Course Overview

UK/EU Fees £9,250 *
International Fees £14,000 *
Duration 4 years

* Price per academic year

Course summary

Our degree courses with Foundation year offer the opportunity to prepare you for advanced study before you progress onto a full honours degree at the University of Westminster. Whether you do not feel ready for degree-level study, don’t have the right qualifications, want to change your subject specialism or return to study after an absence from education, we aim to encourage a broad range of students to undertake our Foundation year in order to progress onto their full honours degree with us.

The Foundation year (Year 0) is designed to prepare you for your chosen discipline and give you the opportunity to explore new ideas, opening up new perspectives on the key debates within the field. It begins in the first semester with the development of fundamental Art and Design skills, as well as practical exploration across all of the disciplines in our Art and Design Foundation programme. In the second semester you are encouraged to specialise in your own discipline and are supported at this stage by tutors from your host course. You will also benefit from workshops in our high-end facilities, and from working with leading academics who will encourage you to become a confident and creative thinker. Your practical development is accompanied by modules in both semesters on foundational academic skills – skills that will be essential as you progress to your chosen full degree.

On successful completion of the Foundation year (Year 0), you will be able to move on to study for the Illustration and Visual Communication BA Honours degree over a further three years study. 

The Illustration and Visual Communication BA Honours offers a flexible and interdisciplinary approach to the study and practice of contemporary illustration. Our premise is to provide learning in this subject within a wide choice of methods and technical approaches balancing the development of creative and professional skills and knowledge for application to client-led markets in the field of visual communication, with the individual ambitions and aptitudes of each student in finding their own creative voice.

The course provides dedicated studio space that forms the creative hub for learning, making and community. Individual work spaces are available with larger studios for figure drawing, and making work of an ambitious scale. Quieter areas for computing and digital work are also available within the studio areas. All studios are equipped with computing facilities running Adobe Creative Suite, Foundry with Wacom Cintiqs, scanners, printers and photocopying. 

Teaching and learning includes individual tutorial sessions, group work, presentations, workshops, online training, lectures and frequent trips into central London to see exhibitions. We invite practitioners and our esteemed alumni in to give professional talks and with our membership of the Association of Illustrators, Design and Art Direction and support from the Creative Enterprise Centre at Harrow we provide a comprehensive learning platform for entering professional work in this field on graduation. 

A large number of our graduates and alumni develop careers in illustration, graphic and decorative arts and art direction, often balancing their own practice with commissioned work or employments in the creative sector. Most creatives work on a freelance basis with some regular employment until they become established. The wide focus of the course prepares students with a range of transferable creative and professional skills to be able to work in other areas than illustration alone, this can be in publishing, branding, the Media, graphic design, advertising and creative merchandising as well as art-workers, visualisers and concept designers for industries related to music, entertainment, film, computer arts and fashion. Some graduates go into further study at postgraduate level or undertake teacher training or training to work in arts and health. We encourage all students at some point to undertake work experience and internships that also can lead to full-time employments later on.

Course structure

The following subjects are indicative of what you will study on this course.

To help you make an informed decision, you can have a look at how marks have been calculated and study time has been distributed on this course in the past.

Subjects of study include (across 5 core modules): 

  • Introduction to Academic Practice
  • Critical Thinking for Academic and Professional Development
  • Art and Design Explorations
  • Making and Modelling
  • Seeing and Doing

There are no optional or elective modules offered at Level 3, as the focus is on the development of key academic skills through a broad understanding of Media and Design

Credit Level 3

The first semester of year one introduces students to key skills and knowledge in drawing and image-making through various processes including printmaking, film photography, painting, animation, 3D, and digital artistry. Projects provide a framework of topics and contexts through which to explore and test ideas, developing skills in both visual communication and pictorial image design. At the end of the year there is a final exhibition and opportunities for undertaking internships and placements.
The critical studies programme supports an exploration of ideas, concepts and movements that have informed contemporary illustration and image media today.  

