Level 6

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

Duration Age Group Study Year Cost Available Locations
£8000 per year * Southend Campus
Duration Age Group Study Year Cost Available Locations
£8000 per year * Southend Campus
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If you require any support with your UCAS application, please contact the HE Admissions team headmissions@southessex.ac.uk


To apply for this course through clearing please email HEAdmissions@southessex.ac.uk

For more information on Clearing please visit our Clearing webpage

September 2022 entry now available

You can now choose to start this course in September 2022 by clicking "Apply Now" and then selecting the 2022-23 option at the top of the UCAS page (under the "Course Options" section).


Course code: W210

This course offers two different pathways depending on your choice in year two of the programme.

  • Pathway one: Graphic Design
  • Pathway two: Illustration

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Why study this degree at University Centre South Essex?

Illustration by Joe Stevens
The Graphic Design and Illustration degree programme at University Centre South Essex has secured a prestigious membership with the Association of Illustrators. You can read the full story here.

The strength of the BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Illustration is in our determination to provide a pro-active, creative atmosphere, which observes and responds to current and future working practices. The current degree programme treats the various subject areas within design not as discrete disciplines, but as interweaving lines of enquiry We run a small tight-knit programme of around twenty students in each Year, this allows us to really get to know our students and they in turn always have a lecturer available to discuss their practice and ongoing studies.

Practical disciplines such as typography, creative image making and digital design will be explored, and these are underpinned with research activities that will help expand knowledge and experience of various disciplines and their social and political contexts.

The pathway choice in Year two will allow students to further specialise their practice by choosing to follow the Graphic Design or the Illustration pathways. These pathways have Units specifically designed to focus the student while expanding upon the skills and knowledge gained in Year 1 which will in turn inform the student’s ongoing practice.

Year three with its focus on the student cohort’s individual practice and theory, will allow students to build upon and expand the skills learnt in Years one and two allowing students to understand their identity and place within the world of Graphic Design and/or Illustration. Year three students choose industry competitions, a self-authored Subject-Realisation brief and a Dissertation linked to their own interpretations and interests based on their journey over the preceding years and their ambitions going forward.

The programme has a commitment to work-related learning in the form of work experience, live projects, competitions, vocational projects and placements within the specialist area of Graphic Design & Illustration. There also exists the opportunity to collaborate with other programmes within the University Centre, which will allow for learners to develop a range of generic skills ready for employment.

Entry Requirements

You will need a minimum of 64 UCAS points from one or more of the following:

  • A-levels, preferably in art and design
  • BTEC National Diploma with a minimum of pass profile
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma Level 3 (minimum 15 credits at merit or above)
  • Higher National Diploma (for possible direct entry on to year two)
  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design Level 4

Other qualifications will be considered on an individual basis. You will also need GCSE English at grade C (old specification) or Grade 4 (new specification) or above OR a Level 2 equivalent such as functional skills qualification.


Chat with a student

You can start a conversation with one of our current students if you wish to learn more about our courses or studying at the University Centre South Essex in general.

Just follow this link: www.southessex.ac.uk/he/unibuddy

Course Structure

Year One units (Level 4)

  • Introduction to Visual Communication
  • Visual and Cultural Contexts
  • Creative Image Making
  • Typography
  • Alternate Media & Thinking

Pathway Choice 

In Year two students will be able to further specialise their practice by choosing to follow the Graphic Design or the Illustration pathways. During Year 1 students will have worked on Units specifically designed to emphasise the practices of both pathways to give students the academic background to make an informed choice. Supporting this process they will be given the opportunity for informal discussions throughout the year regarding their choice.

At the end of Year one students will have a formal exit interview where discussions will take place about their choice and they will have the summer to consider. The summer brief linked to AGD/Ai 206 Work Placement which will give students further opportunity to consider their choice.

At the beginning of Year two students will have a formal entrance interview where their choice will be finalised. The first Unit of Year 2: AGD 203 Graphic Design in 3D Contexts/Ai 203 Illustration in 3D Contexts is to some extent interchangeable, with aims written to be deliberately similar. Students will be set the same/or a similar brief and they will be able to approach this across the discipline. This would afford an opportunity for students who ‘wobble’ to switch back before the next Unit is a 30 credit Unit and is more indicative of the pathway discipline.

