example, a foundation degree, HNC, HND or one or more years at degree level at another institution) you may request direct entry to Year 2 or year 3 of this degree.

Mature applicants
We welcome applications from mature students (aged over 21) who can demonstrate, through portfolio/written work and relevant experience, that they have developed cognitive and technical skills through their life experiences.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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

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

You have a wide range of career opportunities including illustrator, designer, artist, creative producer, propmaker, or working in heritage, public engagement, marketing, advertising, packaging design, publishing, workshop facilitator, teaching and motion design.


Information for international applicants


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

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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


Other course routes

Foundation year

Study this course with a foundation year if you need additional preparation or if you don't have sufficient grades to join Year 1.

BA (Hons) Illustration (with Foundation Year)

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 2023/24 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£15,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: W221 BA/I
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 96-112 points

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



2023/24 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£4,500 (120 credits)

More details about our fees

Apply online (part-time)


Choose Teesside

  • In pictures
  • On video

    Ella Miller student profile

    Find out about Ella’s experience as a graphic design and illustration student at Teesside University in this self-drawn student profile.

  • News

    Some of this year’s FUEL winners: (front row, left to right) Nicholas Moffatt, Marcus Phoenix, Matthew Williams, Adam Foster (back row, left to right) Frances Moffatt, Emily Dey, Cameron Robertson. Link to View the pictures. Entrepreneurs bring business plans to life with Teesside University
    A fashion brand, marketing business and boxing community interest company are among businesses which Teesside University has helped to launch this year.

    Read the full story


MIMA Creative Week

Have a look at the highlights from the School of Arts & Creative Industries Creative Week 2023.


Get in touch

UK students


Telephone: 01642 738801

Online chat (general enquiries)

International students


Telephone: +44 (0) 1642 738900

More international contacts


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