Illustration BDes (Hons) (and degree combinations)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 3 years
  • School: Art & Design

We provide a dynamic environment for the development of visual ideas with a focus on commercial avenues. You will study at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), part of the University of Dundee.   

Illustration at Dundee

Illustration students embrace traditional and contemporary production processes while developing a personal creative approach.

Work by Damien Rice

Why study this course at Dundee?

Illustration addresses the on-going demand for compelling visual communicators who can engage their audiences. The curriculum focuses on creativity, authorship and interpretation. We deliver it through a mix of live and personal projects.

We will help you to embrace traditional and contemporary production processes. You will also developing a personal creative approach.  

We have excellent digital and printmaking facilities. You will use them to experiment with a wide range of media, including book works, photography, drawing, graphic arts, moving and interactive media.

You will get the chance to take part in a foreign study trip. Extra exposure comes in the form of  D&AD's 'New Blood'. This is an international showcase of the best graduates in visual communication and advertising. 


Did You Know?

  • Our graduates' clients have included Orange, The New York Times and Umbro

Study illustration to:

  • develop dynamic visual ideas
  • learn to take ownership of projects
  • enjoy a wide range of opportunities including narrative, book arts, photography, printmaking and interactive media


At the end of the course you will be able to:

  • subject research findings to argument and analysis
  • structure research outcomes
  • present an image and text based format
  • explain the relationship between theory and practice in your own work


We can offer you:

  • well resourced facilities
  • local and national links with industry
  • student focused teaching
  • opportunity to enter competitions and win awards


Student exchange

You can study abroad through exchange schemes that operate in many European and transatlantic countries.

The department normally organises an overseas study visit for all Level 3 students.

Who should study this course?

You are:

  • creative
  • imaginative


You like:

  • working by yourself as well as in groups
  • a challenge


You want to:

  • develop your skills in using narrative and images to represent an overall idea or theme
  • work in groups to develop your skills
  • work independently to nurture your own projects
Still from illustration video

Illustration showreel made by DJCAD students at the University of Dundee.

Communication Design

Illustration is one of three courses that comprise the communication design programme. The full list is animation, graphic design and illustration. While following your course in illustration, you will also get a wide range of opportunities to engage with communication design issues as well as your pathway choice in illustration.

The course develops conceptually agile and technically skilled illustrators who have a broad understanding of communication design coupled with deep knowledge and expertise in their chosen subject.


Learn more about DJCAD

For further examples of student work, staff profiles and news visit the DJCAD website.

Related Courses

The programme of study initially involves projects and workshops designed to help you, through experiential learning, to understand the fundamental discipline of your chosen subject. Many different approaches to teaching and learning are used including regular seminars, practical lectures, studio demonstrations, individual tutorials and group critiques.

Many different approaches to teaching and learning are used including:

  • Workshops
  • Studio demonstrations
  • Seminars
  • Practical lectures
  • Live briefs
  • Group tutorials
  • One-to-one tutorials
  • Group critiques
  • Self-assessment

Students are encouraged to develop their own directions within assignments and to engage in debate about their work.

Level 1

Students can enter illustration after successfully completing our Art and Design (General Foundation) course (apply for course WW12) or on successful completion of a recognised Foundation Course or equivalent (apply for course W220). This is normal for many art and design courses.

In the Art and Design (General Foundation) course you will learn the core values which will enrich and expand your personal visual language, preparing you nicely for a further 3 years in Illustration.

Level 2

  • Tutor-set Briefs
  • Introduction to Technical Processes
  • Introduction to Computer Aided Design
  • Introduction to Creating a Personal Programme of Study
  • Creative Research Methodology
  • Contextual Studies

Level 2 of the programme is structured to provide a broad foundation of knowledge and experience. You will be introduced to relevant equipment and varied media used in the production process for your choice of specialism. Projects and assignments help you develop the relevant learning, research and technical skills, exploring creativity and individual aptitude through each process.

Level 3

  • Personal Programme of Study
  • Tutor-set and Live Briefs
  • Strategic Experimentation
  • Research and Development of Ideas
  • Cultural Experience Foreign Study Trip
  • Contextual Studies
  • Elective modules such as:
    • Visual Effects
    • Comic Art & Graphic Novels
    • Printmaking

Level 3 is designed to encourage experimentation, cross course projects, exploring ideas and making use of appropriate technical methods. All students prepare and present a programme of personal project work that reflects the research and development of ideas. During this year you will undertake a series of assignments designed to develop good professional practice necessary to succeed in your chosen career.

Level 4

  • Personal Programme of Research
  • National Competitions
  • Supporting Study Elective
  • Exhibitions in Dundee and London

In the final year - Level 4 - you will organise and present a personal programme of study that will form the major part of your submission for the Honours degree examination. You will be encouraged to integrate all aspects of your research with a written thesis and the production of your final outcomes. You will produce a body of work that will demonstrate a mature visual understanding of materials, methods and processes required to transform ideas into reality.

Your progress is monitored with structured formal reviews and assessments. At Level 4 a team of internal and external examiners conduct the final degree examination.

