Illustration - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
W220
Attendance:
Full Time (3 years)
Starting:
September 2019
Campus:

Our BA (Hons) Illustration degree course aims to give those with a passion for image making and illustration the skills they need to capture and communicate ideas through pictures. We celebrate the challenge of finding your individual visual voice through experimenting, risk taking and critical reflection. You will also explore how your work can be applied across a wide range of contexts, from commercial work to personally-driven projects.

This course provides an opportunity to development a wide range of transferable skills and design process knowledge that is highly desirable to employers.

What's covered in the course?

Our challenging and exciting Illustration course will help you develop new skills and different ways of thinking, enabling you to find your own individual, visual voice and prepare you for the ever-changing creative industry.

All of this, combined with our innovative course structure, has led to us being recognised by Creative Skillset. This award recognises that we are a centre of excellence, teaching industry standards, and equipping students with the skills and knowledge that employers look for.

The course celebrates the synthesis between illustration and all the other visual communication subject disciplines, leading to the development of strong student collaborations that again aims to reflect industry practice.

We support a lively creative community, encouraging the value of peer learning. This learning is supplemented by an integrated workshop programme that provides the opportunity to work alongside, and be informed by, industry experts from a wide range of disciplines.

"While on the Illustration Course at Birmingham City University, I was exposed to new ideas, methods and people that have influenced my work and taken me in directions that I had not even considered. It has allowed for me a future in illustration, where I see my idols becoming peers. I could not be happier." Matthew Bailey

Why Choose Us?

  • We have the only in-house active agency in the region which allows you to gain first-hand experience of real-life briefs set by clients.
  • Your portfolio will be showcased to a number of potential employers through our home-grown and independent talent pool, We Grow Cherries, as well as during your graduate show.
  • There will be opportunities to exhibit at high-profile London graduate shows, including New Designers and D&AD New Blood.
  • You will receive industry insight from significant practitioners, including Laura Carlin, Russell Cobb, Sarah Fanelli, Le Gun, Paul Willoughby, NoBrow, Paul Slater, People of Print, Dan Fern, Jonny Hannah, Isobel Greenberg, Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, Paper Cinema, Fabric Lenny, Sarah Maycock and Graham Rawle.
  • Live project partnerships include Tiny Tree Books, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, DanceXchange, Flatpack Film Festival, Playground Games and Moonpig.
  • Professional practice and core business skills are delivered by outside agencies such as Bernstein & Andriulli, the Association of Illustrators and other external specialists.

Illustration course page overview

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place in June 2019. You can register your interest and we'll send you an email update nearer the time. Visit us to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

Special Unconditional Offer Scholarship Scheme

We want our students to achieve their full potential. So, if you receive a Special Unconditional Offer from BCU and then go on to Meet or Beat our published entry requirements, you could be eligible for a £1,000 scholarship.

*Term and Conditions apply - some undergraduate courses are not eligible for this scholarship.

Find out more 

This course is open to International students

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

And in jobs such as:

  • Art Director
  • Buyer and Illustrator
  • Designer

VisCom blog feature box for course pages

School of Visual Communication blog

Take a look at our blog to see the latest news and events from the School and get an insight into life as a Graphic Communication, Illustration, Photography or Design for Performance student here. 

Read the latest post 

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

Essential Requirements
Essential

In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good physical or digital portfolio.

112 UCAS tariff points or equivalent, see typical offers below. 

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements
GCE A Level/ AS Level BBC at A Level, from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D* or combined with 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) DMM - 112 UCAS points
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) D* or combined with 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design Distinction
International Baccalaureate Diploma

Obtain a minimum of 28 points overall. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 14 points or above from three higher level subjects and alongside other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 112 UCAS Tariff Points.

Irish Leaving Certificate Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 112 tariff points, achieved in four Higher level subjects.
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher Achieve a minimum of 112 tariff points. Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades CCD. Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of CD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of CC in two Highers). Where only Highers have been taken a minimum of (BBCCC) are required.
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) Grade Pass plus grades CC at A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) in combination with other qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
Extra information for EU/International students
Essential

In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good digital portfolio.

EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).

In addition to the above, applicants will also need:

English Group A - Grade 4 or above
OR
English Group B and Ab Initio - Grade 5

Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.

International Students

Entry requirements here

 

International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

Mature Applicants

Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

Worried? Don't be!

Worried about exams? Don't be.

