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Postgraduate

MA Illustration and Visual Media

2019, MA Illustration and Visual Media, UAL
College
London College of Communication
Start date
September 2024
Course length
1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

MA Illustration and Visual Media explores the creation and contextualisation of images at a time of unparalleled possibilities for engagement in visual culture.

Applying for more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3. Find out more in the Apply Now section.

Why choose this course at London College of Communication

  • Image-makers as authors: Projects will enable you to explore and position your practice in an informed and progressive manner.
  • Critical community: You’ll develop the tools to analyse and understand visual history and culture through reading groups, seminars, study trips and workshops.
  • Building networks: You’ll enhance your career potential by engaging with studio visits and guest experts, and access postgraduate resources, events and opportunities through the wider UAL community.
  • Advanced learning: Encouraged to work independently, you’ll manage your own development and consider possibilities offered by working at a higher academic level.
  • Connecting resources to contexts: With access to outstanding technical facilities, library catalogues and archival collections, you’ll be led by processes of making - developing work for professional contexts such as publishing, galleries, screenings and gaming while preparing to progress as an artist, illustrator, curator, writer or academic.

Open Days

A recording of our latest Virtual Open Event for this course is available. Watch online.

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Course overview

MA Illustration and Visual Media provides a critical space in which traditional definitions of this field can be challenged, deconstructed and reconfigured to provide a unique platform from which our graduates can move into professional practice as autonomous artists.

What can you expect?

MA Illustration and Visual Media is distinctive in its emphasis on students developing their own bodies of work. We do not believe that illustration is a philosophy of practice or self-contained discipline in the contemporary visual world - moreover it is one of many contexts in which images may exist on or offline.

Through experimental practice-led research, you will develop an independent and critical relationship to the contemporary image, with the potential to work across a broad range of specialist visual media.

You will have access to LCC's significant resources in digital and time-based media alongside printmaking, 3D and photography. This environment encourages experimental and reflective practice and the opportunity to work alongside your peers in technical workshop and studio environments.

The course begins by helping you to position yourself with a critical understanding of working as an artist-researcher at postgraduate level. Through studio and seminar sessions you will be introduced to a range of critical and theoretical ideas, and explore the ways in which artists use research, which will develop your ability to contextualise your own practice.

As you progress through the course you will be supported in generating bodies of self-authored creative work that extend your personal visual language and approach to the made image.

Throughout the course you will be asked to produce reflective writing that helps you to position your work in a critical context that relates to contemporary thought in visual culture, culminating in a Final Major Project and Thesis.

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

Mode of study

MA Illustration and Visual Media is offered in full-time mode and runs for 45 weeks over 15 months, with a break over the summer. You will be expected to commit an average of 40 hours per weekto your course, including teaching hours and independent study.

Course units

We are committed to ensuring that your skills are set within an ethical framework, and we have worked to embed UAL’s Principles for Climate, Racial and Social Justice Principles into the curriculum and in everything we do. 

As part of this initiative, we’ve shaped our courses around social and environmental sustainability principles that ensure learning outcomes reflect the urgent need to equip you with the understanding, skills, and values to foster a more sustainable planet.  Our aim is to change the way our students think, and to empower you to work towards a sustainable future. 

Autumn, Term One

The Emergent Image (40 credits)

This unit aims to provide you with an introduction to working as a postgraduate image maker. You will start to develop a portfolio of experimental, challenging image-based work from a variety of material and contextual starting points and begin to identify (an) individual line(s) of enquiry within your visual practice that will be developed further in subsequent course units.

The Critical Image (20 credits)

This unit aims to provide you with a critical understanding of working as an artist-researcher at postgraduate level. You will be introduced to a range of critical and theoretical ideas, which will develop your ability to contextualise your own practice.

Spring, Term Two

Collaborative Unit (20 credits)

This unit will allow you to define who you are as a collaborator and support you to create a small-scale collaboration of your choosing. You will develop an understanding of what collaboration could be and how you can locate collaboration within your own practice. Understanding who you are as an image maker will be key to developing a productive collaboration.