Subjects of study include:

  • Drawing and visual literacies (practice)
  • Image-making practices (project led practice and workshops in film photography, 3D illustration, visual storytelling,)
  • Art and visual culture (critical studies programme with exhibition visits)
  • Introduction to image media (critical studies examining image-media today)
  • Figure drawing (course option practice)
  • Printmaking (course option practice)
  • Visual communication technologies (inductions in printmaking, animation digital media)

Credit Level 4

Learning at this level demonstrates the breadth of practice available in which students are able to focus their specialist interests. The course fosters experimentation and the testing ideas in various contexts, including industry-led initiatives, student competitions and self-initiated project work. In semester 2 a pathway choice between Illustration Practice and Enterprise and Interdisciplinary Practice gives greater specialisation prior to the final year of study. 

Critical studies at this point offers a deeper engagement with critical thinking and concepts from which planning and selection of a dissertation topic emerges to be developed in the final year of study.

You will be able to choose up to two Westminster elective modules or course optional modules.

Subjects of study include:

  • Contextualised practice (project led practice)
  • Critical enquiry (examination in depth of specific topics and theoretical concepts in visual culture)
  • Dissertation abstract (preparatory development of materials and the selection of a dissertation topic)
  • Drawing systems (course practice option examines drawing approaches and processes)
  • Graphic explorations (course practice option examines graphic design)
  • Illustration practice and enterprise (core pathway practice option in illustration)
  • Interdisciplinary practice (core pathway practice option in experimental image media)

Credit Level 5

Study and practice at this level is increasingly self-defined with large study units to accommodate substantial work into a Major Project and the writing of an extended essay (Dissertation) of 8,000 words.

Teaching for the major project and dissertation is provided through individual tutor supervision with further support through peer reviews and key professional practice talks from those working in illustration and our alumni. The culminating events are the IVC degree show in Harrow or Central London and participation in D&AD New Blood Festival normally at Truman Brewery.

In the first semester there are two course option modules, one with a professional focus in illustration, the other for individual visual inquiry and research-led practice.

Subjects of study include:

  • Visual communication: dissertation (an 8,000-word extended essay on a self-selected topic)
  • Research informed practice (course option for independent inquiry principally self-determined)
  • Professional engagement and enterprise (focused on entering commercially engaged practice in illustration and visual communication – professional talks are shared across both course option modules)
  • Major project production (the production of work that showcases each student’s final work)

Credit Level 6

Westminster Plus Electives


As part of your course you may be able to take elective modules. Electives are an exciting opportunity to widen your experience at university and to gain skills and knowledge that will help make you more employable.

Find out about Westminster Plus Electives.

Programme Specification

For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the programme specification.

Entry Requirements

  • A Levels – DD
  • International Baccalaureate – 24 points   . We also welcome applications from students taking the IB Career related Programme
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – PPP
  • BTEC Diploma – MP
  • Access – 48 UCAS Tariff points from the Access course

In addition to one of the above, you should have: 

  • GCSE English Language grade 4/C – IB grade 4 Higher Level, GCSE Maths Pass

If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS of 6.0 overall, with 5.5 in each component.

We also welcome applications from students who are taking a combinations of qualifications listed above. For further information, please contact Course Enquiries.

You may be required to bring a portfolio of practical work to interview.

View more information about our entry requirements and the application process.

  • International Baccalaureate – 24 points   

If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS of 6.0 overall, with 5.5 in each component.

You may be required to bring a portfolio of practical work to interview.

More information

Pre-sessional English programmes

Need to improve your English before starting your course? We offer summer pre-sessional English programmes to help develop your English language skills.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English programmes.


Working in this sector is challenging but also highly varied and rewarding creatively and financially. Work in this applied field of the creative arts is normally through commission. Artists often combine employment and self-employment, doing commissioned work and creative work for agencies.

