MA Graphic Design and Illustration

Start date(s)

September 2021

Study mode

Full-time (1 year)

Part-time (2 years)

Tuition fees 21/22

Home (full-time, per year): £7,750

Home (per credit): £43.05

International (full-time, per year): £15,600

Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies:

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About this course

LJMU's MA in Graphic Design and Illustration advances your artistic development and helps you become a critically engaged practitioner.

This course invites you to benefit from the tutelage of our industry networked academic team, dedicated to creating opportunities for you and the development of your artistic crossover projects.

The MA focuses on the cultural shifts at the centre of a rapidly moving Graphic Design and Illustration industry. It has been specially designed to place craft and production activities firmly at the heart of its research and your development experience.

You will examine and explore the role of independent visual practice within the context of an ever-increasing interdisciplinary profession.


You will be expected to develop personal practice that challenges traditional perspectives on both Graphic Design and Illustration disciplines while, at the same time, engaging with industry partners that have established profiles in commercial practice. A particular emphasis will be placed on challenging and exploring media as a method of developing your professional practice and realising your career ambitions.

Programmes from the School of Art and Design are fully collaborative aiming for cross-disciplinary practice across our suite of postgraduate subject areas: Architecture, Exhibition Studies, Art and Design, Fashion Innovation and Realisation, Graphic Design and Illustration, Fine Art and Urban Design. As a student you will creatively practice and network with a wide range of fellow students and Melissa Goodwich MA studenta broad set of ideas and concepts.

Melissa Goodrich is studying MA Graphic Design and Illustration. Talking about the course, Melissa said: "The degree has helped me establish my practice and narrow down my skillset. I want to work in TV and Film as a graphic designer, as it’s such a huge passion of mine. The facilities available to students have aided my practice, like being able to use the laser cutter to create my own vintage style stamps. The module ‘collaborative practice’ seemed to be the most daunting, sharing your ideas with someone else can be quite scary. But I found it the most rewarding experience."

Fees and funding

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students


The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:

  • Library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
  • Access to programme-appropriate software
  • Library and student IT support
  • Free on-campus wifi via eduroam

Additional costs

Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:

  • accommodation and living expenditure
  • books (should you wish to have your own copies)
  • printing, photocopying and stationery
  • PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
  • mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
  • field trips (travel and activity costs)
  • placements (travel expenses and living costs)
  • student visas (international students only)

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  • study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
  • academic conferences (travel costs)
  • professional-body membership
  • graduation (gown hire etc)


There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.

Bursaries and study awards

The Liverpool School of Art and Design offers students across all taught postgraduate programmes opportunities to apply for scholarships aimed at broadening student knowledge and experience.

The Michael Pugh Thomas and Julia Carter Preston Legacy scholarships consist of a number of £1,000 awards and are open to full-time and part-time home and international students who wish to study for a postgraduate qualification in art and design with LJMU. Part-time applicants can only apply once over the two years of their course.

To be considered for the scholarship, you must submit a 500 word letter to after being formally offered a place on a Masters programme in the School of Art and Design. The application deadline to be considered for the scholarship for entry into a programme in September is 30 June.

Please ensure you include your name, contact details, the full title of the course you have applied to study on and 500 words stating why you should be awarded the scholarship, the benefits it will bring to your studies and any exceptional circumstances you face in studying for a postgraduate qualification. Further information for international students about finance, fees and scholarships can be found here.

The School's main travel bursary for existing students, The Susan Cotton Travel Awards, consists of three European Awards of £1,600 and two International Awards of £2,300. The awards are intended to help you undertake significant domestic or international travel in support of your work and personal development. The awards aren't necessarily about academic study, instead they focus on the spirit of travel and adventure. Previous winners of the bursary have travelled to a tropical island to experience life at its most basic, cycled the length of the Danube, spent a month in Morocco and inter-railed through Europe. Applications for September 2019 entry are now closed.


Further your career prospects

LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.

This Masters is wholly geared towards facilitating a practical understanding of how you might exploit your own practice in the professional sphere. You are encouraged to engage with the networks which you are exposed to during the course to further your employment and career opportunities.

On graduation you will be able to pursue a variety of careers in the established professions of graphic design and illustration. You will be equipped for traditional roles in graphics studios and creative agencies such as Senior Designer, Art Director, Studio Manager and Production Manager.

The programme will also prepare you for self-employment and entrepreneurial ventures - ideal for those interested in pursuing an independent creative practice.

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The student experience

Discover life as a postgraduate student at LJMU.

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Course modules

Discover the building blocks of your programme

Your programme is made up of a number of core modules which are part of the course framework. Some programmes also have optional modules that can be selected to enhance your learning in certain areas and many feature a dissertation, extended report or research project to demonstrate your advanced learning.

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Core modules

Research and Practice 1
30 credits

This module is shared by all students studying on taught postgraduate programmes at Liverpool School of Art and Design and allows you to collaborate across programmes.