We've put together a whole host of resources including student tips and expert advice to help you nail your exams. You can even get a free revision guide.

Get exam and revision help

Don’t meet our entry requirements?

You could apply for a foundation course or a course at our International College. These routes have lower entry requirements and act as the bridge to a full degree. To find out more, please select your status:

Home student International student

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2019 FT 3 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2019 FT 3 years £12,300 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Guidance for UK/EU students

UCAS

UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Non-EU (International) students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Portfolio Guidance

If your application is progressed, you will be asked to submit a portfolio of your creative work. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show us examples of your work and creative interests to support your application.

If you are a UK home-based student this can be submitted digitally or you can physically bring it in. Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips and advice on putting your portfolio together.

If you are an EU or International student you will be asked to submit a digital portfolio as part of your application. Please see our international portfolio guidance page for guidance on how to create and submit your portfolio. 

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on your course. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

View additional costs for this course

Additional costs

The additional costs listed at the bottom of the page are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

Worried about personal statements?

Worried about personal statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

What's included

The course is a member of the Association of Illustrators, entitling you to various discounts on your membership and publications. During the course there are a number of large-scale collective group projects and workshops where the basic materials are supplied by the course.

You are taken on a selection of UK study trips. To date these have included London, Bristol, Oxford, Manchester and more local ‘mystery’ locations.

All students are provided with access to the online training site Lynda.com. This website provides a wealth of video tutorials to supplement your activities in the studio and allow you to be supported during your self-directed study.

Adobe accreditation is also available for all students. This allows you the chance to take an exam in the various software packages hosted by Adobe and be awarded a qualification at the end of each. Microsoft Office 365 and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage space is provided free to all students.

Each student receives a starter amount of printing credits.

First Year

You will undertake an Introduction to Visual Communication alongside students from the other Visual Communication degree paths. You will begin to formulate knowledge and understanding of the subject’s key visual and intellectual principles.

With the support from staff within the School you will start to develop a real depth of knowledge of illustration practice, as well as other design related areas. Towards the end of your first year, and into the second, you will receive guidance helping you to select your chosen area of practice within illustration and possible career progression.

Your modules will cover the processes of production within the field of illustration. You will develop entrepreneurial and collaborative skills through the Introduction to Visual Communication module, as well as developing connections across the four different subject disciplines, preparing you for the life of an illustrator.

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):

Introduction to Visual Communication
20 credits

This module introduces the universal principles and theories of visual communication, celebrating the wider opportunities for interdisciplinary practice within the School. The aim of the module is not only to introduce you to the principles within your own chosen subject area, but also to provide opportunities to take workshops in other subject areas, seek advice from experts in other disciplines and work collaboratively with students from across the Visual Communication subject areas.

Download the full module specification

Principles & Practice of Illustration
40 credits

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the main principles and common practice found within Illustration, creating a solid foundation of knowledge and skill based activity.

Download the full module specification

Enterprise of Illustration
20 credits

This project investigates contemporary approaches to illustration, looking at the way illustrators are bypassing traditional working models and developing their own voice as independent image-makers. It engages students in active learning towards producing a publication for a live exhibition or event.

Download the full module specification

Discourse
20 credits

Throughout your first year, a series of Perspectives lectures will be delivered on a regular basis, exploring a wide range of themes appropriate to the analysis and production of visual communication outcomes. These lectures will be coupled with studio-based discussions and/or activities considering discipline-specific research. Discourse follows on from this lecture series, and is a module in which you will produce a written response. The module, and preceding lecture series, will supply you with a broad contextual framework that will underpin your practice.

Download the full module specification

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.

Narrative (Space and Place)
20 credits

The ‘Space and Place’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (Time and Sequence)
20 credits

The ‘Time and Sequence’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (Sound and Movement)
20 credits

The ‘Sound and Movement’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (Text and Image)
20 credits

The ‘Text and Image’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (People and Identity)
20 credits

The ‘People and Identity’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Second Year

In your second year of study you will develop your practice, producing successful commercial outputs through a wide range of different projects and context. Your studies will focus on contextualising your chosen discipline within specific aspects of contemporary practice.

Live projects, industry links and competitions form a key part of the curriculum from this stage of the course onwards. We will encourage you to reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses and advise you to build upon achievements in order to improve your performance. Active participation through various workshops and masterclasses are a key part of the second year.

