MA Graphic Design - Liverpool John Moores University

Graphic Design and Illustration MA

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £6,250
Home/EU part-time tuition fee: £34.75 per credit
International full time annual tuition fee: £13,250

Course type



Liverpool School of Art and Design

Study mode

Full Time & Part Time

About your course

This Masters degree seeks to challenge established aesthetic structures, advance your artistic development and help you become a commercially aware practitioner in the graphic design and illustration industry.

  • Course available to study full time (1 year) and part time (2 years)
  • Develop your work in state-of-the-art workspaces and facilities within the modern, purpose-built and RIBA award-winning John Lennon Art and Design Building in the heart of Liverpool’s creative quarter
  • Close links with industry and local creative agencies and professionals
  • Prestigious Susan Cotton Travel Awards, the Michael Pugh Thomas and Julia Carter Preston Legacy study awards available
  • The chance to visit key graphic design industry events, and serious opportunities to build a graphic design and illustration portfolio through collaborative projects with local festivals and creative ventures

Generous scholarships and bursaries for both home/EU and international students.

I have obtained valuable experience during the time I was doing my project for the Studio practice module. It was challenging work that made me come out of my comfort zone and try techniques I haven't used in my previous practice.

Erika Blediate, current part-time student

Introduction to the School

Liverpool School of Art and Design is organised around strong disciplinary cultures within a dynamic environment that supports interaction and debate between staff and students within and across subject areas.

Liverpool School of Art and Design is organised around strong disciplinary cultures within a dynamic environment that supports interaction and debate between staff and students within and across subject areas.

Our programmes are geared towards combining teaching and work-related learning with practical knowledge, enabling you to succeed in your chosen career beyond graduation. Teaching is individually tailored and oriented around each student, with the week divided between lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and independent study.

Research excellence

In the 2014 REF, 85% of research submitted by Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory at LJMU was either recognised internationally, or considered as internationally excellent. This research helps ensure that our postgraduate courses are positioned at the leading edge of developments in the field and that you have an opportunity to study alongside leading experts. Research is organised thematically to bring together disciplines and exploit their methods to address issues of significance and concern to the broader culture of the city and beyond. Our internationally excellent research informs our curriculum and underpins our teaching, and all our staff, including Readers and Professors, are involved in the day-to-day delivery of undergraduate as well as postgraduate and research programmes.

Research includes:

  • contemporary art and design practice
  • international art
  • sound and the visual arts
  • art history
  • curatorial practice
  • art and creative technologies
  • environmental art
  • contemporary printmaking
  • illustration
  • urban architecture

We are also particularly interested in interdisciplinary methodologies.

Why study this course at LJMU?

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 programmes at the School of Art and Design are fully collaborative and we aim 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.

This enables you to creatively practice and network with a wide range of fellow students and a broader set of ideas and concepts. You will enrich your own range of knowledge and creative/academic output in this well-cultivated studio culture. This ethos is strengthened within a department that provides a range of relevant media for your chosen creative direction.

The Graphic Design and Illustration programme is led by Ian Mitchell, a designer who is regularly published and exhibited nationally and internationally.  As well as being dedicated to the continued development of the School of Art and Design here in Liverpool, his films and typographic animations have been screened in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Berlin.

Programme outline and structure

This MA programme focuses on the cultural shifts at the centre of a rapidly moving Graphic Design and Illustration industry. The course 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 expanded forms of publishing as a method of developing your professional practice and realising your career ambitions.

The programme is based in the Liverpool School of Art and Design’s John Lennon Art and Design Building, a purpose-built facility in Liverpool City Centre, which brings together each of the varied disciplines studied at the School. The nature of the building and the interdisciplinary ethos of the School facilitate collaborative project opportunities and enable you to share ideas and expertise. You can read more about the work of the graphic design students and staff by visiting our blog.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on core and option modules for further information on what you will study.