Year two units (Level 5)

Graphic Design Pathway

  • Graphic Design in Three Dimensional Contexts
  • Corporate ID & Branding
  • Cultural Contexts and Dissertation Proposal
  • Work Placement

Illustration Pathway

  • Illustration in Three Dimensional Contexts
  • Narrative Illustration
  • Self - Directed Project
  • Cultural Contexts & Dissertation Proposal

Year three (Level 6: Graphic Design & Illustration (both pathways)

  • Dissertation
  • Industry- Led Brief
  • Subject Realisation
  • Professional Promotion

Assessment & Feedback

All assessment on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design & Illustration is via coursework; there are no exams.

Coursework is assessed in a range of different ways in order to accommodate a variety of learning styles and aptitudes.

Students will be assessed on their knowledge base and understanding of key design concepts, theories and theoretical frameworks. Assessment may include, but are not limited to; essays, reports, case studies, classroom contributions, seminar discussions, an extended essay and presentations.

Practical design skills and coursework are assessed through individual and group work contributions, individual critical analyses, studio observation, portfolios, presentations and exhibition of final designs/products/digital solutions.

Effective communication of ideas and the ability to make autonomous decisions is an important criterion in assessing all areas of a students’ work, and regular feedback as well as the final mark reflects this.

Students will complete both formative, summative and diagnostic assessments in order to promote and aid future development.

Holistic and element assessment are categories used to describe whether a single grade, or more than one grade, is recorded for each unit. Where more than one grade is recorded for a unit the final unit grade is calculated based on the weighting of the elements:

Holistic: In holistic assessment students may be asked to submit one or more pieces of work, but tutors will look at all your work for the unit and make a single judgement about a student’s performance against the University’s Assessment

  • Criteria. Students will receive a single grade and a single feedback form. Students need to achieve a grade of D- or above to pass the unit.

Elemental: The assessment for the unit is weighted. In element-based assessment, students must achieve at least an E grade in each element (for example, an essay or presentation) and an aggregate grade of at least D- in the overall unit. Failure (F, or F-) or non-submission in any element defaults to Fail for the unit.

Assessment Briefs

For each assessment students will be provided with a detailed assessment brief which will explain assessment requirements including word count and layout required. These will be provided on Canvas.

Assessment Deadlines

Each assessment will have a deadline set at the beginning of the academic year. The Assessment Schedule below provides a summary of these deadlines. We endeavour not to change deadline dates once set, but should unforeseen circumstances arise you will be notified of changes by your Programme Leader. If you are unsure of a deadline date, please check with the department administrator. The University Centre uses Canvas for some assessment submissions and you will be provided with information about this during induction.

Deadlines must be adhered to at all times, and all work should be submitted by the method, date and time stated on the assessment schedule (included in this handbook).

Assessment Submission

All coursework must be submitted physically or via Canvas as appropriate. Please see BA (Hons) Graphic Design & Illustration Assessment Deadlines for details. Submitted work must be handed in with an Assignment Front Sheet (available on Canvas) and individual elements such as sketchbooks should be marked clearly with student ID Number and name. Programme Title, Unit Code, Unit Title and the elements of assessment being handed in.


Effective communication of ideas and the ability to make autonomous decisions is an important criterion in assessing all areas of a students’ work, and regular feedback as well as the final mark reflects this.

Course Cost

Adult, full_time: £8000 per year

Fees are per academic year for Home/UK students.

The following course-related costs are included in the fees:

  • As this course may incur more than the normal printing costs, the University currently gives BA Graphics/Illustration students double the yearly amount of free printing at time of writing this is £40 per year
  • Third year students will show their work at an industry event such as New Blood, this will be covered by the Faculty of HE but may incur additional costs (ie: printing) depending on the work you produce
  • D&AD, YCN and ISTD competition briefs are entered in year three as part of the Unit AGD 302 Industry Led-Brief. The Faculty of HE covers any entry costs

What Next...

Many of our graduates find employment with design studios or set up as freelance designers for design studios, advertising agencies, publishing houses, printing firms or web and digital design studios. Others choose to further their studies through postgraduate education. The positive atmosphere on the programme often results in some of our graduates starting their own graphic design studios; one example of this is award-winning local design studio, Six Red Squares.

You can also progress to further study with universities such as University of the Arts London, including:

  • MA Graphic Design Communication
  • MA Graphic Media Design
  • MA Communication Design
  • MA Graphic Branding and Identity
  • MA Illustration – Camberwell College of Arts
  • MA Illustration and Visual Media London College of Communication

Graduate destinations

  • Jaguar Design
  • Black Square Litho Printing
  • BBB Midi magazine publishers
  • Roamers Caterers
  • Compass Creative
  • Financial Times
  • Six Red Squares