During your second year you will begin to focus on a specific area of illustration, preparing you for your final year of study. Working alongside a specially assigned tutor, as well as small groups you will identify and research a specific area of illustration practice. This will be supported by seminars and lecturers from industry experts.

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):

Context of Illustration
40 credits

Defining and communicating effectively to an audience is key to successful illustration. This module provides an opportunity through a range of briefs to begin defining an area of practice within a professional context. Students will explore briefs within established discipline areas of illustration such as editorial, publishing, advertising and narrative/sequential, with an emphasis on producing work that can be expanded upon to reach audiences in new, innovative and exciting ways.

Download the full module specification

Identifying Direction
40 credits

This flexible module reflects upon the range of experiences in Level 4 and Level 5 to allow you to identify a specific direction for your own practice and future aspirations. This will then form the initial stage and design of your Level 6 study. In this module, you will explore possible approaches, areas of research and projects that will help define your area of practice.

Download the full module specification

Collaborative Practice
20 credits

The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff. Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework, several kinds of collaborative opportunities are available. For example, with the approval of your supervisor, you can determine a project based on your own interests; your supervisor may set you a predetermined project to enable you to work with other students in a way that is appropriate to your subject area; or there may be opportunities for you to collaborate with staff on research projects. In all cases, you must apply your subject skills to an interdisciplinary project which will be agreed in advance with your supervisor.

Download the full module specification

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.

Work Placement
20 credits

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and ADM Careers+.

Download the full module specification

Live Project
20 credits

This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional brief. The brief will be set by an external client/ agency, in consultation with your supervisor, and it could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved, or a simulation. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of your subject area, which contributes to the development of employability skills within the supportive infrastructure of the University. Where appropriate, the project may involve interdisciplinary collaboration with students from other courses. In this way, it reflects the collaborative, flexible nature of employment within the Creative Industries.

Download the full module specification

Final Year

You will develop sustained and original work which will demand a lot of independent study. This will culminate in a dissertation, where you will develop and refine your specialist knowledge of a particular area of practice.

Your final year focuses on your professional future, ensuring your project work provides you with the research and skills you need to prepare yourself for after graduation.

You will have the opportunity to showcase your final year project at our Visual Communications graduate show, as well as having the chance to be nominated for a Visual Communication Graduate Award. In the past we have had award sponsors such as illustrator Dave McKean, photographer Brian Griffin and Trevor Beattie.

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Critical Practice
60 credits

Level 6 Critical Practice constitutes a step progression from Level 5, building and elaborating a more advanced expansion of study. Critical Practice provides the opportunity to adopt an increasingly autonomous commitment to the individually chosen direction(s), from the wide spectrum of Visual Communication and Creative Design Practice. These directions are established with guidance and academic rigour through individual tutorials, guest professionals, workshops, group discussion and peer participation.

Download the full module specification

Major Project
60 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practice-based portfolio.

Download the full module specification

Course structure

During this course you will gain hands-on experience and produce relevant, innovative work. We encourage you to challenge yourself and produce work that sees you step outside your comfort zone. You’ll also experience high-level industry engagement through creative, practice-based learning.


Graduate Profiles

Graduate portfolios showing the breadth and depth of work developed through the course can be viewed on We Grow Cherries, the School's online talent pool.

Graduate Work - Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity

A recent graduate has won the prestigious Cheltenham Award for Illustration. William Elliston was named as the winner of this year's award with his piece 'Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity'.

The illustration is a speed painting - a digital drawing created in around an hour - watch him creating the winning entry in the video above.

Classroom projects and activities

  • Hallmark: We host a yearly collaborative project with Hallmark, culminating in student placements and publishing.
  • Le Gun: Le Gun deliver live workshops exploring drawing on a large scale. They work with students to break down their boundaries and inhibitions.
  • Fabric Lenny: A fantastically lively and collaborative project, engaging students in painting, sculpture, print, animation and live projection.  
  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Live Portrait Project “Hundred’s and Thousands”: Students responded to artwork in the gallery leading to the development of their own portrait pieces. These were exhibited in the gallery as part of a cultural exhibition. 

Student work

Helen Green
Helen specialises mainly in portraiture - particularly in relation to music - with a varying yet distinctive style. Since 2011, she has produced work for Lady Gaga, becoming part of her Haus collective, working on projects for her and the Born This Way Foundation.
 