  • Research and Practice

Discover a diverse range of historical, theoretical and critical principles that underpin and inform current and emerging graphic design and illustration practice

  • Studio Practice 

Define your existing practice and extend its scope and ambition through a combination of self-initiated and/or set projects designed to challenge their preconceived notions of graphic design and illustration practice

  • Collaboration and Publication

Work closely with external partners in the UK and abroad in the proposal and planning of collaborative creative projects and initiatives. Outcomes may be a hypothetical proposals or applied projects

  • Major Project

Bring together all of the skills that you have acquired during the course of the programme

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled ‘What you will study’ is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. Additionally, option modules may be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.

Academic Framework reviews are conducted by LJMU from time to time to ensure that academic standards continue to be maintained.

Please email if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

Our expert academics have designed your assessed work to ensure that you fulfil your potential at this important stage of your development as a postgraduate.

Assessment methods differ slightly for each of the modules but usually involve submitting practical work via a range of portfolio presentations in a viva voce situation. Research or textual material is assessed via blogs, written proposals and dissertation. 

The split between practical and written work is approximately 75:25 respectively.

Staff research interests

Research in the Liverpool School of Art and Design is conducted within the framework of ARTS LABS.

ART LABS comprises four research labs focused on the following themes: contemporary art; 3D digital art and applications in the real world; the uses of art and cultural enrichment; exhibitions and curatorship and design discourse and practice.

In the 2014 REF, 85% of research submitted by Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory at LJMU was either recognised internationally, or considered as internationally excellent. This research helps to ensure that our postgraduate courses are positioned at the forefront of developments in the field and that you have an opportunity to study alongside leading experts.

We are also particularly interested in interdisciplinary methodologies. The staff team at the School of Art and Design includes four Professors and six Readers - all active in research. For more information on ARTS LABS visit the webpages.

Entry requirements (Home)

Applications to study on a Masters level qualification in Graphic Design and Illustration will normally be considered in the light of your ability to meet the following criteria.

  • a good first degree in a visual arts related subject (Degree classification 2:1)
  • satisfactory reference
  • a portfolio of work to be presented at interview (interview dates can be found below)

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

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

Overseas qualifications will be considered in line with UK qualifications. Applicants whose first language is not English will be expected to have demonstrated competence in English language equivalent to IELTS 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component.

Interview Dates 2018/19:

We generally hold interviews on the last Wednesday of each month. This is subject to change but proposed dates for 2018/19 cycle interview days are currently:

25 April 2018, 30 May 2018, 27 June 2018, 25 July, 29 August

Interview days usually commence at 10am and finish by 1pm at the latest so please prepare to be here until this time. You will have the opportunity to discuss the programme in detail with the staff and have the opportunity to be shown around the building and facilities.

It is our aim to ensure you leave us with sufficient knowledge to make an informed decision. Tutors will evaluate your suitability for the course through the work presented and by discussing your interests, the influences on your work, and your ambitions for postgraduate study.


Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.0-6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence. If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance. Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application.  In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.

Application and selection

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.

Will I be interviewed?

Yes. Overseas applicants or applicants unable to attend interview at LJMU may be invited to attend a Skype interview.


6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


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

Financial support

Tuition fees

All students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or in instalments. If you need advice about how to pay your tuition fees, please email LJMU’s Student Funding Team.

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 scholarships, 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 deadline for submission is Friday 15th 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 £1,400 and two International Awards of £2,200. 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.

Funding sources

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From Postgraduate Masters Loans and Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Graduate employment

This MA programme will prepare you for a variety of career opportunities in the established professions of graphic design and illustration.

You will be equipped for traditional roles with 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.

The John Lennon Art and Design Building is a knowledge hub for the region’s creative industries and we will enable you to establish significant links with the relevant professional fields in which your future career will develop.

We aim to widen your exposure to artists and protagonists on the international stage of current contemporary art practice, which will offer opportunities for networking and collaboration.

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

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

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.

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