The Authored Image (40 credits)

Throughout this unit you will develop your individual visual language and approach to the image, allowing you to focus on specific areas of interest and specialising in techniques particular to your practice. The unit will explore the expanded field of contemporary image making, giving you an understanding of the range of practices and approaches that this can include. You will work on one self identified project throughout the unit, examining methodologies of working for exploratory projects that add to the broader research culture of the subject.

Summer, Term Three

The Contemporary Image: Final Major Project and Thesis (60 credits)

You are asked throughout this unit to engage in a major project in which the emphasis will be on defining, analysing, developing and contextualising an individual and focused approach to contemporary image making. The Final Major Project must be self-identified and lead on from the work you made in The Authored Image Unit, while also building on what you have learned in earlier studio units and the critical content of course seminars and workshops. You will also write a thesis, which will be a piece of independent critical writing that explores an area of visual practice related to the studio work you make in your Final Major Project.

Autumn, Term Four

The Contemporary Image: Final Major Project and Thesis (continued)

Learning and teaching methods

  • Lectures/Large Group Learning
  • Workshop and Seminar Learning
  • Academic Tutorials
  • Individual and group critiques
  • Individual project work
  • Self-directed learning
  • Assessed Assignments
  • Technical Workshops
  • Demonstrations

UAL Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase

  • Floating serenity
    Floating serenity, Yimin Wu, 2023 MA Illustration and Visual Media, London College of Communication, UAL
  • OBSCURE
    OBSCURE, Xinxiao Li, 2023 MA Illustration and Visual Media, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Wandering Spirit
    Wandering Spirit, Danielle Zhou, 2023 MA Illustration and Visual Media, London College of Communication, UAL
  • The Fourth Dimension
    The Fourth Dimension, Yongsan Li, 2023 MA Illustration and Visual Media, London College of Communication, UAL

Student work

Showreel 2021

The Postgraduate Showcase 2021 celebrates the theme of ‘reconnection’ as our community reunites, creates and collaborates.

Student Voices

Veer Misra

Veer’s project, ‘i’ll smash glass just to watch it shatter’, is a graphic novel that portrays intimate moments of different people’s lives.

Samiira Garane

Samiira's final project is part zine, part manifesto, working against the status-quo to empower Muslim women.

Instagram

Course stories

410 Gone

410 Gone


openresty

Staff

Fees and funding

Home fee

£13,330

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£28,570

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship search

Entry requirements

The course team welcomes applicants from a broad range of backgrounds, from all over the world. The course has a particular aim to appeal to image-led art & design graduates that are interested in exploring expanded and emerging areas of visual practice. 

Applicants are expected to have an honours degree in either illustration, fine art or closely related subjects, however, we do accept candidates who have graduated from other less strongly aligned disciplines. 

The course team also welcomes students with relevant experience or those who may have previously worked in industry.

Educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • Honours degree (named above);
  • Possession of equivalent qualifications;
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
  • Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.

APEL (Accreditation of Prior Learning)

Applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered in exceptional cases. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference
  • OR a combination of these factors

Each application will be considered on its own merit but we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

Language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you let us know your English language test score in your application. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please indicate this in your application. When asked to upload a CV as part of your application, please include any information about your English test score.

  • IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is required, with a minimum of 5.5 in each of the four skills.
  • If your first language is not English, 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 International Applications page

Selection criteria

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 a specialist subject area to be able to successfully complete the programme of study and have an academic or professional background in a relevant subject
  • Also to show a willingness to work as a team player, good language skills in reading, writing and speaking, the ability to work independently and be self-motivated
  • Critical knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject area and capacity for research-led design, intellectual inquiry and reflective thought through: contextual awareness (professional, cultural, social, historical); evidence of research, analysis, development and evaluation (from previous academic study and employment) and a grounded understanding of the world of sonic, visual and networked culture and the ability to engage in and contribute to 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
  • Portfolio should be conceptual and research-based, you must show your thinking and making process and a curious nature to explore, test and experiment

Apply now

Application deadline

Deadline

Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
Deadline
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

The deadline has now passed. However, this course is still open to applications and will remain open until all places are filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply now

Application deadline

Deadline

Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
Deadline
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

The deadline has now passed. However, this course is still open to applications and will remain open until all places are filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply to UAL

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How to apply

Follow this step-by-step guide to apply for this course

Step 1: Initial application

You will need to submit an initial application including your personal statement and CV.

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement should be maximum 500 words and include:

  • your reasons for choosing the course
  • your current creative practice and how this course will help you achieve your future plans
  • any relevant education and experience, especially if you do not have any formal academic qualifications.

Visit our personal statement page for more advice.

CV advice

Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If you have any web projects or other media that you would like to share, please include links in your CV. If English is not your first language, please also include your most recent English language test score.

Step 2: Video task and digital portfolio

We will review your initial application. If you have met the standard entry requirements, we will ask you to submit a video task and digital portfolio.

You’ll need to submit these via PebblePad, our online portfolio tool. Please submit your video task on the first page followed by your portfolio.

Video task advice

We would like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you. When recording your task, please face the camera and speak in English.

What to include in your video task

  • Choose 1 project from your portfolio and explain how it challenged you and your understanding of illustration and visual media.
  • Tell us how this experience inspired you to apply to MA Illustration and Visual Media at London College of Communication.

Read our guidance for how to submit your video task and which file types we accept.

Digital portfolio advice

Your portfolio should consist of recent work that reflects your creative strengths.

It should:

  • be maximum 20 pages, including your video task
  • consist of image-led work from a maximum of 5 academic, self-initiated or professional projects
  • include short written reflections for each piece, alongside edited visual documentation of your working process
  • include research-based, conceptual examples that demonstrate your thinking and making process
  • highlight your curious nature to explore, test and experiment.

For more support, see our Portfolio advice and PebblePad advice.

Step 3: Interview

You may be invited to an interview following our review of your application. All interviews are held online and last 15 to 20 minutes.

For top tips, see our Interview advice.

You also need to know

Communicating with you

Once you have submitted your initial application, we will email you with your login details for our Applicant portal.

Requests for supplementary documents like qualifications and English language tests will be made through the applicant portal. You can also use it to ask questions regarding your application. Visit our After you apply page for more information.

Applying to more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3 courses. You need to tailor your application, supporting documents and portfolio to each course, so applying for many different courses could risk the overall quality of your application. If you receive offers for multiple courses, you'll only be able to accept 1 offer. UAL doesn't accept repeat applications to the same course in the same academic year.

Visas and immigration history check

All non-UK nationals must complete an immigration history check. Your application may be considered by our course teams before this check takes place. This means that we may request your portfolio and/or video task before we identify any issues arising from your immigration history check. Sometimes your history may mean that we are not able to continue considering your application. Visit our Immigration and visas advice page for more information.

External student transfer policy

UAL accepts transfers from other institutions on a case-by-case basis. Read our Student transfer policy for more information.

Alternative offers

If your application is really strong, but we believe your strengths and skillset are better suited to a different course, we may make you an alternative offer. This means you will be offered a place on a different course or at a different UAL College.

Deferring your place

We do not accept any deferral requests for our postgraduate courses. This means that you must apply in the year that you plan to start your course and you will not be able to defer your place to start at a later date.

Application deadlines

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 equal consideration deadlines to ensure fairness for all our applicants. If you apply ahead of either of these deadlines, your application will be considered on an equal basis with all other applications in that round. If there are places available after the second deadline, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Careers

Graduates from this course have gone on to work in a range of professions in the creative world including practising artists, freelance image makers, art writers, curators and commercial galleries, as well as progressing to further study at PhD level.

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.