She has since enjoyed work for a wide variety of clients such as Elton John AIDS Foundation, Warner Music, Tumblr, Hollywood Reporter, Sky Arts, TS3 (France), Refinery29, Esquire, ESPN FC, The Stranger (Seattle), airberlin, Economy (Rethinking Economics), American Express Essentials, Entrée Libre (France 5), StudioCanal UK and Skype.
 
For more information, visit Helen's website.
 
Josh Patterson
Josh is an award-winning freelance illustrator. The majority of his work is conceptual and editorial based as this allows him the freedom to express abstract and contemporary thinking. Josh's clients include BBC Sport, Computer Arts, Bulletin and Quarto Children’s Books.
 
For more information, visit Josh's website.
 
Sonny Ross
Sonny creates quirky characters and has a very personal and diverse visual language. He applies his designs to children’s books, self-publishing, editorial, fashion and surface pattern.
 
For more information, visit Sonny's website.
 
Katie Tomlinson
Katie shows a flair for working in more traditional materials such as graphite, watercolours and inks. Her strengths in mark making and observational drawing has led to commissions from Radley, Dr Martens, London Midland and Soho House Magazine.
 
For more information, visit Katie's website.

View examples of student work...


How Do You Draw in 3D?

Watch one of our first year Visual Communication students learn to draw and design in a 3D space.  See how Virtual Reality can become a source of creative inspiration.


Trips and visits

While you study the course you will be offered opportunities to go on group excursions both in the UK and abroad. There are usually three overseas trips a year, which we offer both at subject level, as well as School level, to Venice, New York and Berlin.

Locations do alter each year to allow for students to experience a range of cities. We always put on UK study trips to places such as London, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool. Where possible, UK trips are free or heavily subsidised.

As a Visual Communication student, you’ll be encouraged to take advantage of these trips as we see them as adding extra value to your course and they do offer additional research opportunities.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further Study

As graduating students you will follow your own career path, which may mean going straight into industry. However, many students look at the opportunities we offer for postgraduate study at the University.

The School runs a one-year MA Visual Communication course as a natural progression from its undergraduate courses. You will be encouraged to continue your journey with us and develop your practice further.

Illustration Feature Box

Pop Up Projects International Illustrators – Baltic States

A selection of Illustration students have been offered the opportunity to work with published children's illustrators as part of a project that will see their work published and presented at the London Book Fair 2018.

Read more 

Student stories Marini Ramlan

Business Development Manager for Primeworks Studios

"I am currently the Business Development Manager for Primeworks Studios in Malaysia and work within the Content and Industry Development department. My role involves developing TV shows for Media Prima, primarily for terrestrial channels."

"Visual Communication helped me to see things in a different perspective. It gave me the ability to assess why certain TV shows worked for certain demographics by analysing factors such as production quality and content. I’m happy to say that I’ve always been able to apply what I’ve learned in Visual Communication to a lot of my work – from producing TV shows to developing concepts and events. Visual Communication was the most relevant course I could have taken, as it helped prepare me for the rapidly changing job market."

Illustration instagram feature box

Follow us on Instagram @bcuillustration

There’s no better way to see what our students are creating. Instagram was made for beautiful images, so take a look at ours.

Follow us 

Enhancing employability skills

Throughout the course you will discover and refine a portfolio of practice which best suits your motivations and aspirations. Through this you will develop as a creative individual, equipped not only for a career within the illustration spectrum, but with the transferable skills to benefit a whole range of professional contexts.

This degree is designed to enhance your skills and aptitude, preparing you for a career within a landscape that is continuously changing. You’ll develop specialist knowledge and understanding within the field of illustration. As a creative practitioner and graduate of this course you will be able to generate a range of potential ideas and visual solutions. You will have the ability to produce creative work that demonstrates sound judgements in accordance to the theories and concepts of illustration and visual communication subjects, responding to the demands of industry.

You will develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between theory and practice through research, allowing you to create meaningful, well-informed work and preparing you to take on further study. You will gain an understanding of the underlying concepts and established principles that govern creative practice.

Alongside this you will establish a range of working strategies, methods and materials, learning how to apply these to production. You will also discover, and respond to, the influence of audiences, clients, markets and other participants in relation to visual communication practice.

Placements

As an Illustration student you will be encouraged to develop your professional networks. We strongly believe that creating relationships with industry will enable you to develop your profile and enhance your professional networks. Networking is vital to furthering your opportunity to undertake work placements and paid jobs.

