Illustration and Visual Communication BA Honours

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UCAS code: W220 | Institution code: W50 | Attendance mode: Full-time
Start: 16 September 2017
Duration: 3 years
Location: North-West London
Campus: Harrow

Important tuition fee information – please read.

Home/EU: £9,000.00
Overseas: £12,500.00

This ambitious and interdisciplinary course offers practice and study in image-making applied principally within illustration but also in a range of creative design and communication contexts from animation to commercial installation. Our premise is that within contemporary visual practice the boundaries between art, design and illustration have merged, this in part is due to digital technologies but also the cultural merging of disciplines within the visual and performing arts.

New creatives can find themselves working on initiatives that require a range of skills, are multi-contextual, multi-media and increasingly involve collaboration with others. Within this context the course offers an in-depth, reflective and process led approach to image-making and image media.

Drawing is an enduring and central course activity in giving form to imaginative and conceptual thought, and as a means to understand in depth aesthetical, conceptual and expressive strategies in image-making and pictorial design. The course is delivered using a project framework designed to replicate the type and range of briefs anticipated in an industrial setting.  Projects also provide a context and creative challenge, they make demands that stretch your understanding and encourage a ‘what if’ approach to visual problem solving.  Projects are both set and self-defined and can be developed in a range of media process - animation, moving image, digital imaging, print-making, photography, painting, mixed media, three dimensional design.

We encourage involvement in the creative industries. You will have the opportunity to participate in major student competitions, external exhibitions, industry initiatives as well as internships and study abroad exchange. In the final year of study a rigorous professional practice programme helps you prepare for employment and our alumni work in a wide variety of occupations that include illustration, animation, film, television, art direction and project management, advertising, publishing and authorial practice, concept art and computer games. Some students continue study at post-graduate level in a wide range of subjects, film, national heritage, art with medicine, art and psychotherapy, art and science, teacher training and fine art.

Course content

Year 1 (Credit Level 4)

Year 1 serves as an introduction and diagnostic approach to visual communication though a programme that includes drawing and image making developed through varied media processes and visual technologies. All practical work is project led providing a menu of initiatives that test your imagination and help you build knowledge and skills.  You will gain understanding in visual culture and your views on many aspects of art and image-making will expand and become more informed through your learning and research.  You will learn how to analyse and deconstruct images, especially in the media and advertising and you will be able to create your own work in a more informed and sophisticated way.

Subjects of study include:

  • Introduction to contemporary Art and Visual Culture  (theory)
  • Introduction to Image Media (theory)
  • Figure drawing. (course option practice – figure drawing from observation in the studio and on location)
  • Visual Communication Technologies: workshops and classes in animation, print-making, digital media, photography and 3D.
  • Visual Communication – Development and Production (project led practice in image-making)

Year 2 (Credit Level 5)

You will now be expanding and deepening your understanding in visual culture and applied image-making through a menu of industry led and personally defined research initiatives, national and international student competitions and set projects. This year of study has the most flexibility where you can take elective or optional study modules in both semesters or undertake study abroad. This is a period of research, in-depth exploration of visual languages and methodologies in image-making and design. You will be beginning to tailor your own direction in the topics you choose and the media through which you develop your practice. In theoretical studies you will be examining visual culture in greater depth and scrutiny leading into choosing a topic for your dissertation.

You will be able to choose up to 2 Westminster elective modules or course optional modules.

Subjects of study include:

  • Drawing Systems (course option practice – experimental drawing practice and research)
  • Interdisciplinary Practice (course option practice - that develops image media for online production and distribution)
  • Visual Communication: Contextualisation and Enterprise (project led practice that encourages image-making in context with the environment, society and contemporary culture. This module includes participation in national and international student competitions and external enterprise)
  • Visual Communication: Research and Synthesis (theoretical studies that includes lectures in contemporary critical debate within visual culture and leads into research and preparing an essay question and bibliography for your dissertation)

Year 3 (Credit Level 6)

You will now be preparing your portfolio for entering the workplace or to continue with your research and studies at post-graduate level. This final year is focused on the culmination of your learning and the encouragement to produce work that defines your own direction and approach.

