BA (Hons) Illustration

Illustration is everywhere: in newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements and books, on products and on screen. It tells stories and reinforces messages. It makes complex ideas easy to understand and is a major part of our childhood. It makes us laugh, it makes us cry, and it makes us think. During your studies you’ll push boundaries, challenge convention, and harness new technology to solve illustration briefs, projects and design problems. The core principles of drawing are applied throughout. You’ll develop key skills in creative thinking, translating a brief, drawing and mark making, and colour theory. To prepare for today’s increasingly fluid platforms of print, mobile and interactive image, you’ll communicate ideas in innovative ways using traditional and digital technologies.

Throughout your time on the Illustration course in Cardiff, you’ll have numerous opportunities to engage with creative professionals and clients. This may be in the form of an industry visit, guest speaker, or live brief. USW Illustration students have previously collaborated with The Royal Horticultural Society, The Roald Dahl Estate and Little Man CoffeeFollow USW Illustration on Instagram

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
W220 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
W220 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B

This degree offers a culturally informed programme of study. It’s also structured to reflect industry practice, with a focus on employability through live projects and professional portfolios. We take pride in our links with industry and there are many opportunities to work with creative professionals and clients.

In the final year of the Illustration degree, you’ll prepare for employment by producing a professional portfolio, and completing a critical research project, as well as a final major project to industry standard. You will also have the opportunity to enter illustration competitions.

Year One: Illustration degree

  • Visual Skills
  • Illustration Fundamentals
  • Colour and Communication for Illustration
  • Communication Studies

Year Two: Illustration degree

  • Employment Experience Diploma
  • Communication Studies
  • Illustration for Literature
  • Illustration for Location
  • Illustration for Information
  • Illustration for Product
  • Visual Skills
  • Creative Industries Collaborative Practice
  • Creative Work Experience

Year Three: Illustration degree

  • Client Studies
  • Critical Research Project
  • Competition Brief
  • Final Major Project


Our Illustration course at our Cardiff campus offers a simulating, creative environment, with dedicated studios, industry standard Macintosh software and experienced staff. You will be taught by our experienced tutor-designers.

The emphasis is hands-on studio-based work, reinforced by lectures, seminars and studio workshops. Individuals will aim to graduate at industry level, demonstrating the expertise and knowledge required to seamlessly sync with today’s changing technology, expanding networks and diverse contextual positions.


Your work is assessed entirely through the submission of coursework, with the majority (80%) through a practical portfolio of work. The remaining elements integrate practice and theory through written and other forms. You will be encouraged to discuss your work critically with staff, leading designers and other students, through individual and group critiques in a supportive studio environment.

There are live projects each year, working directly with design companies and industrial clients to enhance your portfolio and employability.


Sarah Carter, Illustration Course Leader
Emma Marshman, Academic Subject Manager
Liam Barrett, Illustration Lecturer
Liam Collins, Technical Demonstrator

The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. Most offers we make are at the top of the range, but we take all aspects of an application into consideration and applicants receive a personalised offer. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable.


An interview and portfolio are required for this Illustration course. Your portfolio should demonstrate strong artistic and design abilities.

Your portfolio should be a carefully constructed selection of your work, preferably produced during your most recent course of study, and can include any personal work or projects that you feel are relevant to the course. All work should be well organised and presented.

You should be prepared to discuss your work and the designers, animators and/or artists who have influenced you. All work should be well organised and presented. Here are some interview tips for our Illustration course.

Typical A-Level Offer

BCC - CDD to include a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C/D in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BC - CD at A Level with a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Pass in a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with higher grades of between 655-445 to include a relevant higher subject (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points)

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits overall – the credits should equate to between 106-80 UCAS tariff points (examples below)

45 Level 3 credits equating to 15 Distinctions, 24 Merits and 6 Passes in a relevant subject (106 UCAS Tariff Points)

45 Level 3 credits equating to 12 Distinctions, 6 Merits and 27 Passes in a relevant subject (80 UCAS Tariff Points)

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

English Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

This course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel.

August 2018 - July 2019 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU:  £9000 
  • Full-time International:  £12300 

August 2019 - July 2020 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU: TBC
  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) £200
Materials. Per year
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) £100
Equipment. Year 1
Field Trips £160
Field trip to Europe
Other: Printing & Exhibition Costs £100
Per year

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU. 

Admissions statement

With our experienced tutor-designers, our aim is to help you become a creative, skilled, well rounded and knowledgeable individual, who is capable of developing and advancing in industry.

When you graduate from the Illustration degree at USW, you could work as a freelance illustrator, storyboard and concept artist, medical illustrator, infographics illustrator, or in publishing and editorial.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.