Children's Book Illustration Inclusivity Bursary & Mentorship

MACBI Inclusivity Bursary & Mentorship logo

Background and purpose

Students from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds are currently significantly under-represented both in the profession of children’s book illustration, and in the student cohort of ARU’s MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art.

The purpose of the ARU Children’s Book Illustration Inclusivity Bursary is to encourage and support talented UK students from under-represented groups to study the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art.

It aims to help overcome some of the barriers that currently prevent students from under-represented groups from taking up this course of study, and subsequently progressing into a successful career as a children’s book illustrator.


The 2023 Bursary is a one-off award of £12,100 (paid to the recipient in instalments – one instalment for each trimester of study) which is intended to cover either full tuition fees for study on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art or typical student living expenses.

It also includes one-year bespoke mentorship to help the recipient student find their footing in the industry after graduating. This is provided by Picture Hooks, an organisation offering opportunity and development for emerging picture book illustrators.

Eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria to apply for this Bursary are that the applicant:

  • Is applying for or has been offered a place on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course (full-time or part-time) at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art
  • Is from a group that is currently under-represented in children's book publishing. Examples of under-represented groups include Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students; care-leavers; students with any form of disability; students who have experienced significant physical or mental health challenges; students from low-income backgrounds; students who are the first in their family to go to university; students living in areas where fewer people go to university than the national average (higher education 'cold-spot' areas); students with significant caring responsibilities. (Note: this is not intended to be a comprehensive list.)
  • Is a UK citizen

To be eligible to receive the Bursary, applicants must additionally have:

  • accepted an offer of a place on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course
  • registered as a student
  • begun their course.

Selection will be based on evidence supplied in the application form on:

  • diverse characteristics
  • strength of portfolio and personal statement
  • future plans and career aspirations
  • availability of any other sources of financial support
  • evidence of household income
  • proposed use of the Bursary.

Selection process

The Bursary will be advertised alongside the course information and application process. Eligible students will be invited to apply at the same time as applying for the course.

Students will need to complete a short Bursary application form including a simple personal statement and portfolio. The application form will require students to submit evidence of diverse characteristics and financial need in the standard format used by ARU’s Student Money Advice Service (SMAS) to assess levels of student hardship and financial need.

The Bursary will be awarded to the student whose voice the panel feels is (1.) most needed in the children’s book publishing industry and (2.) whose voice might not reach a potential audience without the aid of the Bursary and Mentorship.

Applications will first be judged by a panel to develop a shortlist.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a ten-minute interview with the panel. They will be asked to bring two examples of children’s book illustration appropriate for ages 0-18, to share with the panel along with an explanation of why they feel these examples are successful illustrations. They will also be given the opportunity to ask a question of the panel.

The panel will then determine the successful recipient based on the application materials and the interview outcomes. The panel will comprise:

  • the course leader of the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art
  • a senior lecturer of the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art
  • a representative from Bell Lomax Moreton
  • a representative from Picture Hooks.

How to apply

Please complete an application form, and submit a PDF portfolio of your work (10-15 images of drawings, preferably done from observation, paintings and/or illustrations) or a link to your website if you have one.

Download an application form (PDF)

Download an application form (Word)

Example work from MA Children's Book Illustration

Support the bursary

If you'd like to support our Children's Book Illustration Inclusivity Bursary, please visit our Donate a gift page. Every penny of your donation allows us to provide life-changing opportunities.

Three logos: Bell Lomax Moreton; Picture Hooks; United Agents