Become an innovative, unique, diverse, and professionally distinctive illustrator.
Through a voyage of discovery and experimentation you will apply yourself to challenging projects and activities, become increasingly self-motivated and confident to strive beyond the constraints of delivering a brief. We aim to foster a confidence to discover, re-map, re-imagine and challenge traditional interpretations of the subject.
You will be encouraged to experiment and challenge what illustration is, with the opportunity to take part in live projects and high-profile competitions that will challenge you to explore problem solving, sequential image-making, characterisation, reportage and editorial illustration.
Located in a dedicated and inspiring illustration studio you will network with your peers and forge lifelong connections. You will gain opportunities to specialise in a specific field or area of expertise in illustration and flexibility to discover and create self-authored projects.
You'll make use of our drawing room, printmaking studio and Digital Design Hub where you will be immersed in traditional and contemporary techniques such as drawing, screen-print, lino, mono-printing, drypoint, risograph, solar etching, photography, digital image making, 3D model making, painting and multi-media collage.
An art-school experience will introduce you to exploration of craft and design skills, drawing, communicating ideas and visual concepts, developing a unique personal voice in producing illustrative outcomes for various outputs, such as, publishing, editorial, educational design, graphic novels, narrative, printmaking, moving image, children's books, and packaging.
Studio study will be complemented with history and theory modules which will enhance your intellectual development, graduate and academic skills, whilst providing an awareness of wider contexts pertinent to illustration.
I was creatively challenged and pushed to work to the best of my ability. The tutors offered me an abundance of guidance and support and the course provided with me the skills and motivation to progress into the creative industry.
You will be taught from a staff team of illustration practitioners who have expertise in the field, such as exhibiting artists, printmakers, and professional illustrators offering their expert advice and experience throughout your study. We also run a high-profile lecture series offering you the chance to meet exciting speakers such as Sam Arthur, founder of Nobrow Publishing and successful alumni such as Childrens book illustrator Pippa Curnick. We also offer trips to galleries and events; we've previously visited the The House of Illustration, The Whitworth Art gallery in Manchester and students held a stand at “Pages” International artists bookfair in Leeds.
All students become members of The Association of Illustrators and network with influential illustrators at the forefront of the industry, gaining advice on how to set up as a freelancer, receive professional portfolio consultations, accessing resources such as legal and pricing advice.
This course allows you to have guaranteed progression to study at Masters Level on completion of the undergraduate course rather than having to apply.
Experimentation is always encouraged on this course - we explore so much every day, and the range of activities we try are designed to help you to find your own personal voice and style.
21 Years in the Making
In January 2019, we proudly celebrated 21 years since the Illustration course was established at Derby with an exhibition titled "21 Years in the Making."
The exhibition tracked back through the 21 years and celebrated the successes of the programme alumni, staff, technicians, and current students while presenting the diverse and innovative approaches to Illustration that began at the University in 1997.
All Art and Design, Film, Photography and Music courses are based at our Markeaton Street site where industry-standard, purpose built studios and labs provide a modern and creative space for our students. Markeaton Street encompasses Chandos Pole Street which is home to our Fashion and Textiles courses and Britannia Mill is home to Fine Art, Illustration and Interior Design studio spaces. Our Theatre students learn from professionals at the professional producing and learning Derby Theatre in the heart of Derby city centre.
Markeaton Street is a 15 minute walk from Kedleston Road, and is serviced by regular site shuttle buses.
The Illustration Studio provides you with an excellent environment to be curious, experimental and independently motivated. It is a location for both individual and group tuition, a creative space for the practice of sharing ideas and peer-learning, exercising creative skills, imagination, vision, innovation and ambition. This environment will be used to explore and undertake group work, peer evaluation, critiques and seminars as a means of complementing more individualistic and autonomous work. You will learn the importance of this creative space and utilise it to build networks, be open to new influences, and become part of a creative community, which encourages you to work both independently and cooperatively.
You will also benefit from using our dedicated drawing studio, printmaking studio and creative workshops spaces where you will create collographs, screenprint, drypoint, risograph, mono print, letterpress and lino& cut.
Through drawing workshops, you’ll explore experimental and traditional observation and refine your visual skills. You will explore using software appropriate to your subject, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design, After Effects.
