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MA Illustration

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Study MA Illustration and discover how illustration can change the world for the better. Develop crucial skills such as observation and creative thinking, and learn to apply them to the issues that society faces today.

Already have an ARU degree? You may be eligible for our Alumni Scholarship for students starting postgraduate courses.

Illustration is a broad visual narrative practice that has many applications in publishing and the wider creative industry. On our MA Illustration degree you'll focus on illustration for social change, an innovative and growing area that addresses the complex social and environmental problems faced by society today.

Illustration skills such as visual storytelling, visual mediation, observation, creative thinking and of course image making are much sought-after, and more and more illustrators take part in change-making processes in organisations, institutes, and government.

Our Masters in Illustration is unique in its focus on building your illustration practice and exploring and developing your role in addressing issues including integration and diversity, behavioural change, community cohesion, and environmental challenges.

Whatever your background, you will develop your visual practice in important areas for illustrators, such as image creation; visual sequencing; concept development; and textuality. You’ll also extend your knowledge of the complexities of socio-environmental problems; institutional and government structures; creative project development and management; design methods; and collaboration processes.

As a graduate, you'll have the confidence to start out in a career as an illustrator and play an active creative role in social and environmental change-making processes.

Course options

Course options

Key facts

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Entry Requirements


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Fees and Paying for University

Facilities and showcase

Students working in one of the studios in Cambridge School of Art

Studios and workshops

As well as our dedicated illustration studio, where you’ll have your own desk, you’ll have use of the following facilities:

  • a printmaking workshop
  • a 3D workshop
  • a digital photography lab
  • photography studios and darkrooms
  • Mac and PC suites.
Equipment in a film studio - bottom of cameras and camera operator's feet visible

Industry-standard equipment

All our Illustration students have access to facilities including:

  • the full Adobe Creative suite
  • Apple iMacs
  • wide-format printers and scanners
  • vintage printmaking presses
  • letterpress machine
  • photography equipment, including digital cameras and lighting kits.

Our team of technical officers will be on hand to offer training and support.

Artwork by Cami Rouhonen - a person' s head seen in profile with the top of the head portrayed as a mountain peak; on the mountain a person is looking through a telescope

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Our Creative Showcase shines a spotlight on what makes ARU creative and cultural – our spaces, places and people. Find out more about our community, the difference we make, the stories we tell, and the things that inspire us. You can also explore the work of our graduating students in our digital graduate showcase.


Our MA Illustration course will prepare you for a career as a freelance illustrator and creative consultant.

In recent years, roles in illustration - either on a freelance basis or as creative team members - have been increasing. This is due to the understanding of the important role of visual storytelling and the need for distinct visual identity and connection.

Depending on your own interests, your career might take you into self-publishing and artistic production; book and magazine illustration; in-house media and creative teams in publishing, advertising, games and animation and communication agencies; as well as freelance or in-house creative consultancy and institutional and organisational change-making teams.

As an MA Illustration student you’ll also gain skills that will be useful in many other fields, such as teaching and creative management. You might even find a way to combine it with your current career, as did ARU graduate Dr Katy Shorttle, whose artwork on health issues was featured in The Guardian.

Or you might decide to move on to a research degree, like our PhD Art and Design, PhD Graphic Design and Typography, or PhD Fine Art. Take advantage of our Alumni Scholarship and save £400 on your fees, and take a look at some of our current PhD project opportunities.

Kelley Donner with some of her illustrations, wearing a Christmassy outfit

Kelley Donner

"My kids and I began talking about what life would be like at the North Pole and how Santa would respond to COVID-19. There is so much uncertainty and anxiety right now, so I thought it would be helpful to talk about COVID-19 in a way that’s both engaging and reassuring for children."

Kelley Donner

MA Illustration student and author of A Very Corona Christmas

Read more

Apply now for MA Illustration

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