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: £9,250.00
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.


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