Graphic Design and Illustration - Liverpool John Moores University

2017 entry

BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Illustration

Course fees

Tuition fee type Cost (per annum)
Full time home/EU tuition fee: £9,250 per annum*
Full time international tuition fee: £12,660 per annum
Full-time industrial placement year fee: £1007 per annum*

*Subject to yearly increases

Course type

BA (Hons)

UCAS info

Points required: 112

UCAS code: W210

Institute code: L51

Study mode

Three years full time

About your course

The BA (Hons) Graphic Design at Liverpool John Moores University has a well established reputation for developing innovative designers and illustrators, highly sought after by employers in this exciting but competitve sector.

  • Diverse range of graphic arts covered including graphic design, illustration, printmaking, photography, animation, motion graphics and interactive design
  • You will have opportunities to work with local and national design studios on collaborative projects and industry workshops
  • 'Live' team projects with disciplines within the School, local musicians, charities or retail outlets
  • Opportunities to enter design competitions and attend freelance events
  • State-of-the-art facilities in the RIBA award-winning, Stirling Prize-nominated John Lennon Art and Design Building

A flexible course which focuses on helping students to develop their own individual design voice, encouraging experimentation of materials and processes from initial ideas to finished concept.

Graphic Design graduate

After specialising in design and illustration for children throughout my final year, I have been lucky enough to become a designer for Usborne Publishing. Not only do I get to design and illustrate for the children's market, I am learning the production side of the publishing industry. I feel really proud to have gained a design position with Usborne so soon after graduating. It's a really rewarding job.

Emily Bannister, Graphic Design graduate

Work-related learning

Translating your academic studies into essential professional experience.

We work closely with many elements of the creative industry, including local and national design studios, on a variety of projects, including design workshops and collaborative projects. You will have opportunities to apply for a limited number of placements and the course encourages participation in relevant industry events and showcases.

You can take part in 'live' team projects, which involve working with a local client such as a musician, charity or retail outlet. There will also be opportunities to enter design competitions and attend graduate freelance events. 

In 2013 level 6 student (now graduate), Mark Frances worked closely with local football and arts magazine, Spiel to develop a range of limited edition posters of Ballon D'or-winning footballing icons. The posters were sold via the Spiel website and the project received national acclaim with both Design Week and The Guardian featuring the project.

One of our graduates from 2016, Emily Tully has been shortlisted for the Penguin Random House Children's Cover Award for her final year work. A number of our students and graduates enter and are successful in high profile awards and professional schemes.

Additional to this experience, you will have the chance to produce an online portfolio reflecting your personal development and future career aspirations to show to prospective employers.

Support and guidance

Dedicated personal tutor plus study skills support.

From the moment you begin your studies at LJMU, you will be encouraged to seek out your tutors to discuss your work and progress.

Most of the teaching activities are studio-based. This means that you get the benefit of tutorial support and guidance at the point when you need it most – when you are developing project work.

You will have three or four meetings each year to talk about your personal development planning with two members of staff, where you will be given formal feedback on your work and guidance on your future direction.

At each Level you are given a personal tutor who oversees your academic development. At Level 4 your personal tutor will be your main point of contact for your induction, teaching sessions and any academic or personal matters. As you progress through the course the allocated personal tutor often changes to reflect your career aspirations. They will play a significant role in your professional development.

The course is social, where study within the graphics studio and the John Lennon Art and Design Building facilities is not only encouraged but expected. You will be taught by most of the course team during your three years at LJMU and all tutors will take an active interest in your progress, whether they are teaching you specific modules or not.

To quote one of our tutors, joining the Graphic Design and Illustration course means you "become part of a larger Liverpool Graphics family."

Course details

This BA (Hons) course isn't just about graphic design and illustration, it encompasses animation, multimedia, interactive design, motion graphics, printmaking and photography.

Modules are designed to be flexible so you can specialise in either graphic design or illustration early in the course or take your time deciding while you get a feel for different art forms.

This means that you will be working in a highly creative and stimulating environment where craft-based skills flourish alongside new technology using a variety of traditions including drawing, typography, image making and inventive approaches to new media. Even the John Lennon Art and Design Building, where the School is based, is considered a work of art, having been nominated for the prestigious Stirling Prize.

