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About the course

On this innovative course you can turn your stories and creative concepts into narrative by exploring the art of illustration and visual communication in children’s and adult’s narrative, together with editorial and journalistic illustration.

BA (Hons) Illustration scored 93% overall student satisfaction for the National Student Survey 2020. 

In dedicated studio space at our Below Bar campus, you’ll have the room, equipment and academic support to reach your full potential. You’ll study a variety of modules such as Orientation, Concepts and Themes, Visual Language, Critical Discourse, Editorial, The Society of Superstition and Phobias and Research and Authorship; with options to specialise in your preferred area of creativity.

You’ll also propose, plan and produce a body of work that will draw together your technical and conceptual skills and demonstrate competence in studio protocols and proficiency in applying methods, materials and technologies. This innovative degree explores the art of illustration and visual communication in children’s and adult’s narrative, together with editorial and journalistic illustration which explores new approaches to contemporary illustration.

You will be encouraged to experiment and develop your own voice in an environment where you will feel free to take risks, and be ambitious in developing your personal approach to visual art as either a practitioner or critic and theorist. To underpin creativity and encourage understanding of transferable skills and management of learning, emphasis is placed on gaining hands-on practice, from working in the print room to drawing on the streets, and working on projects and case studies to gain experience of working on live briefs.

In previous years, students have been given the opportunity to exhibit, both in Southampton and London, and to have their work seen by a collection of art directors and agencies. Past students have also been encouraged to enter industry competitions to gain exposure for their creative work and have also been able to publish and print their work through our in-house printing organisation to sell at artists’ book fairs.

You have the opportunity to study abroad in one of our partner universities for a semester on this course.
Study abroad
If you're not quite ready for a full undergraduate degree, there's alternative entry through one of our foundation years.
Foundation year available
As part of your studies you will have the opportunity to undertake a work experience placement.
Built in work experience placement
This course has access to Solent's specialist facilities.
Specialist facilities
After successfully completing your studies, there's an opportunity to continue your studies at Solent.
Further studies
If you have an appropriate Level 5 qualification, you can top it up to a degree in just a year.
Top-up option

The course places a strong emphasis on experimenting and developing a voice.

What does this course lead to?

Upon completion of this course, you will have the opportunity to work in a variety of roles such as freelancing, working as an art worker in a publisher or design house – or even working in the film industry producing concept art for animation projects.

Graduates will have developed a professional portfolio and will be well positioned to progress into further study at postgraduate level.

Who is this course for?

Solent’s BA (Hons) Illustration programme is perfect for students from a creative background, who are self-motivated and active in their desire to develop their visual language and understanding of the creative process in the field of illustration and beyond.

Facts and figures

Fees icon

Fees and costs

Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year are:
UK, EU and Channel Island full-time fees: £9,250 per year
International full-time fees: £13,800 per year

Following the UK government's confirmation that EU students will no longer be eligible for home fee status benefits, we've made the decision to keep EU tuition fees the same as UK tuition fees for 2021 entry.

For further information, please visit our tuition fees page.

Other costs

While most course costs are covered by your tuition fees, some essential resources and optional extras may need to be paid for separately. These additional costs are listed below. For advice on budgeting and managing your money, please contact

The 2021/22 other costs are not yet available. For guidance, previous other costs have been:

Optional costs:

Optional trip to Amsterdam – cost is based on current air fares and accommodation prices.

General art materials may cost up-to £100 depending on individual needs.

Printing cost via studio laser print at 20p per copy.

Bursaries and scholarships

Solent University offers a range of bursaries and scholarships that provide financial assistance or waive fees for tuition or accommodation. Each bursary or scholarship has specific eligibility criteria. Check out our bursaries and scholarships pages to find out more.

Graduation costs

For graduates in 2020, there is no charge to attend graduation, but you will be required to pay for the rental of your academic gown (approximately £45 per graduate, depending on your award). You may also wish to purchase official photography packages, which range in price from £15 to £200+. Graduation is not compulsory, so if you prefer to have your award sent to you, there is no cost. Extra guest tickets will go on sale after results publication and will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis. The cost per ticket was £15 in 2019, but this fee is subject to change for future years. Please note, we do not guarantee there will be any extra tickets available to purchase.
Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

104-120 UCAS tariff points from A-levels or equivalent

  • A minimum of two completed A-levels in an relevant subject, a BTEC Extended Diploma at DMM or BTEC Diploma at D*D, or equivalent qualification, or a combination of qualifications which comply with the minimum entry requirement of 104 UCAS points.
  • UK applicants will be asked to attend a portfolio viewing.
  • Applicants from outside the UK will be asked to send an electronic portfolio.
  • Direct entry into second or third year may be considered for this course
  • Applicants over the age of 21 will be considered based on relevant experience, without the tariff point requirements.
  • Alternative entry to this course is available through the Design Foundation Year.
  • If you are applying from outside the UK, find information about entry requirements, visas and agents for your country here.
  • For further information about UK, EU and international qualifications, please refer to our course entry requirement statement.