While placements are not a compulsory aspect of this degree you will be encouraged to engage with industry, incorporating this throughout your work. Engagement with industry is a core focus throughout this programme.

You will also be presented with the chance to attend trips and visits which will widen your insight into the working-practices of industry. In addition to this, as a School we have multiple working-relationships with organisations, allowing our students to take on professional roles and gain experience.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Firewalking

BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

The School offers a broad education as well as the specific subject skills, so we see many graduates working in the creative industries but also in a variety of employment such as management, education, tourism, marketing and freelance business.

Industry demands are constantly changing, so it’s important that we prepare you for all eventualities. The internationalisation components mean you are aware of global expectations and the possibilities of work outside the UK. All modules have transferable skills built into the teaching, meaning you are able to apply your knowledge to a variety of tasks and challenges.

Illustration graduates work in a range of careers including:

  • Freelance illustrator
  • In-house illustrator/designer (Watermark Publishing & The Art File)
  • Art director (Playground Games)
  • Designer (Next)
  • Graphic designer (McCann Erikson)
  • Trend forecaster
  • Buyer (Next)
  • Print technician
  • Teacher

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Further Information

Students come to study in the School of Visual Communication from all over the world but we have nurtured some long-standing relationships with Malaysia, Thailand, China and India.

If you are a student from these countries, or any other, you should consider studying with us as we offer a wide curriculum that has internationalisation built into the modules. We actively encourage trans-disciplinary teaching, group projects and have established relationships with colleges and industry overseas.

We take a pride in developing strong creative communities and these thrive on the injection of different cultural experiences. To develop a sense of sharing all experiences and ideas is fundamental to the philosophy of visual communication.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our visual communication course is most popular with international students from:

Parkside - City Centre Campus
Parkside - Milo Studio

Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £62 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus.

We offer extensive studio and workshop space and cutting-edge equipment such as Vicon 3D (an external tracking motion capture facility) and Gypsy (an exoskeleton-based motion capture system). Both of these systems extend the possibility for production of 3D animation and films.

You will enjoy access to our Hollywood standard MILO unit. We were the first School of Visual Communication in Europe to offer MILO motion capture technology, now one of only two owned by Universities in Europe.

We offer cutting-edge provision such as digital print centres and Sonny Ross became the first student on the Visual Communication course to master the art of the RISO machine. He has since used this to produce many successful RISO publications including “Rojo & Baxter” which has been a success at various zine and book fairs across the country.

The Parkside Building also offers:

  • exhibition space
  • digital and analogue photographic facilities and studios
  • dark rooms
VisCom Hires and Loans landscape
VisCom Hires and Loans Portrait
VisCom Hires and Loans CU
VisCom The Agency sign
VisCom The Agency 2
VisCom The Agency 3
VisCom Animation 1
VisCom Animation 2
VisCom Animation 3
VisCom Animation 5
VisCom Milo CU
Dr Who Angel Green Screen 1
Dr Who Angel Green Screen 2
VisCom Dark Room
VisCom Dark Room Pegs
VisCom Developing Rostrum
ADM VisCom Dark Room Processing
ADM VisCom Photography Studio 2
VisCom Albion Press 1
VisCom Albion Press 2
VisCom Albion Press 3
VisCom Screen Printing 1
VisCom Roller Press 1
VisCom Letterpress 3
VisCom Letterpress 2
VisCom Letterpress 1
ADM VISCOM Print Room Paint
VisCom Print Room WS
VisCom A0 Printer
VisCom Technical Assistance
VisCom Riso CU
VisCom Design for Performance
VisCom Wacom 1
VisCom Wacom 2
VisCom Paper Library Landscape
VisCom HTC VIVE
VisCom Operation Aquilla 2
VisCom Operation Aquilla 3
VisCom LightBoc and Creative Space
VisCom LightPen 1
VisCom LightPen 2
VisCom Riso CU
VisCom Typographic Archive 1
VisCom Typographic Archive 2
External Parkside Building and Water Feature
Parkside building from Curzon building
Parkside Interior
Helen Wheeler

Helen Wheeler

Lecturer in Illustration

Helen is a commercially successful artist, working with the BBC, Paperchase, Waterstones, House of Fraser, WH Smith, Boots and Next. Within her work as a freelance illustrator, she has expanded her practice to character development for CBBC.