Our close links with the North West design industry have resulted in student placement schemes with local design studios and ‘live’ collaborative projects which are essential preparation for your design career.

This course has a reputation for excellence and we are proud to have produced some of the country’s most innovative and respected designers and illustrators. They include Paul Pensom, who is current Art Editor at Creative Review; Joe Stottard, a designer at Adidas in Germany; Malik Thomas-Smeda who was recently commissioned by the National Football Museum in Manchester; Kirsty White, who won first prize in the national 2010 Penguin Book Design Awards; Luke Sanders, who designed the 2009 D&AD Annual which was art directed by the world-renowned Peter Saville; Katy Foster whose final year project was featured in the book Data Flow 2 – Visualising Information in Graphic Design and Owain Bentley, whose final year film was shown at Glastonbury.

Additional opportunities available outside of the studio include study trips at each Level (typically to Manchester, London and Berlin) and the prestigeous Susan Cotton Travel Awards and Sue Dunthorne Travel Bursaries, that give students opportunities to undertake overseas trips for personal and professional development.

What you will study on this degree

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

Level 4
  • What? Studying Graphic Design and Illustration
  • How? Making Graphic Design and Illustration
  • Why? Applying the Creative Process
  • Images
  • Words
  • Discourse
Level 5
  • Investigate, Document, Present
  • Future Thinking

The following options are typically offered:

  • Graphic Design and Typography
  • Graphic Design and the Screen
  • Graphic Design and Identity
  • Graphic Design and Context
  • Illustration (Text and Image)
  • Illustration (Materials and Media)
  • Illustration (Creative Practice)
  • Illustration (Context)

Level 6
  • Graphic Arts Research Project
  • Studio Projects
  • Future Focus

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.

Please see the programme specification document for further details on this course.

Programme specification document (PDF)

Teaching and learning

Excellent facilities and learning resources.

Teaching is focused on practical studio projects which usually last for several weeks and involve briefings, workshops, discussions, reviews and critiques. There will also be a series of design history and theory lectures, with some high-profile visiting speakers.

You will have plenty of one-to-one contact with your tutors, either while you are working in the studio or in tutorials, but as the course progresses, you are expected to spend more time working independently. This becomes particularly important when you start to work on career-focused projects and placements. In general, you are expected to commit to approximately 35-40 hours of study per week.

Your lecturers

Expert tuition and support.

Your tutors are freelance designers, illustrators or researchers who are highly respected in their particular fields. They have a wealth of experience in the industry, so their advice and guidance on how to make the most of your time at LJMU and succeed professionally in a competitive sector will be invaluable when you come to plan your own career. 

Some notable highlights include:

  • Illustration pathway tutor Mike O’Shaughnessy who produced artwork for numerous bands and musicians including Elbow’s Leaders of the Free World album.
  • Programme Leader Ian Mitchell has helped North West design agencies, Music and Dorothy, design custom typefaces for the new visual identity for Chester Zoo and for the marketing campaign for Tate Liverpool’s Picasso Peace + Freedom exhibition.

The activity that the tutors undertake outside of core teaching feeds directly into the development of the course and gives you access to a network of local, national and international artists, designers and creatives.

For more information about individual tutors please visit the course blog 

Assessment and feedback

Most of your assessment will be in the form of a portfolio of finished work, with a progress file, sketchbooks and worksheets, and you will be expected to write some essays, reviews, proposals and reports.

You will also have to produce a personal development plan folder, CV and/or blog. Practical work accounts for 75% of your marks and 25% for written work.

Constructive feedback is vital in helping you to identify your strengths as well as the areas where you may need to put in more work. It is provided verbally during reviews and critiques of practical projects, and in writing for interim reviews.

At the end of the academic year, you will receive written feedback with an indication of your marks and within three weeks of submitting work, although this may take longer if the marks go through an external moderation and approval process.

Entry requirements

Please choose your qualifications below to view requirements

Minimum points required from qualifications

112

Application and selection

What are we looking for?

  • An enthusiasm for Art & Design based subjects
  • Capable of discussing of Art & Design issues and influences
  • Visual awareness and communication
  • The ability to analyse and reflectively criticise

While we take many students who are already certain about their eventual pathway through the programme it is not necessary at this stage for students to have made up their mind. We are more interested in ideas, attitude and students' approach to making work and less interested in technical prowess. Sketchbooks, reference and research work are as important as finished project work at interview.