The Major Project and Dissertation modules help you to professionalise your practice and provide a final period of in-depth study. The two elective modules are designed to reflect vocational professional development or academic research and a personal practice that is less market driven. At this point teaching is principally guidance and advice on personal and professional development. As part of this industry launch to course offers exhibition for your degree show in London Gallery West, and as part of D&AD New Blood exhibition in Truman Brewery.

Subjects of study include:

  • Visual Communication: Dissertation (an 8 – 10,000 word essay on a topic chosen from topics studied earlier on the course and aligned to your practical work)
  • Research Informed Practice (course option for students whose practice is not vocationally driven and require time for deeper research and visual inquiry. This would apply for students continuing with post-graduate study, whose practice is more within the remit of film or fine art or intend to enter teacher training courses)
  • Professional Engagement and Enterprise (course option with a specific image-making and illustration industry focus for students who intend to work professionally in this sector of the creative industries)
  • Visual Communication: Major Project (an intense and extended period in which to develop practical work)
 

Westminster electives Westminster Elective modules icon

As part of your course you can 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 electives.

Course team

  • Liz GrobCourse Director (research in art practice and drawing)
  • Caroline BaruahLevel 5 Lead Tutor (research in art practice and textile print-making)
  • Haydn CottamCourse Lecturer (research in art practice – drawing and painting)
  • Emma DodsonCourse Lecturer (research in illustration)
  • David FoldvariCourse Lecturer (professional illustration, art direction and advertising)
  • Alejandra Jiminez LopezCourse Lecturer (research in animation, digital media and moving image)
  • Tessa PetersCourse Lecturer (curator and researcher in art practice and applied arts)
  • Christine McCauleyCourse Lecturer (research in illustration, authorial practice and printmaking)
  • Jason Pidd, Course Lecturer (research in graphic design and art practice)
  • Tereza Stehlikova, Course Lecturer (research in film, illustration and animation)
  • Samuel Stevens, Course Lecturer (research – film and image media)

Additional costs information

To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.

Work experience

We encourage all our students to engage work experience opportunities from the first year as this can help you gain first hand experience and contact with the creative industries and the communities of designers, illustrators and directors in this field.

To help you with this we provide workshops and support in organising a work experience, so that it serves both your current interests and long-term career prospects. It is normal for our students to undertake more than one work experience opportunity before their final year.

Below are some examples of students who have undertaken work-experience in 2011 – 2012. Frequently these have led to real employment and commissioned work.

  • Jon Roscorla (3rd year) – free-lance designer for Illustrated People, Aqua Clothing and completed a print internship at Alexander McQueen 2011.
  • Austeja Jonusauskaite (year 2) internship at VRS/WPI Vilnius (advertising) project working on logo design for joint project for TV3 and UNICEF. (Lithuania)
  • Susan Patrick (year 3) – designed two posters for Replica Dance Company.
  • Ben Jennings (year 3) - winner of ‘Cartoonist of the Year’ 2012, currently working for the Guardian, I paper and the Morning Star.
  • Katherina Nyilas (year 3) work experience Bray Leino (advertising) 2011
  • Angelina Ioannides-Beer (year 3) designs for Illustrated People and Top Shop.
  • Victoria Watson (year 1) work experience Somerset House for the Dazed and Confused and RIBA galleries. 2011

Work experience testimonials

“This summer I was fortunate to spend 3 weeks out in South Africa, at the Jane Goodall Institute (South Africa). The reason I did this was to gain experience in the conservation world, which has then helped me with my project work (JGI infographics) as well as my dissertation. I did a mixture of jobs/tasks, from cleaning out.