The demand for illustrators has increased as related commercial fields have expanded. Our graduates have gone on to have successful careers in the following fields:

  • publishing
  • design
  • editorial
  • advertising
  • art
  • animation
  • online media
  • sequential imagery
  • film & television

Placements, live project work and participation in national and international competitions all hone the employability and aspirations of our students. Students have found employment with many major design studios and organisations such as:

  • The New York Times
  • Bank of Scotland
  • The Guardian
  • Edinburgh International Fringe Festival
  • The Scotsman
  • Orange
  • The Herald
  • Umbro
  • TimeOut London
  • National Museum of Scotland


Others have gone on to freelance and establishing their own successful businesses. Extra curriculum activities such as the Enterprise Gym help students cultivate entrepreneurial skills.

Ben Bainbridge, Illustration Graduate

"Within Illustration I was able to explore different areas of the specialism I was interested in. This helped me understand my subject a lot more and really benefitted me as a young designer. With regular artist talks and workshops from professionals I was able to see how the industry worked past art school. They were not only informative, but inspiring too."

Emma Goldstraw, Illustration Graduate

"Duncan of Jordanstone has always been something of a "Mecca" for me. Any courses that were on offer, or exhibitions - I was there! The Illustration course allowed me to try various methods and ways of working that I had never done before. The course also allowed me to experience new technology, computer programmes and digital media. The staff in the department are all very supportive and approachable. Most importantly they helped me build my own confidence about my own work. It is an extremely proud feeling to know that I have an excellent degree from one of the top art schools in the country."

The following are the minimum, up-to-date entry requirements.

You have to obtain your qualifications at the first sitting of examination.

Courses starting 2016

Advanced Entry (to Level 2)

Qualification Grade
SQA Advanced Higher BB (Advanced Higher) + BB (Higher) in different subjects
IB Diploma 34 points (including 6, 6, 5, at Higher level)
Essential Subjects Art and Design, or related subject (at SQA Advanced Higher, GCE A-Level, IB Higher Level), an appropriate literate subject (at SQA Advanced Higher, GCE A Level, IB Higher Level) and one other subject outside art & design subjects (at SQA Higher, GCE A Level, IB Higher Level).
EU & International Visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country"
Other Qualifications
SQA A recognised Foundation Course or a relevant HND with BB in the Graded Units
Scottish Baccalaureate Pass with BB at Advanced Higher
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A recognised Foundation Course or a relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM
Advanced Diploma Grade B with ASL A-levels in appropriate subjects at AB
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-levels in appropriate subjects at AB
European Baccalaureate 75% overall with 7.5 in an Art & Design subject and 7.5 in a literate subject

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee categoryFees for students starting 2016
Scottish and EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2015 entry). Fees for September 2016 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2016.
Rest of UK students £9,000 per year, for a maximum of 3 years, even if you are studying a four year degree. See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants.
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study. See our scholarships for international applicants.

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loans Company.

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students are guaranteed for the length of your course. This means that the tuition fee you pay in your first year (shown above) is the same fee you will pay for each year of your course. We guarantee that this will not increase while you are studying with us. The only exceptions to this are our MBChB Medicine, BSc Medical Sciences and BDS Dentistry degrees which charge a different tuition for the clinical years.

Students applying for Illustration must successfully complete our 1 year Art and Design (General Foundation) course. In this instance you should apply using the UCAS code WW12.

Alternatively, if you have already completed a recognised foundation course or equivalent elsewhere then apply directly to Illustration.

All applicants must submit a comprehensive portfolio of art and design work. The qualifications listed may be modified for an applicant presenting an exceptional portfolio.

Students are selected by assessing the contents of a portfolio of work that should convey a measure of creative, practical skill and intellectual/enthusiastic engagement in the practice of art and design.

If you apply and are invited for an interview, we will take a look at a portfolio of work and will attempt something akin to a speed date. We are essentially trying to get a sense of who you are, what stage you are at and your interests. In terms of your portfolio, we suggest you include an edited selection of works that display a range of media and projects. Don't bring along volumes of life drawing - select the best sample. Include your sketchbooks -- seeing how you generate ideas is very important to us. Ultimately, we are looking for evidence of originality and passion for Illustration. Include a piece of Illustration if you can.

Yes, if you investigate the various Illustration degrees on offer you will see a variety of interpretations and departmental strengths. Part of this range comes directly from the fact that Illustration as a discipline now spans and impacts on a vast number fields (publishing, editorial, packaging, textiles to name a few). Our Illustration department makes a feature out of this broadness by designing projects that allow you to consider a variety of contemporary contexts and applications. This is underpinned by a strong emphasis on research and content generation.

Your first two years on the course are dominated by set briefs which react to what is current in industry or interesting in society. This ranges from: poster, book, packaging and web design. Typically students are asked to write narratives, analyse and critique texts, draw, animate, learn printmaking and produce a website. In addition to participating in national design competitions the final or 'Honours' year allows you to refine and specialise into your own niche in preparation for graduation.

Yes, in the last decade it has moved from being a friendly cousin to being a sibling in the same family as Graphic Design. Many of the early briefs could easily be Graphic Design projects however as you move through the year levels the onus moves to a more independent, self-authored and research-led project. This authorial control over content and direction is particular to an Illustration education.

We have amazing facilities; the department studio will be your day-to-day working environment. In addition we have bespoke digital, printmaking, photography and drawing studios. Students can make use of digital tools such as still and video cameras, editing suites, sound recording kit alongside traditional technologies such as silkscreen, etching and lithography.

  Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Apply NowIllustration BDes (Hons)W220