Assessment of suitability to the course will be undertaken by review of a portfolio of work and interview. Further information about the interview process can be found at: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/applicant-login/interviews-auditions-and-aptitude-tests/faculty-of-arts-professional-and-social-studies 

GCSE and equivalents

  • Prior to starting the programme applicants must have obtained grade 4 or grade C or above in English Language and Mathematics GCSE or an approved alternative qualification below: • Key Skills Level 2 in English/ Maths • NVQ Level 2 Functional skills in Maths and English Writing and or Reading • Skills for Life Level 2 in Numeracy/English • Higher Diploma in Maths/ English • Functional skills level 2 in Maths/ English • Northern Ireland Essential Skills Level 2 in Communication or Application of Number • Wales Essential Skills Level 2 in Communication or Application of Number

A Levels

  • Minimum number of A Levels required: 2
  • Subject specific requirements: To include an Art/Design subject if no other level 3 Art/Design qualifications taken
  • Is general studies acceptable? Yes
  • Are AS level awards acceptable? Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
  • Average A Level offer: BBC
  • Maximum AS Level points accepted: 20

BTEC qualifications

  • BTEC certificate: Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
  • 90 credit diploma: Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
  • Diploma (QCF): Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
  • Diploma subjects / grades required: D*D* in an Art/Design subject if studied on its own or to the total of 112 UCAS points if combined with other qualifications
  • Extended diploma (QCF): Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
  • Extended diploma subjects / grades required: DMM in an Art/Design subject if studied on its own or to the total of 112 UCAS points if combined with other qualifications

Access to Higher Education Diploma

  • Access to Higher Education Diploma acceptability: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
  • Further information: At least 15 Distinctions and 30 Merits, or any other combination that equates to 112 UCAS Tariff points in an Art/Design subject

International Baccalaureate

  • International Baccalaureate: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
  • Additional information: 26 IB Diploma Points, to include Visual Arts at HL

Welsh awards

  • Welsh Baccalaureate: Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications

Irish awards

  • Irish Leaving Certificate: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
  • Grades / subjects required: 112 UCAS Tariff points, to include Art at higher level and a maximum 20 UCAS Tariff points from Ordinary Level

Additional entry requirement information

​UCAS Tariff points accepted from the Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art & Design, and Art, Design and Media).   Applications are welcomed from mature and non-standard applicants, who will be cnsidered on an individual basis.  These applicants may be required to submit an essay and/or attend an interview, and should demonstrate potential and motivation and/or have relevant experience.                                                                                                           

International applications will be considered in line with UK qualifications.      

Will I be interviewed?

Interview required

IELTS

6.0 (minimum of 5.5 in each component)

Can this course be deferred?

Yes

Is a DBS check required?

No

Is RPL accepted on this programme?

Yes

International requirements

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

Finance and fees

Find out more about the student funding available from LJMU as well as government grants and loans and targeted support for students with children/dependants or disabilities.

Different funding arrangements will apply if you are from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or other countries in the EU. If you normally live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you will still be eligible for loans for tuition fees as well as grants and/or bursaries plus loans for living costs. It's just that the amounts available may be different to those stated here as these apply to applicants who live in England.

LJMU scholarships

LJMU's scholarships are open to all full-time Home and EU undergraduates that are liable to pay tuition fees. These awards are not income assessed, and if successful you will be awarded a scholarship for each year of your course worth between £1,000 and £10,000. This money does not need to be repaid and it's up to you to decide what you want to spend it on.

LJMU bursary

LJMU bursaries are means-tested, which means your household income must be below a certain level in order for you to qualify for this funding.

The money you receive does not have to be repaid and is intended to help you meet some of the costs associated with being a student. You will receive a bursary for each year of your course providing you still meet the eligibility criteria.

Tuition fees

In line with most universities, LJMU charges an annual tuition fee of £9,250 for most of our degrees.

If you opt to complete a foundation year as part of your degree, your first year tuition fee will be £7,700.

The important thing to remember is that you don't have to pay your tuition fees upfront when you enrol.

Instead you can take out a tuition fee loan, which doesn't have to be repaid until after you leave LJMU and start earning over the threshold. Currently the threshold is £21,000 for students resident in England.