Graduates from this course go on to work in the following industries:

  • advertising
  • digital media
  • film and television production
  • publishing
  • digital arts
  • animation
  • art direction and management
  • commercial music promotion and events
  • fashion
  • exhibition and commercial/environmental installation and display

Alumni from the Illustration and Visual Communication BA include:

  • Jim Kay - Illustrator of most recent Harry Potter books for Bloomsbury
  • Tim Mcdonagh - Freelance Illustrator with agency Handsome Frank  
  • Joey March - Illustrator and Designer
  • Grace Russell - Illustrator and winner of the V&A Illustrator of the year Award 2014
  • Michael Lester - Illustrator and Designer, Ogivly & Mather international
  • Josey Senoy - Illustrator and Surface Designer. His clients include Anthropologie, British Museum Company, Design Museum, Historical Royal Palaces, Houses of Parliament, Illustrated People, Imperial War Museum,, Marks and Spencer and Somerset House
  • Hiroko Uemoto - Graphic Designer, Paldas, Japan
  • Adam Armitage - Graphic Designer, Wayward Studio
  • Anna Reynolds - Studio and Communications Manager at A Practice for Everyday Life, Designer and Assistant to Mike Radcliffe, Staff Writer for Grafik
  • Paul Vincett - Puppet Maker whose theatre credits include His Dark Materials, War Horse, Shakespeare's Globe’s Gabriel and film credits include: X-Men: First Class, Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, Thor 2, The Harry Hill Movie, Zoolander 2, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Beauty and the Beast
  • Raphael O'Selle - Brand Designer, The Guinness Partnership
  • Kaishi Yamaguchi - Graphic and Web Designer, Guanabana Resturants
  • Niall Grant - Freelance Illustrator whose clients include Universal Records and HLA London
  • Marcelina Gawonska - Creative Director and Illustrator whose clients include Digital Arts Magazine, Ribbed magazine, Baiser magazine, Celeste magazine and Slutwalk organisation
  • Miles Lauterwasser - Limited Editions Co-ordinator, Tate Gallery
  • Jonathan Roscoria - Online Web Processor, London Graphic Centre

Our Careers and Employability Service is here to support you to achieve your full potential.

With a growing network of over 3,000 employers around the world and a team of experienced careers consultants, we provide you with a variety of opportunities to work and develop new skills. As a University of Westminster student, you’ll have access to our services throughout your studies and after you graduate.

We can help you:

  • find work placements, graduate jobs or voluntary experience related to your course
  • discover international opportunities to enhance your employability
  • write effective CVs and application forms
  • develop your interview and enterprise skills
  • plan your career with our career consultants
  • gain insights into your chosen industry through mentoring
  • meet employers and explore your career options at our employer fairs, careers presentations and networking events 

Find out more about the Careers and Employability Service.

Find out more about other employability initiatives at the University of Westminster.


The course provides dedicated studio accommodation for each cohort with both collaborative and individual workspace.

Studios are equipped with computers, photocopiers, printers and scanners for IT and digital production. The studios are open 5 days a week, 8am–8pm with some studios and the campus library open for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our facilities provide multiple approaches to practice and include photography, animation, painting, drawing, printmaking, textile printing, 3D digital printing, laser cutting, high-end inkjet printing, digital imaging, three-dimensional design construction, ceramics, woodwork, metalwork and casting.

Fees and Funding

UK and EU tuition fee: £9,250 (Price per academic year)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.


As well as tuition fee loans, there is a range of funding available to help you fund your studies.

Find out about undergraduate student funding options.


The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

International tuition fee: £14,000 (Price per academic year)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

International student funding

Find out about funding for international students.


The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

Course Location

The vibrant home of our creative, media and digital courses, the Harrow Campus offers one of the richest portfolios of creative industry research and learning in Europe. The recent redevelopment of the campus has seen the creation of fluid, informal learning spaces, dedicated project and gallery spaces and a revamped library. For more details, visit our Harrow Campus page.

Contact us

Contact the Course Enquiries Team:

+44 (0)20 7915 5511

[email protected]

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Opening hours (GMT): 9am–4pm Monday to Friday

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