Why study BA Illustration at BCU?

It's clear that Illustration is becoming an increasingly popular subject choice for students looking to study at university. Over the past years our BA Illustration Course Director, Helen Wheeler, has developed the course taking it to new areas of creative practice. Our degree is designed with industry in mind and provides students with numerous career options after graduation. We have answered our most frequently asked questions to give you a deeper understanding of what you can expect when studying Illustration with us.

What do you like to see in an application folder?

This is a question we get asked a lot, and whilst there is no one specific answer, we can reassure you that each folder we see offers us something different. We are looking for individuality, we want to see your personality come out in your work. There's nothing wrong with showing us lots of finished work, but we do place a lot of importance on your ideas and creative process; in other words, show us how you made the work and better still, show us your working drawings, ideas and sketchbooks.

What will I get taught on the course?

This changes each year and depends on who is teaching and what modules you are studying. However, we always keep the curriculum current. Generally, the first year focuses on teaching the fundamentals of illustration, in second year you'll start to apply your knowledge to outside projects and industry competitions, and the final year provides you with the space and opportunity to realise your strengths by undertaking independent projects. These final year projects might include a children's book, a graphic novel, a set of information posters, a short animation or designs for textiles. Throughout the course you will develop your understanding of the theory and criticality that underlies the practice. We use a mixture of individual and team tutorials which take place throughout the course, as well as formative assessments to help you see how you are progressing.

Do you offer workshops?

Workshops are a key part of learning on our BA Illustration course. You will get to take part in workshops such as life drawing classes and printmaking sessions (including relief printing, linocuts and wood cuts, mono-printing, letterpress and screen printing). We don't assume that you already know what to do, so the workshops will enable you to gain a thorough grounding in several key areas. However, for those who have had prior experience, we can provide advanced classes to support you in developing your technique. You will also get training in relevant digital software, including Photoshop and InDesign, and these sessions support students of all abilities, from beginners to those who may be more familiar with the programmes. Outside of your studies, there are also plenty of extra-curricular activities for you to get involved in, such as the Collage Club, The Comic Club and Life Drawing.

What jobs can I do after I graduate?

This is a question that many applicants and parents ask. Simply put, we do not just prepare you to draw and paint well, we also give you the opportunity to gain invaluable transferable skills for a range of professional roles. We recognise that not every student is going to become a freelance illustrator immediately, so we imbed employability skills in every module throughout the course. For example, BA Illustration students will have the ability to read visual imagery, develop critical thinking, solve visual problems, meet deadlines, prepare a pitch and present themselves with confidence. You will also become adept at communicating, gaining good writing skills and experience of undertaking research. A BCU student will know how to write a CV and covering letter, how to prepare a professional portfolio and conduct themselves with confidence at an interview. All these transferrable skills, as well as your own individual way of making pictures and designs, make our graduates stand out in the job market.

What makes the BA Illustration course at Birmingham City University different to others?

At BCU we look closely at what's happening in the creative industries now and make sure that this is reflected in what we teach our students. Our teaching team is made up of many highly experienced practising artists and designers from a broad range of specialisms - some are well established illustrators, whereas others are recent graduates from leading UK colleges. This variety means we can provide students with a breath of knowledge and experience, leading by example. As a BA Illustration student you will be based in the Parkside Building, situated on our £30 million campus in the heart of the city. We also pride ourselves on our industry-standard facilities which are accessible to all students. However, if we were to offer the top reason to study at BCU it would be Birmingham itself, a vibrant, multi-cultural, inclusive and happening place. The possibilities for a student studying here are endless.

BA Illustration

Find out more about our BA Illustration course