You’ll also develop your skills in the Digital Design Hub which provides a variety of print finishing processes such as laser cutting, and book binding giving you the opportunity to create editions of books which you can promote at bookfairs and events run by the programme team.
We use a variety of teaching and learning methods including project work, workshop practice, lectures, demonstrations, seminars, group critiques, work checks, individual tutorials, reports and assignments.
The main focus is on practical project work which equips you with a broad range of technical, analytical, intellectual and organisational skills. This includes live briefs set by employers, workshops led by design companies and regular commissions for arts organisations such as QUAD in Derby or Derby Book Festival.
The course also features cultural study trips to museums, galleries, exhibitions, conferences and book fairs.
We offer exciting opportunities for you to showcase your talent in prestigious competitions and exhibitions, including the annual New Designers showcase in London. Our students have celebrated success in challenges set by organisations such as Macmillan, Penguin Books, the Royal Mail, London Transport and the Association of Illustrators.
Our students are expected to attend on a daily basis, with periods of time allocated to self-directed study. You’ll be assessed by 100% coursework relevant to each module, which may include artwork portfolios, exhibitions, sketchbooks, research, essays, reports and presentations.
Every year students from the School of Arts celebrate their time at University by showcasing their work at an end of year Degree Show at Markeaton Street and across the City of Derby. The Show usually runs throughout June. It is a fantastic opportunity for potential employers, friends, family, industry and members of the public to see exciting creations by the next generation of artists, designers, creators and makers from Derby. The Show takes the form of:
Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.
These are the typical qualification requirements for September 2023 entry.
What we're looking for
GCSE Maths and English are preferred, however if you don't have these qualifications you will be able to undertake Maths and English at Level 2 as part of your course of study
Access to HE
Pass Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits: 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2
Offers will be made initially based on your application, including predicted grades and/or grades you have already achieved. You may be given the opportunity, within your offer letter, to submit a portfolio. If you submit a strong portfolio we will make you an unconditional offer, to reflect the quality of your work and your potential.
This course prepares you for an exciting career in illustration, with opportunities in newspaper and magazine editorial, education, publishing and book arts, children’s books, graphic novels, print production, advertising and the wider design industry. Some of our graduates also pursue careers as writers, educators and picture/research editors. With a large number of illustrators working on a freelance basis, the course also equips you with business skills and an entrepreneurial outlook.
Whatever branch of illustration you aspire to, you’ll graduate with a professional portfolio that is personal and distinctive, alongside a wealth of promotional material to launch your career. Many of our students are talent-spotted through the hands-on work they undertake during live briefs for employers, or through the competitions and exhibitions which form an integral part of your studies.
As part of the course, you’ll join the Association of Illustrators (AOI) which advances illustrators’ rights and encourages professional standards. You will have access to notable industry practitioners, workshops, support and professional advice, including one-to-one portfolio surgeries by the AOI for our final year students.
You could consider our MA/MDes Design if you would like to take your studies to postgraduate level.
Banks Mill Studios
We also provide support for graduates starting out in the creative industries in the form of Banks Mill, an innovative space for creative and digital industries located in a landmark building within the heart of Derby city centre.
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.
Included in your fees
Access to all resources in illustration studio and related workshop areas (printmaking, digital print)
Additional access to wider University Arts' facilities including equipment loan store and other facilities, such as digital print workshops
All software used on the course is available on the University computers in the dedicated studio spaces
Limited materials (for drawing and group work related activities) are provided for set coursework tasks
Compulsory study visits and participation in University Degree Show
A programme of high profile visiting speakers from Industry
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
USB Flash Drive (approx. £10 - £15 depending on brand and storage capacity)
Printing of design work - print bureau prices range from £0.65 - £55 depending on size and paper quality. However, a minimum expectation would be approx. £25 - £50 for printing these materials
A2/A3 Portfolio (£5 - £50)
A4- A2 Sketchbook (approx. £10 - £20 each)
Drawing materials, paints, inks (approx. £50 per year)
Students should purchase a practice A3 art folder and an A3 presentation folder (approx. £50 each)
Optional costs not included in your fees
Individual student accounts for the Adobe Creative Cloud run on a subscription. Prices available on the Adobe website
No non curricular trips are currently included. If future events are of specific interest to Illustration then we would publish these as extracurricular, non compulsory trips. UK Based from approx. £10 - £100 depending on event and distance and from Derby; International (European) approx. £250 - £600 depending on event location
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.