MA Illustration and Visual Media

Please Note

Applications for 2016/17 entry are now closed and will re-open in Autumn 2016 for 2017/18 entry.

MA Illustration and Visual Media explores the creation and production of images at a time of unparalleled possibilities for skilled visual communicators. Specifically investigating the opportunities for image-makers to work with time-based, sequential, interactive and narrative forms, students on the course will develop an experimental illustration practice that reflects the integrated nature of the design, communication and media industries.

We will update this webpage from time to time with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact a member of the course team.

Additional costs: In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. We strongly suggest you read the information on our Additional Costs page. 

Watch // Student Work: Yuan Wang, 'Wind is a good thing'

Watch // Student Work: Sara Ortolani, 'Stardust memories'

Watch // Student Work: Duan Tianju, 'Running pixels'

Watch // Student Work: Jelena Ristic, 'Body, Space & Scale'

Watch // Student Work: Sara Ortolani & Lorenzo Davitti, 'Ladybird'

Watch // Student Work: Sara Ortolani, 'Faces'

Funding opportunities

Find out about the range of funding options available for postgraduate study.

Use UAL's fees and funding calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.


Course Leader

Lizzie Finn

Course Location

London College of Communication 
Elephant and Castle 
Find us

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
Home/EU Fee

2017/18: £8,500 (Full-time)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments.
A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL. 

International Fee

2017/18: £17,920 (Full-time)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalment.
A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.

Start Date25 September 2017
Application Route

Applications for 2016/17 entry are now closed. Applications for 2017/18 entry will open in Autumn 2016.

Content and Structure


This is a practice-led course that explores both the theory and practice of illustration across a broad range of visual media. MA Illustration and Visual Media aims to develop your visual voice with an emphasis on critical engagement with both the discipline and the world at large. This may take the form of investigating abstract concepts from disciplines such as science, technology and philosophy by developing bespoke visual languages to translate these ideas to diverse audiences. Other approaches may also include using critical ideas to produce self-directed visual authorship. Practical projects and technical workshops are run in tandem with theoretical and critical seminars in order to support the relationship between critical and practice based learning.

This approach provides you with a unique platform from which to produce relevant and engaging work within the discipline of illustration that has resonance and value to the world at large. Through the development of a portfolio of work the course places graduates in a position to work across sectors as diverse as visual communication, art direction, information communication, branding, news, current affairs, entertainment, art and design as well as encouraging visual authorship.

The course supports progression to research at MPhil/PhD level as well as to advanced self-directed experimental practice.

Building on LCC's resources, in digital, time-based and interactive media alongside printmaking, graphic design and visual communication, the course encourages experimental and reflective practice that echoes the cross media nature of the design, communication and media industries.

This course is taught within the Design School


Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves six units, totalling 180 credits.

Autumn, Term One

Unit summary:

  • Units 1.1 Illustrative Practice and Visual Media (40 credits)
  • Unit 1.2 Critical Practice and Research Methods (20 credits)

Term One of the course examines your visual practice and introduces critical theories and research methods to provide a framework for MA study in this discipline. You will produce work that interrogates key critical ideas and be set briefs that require you to extend your practice across time-based, sequential, interactive and narrative situations. You will be introduced to key thinking and making skills in this phase that will be essential for your practice throughout the rest of the course.

Spring, Term Two

Unit summary:

  • Unit 2.1 Expanded Practice and Personal Voice (40 credits)
  • Unit 2.2 Collaborative Unit (20 credits)

Term Two offers you the opportunity to use both the critical and technical skills gained in Term One to produce self-directed projects alongside set briefs that encourage you to develop your visual voice across different mediums. During this phase you will also develop a project proposal for your final major project and thesis in Term Three.

Summer, Term Three

Unit summary:

  • Unit 2.1 Expanded Practice and Personal Voice (continued)
  • Unit 3.1 Final Major Research Project and Thesis (60 credits)

Autumn, Term Four

Unit summary:

  • Unit 3.1 Final Major Research Project  (continued)
    (Weighted 50% written component and 50% practical component)

In Term Three and Four you will undertake a final major research project that relates to the expanded field of illustration and visual media. This will involve a self-directed major practical project and the completion of a related thesis, which demonstrates your critical reflection, analysis and original research. With your access to broad theoretical models spanning the discipline, you will apply these models to your own specialist area of interest to produce a critically aware major project that will usually be presented at your postgraduate show after assessment.

If you are unable to continue or decide to exit the course, there are two possible exit awards. A Postgraduate Certificate will be awarded on successful completion of the first 60 credits and a Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded on successful completion of the first 120 credits.

