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MA Illustration

Course Description

Why take this course?

This exciting new MA in Illustration offers you the opportunity to question, develop and reflect upon you own practice by exploring both traditional and innovative techniques. Through a negotiated project you will be encouraged to define your role as a creative practitioner in a broad social, political and historical context. This MA would suit graduates from arts based courses but also professionals returning to education to complete ‘unfinished creative business’.

The staff team has a wealth of experience with internationally renowned practitioners in the field of artist’s books and zines, practice-based PhDs and printmaking. The course benefits from an extensive dedicated collection of artists’ books and zines located within the illustration studios. You will consider the question “what is illustration?” and seek to redefine and cross boundaries. A strong social awareness ethos underpins the course enabling you to develop a unique voice within the creative industries.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

Reflect on and challenge your illustration practice through a mix of lectures, seminars, group critiques, themed events, short projects, workshops and individual tutorials.
Engage with high profile visiting lecturers alongside the University’s dedicated careers department to build your Professional Practice skills.
Develop your existing skills through specialist workshops which could include print workshops, Adobe workshops that could lead to Adobe Certified Associate status, laser cutting and 3D printing, photography, collage and drawing.
Explore themes such as, narrative and sequential illustration, humour and satire, ethical and social positioning of the artist, and exploring literary sources for inspiration, limited edition publications, small presses and artists’ books.
Discuss the social responsibility of the illustrator as a cultural producer.

What opportunities might it lead to?

The course will provide you with the practical skills necessary to compete in a commercial arena and rhetorical skills to enable you to promote your work.

Our graduates could pursue careers such as:

Art director
Animator, storyboard artist and digital illustrator
Graphic/editorial designer
Toy and character designer
Comic book or graphic novelist
Printmaker and small press publisher

Module Details

This course will help you learn independently through practice-based study, culminating in a self-defined project, with a reflective report. You will also position your work in relation to what is happening at the forefront of the subject area, with particular focus on social, political and social issues.

Here are the units you will study:

Proposal: This unit is about designing an independent practice-based project that will form the basis of your body of work. You will research a theme related to your practice and develop an independent programme of study outlining research and development.

Illustration Major Project: You will produce a resolved body of work responding to and reflecting on your initial MA proposal. This will consist of critical diary/blog, media experiments, sketchbooks and final artwork(s). It could take a variety of forms, e.g. artists book, print sequences, children’s books, comics and zines, animation etc.

A Question of Research: This unit provides an introduction to debates and research methods relevant for creative practitioners and your application to a pertinent research question. It also encourages self reflection on the research process.

Contextual Research in Illustration – You will use a variety of forms/techniques to communicate your research into your practice and the reverse. It will consist of three elements that build upon each other: a verbal presentation - sharing research and development; Illustration major project reflective document - evidencing methodology through to resolution; and a final project statement with accompanying digital portfolio of images.

Programme Assessment

You will receive guidance and supervision throughout the programme that encourages independent learning. There will be regular contact teaching time including group tutorials, 1-1 tutorials and workshops but we also aim for you to engage in the wider studio culture that develops within the subject area along side the undergraduate students in illustration.

During the final stage of the course in the summer term the learning becomes more independent and self-managed, making your timetable more flexible.

You will be assessed after the submission of your work for each unit. We also present structured feedback to ensure your project development on the right track.

Student Destinations

We anticipate that once you have completed this degree the scope of your opportunities within the creative industries will have widened giving you the rhetorical skills to enable you to effectively promote your work. You will have consolidated or repositioned your practice as a creative individual giving you a competitive edge in the commercial arena as an illustrator/artist. Alternatively, for those who wish to continue studying, there is always the option of progressing to doctoral level in your specialised area of illustration.

Our graduates could pursue careers such as:

Children’s book author/illustrator
Animator, storyboard artist and digital illustrator
Graphic/editorial designer
Comic book or graphic novelist
Educational, heritage or medical illustratort
Printmaker and small press publisher

Visit the MA Illustration page on the University of Portsmouth website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree in a related subject, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. An online portfolio submission may be required as part of the selection process.English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

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Recipient: University of Portsmouth
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