Illustration here at Swansea College of Art is all about passion – passion for drawing and creating imagery: of the world around us and of imaginary places and characters. Illustration is about the passion to comment on society, to entertain, to persuade and to tell stories.

Key Facts

UCAS Code: W220
Institution Code: T80
Course Length:
Three years full-time; six year part-time

Swansea College of Art
Contact Name:
Delyth Lloyd-Evans
Contact Email:
Language Choice

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Advertising and Brand Design, Illustration, Graphic Design Book

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The Illustration course offers a broad and friendly programme which allows students to explore a wide range of techniques, materials and styles in order to determine personal strengths and eventual career directions.

The programme is designed to encourage the conceptualising and realisation of ideas and narrative, using a diverse range of media.

Utilising both traditional, digital and experimental materials and processes, students determine their own eventual working practices. As well as annual study trips to Europe, a full programme of visiting professionals also ensures that strong links with industry and the commercial world are maintained.

Level 4

  • Media & Techniques
  • Image-making & Communicating
  • Graphic Communication & Design
  • Editorial Illustration & Reportage
  • Visual Studies 1
  • Visual Studies 2
  • Ways of Thinking
  • Ways of Perceiving 

Level 5

  • Narrative Illustration
  • Illustration for Advertising
  • Sustainability, Enterprise & Entrepreneurship
  • Negotiated Illustration Major
  • Visual Enquiry 1
  • Visual Enquiry 2
  • Creative Research
  • Research Practices

Level 6

  • Graduate Portfolio
  • Dissertation
  • Marketing & Self Promotion
  • Advanced Creative Enquiry 

Year 1

Throughout the programme most of the learning takes place through practical, studio-based projects. During the first year you will experience a number of studio workshops that demonstrate the use of traditional materials and techniques that are then applied to projects focusing on visual communication and design. To complement these workshops a programme of both digital and traditional printmaking workshops run throughout the first year. It should be noted that fluency in the use of computers is not a pre-requisite for entry to the programme.

We assume no prior experience and you are eased gently into the new technology through workshops and design assignments. In the first year, the practical work is supplemented by a choice of theory modules which deal with the history, theory and social and cultural context of art and illustration.  Students take a visual studies module that focuses upon lifedrawing.

Year 2

In the second year of the course there is increasing flexibility in the programme delivery which allows you to fashion your studies to suit your own particular needs, interests and aptitudes. Projects are increasingly student-centred which means you are able to make choices and interpret the illustration brief in a way that suits your personal requirements. Second year students can also opt to major in printmaking within Illustration, and carry this on into their third year.

Historical and contextual studies and visual enquiry continue through the second year and a special additional feature is the Sustainability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship module that introduces you to the professional and commercial environment.

Year 3

In the third year you spend a large part of your time developing a variety of self-initiated project work which may comprise real ‘live’ commissions from outside bodies and organisations, national and international student competition briefs, and personal projects where you are given the time and freedom to develop your own work free of any commercial constraints.

You will also complete a dissertation on a subject of your own choice related to general illustration. Your other third-year commitment is to organise and mount, within your peer group, an assessed end of year exhibition of your work.

Illustration put simply, is a dynamic and expansive visual language and one inherent in many creative disciplines. Traditionally, illustration has carved itself a specialist, commercial client/ brief profile with areas such as book publishing, editorial and advertising in mind.

In the spirit of contemporary illustration, however, we embrace the subject in a much broader way, and will encourage you to challenge the concept of what illustration can be, and to pursue personal directions in your work.

We are small and friendly with just over a thousand students in the Faculty. This means that the staff are more approachable and available to help, support and challenge you as well as there being ample studio space, and access to the most up-to-date equipment and facilities for you to thrive in. 

Feedback on project work takes place throughout the course in the form of frequent tutorials (both individual and group), seminars and critiques. This process is integral to the course and provides a continuous verbal commentary to the students on their practical work and associated research throughout the development of all of their projects. Final assessment in the form of visual portfolio, exhibition, research/ideas book/blog, or presentation is used at the end of each module to provide the students with a formal mark.

All assessment is based on 100% coursework. Students are expected to demonstrate their understanding in the form of practical project work. All practical work is project based. Historical & Contextual Studies is also assessed on coursework in the form of essays and constitutes 20% of your coursework during years 1 & 2, with the dissertation constituting 25% of your final year marks.

Continuous verbal commentary to students throughout their project work is integral to the course.

We are interested in creative people that demonstrate a strong commitment to art and/or design and therefore we welcome applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. To assess student suitability for their chosen course we arrange interviews for all applicants at which your skills, achievements and life experience will be considered as well as your portfolio of work.

Our standard offer for a degree course is 120 UCAS tariff points. We expect applicants to have a grade C or above in English Language (or Welsh) at GCSE level, together with passes in another four subjects. Plus we accept a range of Level 3 qualifications including:

  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, plus one GCE A-Level in a relevant academic subject
  • Three GCE A-Levels or equivalent
  • BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject, with minimum grades of Merit
  • International Baccalaureate score of 32
  • Other relevant qualifications can be considered on an individual basis

Qualifications are important, however our offers are not solely based on academic results. If you don’t have the required UCAS points then please contact the courses admissions tutor or email as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.

See our Interview Guide for more information. 

Illustration is an expanding industry which offers a broad spectrum of new and exciting opportunities - particularly in relation to the new digital media. Our graduates find employment with design studios, publishing houses, advertising agencies, magazines and newspapers, or choose to work as self-employed illustrators/designers in private practice.

The programme also provides a good foundation for those who want to pursue a career in teaching, particularly teaching art and design in schools and, after professional experience, teaching illustration and design in further and higher education. We also offer opportunities for post-graduate study and research within the Faculty of Art & Design: we currently offer an MA in Visual Communication, a specialist PGCE in Art & Design as well as MPhil and PhD research opportunities.



During your time with us you will have the opportunity to study abroad with the Erasmus exchange programmes currently running with Universities in Norway, Barcelona and Sweden.

Study Abroad

Students can also take up the opportunity to study a semester in the USA and Canada.

For more information please click here.

Student numbers are comparatively small - we aim to recruit around 45 students per year - large enough groups to generate energy and a productive group dynamic, but small enough not to preclude individual tuition and personal attention. The atmosphere is friendly and informal. We have an academic support system whereby you are allocated a personal tutor with whom you may consult on a regular basis, discuss your progress and direction, or any problems you might be experiencing.

As well as two full-time and three fractional members of academic staff dedicated to the General Illustration programme, there are specialist theory and visual studies staff, part-time staff, a technician/demonstrator and an extensive list of visiting lecturers and professionals. The department has good contacts with business, industry and other establishments concerned professionally with illustration.

Arrangements are made whenever possible for you to work on commercial projects and we also organise group education visits to exhibitions, museums, printers, magazines and newspapers as well as a European study visit each year.