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Course Content

Course content

The Sequential Design/Illustration MA attracts new and established illustrators, artists and designers from all over the world who are keen to explore the principles of sequence within their chosen field and make them visible through a variety of forms.

These forms have included written and illustrated books for children and adults, interactive design, film, graphic novels, stage and exhibition design, animation, book arts, narrative textiles, experimental writing, product design and even community projects that encourage social development through storytelling.

In its 25-year history, this course has built on the gathered knowledge and experience of its staff and students to cover topics that are relevant to all MA students interested in storytelling, visual narrative and delivering complex sequential messages.

Recent graduate work – ranging from a biography of Edith Sitwell to a series of calendars made from human hair – demonstrates the diversity of individual research. Other students have examined the legacy of recipes, the secret language of headscarves, the parallels between quantum physics and Taoism as demonstrated through a detective novel, and the role of plumage in communication.

Course structure

You can study on a part-time or full-time basis.

  • Part-time, for two years, is designed to fit in with your professional life and allows more time for reflection. Part-time students work on the course for two days a week – one day on site and one day working independently.
  • Full-time, for one year, is an intensive year of study. You work four days a week: two days with the course and two days independently.

Lectures, seminars, reviews and assessments are held at fixed times on Wednesdays. Other patterns of attendance vary according to individual circumstances. During holidays you will be engaged in independent study.

Your work will be predominantly project based, which may comprise of one or more parts focusing on a central theme or idea. A single project or investigation will in most cases sustain a student through the entire duration of the course, but at stage assessment, in consultation with tutors, it may naturally evolve into a new or related area of study.

The nature of the subject demands the continual interaction between research, analysis, and practical realisation, as well as an extended period of development for ideas to become fully meaningful. Throughout this investigation you will receive support and guidance from the course tutors.

Making sure that what you learn with us is relevant, up to date and what employers are looking for is our priority, so courses are reviewed and enhanced on an ongoing basis. When you have applied to us, you’ll be told about any new developments through our applicant portal.

Areas of study

As the course develops, there is increasing opportunity for independent and self-directed work, though each student is allocated a personal tutor who oversees the planning and content of individual projects. Besides practice-based work, the course also includes a written element in which you will be asked to reflect critically on the research and development of your project.

The Visual Narrative module includes lectures, themed group events and small practical activities such as the Surprise Project, where you are asked to deliver a surprise though a sequence of six images or objects, with the module group as your target audience. From this experience, you learn the nature and importance of surprise in basic storytelling and develop a vocabulary for narrative. In scheduled theme day events, such as Modern Cautionary Tales, you work in groups to challenge your quick-thinking skills in the invention, planning and presentation of a story.

While students accepted on the course should come with the technical skills necessary to fulfil their projects, access to the diverse workshops facilities – for example in bookbinding, letterpress, printmaking and photography – will be made available as appropriate to your project. There is also a substantial specialist library and a full range of computer facilities.

In order to bring together a variety of students and approaches, this course coexists with the Arts and Design by Independent Project MA. Both are based at our Grand Parade campus.

Stage 1

  • Sequential Project(s)
  • Visual Narrative
  • Research and Investigation

Stage 2

  • Major Sequential Project(s)
  • Project Report

Visiting lecturers

We arrange a programme of weekly lectures by a range of practitioners and academics to broaden your experience and understanding of professional issues and activity. Lecturers describe their practice and professional experience, sharing insights about their research methods and discoveries.

The programme is organised to relate to specific stages of the course and varies on a two-year cycle, so part-time students have access to a different set of events in each of their two years of study.

Careers and employability

Because of the diversity of our students and the projects they create, their professional achievements are equally wide-ranging. Successful commercial enterprises have been established, research degrees undertaken, books published, collaborative design groups formed, and work exhibited in major galleries and institutions. Graduates have also participated in festivals and conferences around the world.

Recent graduates include:

  • an art and display technician at the Littlehampton Academy
  • an associate teaching fellow at the University of Southampton
  • a book designer at Flukso Design
  • a designer and associate lecturer at the Open University
  • an exhibition and graphic designer at Hello Museum
  • an illustrator at Helen Murphy Freelance Illustration
  • a lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts
  • a mobile game designer at TieSense Information Company.

Visit the Sequential Design / Illustration (MA) page on the University of Brighton website for more details!

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