Course Structure

The information outlined is an indicative structure of the course. Whilst we will aim to deliver the course as described on this page, there may be situations where it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, for example because of regulatory requirements or operational efficiencies, before or after enrolment. If this occurs, we will communicate all major changes to all applicants and students who have either applied or enrolled on the course.

Please note that due to staff research agreements or availability, not all of the optional modules listed may be available every year.

In addition, the provision of course options which depend upon the availability of specialist teaching, or on a placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed. Please check this element of the course with the course team before making a decision to apply.


Course Leader: Lizzie Finn

Tutors: Dr. Charley Peters & Will Edmonds

You will work with highly qualified and experienced educators and practitioners in design who deliver the course and who retain close involvement with the industry, continuing their professional practice and, engaging in scholarly research at an international level. In addition, there will be visiting experts from industry practitioners.


Graduates of the course will be equipped to work in an increasingly technologically informed and interdisciplinary design world with indepth skills in the following areas: visual communication, animation, narrative and sequential image making, typography, illustration and time-based design, authorial practice and publishing. A significant proportion of graduates from this course practice as commercial illustrators.

One of your key attributes will be an ability to translate narrative images across media. You will have the facility to deploy narrative illustrative content in books, online, animation and interactive and environmental settings. This will be coupled with an agile critical perspective ensuring you have the creative drive to sustain a career in the creative industries.

Student Jobs and Careers at UAL

We know what it takes to be successful in your chosen field. Your tutors are professionals in their own right and understand what you need to help you establish your career. 

Careers and Employability is dedicated to helping students build up work-relevant skills, knowledge, experience and networks throughout your time here. 

Creative Opportunities is the UAL job and work placement website for students and graduates, advertising hundreds of creative opportunities each month. This includes ArtsTemps in-house recruitment agency, placing students and graduates in paid temping roles within the University.

UAL houses a number of organisations which promote aspects of career development in the arts and media, and which hold regular workshops and careers fairs. These include:

  • Own-It (intellectual property issues)
  • ArtQuest (career development resource for artists and designers)

Entry Requirements

Recruitment and admissions

Applicants are expected to have an honours degree in either illustration, visual communication or graphic design or closely related subject, however, we do accept candidates who have graduated from other less strongly aligned disciplines. 

The course has a particular aim to appeal to image-led Art & Design graduates that are interested in exploring these new and emerging areas of illustration practice.

If you do not have the required qualifications, but do have professional experience, you may be eligible to gain credit for previous learning and experience through the Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APeL) i.e. professional experience or a combination of courses and work experience.

Language requirements (International/EU)

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you send us an English language test score together with your application to prove your level of proficiency. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please clearly indicate this on your application form. When you have received your test score, please send it to us immediately.

  • The English language requirement for entry is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper, or equivalent
  • You can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page

For further details regarding international admissions and advice please visit the Study at UAL International pages.

Selection Criteria

All applications will be considered by the course team who will consider key elements when making a decision on your suitability to join the course:

  1. Firstly they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
  2. Then they will scrutinise your personal statement, portfolio, project proposal and any previous work experience

Academic or professional reference are not required for this course.

Offers will be made based on the following selection criteria, which applicants are expected to demonstrate:

  • Sufficient prior knowledge and experience of and/or potential in illustration practice to be able to successfully complete the programme of study and have an academic or professional background in a relevant subject
  • Knowledge of the world of visual culture and be able to engage in critical discussion
  • In the project proposal a description of the area of interest, field of study and the particular focus of their intended project. This should include an overview of how you intend to go about producing the project and the methodology 

Personal statement (200 words)

Please say why you are applying for this course, outlining relevant prior experience and your current knowledge of contemporary illustration practice and discussion.

Portfolio advice

All applicants must submit their portfolio by providing a web link to a downloadable PDF in their application form. The portfolio should contain a minimum of 5 projects comprising examples of image-led work. This work can be from academic, self-initiated or professional practice. For each project please include concise written reflection and edited visual documentation of your working process.

Project proposal (300-500 words)

Candidates must provide a statement outlining an idea for their major project. This should describe the area of interest, field of study and the particular focus of their intended project. This includes an overview of how you intend to go about producing the project and the methodology. This idea will inevitably develop and change across the year of study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage.

Interview advice

Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will take place at LCC, or via Skype/telephone.


Home / EU and International students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

Any questions? Please email or visit Postgraduate Funding page.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

Make an enquiry