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Illustration (BA)

Apply VIA UCAS - Full Time

By teaching real-world illustration skills and design sensibilities, and instilling knowledge and experience of the creative industries, the course will enable you to pursue a successful, sustainable career path. We encourage you to employ divergent and convergent thinking and practice, independently and collaboratively, through the provision of a practice-based environment. The course is industry-focused and provides transferable skills and excellent employment prospects.

Entrepreneurship and enterprise are integrated into lectures and coursework to prepare you for industry. The course will introduce you to a range of projects covering social, environmental and political issues, addressing a broad base of topics likely to be encountered professionally.

Links with business and industry are an essential ingredient of the programmes and are maintained and developed through ‘live’ projects, work placements, visiting professionals and educational visits.

The course aims to produce highly employable graduates who are well-prepared for work in the creative industries. Many of our graduates forge successful freelance careers, others find employment with design studios, publishing houses, advertising agencies, magazines and newspapers. Clients include Usborne Children’s Books and Moonpig. Lego, NHS Trust, Marks & Spencer, Tigerprint, The British Museum and Lush cosmetics.

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Illustration (BA)

UCAS Code: W220
Apply via UCAS 

How to apply

All applications to study for a full-time undergraduate degree programme are made through UCAS - Swansea College of Art UWTSD is part of University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  All our course come under the institution code T80.

Applicants to part-time courses can apply through the University.

Visit the University's How to Apply section to find out more.

Book an Open Day Request Information

Tuition Fees 2023/24:
Home (Full-time): £9,000 per year
Overseas (Full-time): £13,500 per year

Why choose this course?

  • Driven by industry standards and supported by state-of–the-art technologies, we produce award-winning and highly employable graduates.

  • Many graduates forge successful freelance careers working with a range of clients internationally.

  • Links with business and industry are an essential ingredient of the programme.

  • Annually, we collaborate with the London Exhibitions of New Designers and New Blood. This opportunity is not part of our degree requirement, but it does offer an extra incentive and bonus for selected students.

Take a look at our ratings and rankings page.

What you will learn

Course Overview

Links with business and industry are an essential ingredient of the programme and are maintained and developed through ‘live’ projects, work placements, visiting professionals and educational visits.

We aim to support and inspire groups that are large enough to generate lots of collective energy, but small enough not to preclude individual tuition and personal attention.

The teaching and learning style are project-led and this is supported by skills-based workshops to help students enhance both their technical ability and creative enquiry.

Our students have choices in how they want to progress their practice, whether via ‘traditional’ means, digital means or increasingly, both.

The course requires a robust and rigorous commitment, as it encourages students to think independently and question the world around them and their role as a visual communicator.

Graduates are able to progress to Masters programmes.

Module Topics

Year One – Level 4 (Cert HE, Dip HE & BA)

The first year is partially concerned with getting the basic skills in place and to bring all students up to speed with knowledge of relevant software.

  • Contemporary Challenges: Making a Difference (20 credits; compulsory; Graduate Attributes Framework module)
  • Editorial Illustration (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Image-making & Communicating (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Learning in the Digital Era (20 credits; compulsory; Graduate Attributes Framework module)
  • Visual Studies 1 (10 credits; compulsory)
  • Visual Studies 2 (10 credits; compulsory)
  • Ways of Perceiving (10 credits; compulsory)
  • Ways of Thinking (10 credits; compulsory).

Year Two – Level 5 (Dip HE & BA)

The second year is broadly about the transition into becoming a professional illustrator.

  • Changemakers: Building your Personal Brand for Sustainable Employment (20 credits; compulsory; Graduate Attributes Framework module)
  • Changemakers: Creativity and Value Creation (20 credits; compulsory; Graduate Attributes Framework module)
  • Illustration for Advertising (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Narrative Illustration (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Research in Context (10 credits; compulsory)
  • Research in Practice (10 credits; compulsory)
  • Visual Enquiry 1 (10 credits; compulsory)
  • Visual Enquiry 2 (10 credits; compulsory).

Year Three – Level 6 (BA)

Level 6 is partially student-led and the project brief content and formative deadlines  are negotiated. This creates a self-directed responsibility where students create their final portfolio.

  • Advanced Creative Enquiry (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Graduate Portfolio (60 credits; compulsory)
  • Independent Project (40 credits; compulsory; Graduate Attributes Framework module).

At the beginning of each module, we issue the ‘Assessment Specification’, which clearly describes in each assessment criteria what is required.

Weekly feedback sessions keep students focussed on the requirements, without hindering the freedom to work with expanding ideas.

Technical tuition is typically delivered via a demonstration lecture and then staff help each student individually as they progress though a challenge.

All modules have formative and summative feedback, both written and verbal. When the summative written feedback is released, students can book-in for ‘one to one’ tutorial to discuss their feedback further.

There are no written exams for this course.

Graduate Attributes Framework

This Framework aims to develop your professional skills and competence alongside your academic subject knowledge. You’ll study up to 40 credits per level throughout your programme from the Graduate Attributes Framework.