Chimpanzee housing and feeding, to helping out with poster designs and fundraising campaigns.”
Sean Willmott

“In regards to my work experience over the past year, I did three cartoons for The Guardian in the summer covering for Steve Bell… two were in August and I did one in September, I also did some cartoons in Easter time and the summer before, I now have a profile on their website: www.guardian.co.uk/profile/ben-jennings?INTCMP=SRCH

Plus I took part in an exhibition this summer sponsored by the Tate, alongsideTom Gauld, Ralph Steadman, Martin Rowson, Quentin Blake and more (www.emblemofmywork169.blogspot.com/). And I've started doing a fortnightly cartoon slot, alternating with Martin Rowson, for The Morning Star, started around July to the present (Visit the profile at www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/109780)

I'm also awaiting the results to Cartoon Idol for the i newspaper (blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/10/25/cartoon-idol-help-i-find-its-future-cartoonists)

I'm due to do a cartoon for the Morning Star on Thursday.”
Ben Jennings

Further education

We support and prepare students who wish to continue their studies at masters level or in related fields of further education and training, these can include teacher training, art therapy, critical studies, film and television, marketing, business studies, training for social and community work.

Examples of our students that continued their education:

  • Shoshana Lewis (2010) - MFA in Documentary Filmmaking New York
  • Alexander Hunt and Nina Jorgensen (2012) - Royal College of Art – MA Visual Communication London

Graduate employment

Illustration and Visual Communication, with its industry-led projects, external enterprise and work experience opportunities, ensure you develop a range of professional skills, knowledge and understanding for entering the workplace. Combined with support in personal development planning we aim to ensure you can confidently enter your career path whether in free-lance illustration, design, and visual communication, or in other related professions and employments which may include - art direction, publishing, children’s media and publishing, advertising, independent film production, television and special effects, online communications, promotion, commercial / educational installation and display, cultural heritage and independent art practice.

Some of our course graduates continue their studies at postgraduate level. Others go on to work in a range of occupations, including advertising, art direction, children’s media, curatorial practice, design, education, illustration, marketing, merchandising and publishing. The model for most creative practitioners in this sector is freelance or small business group, and often working within an agency.

Alumni

  • Sam Hawkins (graduated 2011) - Junior Creative at Made Advertising Agency in London
  • Seb Chaloner (graduated 2011) - Junior Designer at Innocent Drinks, London
  • Ailish Sullivan (graduated 2011) – free-lance illustrator with Debut contemporary agency London
  • Natacha Malkin (graduated 2011) - Access Fashion as part of London Fashion Week 2012
  • Joey Marsh (graduated 2010) – winner of Lloyds Bank TSB student award 2010, currently free-lance illustrator - publishing /editorial currently with Financial Times
  • Tim McDonagh (graduated  2010) - free lance illustrator with ‘Handsome Frank’ Illustration Agency
  • Alex Wells (graduated 2010) – free-lance illustrator works for the Guardian, New York Times and the Folio Society US
  • Ricci Janus - designer with Penguin Group UK and Design Production Editor Springer Group – Germany
  • Laurence Thompson - creative director ‘Mother’
  • Julian Kirby - animator / designer for Discovery Channel, Green Umbrella Productions Ltd, Stuart Bereton and 46&2 Films music videos for 'Rule of Six 'FallenTo'
  • Jeff Lewis - computer games  designer - Bizzare Creations.
  • Christopher Titchbourne - animator / designer worked on Tim Burton’s 'Corpse Bride' and other films
  • Jayne Bevitt – animator, company director of 'Sherbet'
  • Peter Lumby - freelance illustrator
  • Jo-Yee Wong - freelance illustrator / graphic design
  • Darren Lee - freelance illustrator
  • Agnese Bicocchi - freelance illustration
  • Gabby Grant  - Keir Lusby Props (Shepperton Studios) props / graphics and artwork. Children's illustration - Longbarn Books
  • Sioux Bradshaw – freelance illustrator Private Eye
  • Julia Marusic - assistant Art Director for TV ads and promos. Previous work for children's TV as prop maker - 'Thomas the Tank Engine' also for films ' Casino Royal', 'Agent Crush'
  • Alexis Hall and Martin Stacey – animators - worked on Dave McKean's fillm The Mirror Mask’
  • Paul Vincett - puppet and prop designer for Jelly Head
  • Emma Nall – retail display and design for Monsoon
  • James Kay - assistant Curator for Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

Success stories

“I just thought I would email over what I've been up to the past couple of years and to say thank you for the support and confidence the course provided over those three years, especially in the final year.