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each individual component
  • TOEFL IBT minimum 80 with a minimum of 20 in each individual component
  • Duolingo English Language Test - 100 overall with minimum of 90 in each component
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

Pre-Sessional English programme

The University also offers a pre-sessional English programme for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.

Study location

East Park Terrace

Got a question about this course?

Contact our Solent team:

If you are a UK, EU or EEA applicant please contact 023 8201 5066 If you are an international applicant please contact 023 8201 5066

How to apply

Any student applying for the first year of a full-time/sandwich undergraduate course must apply through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). This includes mature, overseas and EU students.

Nearly all schools and colleges offer their students the facility of applying electronically through the UCAS website using 'Apply'; it may also be used by those applying independently in the UK and overseas. This facility and all course information can be found on the UCAS website:

Your application should reach UCAS by 15 January if you hope to enter a course the following autumn. Early application is advised for the most popular subject areas. Late applications may be made until the end of June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

Please click the links below to apply through UCAS:

Mode of study
Full-time 3 years Apply

Design Foundation Year route:

Mode of study
Full-time 4 years Apply
Top-up route:

We welcome applications from students currently studying a Foundation Degree, DipHE, HNC, HND or modules of an undergraduate degree course at another university, who wish to enter directly into Years 2 or 3 of one of our undergraduate degree courses. Please contact our admissions team for more information: contact us

How to apply

What you'll study

Year one

Core modules
  • Reading Visual Culture
    On this module you will undertake research about visual communication, e.g. the study of visual communication histories, styles, influences, models, and approaches.
  • Orientation
    On this module you will learn specific skills in the professional use of adobe creative suite, digital and analogue photographic processes, photo stencil screen printing, intaglio and letterpress printing, book binding and using the 3D workshop.
  • Stereotypes and Tribes
    In this module you will investigate and explore the visual language of different sections of society. From this research you will develop applied visual language to illustrate and communicate these markings.
  • History and Critique
    Through this module you will come to understand the concepts and reasons of the cultural movement ‘Modernity’ and the effects on society and the individual.
  • Progression
    In this module you will apply the analogue and digital skills acquired in the Orientation module over three individual projects. These will give you freedom to utilise the various methods of production in these visual outcomes.
  • Visual Language
    In this module we explore how text and image can work and support each and are a vital part of contemporary creative production, from zines and album covers, protest or posters, performance and animated gifs.

Year two

Core modules
  • Contemporary Art Critique
    In this module you will select four cultural artefacts that you have researched and produce a written piece analysing the work. Secondly you will develop an exhibition plan, then choose a further six artworks to support the works in your exhibition plans.
  • Editorial
    This module encourages you to develop new ways of thinking to generate and convey personal ideas, you will explore the relationships between text and image and develop the ability to connect and communicate with different audiences.
  • The Society of Superstition and Phobia
    Exploring superstitions and phobias can give you an insight to how these two ‘fears’ have developed and changed over time. This module will require you to produce two outcomes that explore fields of personal and social rituals.
  • Critical Discourse
    In this module you will research both primary and secondary sources across a selected number of areas you are personally interested in, reflecting on your research and evaluating the right path of enquiry.
  • Observed Community
    This module deals with social issues, giving you the opportunity to develop a campaign that will bring awareness to a current issue and evidence your approach to implementing an attitude change to the area.
  • Narrative Book Illustration
    This module explores different forms of illustrated narrative and sequence as a means of telling a story. You will explore how to access and visually interpret and interact with a given text in a personal and creative way.

Year three

Core modules
  • Professional Context
    You will be confronted with two national competition briefs. These projects will require research, analysis, and production of a visual communication solution, for competition entry and where possible the opportunity to be assessed by a professional external body.
  • Professional Practice
    On this module you will learn the research skills needed to explore the creative industries, and the particular sectors that you wish to work in, from this research you will begin to build up a picture of needs of your sector, and the skills that the sector requires in its employees or freelancers.
  • Research and Authorship
    On this module you will gain new knowledge in an area of interest via research and investigation both conceptually and visually. Understanding how other practitioners have applied visual languages and concepts to your area of study.
  • Negotiated Study
    This brief is an outward facing project, giving you an opportunity to explore and develop your visual language to industry standards, work to a client criteria. You will have the responsibility of researching for your brief or developing an outcome for a community group.
  • Final Major Project
    The Final Major Project is the final module on the course and where you will produce a major body of work on an area of interest or focus on a specialist field, bringing together all the knowledge and skills acquired over the course.