Ian Dodds - Staff

Ian Dodds

Lecturer In Illustration

Ian has had work published nationally and internationally for clients such as The Japan Times, Radio Times, The Guardian, Cycling Plus, The Economist, Financial Times and The Independent on Sunday. Working as a freelance illustrator since 2002, his style is a blend of painting, drawing, photography, found objects and printmaking that are fused together digitally.

www.iandodds.co.uk

Read Ian's full profile

George-Hart - Staff

George Hart

Senior Lecturer in Illustration

George worked as a freelance Illustrator/Designer for a wide range of clients within the areas of editorial, publishing, design, branding, TV, etc, between 1987 to 2004 while based in London. Since 1997 George has looked to combine both his interests in art and design education with his continuing freelance work within creative industries as well as undertaking more personal research projects.

This experience has provided George with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the creative industries, which he uses to advise and nurture the talents of his students and prepares them for the numerous career avenues they move into after graduation.

Read George's full profile

Andrew Kulman Staff

Professor Andrew Kulman

Principal Lecturer in Visual Communication

Principal Lecturer and Professor of Graphic Art. Award winning Illustrator with 30 years of industry engagement. Currently Head of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Visual Communication. Responsible for developing courses in the School of Art and initiating several outreach programmes for the University. Research areas include the development of autographic print processes in contemporary graphic art practice.

Read Andrew's full profile

Jo Newman staff profile

Jo Newman

Course Director

As a practitioner she understands the urgency to ‘make’ and the excitement and frustration that comes with this. Jo has chosen to lead the Visual Arts and Communication Foundation Course so that she can introduce students to an environment where ‘making’ can be positively productive and can facilitate learning through creative exploration, providing a bedrock for future study. As an educator she teaches with both academic rigour and humour. Jo designs projects which aim to challenge students to stretch their understanding of art and design and she has admiration for the courage and curiosity of student perseverance.

Read Jo's full profile

Richard-Schofield Staff

Richard Schofield

Lecturer in Visual Communication

Richard has worked across multiple disciplines within the creative industries, spanning from printmaking, electronic/experimental music, video, small scale sculpture, public art and photo-narrative/artist books. Additionally, he has worked for several years with the British Council on the Venice Biennale of Art.

Read Richard's full profile

Lois Wallace - Staff

Lois Wallace

Senior Lecturer

A first year tutor on the BA (Hons) Illustration course, Lois is actively engaged with the Visual Communication drawing lab. Additionally, in the past Lois has organised exhibitions and workshops that promote the importance of drawing as fundamental to the practice of Illustration. Lois’s research explores the materiality of paint in relationship to the photographic image, exploring how an image can be charged with meaning through its placement and significance.

Read Lois' full profile

Jo Berry - Staff

Jo Berry

Lecturer in Illustration

Exhibiting regularly and widely throughout the country and internationally, Jo's work is highly regarded, with pieces in the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Arts Council England (ACE) East Midland Collections and Zeiss, Munich. Her residencies include a year at the Florence Trust Studios in London and she is currently Artist in Residence at Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham University (November 2013 – August 2014).

Jo's public art commissions have involved work for Millfield Sculpture Commission, Derbyshire Moorlands and Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust. Recent commissions include a series of light work interventions, the most recent of which is ’Brain Container’ in Blackpool funded by Arts Council England and Blackpool Councils’ Arts and Engagement Team supported by Lightworks’ Illuminations. 'Fluted Pylons 2012', which was inspired by the 1930s Illumination Archives, was commissioned for Blackpool Illuminations Centenary by Arts Council England.

In 2005 Jo completed work at Loughborough University as an Advanced Research Fellow, research which significantly developed her interest in drawing digitally to create light drawings through the application of laser technology, computer software, material exploration and light, culminating in a series of exhibitions and publications. Since then, Jo has been continuing to develop and explore her understanding of technological processes in order to push the boundaries and possibilities in the design and production of digital artwork, light pieces and animation for exhibition and for public art commissions’.

She continues to research and develop new ways to create customised sculptural light drawing samples for interior and exterior locations, through the use of digital technologies, high-end lighting devices and different fabrication techniques.

Over the last six years Jo has developed and contributed to a number of art and science collaborations funded by Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust, including ‘ Hijacking Natural Systems’. She also contributed to an ESPRC-funded project at Loughborough University called ”Bridging the Gaps” where she worked across different university departments to showcase how artists can collaborate with different specialist departments, in this case Chemistry, Engineering and Fine Art Printmaking.

Read Jo's full profile