The Graduate Attribute modules are designed to enable you to develop, and evidence, a range of career-focused skills related to your subject area. These skills include digital competency, research and project management, as well as such personal competencies as communication, creativity, self-reflection, resilience and problem-solving. 

Our Facilities, Graduates and Industry Links

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Key Information

Entry Criteria

We are interested in creative people that demonstrate a strong commitment to art and/or design and therefore we welcome applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. To assess student suitability for their chosen course we arrange interviews for all applicants at which your skills, achievements and life experience will be considered as well as your portfolio of work.

Our standard offer for a degree course is 120 UCAS tariff points. We expect applicants to have a grade C or above in English Language (or Welsh) at GCSE level, together with passes in another four subjects. Plus we accept a range of Level 3 qualifications including:

  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, plus one GCE A-Level in a relevant academic subject
  • Three GCE A-Levels or equivalent
  • UAL L3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design.
  • UAL L3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art and Design.
  • UAL L3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Art, Design and Communication.
  • UAL L3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology.
  • BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject
  • International Baccalaureate score of 32
  • Other relevant qualifications can be considered on an individual basis

Qualifications are important, however, our offers are not solely based on academic results. If you don’t have the required UCAS points then please contact the courses admissions tutor or email artanddesign@uwtsd.ac.uk as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.

See our Interview Guide for more information.

Career Opportunities

Many graduates forge successful freelance careers working with a range of clients internationally; some are represented by top London Illustration agencies.

Other graduates find employment with design studios, publishing houses, advertising agencies, magazines and newspapers. A selection of clients includes:

  • Usborne Children's Books
  • Moonpig
  • Lego
  • NHS Trust
  • Allihoper Greeting Cards
  • Marks & Spencer
  • The Great British Card Company
  • Tigerprint, Bright Agency
  • Graffeg Publishers
  • Tokyo DisneySea Park
  • Welsh Country Magazine
  • Bay Studios
  • The British Museum
  • Magic Leap Inc. Visible Art
  • Lush Cosmetics
  • The Print Haus
  • Astra Games
  • Locksmith Animation.

The programme also provides a good foundation for those who want to pursue a career in teaching, particularly teaching art and design in schools and, after professional experience, teaching illustration and design in further and higher education.

Additional Costs

All additional costs detailed in this section are indicative. It is recognised, for example, that the precise costs associated with a field trip could vary from year to year.


  • Adobe Suite student rate: £120 a year, but currently free in cluster from UWTSD.

Necessarily Incurred

  • A3 Portfolio: £20
  • Collection of tools — scalpel, metal rule, plastic sleeves, hard drive, memory stick, pens, pencils, markers: £70
  • Illustration art supplies: £100
  • MacBook: £1500
  • Printing costs: £200
  • Sketchbooks: £40.


  •  Student Trips: £200 to £500.
Student Quotes

Aidan Biddiscombe – Illustration Graduate
“Swansea is one of those places that has so many stories to tell. It’s got a crazy landscape where history, nature and fun and ambition collide leading to some extraordinary tales from the most unlikely characters. If you visit remember to explore and you'll find inspiration in a very unexpected place.”

Rebecca Cowley
“Deciding to study at Swansea College of Art has been one of the best decisions I have made so far in my journey to becoming a successful illustrator. Over the past three years, the course has helped me gain valuable skills that will help me in the industry, such as professional practice, problem-solving and creative thinking. The lecturers really do go out of their way to provide students with the best learning experience, offering regular one-to-one tutorials and portfolio tips as well as providing helpful information from guest speakers and professionals already in the industry. This course is perfect for people who are ready to turn their passion for art and design into a dream career”.

Bow Bennett
“Returning to education after a break I was a little apprehensive, but I didn’t need to be! The illustration course has a really friendly atmosphere, and the lecturers genuinely care about our experience. The course content is varied allows us to be creative and explore lots of different potential career paths. Coming to Swansea College of Art has really allowed me to thrive and look forward to a future career in something that I love”.

Miri Hughes
“Since enrolling in the Illustration course at UWTSD, my enjoyment in drawing and creating has grown a great deal. I have learnt so many techniques and gotten to use plenty of different mediums, many of which I'd never had the opportunity to experiment with before, and the tutors are always available to help and give feedback for our work and advice concerning our projects. If I hadn't joined this course, I firmly believe that my drawing skills would be much less developed, as would my knowledge about the industry, and my confidence level in terms of forging an artistic career in the future”. 

Will Collyer
“My time here at university has been incredible, both for what I have learnt and for the people I have met along the way. I feel far more comfortable and ready to start a career in illustration armed with the knowledge and skills that we all developed during our three years here.  I could not give enough credit to the teachers and technicians who were always around and accessible to offer help and guidance about work or Uni life in general. Without their help and creative input sourced from their own experience and careers I doubt we would have felt as comfortable and subsequently successful as we were”.

Bursary / Scholarship Information

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study.  To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries section.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Visit Go Global With UWTSD to learn more about opportunities to study abroad.


In addition to our University Accommodation at Llys Glas, Swansea also benefits from a number of private student halls, all within a short walk, including:

Map View

Further Information

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions related to the University or to this course in particular.