Shortly after the D&AD and graduating I was signed up with Handsome Frank Illustration Agency (www.handsomefrank.com/) who were really helpful and supportive in finding me some of my first commissions and clients. Since then I've been working as a full time freelance illustrator from Brighton. I've worked on story boards for HMV, book covers for Random House Publishing, front covers to numerous magazine worldwide, Activision on the new Call of Duty video game and plenty more.”
Tim McDonagh, graduated in 2010

Illustration and Visual CommunicationIllustration by Tim McDonagh

“Dear Westminster tutors,
Just wanted to let you know that I won 'Political Cartoon of the Year 2011' (photos attached as proof!) - I'm still in shock - Steve Bell was runner up!”
Ben Jennings

Illustration and Visual Communication - Ben Jennings awardBen Jennings

Employability

Our dedicated Career Development Centre is actively working with an ever-expanding network of over 3,000 employers to provide you with exceptional employability support and guidance. As a result we were nominated as finalists for a significant industry award – the NUE Awards Most Improved Commitment to Employability 2016.

We provide our students with work placements and international opportunities to support them in becoming highly employable, globally engaged graduates, and with one million businesses operating within 20 miles of the University of Westminster, over 84% of our students are in work or further study six months after graduation. Our graduates work in a variety of sectors and organisations, from small/medium-sized companies and start-ups to large not-for-profit organisations and corporates.

During your time at Westminster you will be able to use our comprehensive online vacancy service and meet with our experienced careers consultants, providing you with thorough training and support on CV writing, application forms, interview preparation and assessment centres.

In addition to this, you will receive careers support from academic staff and faculty work placement teams, offering targeted course-specific careers advice and assistance in securing a work placement during your time at Westminster. You can find out more about course-specific career opportunities by visiting the Prospects website.

For more details, visit the employability section on our site.

Career Development Centre

Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.

We can help you to:

  • find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
  • explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
  • plan your career development
  • identify your career options
  • market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
  • develop your enterprise skills

We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.

Find out more about the Career Development Centre.

Work Placements

Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.

More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.

Career options in your subject area

Our team of careers consultants work closely with Faculty departments to deliver tailored employability support, including subject-specific workshops, employer events and careers information, advice and guidance.

You can also browse the career options available to you after you graduate on the Career Development Centre's Finding work in your subject area pages and on the Prospects website.

Study in the city

If you study at the University of Westminster, everything that London has to offer is on your doorstep.

Our central London campuses are ideally located for the city's fantastic learning institutions including libraries, archives and museums, as well as opportunities for shopping, eating out, enjoying London's nightlife or just simply relaxing.

Accommodation

After choosing your course, one of your biggest decisions will be where to live, and we aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Whether you want to apply for our Halls of Residence or live in private housing, we can help you to find the right accommodation.

Fees, funding, bursaries and scholarships

In recent years the University of Westminster's scholarship scheme has been the largest university scholarships scheme in the UK, and our Scholarships Department won the Times Higher Education inaugural Award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students.

Personal tutoring

All students on courses of a year or more and who are registered for more than three modules will be allocated a personal tutor.

Your personal tutor will be there to support you from induction onwards, helping you to integrate into the University, academically and socially, at an early stage. They will be able to give you advice and support on academic and personal matters affecting your study, as well as developmental advice through regular individual and group tutorials.

Language support

Polylang is a University-wide programme through which you can study a language as a free choice module.

Personal advice and counselling

While most students overcome any problems with help from friends, family or a personal tutor, the University's free counselling and advice services are there if you need them.

International Westminster

With one of the UK's largest international student populations, the University of Westminster has plenty of experience in giving you the help and support you need to make the most of your time with us.

Study Abroad and Summer School programmes

Westminster's Study Abroad programme has been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the largest in the UK – each year we welcome hundreds of visiting students from universities all over the world.

If you are already studying outside the UK, the programme offers you the opportunity to study with us for one or two semesters, or for a period in the summer.

Sport and recreation

The University has extensive sport and recreation facilities, with a sports hall and gym at Harrow, a state-of-the-art gym at Regent Campus, and the University sports ground by the River Thames at Chiswick.

Students' Union

University of Westminster Students' Union (UWSU) aims to make sure you have the best university experience possible by providing a range of activities and support, from sports clubs to society groups, educational advice and social events.