Web-based learning

Solent's virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.

The Student Hub

The Student Hub is a central space where you can access all of the information and support you need during your time at University.

Professional and experienced staff can help resolve any query, and if they cannot answer the question themselves they will find the person who can.

Career support

Key figures


Assessment by coursework

Meet the course team

Brian Reed academic profile Brian Reed Course Leader View profile
Jonny Hannah academic profile Jonny Hannah Senior Lecturer View profile
Lorna Sheppard academic profile Lorna Sheppard Lecturer View profile
Jonathan Trayner academic profile Jonathan Trayner Lecturer View profile
Paul Osborne academic profile Paul Osborne Associate Lecturer View profile
Russell Cobb academic profile Russell Cobb Associate Lecturer View profile
Benjamin Lower academic profile Benjamin Lower Technician Instructor View profile

The university cannot guarantee any particular members of staff will teach specific aspects of the course in the future, but will endeavour to ensure the teaching team maintains their balance of experience and qualifications.


You’ll make extensive use of our print room facilities, including screenprinting, letterpress and etching presses. You’ll also have access to our modern IT suites, featuring the latest industry-standard software, including the latest Adobe Creative suite.

Students have free access to dedicated studio space at our Below Bar campus where they are able to experiment with a wide variety of media including intaglio and silkscreen print making, photography, digital imaging, drawing and painting to discover their own style. The creative space also boasts an in-house publishing press, which brings together industry-standard digital with traditional printing resources for student publications. In addition, there are letterpress, print-making, drawing and bookbinding facilities, all of which are designed to aid students’ journeys from initial concepts through to producing a final product for their portfolio.

Illustration show 2017

The course team has strong industry links which have allowed past students the opportunity to work on live briefs from real clients.

Your future

Solent’s Illustration course will prepare you for employment in a variety of roles including:

  • Freelancer
  • Book illustration
  • Editorial illustration
  • Design-house Artworker
  • Junior Designer
  • Animation

Industry links

You’ll benefit from our programme of high-profile guest lecturers - previous speakers have included illustrator Holly Wales, Matt Curtis from the Sunday Times Magazine, and Hamish Muir, co-founder of MuirMcNeil. You’ll gain industry insight from links with the Association of Illustrators and advertising and design organisation D&AD. The course team will encourage you to enter industry competitions to gain exposure through your creative work.


We have strong links with a variety of clients, including local organisations such as Southampton City Council, and design bodies like D&AD and the Association of Illustrators. Every student will be given chances to exhibit, both in Southampton and London, and to have their work seen by a collection of art directors and agencies. You will also be able to publish and print your work through our in-house printing organisation, for sale at artist’s book fairs.

In addition to their studies at Solent, during their second year, past students have had the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad at one of our EU partner universities in inspiring locations such as Valencia and Venice.

Graduate stories

Nate's story

Nate Kitch - Graduate

I really enjoyed my time studying illustration at Solent – it was a crucial three years in navigating and defining my style as a creative. One of the key factors in my progression was the lecturers on the course – with the majority of them working successfully in the field of illustration, it means they can give you a relative and justified opinion on the trends in illustration and can use this to engage with your work during crits, telling you where you are going right and wrong.

Personally I think this is an invaluable part of the course and really gives you confidence in what you are doing. The new studios are also a great environment to work in. With seminars held across the corridor, plenty of studio space with easy access to print and 3D rooms, you’re centred in a hub of creativity – not just with fellow illustration students, but graphic artists and fine artists too.

Exhibiting at D&AD was a huge opportunity, where I was able not only to liaise with fellow students from other top courses from all over the country but also with experts from within the industry. For me this was the most exciting thing that happened during my time at Solent. Having your works displayed whilst speaking to agents, editors and book publishers is almost surreal, and the contacts I built up from the industry would just not have been possible without having gone to the prestigious event. The fact that Solent pays for this to happen is such an important thing and you can’t help but feel that other universities who do not exhibit at D&AD are really selling their students short.

Another important fact I learnt at D&AD was the regard that Solent is held in for illustration. Many commented on the exciting depth and range of illustration we provided as a uni, but also how the course is beginning to fight its way up there with the likes of the London courses. After D&AD I was able to get in touch with my contacts and began setting up appointments and opportunities to let people know more about me and my work.

This led me to be where I am now, signed to an agent who then got me my first commission in a magazine. I don’t think where I am now would be possible without the tuition and guidance from Solent and the opportunities that they gave me afterwards. I feel very glad to have studied there and will always be willing to lend them a helping hand further down the line.

Further study

Enhance your career prospects by continuing your study at Solent.

Get ready to find your place

You can still experience life at Solent at a virtual open day! Hear from course tutors, take virtual campus and accommodation tours, and chat to us live.

Register for a virtual open day