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Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 years

UK fee

£9,250 per year (2024/25)

International fee

£14,900 per year (2024/25)

UCAS points

104-112 (September 2024 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BA (Hons)

Start date



Markeaton Street, Derby Campus

If you do not achieve the typical entry points required, you may want to consider studying this course with foundation year.

View with foundation year optionView with foundation year option

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.

A group of illustration students work on a large black and white drawing
A blonde female sits smiling for a portrait photo

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.

Heather Dagless
Illustration graduate

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. 

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A hand holds a colourful illustration of a child dressed as a clown in a polkadot hat and top with a false red nose
A female with curly red hair and glasses sits painting alongside pencils and notebooks on a desk
Tattooed arms hold a colourful illustrated children's book with images of a small girl and a cat in nature
A female in a white v neck tshirt and glasses with brown hair in a side ponytail stands in front of a tree on a sunny day with water in the background

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.

Catarina Silva
Illustration student
An illustration of an underwater scene with some colourful fish, the bottom of a boat and a woman floating
Artwork from Kaja Purwin's picture book project.

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. 

What you will study

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

Undergraduate Open Days

The best way to find out if studying at Derby is right for you is to experience an Open Day. Get a feel for the city and campus, tour our first-class facilities and see where you could be living.

Book your Undergraduate Open DayBook your Undergraduate Open Day

How you will learn


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.

Teaching Methods

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.

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.

Personal academic tutoring

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.

Find out more about personal academic tutoring

Who will teach you

Richard Levesley at our Markeaton Street site

Richard Levesley
Programme leader

Drawing is at the core of Richards practice. He is particularly interested in sketchbooks, gathering ideas exploring various drawing processes and illustrative outcomes. His research practice explores drawing, digital process and printed in relation to commercial Illustration and directly informs my teaching.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Entry requirements

2024 entry

These are the typical qualification requirements for September 2024 entry. Contextual offers may apply to students who meet certain criteria.

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points104-112
T LevelMerit
GCSEGCSE Maths and English Grade 4/Grade C (or above) or equivalent qualification
Access to HEPass Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits: 45 at Level 3 with a minimum of Distinction: 15, Merit: 24, Pass: 6

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.

Additional entry requirements

English language requirements

IELTS: 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each skills area)

Fees and funding



£9,250 per year



£14,900 per year


Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.

UK students

If you are in Year 13 and applying for a full-time undergraduate course (including our joint honours courses), we recommend that you apply through UCAS.

Apply through UCAS

If you are applying to study part-time, or already have your qualifications, or wish to join at Year 2 or 3, you should apply directly to the University.

Apply directly to the University


This course prepares you for an exciting career in illustration, with opportunities in newspaper and magazine editorial, education, publishing and book artschildren’s books, graphic novelsprint productionadvertising 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.   

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

Teaching hours

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
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
Optional costs not included in your fees

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.

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