MDes Illustration offers an option for undergraduate students to continue working in Illustration and Visual Communication to an integrated Masters level (MDes). This Level 7 year is student-led, focusing on enhancing the creative identity of the individual through academic research and innovation or an employment/enterprise strategy for their future.
Since graduating, I have been working as a Graphic Artist at LEGO in Denmark. I have worked on a range of products that have been based on reference from comic books, films and television shows, such as The Lone Ranger, Back to the Future, Avengers Assemble Television series, and Ghostbusters. As well as this, I have also worked on original characters for The LEGO Movie and its related LEGO products.
My time during the illustration course has been really insightful and eye-opening to the possibilities illustration has in its application. There's a strong push for development and experimentation to elevate your work in new ways whilst still appreciating the way you want to work.
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.
- Media & Techniques
- Image-making & Communicating
- Graphic Communication & Design
- Editorial Illustration & Reportage
- Visual Studies 1
- Visual Studies 2
- Ways of Thinking
- Ways of Perceiving
- Narrative Illustration
- Illustration for Advertising
- Sustainability, Enterprise & Entrepreneurship
- Negotiated Illustration Major
- Visual Enquiry 1
- Visual Enquiry 2
- Creative Research
- Research Practices
- Graduate Portfolio
- Marketing & Self Promotion
- Advanced Creative Enquiry
- Minor Project - Thought Experiment
- Advanced Critical Thinking
- Advanced Professional Practice
- Major Project
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.
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.
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.
The 4th year MDes Illustration offers an option for undergraduate students to continue working in Illustration and Visual Communication to an integrated Master’s level (MDes). This Level 7 year is student-led, focusing on enhancing the creative identity of the individual through academic research and innovation or an employment/ enterprise strategy for their future.
MDes Students are introduced to their study with a broadening module titled The Thought Experiment. This module brings all programme areas together to explore the possibilities of research and practice in a multi-disciplinary environment.
The Illustration programme at Swansea is a long established course, with over 20 years of teaching excellence and graduate success. Students gain a wide range of creative and versatile vocational skills including traditional drawing/painting, graphic design and digital technology, enabling them to establish their own studio practices, and through professional links and freelance contacts find either full-time or free-lance employment in the commercial and public sector. The course embraces a range of environmental, societal and sustainable topics across its content to challenge students to consider illustration’s role in these contexts.
Formative assessment of 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.
Summative 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.
At the start of each module, tutors will provide full details of the means by which you will be assessed in that module. This will include clear guidelines on the criteria that will be used for marking your work.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.
See our Interview Guide for more information.
The Illustration programme creates industry ready and highly employable graduates. Career Opportunities for are both specialist and broad and include: Freelance Illustrators in Publishing, Advertising, Merchandising, Greetings Cards etc.), Concept/Graphic Artists, Story Board Artists, Graphic Designers, Visual Merchandisers, Display Artists, Games Designers, Character Designers, Art Directors, Art Editors, Illustrator Agents.
Our students have access to a diverse range of equipment and resources, which in most cases are sufficient to complete their programme of study. We provide the basic materials necessary for students to develop their practical work within our extensive workshop and studio facilities. However, it is likely that art and design students will incur some additional costs to extend their investigation of their personal practice. For example, purchasing their own specialised materials and equipment, joining in optional study trips, and printing.
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.
Students can also take up the opportunity to study a semester in the USA and Canada.
For more information please click here.
“My time during the illustration course has been really insightful and eye-opening to the possibilities illustration has in its application. There's a strong push for development and experimentation to elevate your work in new ways whilst still appreciating the way you want to work.”
Final year undergraduate