MA Illustration

Online Masters Degree in Illustration

Online Masters Degree in Illustration 

Course Overview

This course celebrates the role that illustration plays within a global context providing opportunities to immerse yourself in the diversity of practice that increasingly defines the subject in the 21st century. Taught online, it allows you to connect, engage and network with your peers on a global level, offering a learning experience that reflects trends within contemporary professional practice today. It aims to develop creative practitioners who are able to explore new and innovative approaches to visual communication and reflects an increasing interest in the practice of illustration. The course recognises its position as one of the most important forms of visual communication.

Illustration at Falmouth has a long history and reputation, with many of its graduates being internationally recognised for their work. The course aims to produce a community of postgraduate alumni that are successfully embedded and connected within the wider visual communication industry. You will be encouraged to push creative boundaries and both question and influence new thinking on the subject.

Award Title
MA Illustration
Awarding Body: Falmouth University
Level: 7 
Mode of study: online, part-time
Duration: 2 years 


The course aims to develop practitioners who are able to:

  • Innovate within the field of illustration and actively contribute to the ongoing evolution of illustration practice as a form of visual communication.
  • Demonstrate an ability to visually problem solve in an effective and appropriate manner.
  • Promote an understanding of the social, cultural and environmental responsibilities that are integral to the practice of illustration.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the practical, theoretical, historical and cultural contexts in which illustration operates.
  • Locate your creative practice in relation to local and global audiences within the present climate of accelerated technological and cultural change.
  • Communicate and collaborate confidently with other professionals on a global scale.
  • Facilitate the development of co-operation, self-reliance and critical judgment.

Career opportunities include:

  • Freelance Illustration
  • Illustration Agent
  • Publishing (adult / children)
  • Creative Advertising
  • Graphic Design
  • Animation
  • Concept Artist (film / animation)
  • Web Design / Interactive / New Media
  • Art Direction
  • Paper Engineering
  • Teaching

On-demand videos

Association of Illustrators membership

We’re proud partners with the Associate of Illustrators (AOI), the professional body for illustration in the UK. The AOI works to provide illustrators with the educational, promotional, and campaigning tools needed at every stage of their career.

Through our partnership, graduates of the MA Illustration gain a year-long AOI membership and all its benefits, including:

  • Unlimited access to the AOI’s Members Helpline via phone or email (Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm), for advice on commissions and contracts.
  • Access to extensive information on professional practice, licensing, copyright, finance and more.
  • Access to the AOI’s pricing calculator, to assist you with quotes.
  • Promotion of your news, events, and projects through the AOI’s social media channels.
  • Exclusive discounts to support your illustration career, including 20% off Squarespace websites and 10% off Bikini List directories.
  • Connect with a community of illustrators, through events, local meet ups and skill share programmes. 

For more information on membership, feel free to get in touch with one of our course advisors.

Who is this course for?

The aim of this course is to facilitate practitioners that are successfully embedded and connected within the wider visual communication industry, equipped with a deep knowledge and understanding of how to manage your career.

The course is designed to accommodate illustrators with well -versed practical, drawing and mark making skills. Typical applicants will have an undergraduate degree in Illustration or related discipline and may either be at an early stage of their career or more established and looking to change the direction of their practise through further study.

You may be looking to:

  • Experiment with a wide variety of media and evaluate their potential to communicate ideas.
  • Expand your understanding of your audience and their differing needs.
  • Explore techniques, strategies and systems of visual problem solving.
  • Strengthen your observational drawing skills and ability to generate ideas visually.
  • Explore the different applications and contexts within which illustration operates.
  • Develop your personal ‘visual’ language.
  • Explore the role of storytelling within visual communication.
  • Develop a coherent marketing and self-promotion strategy.
  • Enhance your level of analytical and critical thinking.
  • Develop an understanding of how the visual communication industry works.
  • Build industry networks.

Find out more about the careers an MA in Illustration could lead to:

Illustration career paths blog post

Course content


You will need to complete four 30-credit modules and one 60-credit project (180 credits in total). All modules on the course are compulsory and must be passed in order to complete the award.


You will need to complete four 30-credit modules (120 credits in total). All modules on the course are compulsory and must be passed in order to complete the award. A dissertation (major project) is not required.

Core Modules Credits

Process and Practice


Visual Language


Narrative and Storytelling


Professional Practice


Major Project (MA only)

Process and Practice (30 credits)

During this module students examine contemporary illustration practice in the context of personal, global and professional insights that help to establish the core principles of study for the course. 

Identity provides an immediate opportunity for cross-cultural reflection as students introduce themselves through a series of projects that establish the innovative and collaborative ways of working together online.

Then, students explore approaches to ideas generation and encounter different creative processes, methodologies, critical theory and systems of visual problem-solving aimed to provoke, question and develop their practice and reflective analysis skills.

Finally, students will critically reflect on the contextual direction of their studies with a view to positioning their own practice. They will identify preliminary research objectives and through ongoing practice and reflection, consider the scope and parameters of their intended contextual pathway. These include, for example, editorial, advertising, site-specific, non-fiction/information, children’s books/young audience, authorial practice, although none of these are exclusive.