As long as you have not been to University before and meet the residency rules both full and part-time students are eligible to apply for tuition fee loans.

For more information on tuition fee loans, go to: www.gov.uk/student-finance

LJMU is committed to ensuring that students understand the full cost of studying at LJMU. Our programmes have no hidden costs and your tuition fee covers all expenses associated with your core modules, including:

  • Safety equipment, such as lab coats and goggles
  • Uniforms for nurses, paramedics and other professional placement students (if applicable)
  • UK field trips
  • Educational visits
  • Student exchanges
  • Criminal Records Bureau checks
  • Professional sector regulatory body membership
  • Governing body awards

Living costs

In addition to your tuition fees, eligible students can also choose to take out a maintenance loan for each year of your course to help you meet the costs of being a student.

The money will have to be paid back but only after you leave LJMU and starting earning over the income threshold, currently £21,000 for those resident in England.

Part-time students are not eligible to take out these loans.

For more information on student loans, go to:www.gov.uk/student-finance

Image of lab

Paying back your student loans

Any loans you take out while studying will be added together into one loan account. This means that when you start paying back your student loans, you will only make one affordable monthly payment. This monthly repayment will be the same regardless of how many loans you have taken out. That’s because your repayments are based on a percentage of your salary not how much you borrowed from the Student Loans Company.

The current threshold for students normally resident in England is £21,000. Once your income goes over this threshold your employer will start taking repayments from your salary just like tax and national insurance. If your income falls below £21,000 your repayments will stop.

Career prospects

With the close links we have with local design studios and our lecture series from designers and illustrators of the highest calibre such as Jonathan Barnbrook, the course is consistently developing in response to the demands of industry.

At least one of the course’s external examiners is a current practitioner, ensuring that our graduates meet the standards required by the creative industries.

This highly vocational programme presents many opportunities to make contacts in the world of graphic design, through placements, projects, competition briefs and graduate freelance and self-employment events. All of these activities are pathways into careers in the creative industries, whether you decide to go freelance, find employment with a large agency or start up your own design studio. You are prepared for the 'world of work' within the curriculum in a number of ways.

Most significantly the course is highly vocational, with clearly defined career options. The course also continues to develop a number of initiatives with highly respected design studios to embed workshops and real world projects led and delivered by industry professionals within our Level 5 and 6 professional development modules. 

The following alumni have either become employed or gone on to further study following graduation:

  • Matthew Varker (2015) Graphic Designer at Gorilla (Manchester)
  • James Gosnold (2015) MA Visual Communication at Royal College of Art
  • Malik Thomas-Smeda (2014) Commissioned by Nation Football Museum, Manchester
  • Jess Heaton and Jack Hale (2014) Junior Designers at Boohoo.com Manchester
  • Mario Vaz (2014) – Graphic Designer at Contrast Creative, Manchester
  • Lottie Brzowzski (2013) Middleweight Graphic Designer at Music, Manchester
  • Rachel Davey (2013) MA Visual Communication at Royal College of Art
  • Sam Howard (2013) Junior Graphic Designer at Ragged Edge, London
  • Sophie Gordon (2013) Designer Assistant at Nosy Crow, London
  • James Falkingham (2012) Founder and Art Director of Tusk Magazine
  • Laura Tombs (2012) Project Manager at Magnetic North, Manchester
  • Emily Salinas (2012) Shellsuit Zombie Collective
  • Joe Stottard (2011) Designer at Adidas, Germany
  • Kathryn Easthope (2011) Art Director at Reiss, London, having worked at Dazed and Confused and Another Magazine
  • Jonny Biggs (2011) Graphic Designer at Nonconform (Liverpool)
  • Svea Carney (2011) Graphic Designer at Shop Direct (Liverpool)
  • Graeme Helliwell (2011) Lead Designer at Trinity Publishing (Liverpool)
  • Neringa Plange (2011) MA Visual Communication at Royal College of Art
  • Lewis Jones (2010) Data Visualisation Graphic Designer at Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Kristina Coates (2010) Senior Picture Book Designer at Bloomsbury Publishing
  • James Gilmore (2008) Art Director at DesignStudio London
  • Richard Lackmaker (2008) Lead Visual Designer at ustwo in Australia
  • Joe Bramall (2003) Director at Well Made Studios, Liverpool
  • Heather Almond (2001) Senior Graphic Designer at Smiling Wolf, Liverpool
  • Richard Turley (1998) Art Director at Bloomberg Business Week NY
  • Tash Willcocks (1996) Programme Manager at Hyper Island
  • Jonny Hannah (1996) Illustration Programme Leader at Southampton
  • Simon Vaughan (1995) Creative Director at Amaze
  • Jeremy Coysten (1995) Partner at North Design
  • Paul Pensom (1994) current Art Director at Creative Review

