If you are passionate about drawing and are full of creative ideas then this course will cultivate your talent. At Sunderland we encourage students to push the boundaries of illustration. The course blends traditional techniques with computer technology, such as virtual reality and 3D design.
Your first year combines an exploration of design principles, printmaking and drawing. You will then pursue a specialist study of illustration during your second and third years.
Perfect your craft alongside experienced academics, all are practicing professionals at the cutting edge of their field; they bring their industry insights and experience directly into their teaching.
- You can combine illustration with other areas such as animation, graphics, advertising, 3D illustration and web design
- We are one of six institutions across the UK that is participating in The Design Council’s Design Academy Scheme. Design Academy is an interactive, four-day training programme for Design students at leading universities, helping to prepare students from a variety of disciplines for real-world design challenges by developing their strategic design capabilities
- 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
- We work closely with the nearby Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, which showcases some of the UK’s finest authors and illustrators for children
- Access to the latest digital illustration hardware including Apple Mac Pros, Wacom Cintiq drawing screens and virtual reality displays
- Industry experienced staff including published children’s book author, NHS medical artist and professional freelance illustrators
- Access to FabLab Sunderland on City Campus, part of a global network of digital fabrication spaces that provide 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters and a CNC router
- Our Art and Design courses were ranked 2nd overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
- Our Art and Design courses were ranked 2nd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback, 2nd in the UK for Retention and Progression, and 3rd in the UK for Employability in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
Teaching sessions are made up of a combination of personal one to one meetings with design tutors and group critiques designed to encourage team working and to create a community vibe among the year groups. This is supported by lectures, seminars, workshops and independent learning. You will have access to studio spaces outside of teaching time, which facilitates reflection on work and peer evaluation.
Feedback is given regularly during teaching sessions and at the end of the semester in order for you to develop your work to the highest standard and also to reflect on how you might have approached the project differently.
Your first year of study introduces you to a range of different media and focuses on the fundamental skills of illustration including observational drawing, printmaking, animation and digital drawing and painting. You will then progress onto stages 2 and 3 where you will narrow your focus and develop your own personal style of illustration through open briefs based on real-world commercial projects.
You will have the opportunity to exhibit your work at the end of year degree show. The show is open to the public and invited guests in order for you to showcase your portfolio and meet potential employers from the design sector.
Students can study part-time and must pass 80 credits per year to progress to the next stage. 360 credits must be gained over the whole three years to graduate (the same number as full-time students).
View our student galleries.
Throughout the course you will build a creative and industry ready portfolio that will help you launch a career as an illustrator or graphic designer, or take up any other roles where creative skills are important. You’ll exhibit your work at our final year Degree Show, visited by industry professionals and creative employers and may have the opportunity to take your work to London.
Our graduates have gone on to work in a variety of illustration and design roles, such as freelance illustrators for Oxford University Press, The Guardian newspaper, Hallmark cards, design studios at the Open University and Virgin’s design department. Other students have gone on to be employed in design companies throughout the UK and many choose to progress onto our MA Design course.
Our graduates go on to have diverse careers. One of our graduates works for a publishing house in Japan, dealing with the design and illustration of children’s wildlife books. Another was offered a three-book contract at a New Designers Graduate Show and has subsequently won further contracts for illustrations.
Many graduates also operate as freelancers as part of a ‚portfolio career’ alongside other creative work. They create illustrations for advertising, packaging and editorial purposes. Whatever route you choose, your course will put you on a fast track to getting work published and recognised.
Placements and visits
You will have opportunities to apply for internships and other live projects where you can work alongside professional illustrators and designers.
In addition, our academic team organises visits to arts and design venues and companies in London and across the UK. This is to provide you with the opportunity to travel around London and visit illustration agencies, design studios and experience private viewings of famous artwork at the British Museum.
Employability days and guest speakers
We hold specific ’employability days’ to help give you that essential cutting edge. We invite former graduates and employers to come into the University to look at student portfolios and give advice.
Through our connection with the Association of Illustrators and strong links with professional illustrators, we are able to attract a range of top names to give guest lectures. The input of these internationally-known speakers helps broaden your learning and provide fresh perspectives.