The course offers opportunities for work experience or mentoring that helps you make industry contacts, build your CV and prepare you for work in a creative agency or studio, as well as freelance illustration and animation. Our collaboration with industry partners including Hearst Magazines UK sets our programme apart. You can apply for an internship with one of their design-led brands to experience editorial design and illustration in print and online, and gain understanding of the importance of illustrated and animated digital content production in reaching audiences worldwide. Previous students have worked as design interns at Esquire and ELLE. These placements have helped previous students develop lasting professional contacts —and even their first magazine jobs.
This insight is further developed through live industry-set briefs which have included a speculative futures illustration project set by award-winning creative agency The District, an editorial brief set by ELLE, and digital content/social media project from Digital Spy.Our programme of Visiting Lecturers has included innovative professionals working at the cutting-edge of this industry—such as political cartoonist and Buzzfeed illustrator Rebecca Hendin and lead motion graphics designer David Tang from NBC Universal.
The course provides students with the experience and expertise to pursue career possibilities in the expanding creative industries in the UK and worldwide across the field of illustration and animation, including freelance work in editorial and book illustration, children’s illustration, public illustration, exhibition and experience design, motion graphics and animation for TV and corporate branding, games design, VFX, editing, 3D modelling, digital content production, as well as independent animated filmmaking or further study.
Study Block 1 invites you to build your knowledge of essential principles, skills and methods and advance your understanding of narrative theory and strategies. After a diagnostic and exploratory induction, in the module:
Visual Storytelling - 40 credits
The first semester is focused on building knowledge of essential principles, skills and methods, and an advanced understanding of narrative theory and strategies. After a diagnostic and exploratory induction, in the module Visual Storytelling you will respond to a series of projects that establish the fundamental principles of illustration and animation, explore technical and conceptual approaches and experiment with both hand-drawn techniques and mobile digital technology.
You will build your understanding of narrative, sequence, storyboarding, character design and concept development as you begin to articulate your authorial voice. You will make connections to the history and theory of illustrative practices and reflect on the critical contexts in which it sits today.
Research Practice - 20 credits
In this module you will learn alongside artists, designers and visual communicators from across our MA programmes. You will develop advanced research skills and methods, understand the importance of primary and secondary research, analysis of objects, images and texts, develop your critical thinking, and build confidence with academic study skills and conventions needed for successful study at postgraduate level.
You will go on to apply these skills to research projects that explore the theoretical landscape of contemporary creative practice. You will examine case studies from a variety of different disciplines that make use of current critical methodologies—including archives and collections, design activism, institutional critique, collaboration, participation and co-design, material and object studies, culture jamming, hacking and disruptive design, and identity, ethnography and auto-ethnography as the dynamic tools through which concepts are created, analysed and critiqued.
Visual Practice - 40 credits
Semester 2 looks ahead, and is designed to prepare you for your future in professional practice.
As well as entering appropriate industry competitions, in Visual Practice you will develop your own short-form and self-initiated projects that map and test an area of sustained focus and future interest for your final project next term. Building on collaborative and social engagement projects and the advanced understanding of visual storytelling and narrative strategies set up in the first term, this semester you will be supported to respond to the various spaces, contexts and platforms (print and digital, spatial and experiential) in which illustration and animation is produced, displayed and encountered by its various contemporary audiences.
Creative Futures - 20 credits
Your position as an emerging designer will be strengthened through Creative Futures, in which you will work with other MA students to explore art and design in a social context, exploring the critical, technological, environmental, geopolitical and ethical issues that impact on contemporary creative practice—and the ways in which artists and designers today are responding to the challenges we face today, while speculating about what tomorrow may bring.
As part of this module you will have the opportunity apply for an internship (including competitive internships offered by our partner Hearst Magazines UK). Alternatively, you will identify and approach an industry mentor, or design and develop a professional or industry-facing project around your own emerging practice. By building on your engagement with the contemporary professional practice of your discipline and the exploratory projects you have completed, you will have the confidence to develop a proposal for your final MA project to be realised in Semester 3.
Independent Major Project - 60 credits
In your final semester you will focus on your Independent Major Project.
Over the summer term you will focus on an independent research-based project that gives you the freedom to take your practice in your own individual direction. You will lead the project—but you will be guided and supported every step of the journey, with regular group seminars, 1:1 tutorials and technical support to deliver your final outcome.
You will also be supported in perfecting a professional portfolio or showreel.
The MA culminates in a group show where you will consider the professional and public presentation of your MA project, working together to design and promote an event that celebrates the end of your studies—and marks the next step into an exciting creative future.
Previous illustration and animation graduates have produced diverse and ambitious final projects including murals and public illustration; fashion illustration; fashion film and animation; animation for corporate brand communication; interactive games design; educational illustration; and children’s illustrated books, including an interactive pop-up book to teach sign language, and an educational book to promote awareness and acceptance of young people with SEN and OCD.