International Scholarships

Studying at LJMU offers international students excellent value for money and the opportunity to secure an internationally-respected qualification plus outstanding career prospects.

Each year, LJMU offers a range of prestigious international scholarships. Further details of the scholarships offered to applicants wishing to study at the University from September 2017 onwards will be available on this page in the coming months.

For the most up-to-date information about studying at Liverpool John Moores University, and the International Scholarship programme, please visit the International pages.

International Foundation Year and International Year One programmes

LJMU offers international students the option of completing International Foundation Year and International Year One programmes at the University’s International Study Centre. These courses are managed and taught by Study Group, a world leader in education and training for international  students. For more details on the International Study Centre, go to www.ljmuisc.com/

English language qualifications

All international applicants must have an internationally recognised English language qualification, such as IELTS (International English Language Testing Service). Your English language qualification must have been certified within the last two years for verification purposes. LJMU will accept other UKVI-recognised English language tests providing you attain the appropriate level.

This table summarises the minimum scores required by LJMU.

Please note: your specific course requirements may differ.

For course-specific English Language requirements, click the Entry Requirements tab above.

To find out what qualifications are applicable in your country please visit the international pages.

Type of Programme IELTS Pearson
International Foundation Programme 4.5 50-57 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)
Undergraduate degrees 6.0 50-57 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)
MPharm 7.0 Not accepted

English language support to improve IELTS

If your English language level does not meet the required entry requirements for your course you may still be offered a place on the condition that you successfully complete an English for Undergraduate Study course at LJMU’s International Study Centre.

Please contact the International Study Centre and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers (www.ljmuisc.com/) or email: international@ljmu.ac.uk for more details.

Tuition fees

International students are liable to pay a minimum of 50% of their tuition fees when they complete their enrolment at the University. The outstanding balance must be paid in full within 4 months of your enrolment date.

Living Costs

When you apply for your visa or entry clearance, you will need to provide evidence of having enough money to support yourself for the duration of your programme and to pay for all of your living expenses. The good news is that the cost of living in Liverpool is one of the lowest in England, which means your money will go even further, allowing you to enjoy your student experience to the full.

In addition to academic fees, you must budget for living costs such as accommodation, food, clothing, books, local travel and entertainment. The UKVI requires that students studying outside London must have £7,200 to pay for their living costs (or £800 per month).

LJMU’s undergraduate courses run over an academic calendar of nine months so you will need to show that you have at least £7,200. If your course lasts 6 months you will need to demonstrate you have £4,800.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Before you can apply for permission to enter or remain in the UK under Tier 4 you will require a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies or CAS. LJMU will only assign a CAS once you have satisfied the conditions of any offer made to you and you satisfy the University’s obligations as a Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsor. For more details, visit the international students section.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme Certificate (ATAS)

If you have applied to study an Enhanced Undergraduate Degree (such as an MEng) course at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate.

You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website: www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/what-we-do/services-we-deliver/atas/who-atas/

Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team (int-admissions@ljmu.ac.uk)for guidance.

Your visa application

As soon as you have received an offer of a place at LJMU you should contact the Entry Clearance Office at the British Embassy, British High Commission or Consular Office in your own country to check whether you need a visa for entry into Britain. You are advised to do this as soon as you can as the visa application process can take a long time.

Please Note: To obtain an Entry Visa you should go to the British Embassy or High Commission in your own country, and present the following documents:

  • Passport
  • A valid LJMU Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
  • Evidence of financial support for the programme
  • Two recent photographs of yourself (passport-size)
  • All relevant educational diplomas and certificates (as stated in your CAS)
  • A declaration of your intent to return home on completion of your course of study

The University may make changes to a programme of study or module where 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.
Further guidance on programme changes

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