Contemporary illustration practice has grown to encompass a broad range of ambitions and opportunities for image makers and storytellers. The growth of online digital cultures - and the impact of digital image creation on traditional image making - requires flexible and adaptable practitioners, and it provides unique opportunities for the entrepreneurial illustrator.
Our MA Illustration course offers you the chance to challenge the boundaries of illustration, both in its practice and its context, and is primarily concerned with the illustrated narrative. It offers you a creative and intellectual environment in which you can rigorously pursue a project of self-directed study, and produce a body of work on a topic of your interest within the field of illustration.
Our course enjoys a long tradition of original narrative and storytelling through images, reflecting staff expertise and practice in these areas. As a student here you'll get to explore narrative storytelling, authorship, self-publishing, book production and visual narratives through the development of a personal project.
This MA course supports you to develop your own independent voice and to identify an audience. You're encouraged to take a self-directed entrepreneurial approach, developing and exploring creative opportunities and options for your work. This entrepreneurial emphasis will be supported by access to specialist facilities such as digital media suites, photography, printmaking and bookmaking.
Our course also provides you with the opportunity for extended critical debate, a high degree of critical reflection and integration of theoretical and practical concerns as part of the realisation of an ambitious body of work. It will also promote in-depth, rigorously conducted research, to ensure you're able to contextualise your own work in relation to the leading edge practice in illustration.
Visiting lecturers and practitioners inform and cultivate professional development, encouraging you to question and debate. Recent visiting lecturers have included Graham Rawle, Olivier Kugler, Nick White, Luke Best, Mathew Richardson and Posy Simmonds.
Illustration at UCA Farnham has a long tradition of original narrative and storytelling through images, reflecting staff expertise and practice in these areas.
Students on MA Illustration also benefit from well-established industry connections.
Graduates from our MA Illustration course go on to establish careers in a diverse range of exciting areas, such as:
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Postgraduate study in illustration reflects the diversity of the subject and the opportunities that exist in areas such as publishing, advertising, graphic and web design, theatre, television, art galleries and museums. We welcome applicants with a variety of approaches to Illustration, from both academic and professional perspectives.
Students are encouraged to explore a range of methods, with support from highly accomplished and respected staff, all of whom have understanding and expertise in the art of illustration.
Facilities include excellent individual working spaces with access to a drawing studio and extensive printmaking resources. There are life drawing classes, workshops and field trips for Masters students. Students will also have the chance to study bookbinding, book arts, digital technologies and web publishing.
The programme also includes working with writers, designers and publishers in collaboration and in live briefs. Many of our postgraduates have seen their work published and there are a small number of set projects, which evolve from year to year to reflect contemporary developments in Illustration. For example, Masters students have made work for the Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh Film House and the ECA Bookmarks symposium.
Students are encouraged to take part in national and international competitions, with an aim to join the ranks of those who have exhibited and won prizes in prestigious events, such as the V&A Student Illustration Awards, Folio Society, Penguin Book Awards, 3x3 and Image Nation.
This programme offers an excellent opportunity for independent, focused study. MA students produce a body of practical and written work on an agreed topic. MFA students produce an additional extended range of work, appropriate to the length of the course. Self-directed projects are connected to a number of set projects, workshops and collaborations throughout the academic year.
Studies will combine practical studio work with theoretical and written studies, including professional practice elements in preparation for employment in the industry. There is a lecture/seminar series that will examine the wider context of your studies, presented by contemporary illustrators, designers and artists.
Graduates explore an exciting and diverse range of careers, including working as picture book illustrators, designers, freelance illustrators, artists and craftsmen, or in leading agencies.
Develop your existing knowledge and experience as a designer, exploiting our significant research expertise to enhance your own design and research skills to a new level.
We place emphasis on personal research, giving you the chance to develop your own interests and ideas in a challenging and supportive environment. Our aim is to help you to become a creative, imaginative and versatile designer who can operate independently or as a member of a design team.
You can work alongside our in-house design consultancy, Design Futures, and with researchers from other design areas. We also have contacts with leading design agencies and design organisations and encourage you to work collaboratively with them.
There are opportunities to participate in study trips and visits to design conferences and debates.
You choose your own project content and this is supported by lectures and seminars dealing with professional practice issues and reviewing your progress. You also take part in regular group and individual tutorials.
Your final major project is the culmination of your research and studio-based design practice. It demonstrates that you can deal with difficult contemporary questions and take a leading role as a design professional.
We are one of the oldest established art and design institutions in the UK, renowned for producing internationally recognised research. Your projects are supported by lecturers who are illustration specialists.
Vibrant and supportive learning environment
During the course you regularly take part in constructive critical debates about your own work and that of your peers. You need to communicate your research, ideas and designs in ways that are appropriate to professional leadership.
You study alongside MA and MFA Design students for part of your course and benefit from a vibrant, international, collaborative and supportive postgraduate environment.
Excellent facilities and creative resources
You have access to a huge range of creative resources to experiment and engage with including • 3D printing for rapid prototyping • state-of-the-art hardware and software • photography studios • a creative media centre • a gallery • well-equipped workshops.
You also have access to our award-winning learning centre featuring a specialist art, design and media library and extensive online resources.
MA and MFA study
MA and MFA students complete the same modules during the course except that MFA students complete an extra project module. The MFA project encourages you to develop professional skills that help you to identify, instigate, and deliver projects with external partners, such as communities, galleries or businesses. You find a project partner, agree a brief and then deliver the project to a professional standard.
We are normally asked to shortlist applicants before recommending a small number to apply. If this happens, we consider your interview, portfolio of work, academic qualifications and learning aims. We aim to pick people whose abilities and aims are relevant for the company and who are most likely to be successful in a competitive interview.
This course is part of the Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), an amazing, diverse community of makers – where staff, students and partners work as equals to deliver real innovation and creativity. SIA opened in 1843 and is one of the UK's oldest Art and Design Schools. We have recently moved into the Head Post Office, a redesigned Grade II listed building. It includes state-of-the-art workshops which provide you with a unique studio-based learning environment in the heart of the creative community.
• project 1 • theory supporting practice
• project 2 • negotiated project
• major project
Semester four – MFA students only
• MFA project
Semester one (year 1)
• theory supporting practice • negotiated project
Semester two (year 2)
• project 1 • project 2
Semester three (year 3)
• major project
Semester four – MFA students only (year 4)
• MFA project
Assessment and feedback are vital parts of the learning process in creative disciplines. Most assessment is through individual project work which combines research and creative practice. Assessment calls for both excellent creative work and well-documented research
There are many opportunities for employment or self-employment. We encourage you to take an enterprising approach and to strengthen your ability to develop your own business.
You can work in areas such as book and magazine illustration, or branding and advertising, where the ability to originate fresh thinking is essential.
An increasing number of our graduates undertake advanced further study through research degrees (PhD) in our Art and Design Research Centre, which has a leading position in the advancement of creative practice in design.
Sheffield is home to the largest concentration of creative production in the region. Support for creative industries in the city has encouraged home grown talent as well as practitioners relocating here.