  • A series of lectures, seminars, tutorials and visits will introduce you to current and emerging practice in relation to a diverse range of historical, theoretical and critical principles
  • Guest lecturers will expose you to areas of collaboration
  • Seminars and tutorials will require you to share, discuss and evaluate your ideas and practice with others

Research and Practice 2 (Graphic Design and Illustration)
30 credits

This module requires you to produce an illustrated and designed written project of 6000-8000 words (or equivalent) relating to your specific research interests and/or relevant to a specific area of design. It enables you to:

  • build on the research and critical skills acquired in other areas of the programme
  • explore various modes of articulating and presenting ideas within written and visual forms

Studio Practice (Graphic Design and Illustration)
30 credits

Studio Practice encompasses a broad range of approaches to producing graphic design and illustration. It aims to:

  • help you develop and challenge your practice and locate it within contemporary graphic design and Illustration practice
  • enable you to undertake self-initiated or set projects that demonstrate a high level of engagement with technical processes and production methods
  • provide the opportunity to present work which demonstrates and enhances your practice

Collaborative Practice
30 credits

You will have the opportunity to work closely with internal partners within the School of Art and Design, the wider LJMU academic community or external partners in the UK and internationally. Through key partnerships you will engage with a range of collaborative projects which challenge the notion of the interdisciplinary practice within the context of contemporary art and design and which enable you to propose, plan, organise, publish and promote your work within the context of an external body.

  • Guest lecturers will expose you to areas of collaboration
  • This module is shared by all students studying on taught postgraduate programmes at Liverpool School of Art and Design and allows you to collaborate across programmes

Major Project (Graphic Design and Illustration)
60 credits

This is the module where you bring together all the skills you have acquired on the programme. It aims to:

  • support the development of a self-directed and in-depth body of work appropriate to your concerns
  • help you plan, organise and deliver a final published project or equivalent, through effective time and resource management, demonstrating a high level of critical engagement, creative achievement and appropriate technical ability
  • develop your ability to present your work and enhance your capacity to engage in professional practice


An insight into teaching on your course

Study hours

The majority of your taught contact time will take place on a Tuesday and Friday, with an intensive period of teaching at the beginning of semester one as you commence the Collaborative Practice module. This unique module brings together students from across each of the School's postgraduate degrees.

Teaching methods

Teaching is individually tailored to each student. Your week will be divided between lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and independent study.

Applied learning

You will engage with industry partners that have established profiles in commercial practice.

Graphic Design student tour

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How learning is monitored on your programme

To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme. Assessment techniques vary from module to module to reflect relevant assessment approaches and the key learning points of each topic.

Assessed work has been designed to ensure you fulfil your potential at this important stage of your development. There is a 75:25 split between practical and written work.

Assessments methods include: presentations, proposals, practical projects, essays, artefacts, supporting documents and the dissertation. Research and textual material is assessed via blogs, written proposals and the dissertation.

Course tutors

Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning

Ian Mitchell

Ian Mitchell

Programme Leader Graphic Design and Illustration

Since becoming a lecturer in 1998, Ian has exhibited and published works both nationally and internationally. Most notably Chinese Whispers – a unique experiment to create a family of fonts designed collaboratively by international participants through the generative online process of Chinese whispers. The project featured on Creative Review's first DVD Rom ‘Creative Review DVD01’ in 2001, and subsequently in numerous design and typography books and journals. His films and typographic animations have been screened in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Berlin. Elements of this research have been applied within a professional context in collaboration with a number of North West design agencies developing typefaces for communication campaigns such as Tate Liverpool’s Picasso Peace + Freedom exhibition.

I particularly enjoy seeing graduates go on to have successful careers within the creative industries. I also love being able to bring some of the world’s most respected and well known designers, illustrators and graphic artists to the university to lecture and teach our students.

School facilities

What you can expect from your School

The programme is based in the Liverpool School of Art and Design’s John Lennon Art and Design Building, a purpose-built facility based in the Mount Pleasant Campus, which brings together each of the varied disciplines studied at the School.

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Entry requirements

You will need:

  • a 2:1 degree in Graphic Design or Illustration
  • a reference
  • applicants are required to submit a sample PDF portfolio (A) or website link (B) at the point of application - see guidance below
  • to attend an interview

In exceptional circumstances applications by mature graphic designers, illustrators and artists without sufficient qualifications will be considered.

A) Digital Portfolio

The work need to be presented in the same way a physical portfolio would be; ordered and considered including the following;

+ undergraduate projects

+ evidence of problem solving skills

+ visual literacy (this may be shown in the final outcome and resolve of a project)

+ a variety of projects (crossing disciplines, art / sculpture, illustration, digital design, book design etc)

+ research work 

+ sketchbooks (showing development of you projects and your thinking)

Format: A single PDF file.

B) Website Portfolio

If you are presenting your work as a website, then please make sure you have considered the following.

You will need to include samples of the following:

+ undergraduate projects

+ evidence of problem solving skills

+ visual literacy (this may be shown in the final outcome and resolve of a project)

+ a variety of projects (crossing disciplines, art / sculpture, illustration, digital design, book design etc)

+ research work 

Please make sure you include captions to give a brief description of your project

(no more than 40 words)

Please make sure that the link to your site is not your admin login. We need the link to your published site, otherwise we won't have access rights.

Please do not send sites that require Flash to upload the page. Suitable sites builders are: Cargo Collective, Muse, Wix, Wordpress, Squarespace.

Additional information:

  • IELTS English language requirement: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component)
  • Pearson PTE Academic requirements: 64 (minimum 59 in each component for UKVI Purposes)
  • RPL is accepted on this programme

If you have any specific queries, please contact

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Please note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

View country specific entry requirements

Contact LJMU's International Admissions Team for guidance on visa information. Further information is also available from our international web pages.

Application and selection

Securing your place at LJMU

You will apply for the majority of postgraduate courses using our online application form. You should complete the form thoroughly and provide a detailed personal statement which reflects your suitability and aptitude for the programme.

The content of your application should demonstrate that you have a sufficient level of knowledge to embark upon the programme (including the required linguistic competence) and complete it within the time limits.

You will need to provide evidence of your learning capability at interview stage. You will also need to demonstrate your commitment to a postgraduate programme of study.

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The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.

Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.

Important info about this course