Visual Language (30 credits)

During this module, students will explore approaches to the core markÔÇÉmaking skills relevant to the practice of illustration. They will be encouraged to strengthen observational drawing skills alongside more experimental approaches to mark making. Parallel to this, they will study global perspectives, assessing whether and when visual language requires translation.

The student will initiate and consolidate the development of a personal visual language and test the relationship between it and ideas generation. They will critically evaluate the role that composition and colour theory play in successful visual communication.

The module examines the role that visual languages play in the successful communication of ideas to a chosen audience. A collaborative research project will explore cultural perspective; similarity, difference and ambiguity within the international arena, harnessing the geographic and cultural scope of the student cohort.

In the second part of the module students elect to choose from a set of current or previous industry-led briefs. Selected by the course team, these are drawn from global industry and may be live projects. Students with a clear vision of their pathway can instead negotiate a project aligned more closely to their interests.

Narrative and Storytelling (30 credits)

In this module students will examine the role of ‘storytelling’ within visual communication across all contexts. They will consider different approaches to sequential storytelling such as linear narrative, multiple narrative, narrative structure, plot types, counterpoint, character development, pace and flow and the concept of the passage of time within a narrative context. 

A collaborative project will introduce the importance of generating a creative methodology to effectively communicate narrative through visual means. Through a critical essay, students will then analyse and critically reflect on different formats for visual narrative and how the natures of these different formats impact on narrative delivery; including children’s books, graphic novels, comics, online, gaming, apps, creative writing, storyboarding.

Finally, while developing their own visual narrative on a socially driven issue, students will explore the social context, cultural and/or cognitive requirements involved in communicating with their intended audience. This will be developed as a portfolio submission that brings together theory and practice.

Professional Practice (30 credits)

During this module students consider the professional practice of Illustration, its applications, procedures and networks within a contemporary global context, building entrepreneurial skills to inform an individual’s career or business future. 

Students put theory into practice by examining entrepreneurship, the culture of self-promotion, advertising and self-publishing - a key part of the armoury of the contemporary illustrator - by creating their own authorial artefact, prototyped and potentially ready to publish/deliver.

Parallel to this, students develop a business focused individual report considering the core knowledge, planning, leadership and legal frameworks to manage their studio, current self-promotional project and/or creative initiative. Students will consider their ‘brand values’ and how best to disseminate them to the right people in industry, requiring students to build a network of industry connections.

Students will develop a coherent and coordinated communications campaign strategy, with an advanced understanding of marketing (including social media) and self-promotion.


Major Project (60 credits)

During this module students will develop and evolve their personal practice through a final major project, informed by an in-depth appreciation of relevant critical and cultural contexts and positioned to support future direction within the global visual communications industry.

The MA Project comprises a practice-based output or ‘body of work’ accompanied by a critical contextual report. Project work can be developed and tested from a number of perspectives pertinent to an individual’s interests and ambition. It can be research or theory-led (supporting preparation for study at PhD level) or predominantly personally or professionally orientated (for independent or studio / group practice).


You will be assessed through written coursework and practical activities, such as

  • Practical assignments, for example portfolios and online presentations
  • Written assignments, for example writing a research journal
  • Work-based assignments that are grounded in your existing practise where you will apply tools such as storytelling or market research

How you study

You may choose to:

  1. Study entirely online.
  2. Study online and attend optional face to face events

You will be given the opportunity to attend up to two events per academic year and dates and location of the events will vary. Events usually incorporate a weekend to accommodate busy schedules. More information is available on the face to face events page.


Taught by industry experts

Designed with employer-focused learning at the core, our courses work with global organisations, staff and alumni to provide you with the breadth of experience and networks needed to accelerate your career.

Learn more about our MA Illustration tutors and lecturers.

Learning activities

Each module will utilise a variety of learning approaches, for example:

  • Guided online activities/discussions for peer and tutor feedback
  • Online seminars and forums
  • Online Audio-Visual (Guest) Lectures and Seminars
  • Group Working
  • Online Practice Based Workshops
  • Online Practice Critiques
  • Individual and Group Tutorials
  • Independent Study
  • Self-Evaluation and Peer Feedback


As a Falmouth student, you enjoy an equal status to students studying on campus:

  • Your own student ID card
  • Access to online software tutorials at
  • 24/7 online access to library resources
  • Students’ Union community
  • Access to our Student Support Services offering academic and personal support

Entry Requirements

  • An honours degree at 2:2 level or above in Illustration or a related subject
  • Proof of proficiency in English (minimum overall score of IELTS 6.5 with at least 6.0 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening or TOEFL IBT (Internet Based Test) with a minimum of 88 overall and at least 21 in all 4 components). 

We also accept a range of equivalent recognised English language qualifications. Candidates without a degree or formal qualification are still encouraged to apply. For more information regarding equivalent international qualifications and Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) please call us on +44 (0)1223 447713 or view our handy guide:


How to apply

  • Submit an online application form
  • Submit a copy of your first degree certificate or Level 6 equivalent qualification and your IELTS certificate if English is not your first language
  • Submit a digital portfolio of your illustration practice. This may include published work, personal projects, or your current work in progress and can take the form of a link to your blog or website.

Start dates and application deadlines

Intake Application deadline Welcome week Course start date
January 2021 11 January 16 January 25 January

News and Events

View our latest news and upcoming events here.