Experiment with methods, explore ideas and critically reflect on your practice to develop your own personal visual vocabulary. Create original children’s book projects, supported by a team of internationally-recognised illustrators.
The first course of its kind, MA Children’s Book Illustration was established at Cambridge School of Art in 2001 and is led by Course Leader Shelley Jackson. Over the last twenty years, we’ve seen hundreds of graduates publish children’s books around the world, many to critical acclaim. Students and graduates often dominate national and international awards, too.
This taught, studio-based postgraduate degree is offered full-time or part-time. You’ll develop your practice in the art of children’s book illustration in a supportive, open and friendly studio environment with leading practitioners.
100% overall satisfaction: our course received the highest possible score for student satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2022.
On each module of this Masters course you’ll propose and develop a project guided by our leading team of tutors—all practitioners with a wide range of specialisms. Teaching is primarily through one-to-one and group tutorials, seminars, workshops and studio critiques, in which you will learn about relevant theories, contexts and practices. As the course progresses, you are increasingly encouraged and expected to develop your work and research independently so that you’re prepared to enter the role of a freelance illustrator upon graduation.
You’ll work in our dedicated illustration studios overlooking the Ruskin Gallery, with access to a fully equipped printmaking studio, other specialist facilities, and open access life-drawing sessions. With studio culture at the heart of the MA, you'll share and discuss your work with other students, attend course-wide lectures that will inform your studio practice, and participate in community activities.
Since its foundation in 2001 by Professor Martin Salisbury, we have welcomed students from around the world who benefit from our international reputation and professional practice events. After graduation, we offer support to help you build connections in the children’s publishing industry through optional opportunities to showcase your work at Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge, in London, online and at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. As a taster for our MA Children’s Book Illustration course you might also be interested in our Children's Book Illustration Summer School.
You can see work by our graduating students on our Cambridge MA Show site.
Course Leader: Shelley Jackson
International applicants: For this popular course, we recommend that you submit your application by the 15 March 2024. If you apply after 12 April 2024, we cannot guarantee we will have places available so, if you are successful in your application, you may be added to a waiting list.
UK applicants only: We will continue to accept applications until August 2024 although we recommend you apply as soon as possible.
Graduates Thea Lu, Roozeboos (Anne Roos Kleiss), and Narisa Togo, and current student Hu Huizi were selected as four of 100 finalists and now go on to show their work at China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair 2023.Read more about the Golden Pinwheel Competition 2023
Graduate Chia Hsieh, and students Aditi Anand and Charlotte Durance, were the winners of Walker Books' Picture This! competition.Discover more of our recent successes
Mariajo won the 2023 Klaus Flugge Prize - one of four of our graduates to make the shortlist for the competition.Read more about Mariajo's success
Simona won the New Talent category in the AOI World Illustration Awards 2023 for her book "Gino", developed on the course.Read more about her winning project
Student Forest Xiao won the Children’s Illustration category of the Batsford Prize 2023 for "How To Catch An Idea".See more of our award-winning students
Flora has been shortlisted for the 2023 Yoto-Carnegie Medal for Illustration for her book "Rescuing Titanic", about the rescue vessel Carpathia that saved hundreds of Titanic passengers”Find out more about Flora’s success
Aining won ARU’s Alumni Rising Star Award 2023. Since graduating, she has worked as a children’s book editor with Daylight Publishing House, and also published several picturebooks of her own.Read our interview with Aining
Justin was awarded the 2023 Sebastian Walker Award by Walker Books. The judges praised him as “a stylish artist who completely understands colour and composition, but makes art that’s utterly kid-friendly at heart.”See Justin’s profile on our graduate showcase site
Joseph won the 2022 Klaus Flugge Prize for his book "Pierre’s New Hair", the fourth graduate from our course to win the award in five yearsFind out more about Joseph’s success
Lauren illustrated 'Prak Fills The House', written by Donna L. Washington, published by PeachtreeDiscover more of our Awards and Successes
Emilie illustrated 'All By Myself', written by Stephanie Shaw and published by Peachtree
"Since 2015, I have been a full-time freelance illustrator, illustrating for book covers, picture books, editorial, textiles, packaging and stationery. It’s what I hoped and dreamed of doing."Drawing inspiration with Melissa
"My book, Child of St Kilda, came out of my Masters project. I discovered printmaking for the first time in the fantastic print room, and it was a real lightbulb moment - it taught me so much about image making."Discover Beth's inspiration for her Kate Greenaway shortlisted book
“My work has developed in so many ways since being here. After a year-and-a-half of study, I won the Macmillan Illustration Prize for my first book, Adventure at Night. Winning the prize has been unbelievable... [it has] opened doors everywhere.”The enterprising artist
Entry requirements are not currently available, please try again later.
"I've witnessed first hand how the children's illustration program at Cambridge School of Art is absolutely dedicated to connecting its students to publishing professionals worldwide... I love finding US artists in their program, and I can't wait to hire more!"JONAH HELLER
Editor, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc., AtlantaDiscover our awards and successes
As well as our dedicated illustration studio, you’ll have use of the following facilities:
All our Illustration students have access to facilities including:
Senior Lecturer Practitioner
Many graduates of our MA Children’s Book Illustration degree now enjoy careers as freelance authors and illustrators for children. Among them are Paula Metcalf, Marta Altés, Nadia Shireen, Birgitta Sif, Steve Antony, Matt Robertson, Flavia C Drago, Matty Long, Melissa Castrillon, Taylor Dolan, Nicola Kent, Emily Haworth Booth and Eva Eland.
You may choose to show your work to leading publishing companies and literary agencies at our optional annual graduation exhibition held in London before returning to our own Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge. The graduation exhibition also includes a catalogue of student work shared with publishers, a website (cambridgemashow.com), and social media campaign, all organised and funded by students separate of the course.
Upon completion of the course, you may also choose to take part in our student stand at the annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where tutors will show your work to publishers from around the globe. Like the graduation exhibition, this professional development event is available only to our course graduates, requires an additional fee, and is separate of the course. Many students also attend the fair in-person in order to participate in lectures and workshops or volunteer on our stand.
Graduation doesn’t have to be the end of your time with us. You could choose to continue your academic career with a research programme at ARU such as our PhD Children’s Book Illustration. Take advantage of our Alumni Scholarship and save £400 on your fees.
Improve your employability, progress in your career, and take on an intellectual challenge with our flexible postgraduate degrees.Postgraduate study at ARU