Why study Graphic Design and Illustration at Liverpool John Moores University?
- 93% of our students agreed they were satisfied with their degree in the 2020 National Student Survey
- Check out the latest Graphic Design and Illustration Degree Show
- Students can access study abroad opportunities and prizes for overseas travel
- 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 and be taught by renowned graphic designers, illustrators and professionals from the creative industries
- Opportunities to participate in 'live' projects, work collaboratively or in teams, and attend freelance and networking events
- Studios based in the RIBA award-winning, Stirling Prize-nominated John Lennon Art and Design Building
- Read more about student projects and graduate successes
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 competitive sector.
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 local and national creative industries have resulted in collaborations, 'live' projects and internship opportunities, all of which are essential preparation for your future career.
This course has a reputation for excellence and we are proud to have produced some of the countrys most innovative and respected designers and illustrators. They include Paul Pensom, who is current Art Editor at Creative Review; Jimmy Turrell, Graphic artist and Video Director represented by Heart Agency and an international client base including Nike, MTV, Conde Nast, Pentagram and Dazed & Confused; Joe Stottard, Lead Designer at Adidas in Germany; James Gilmore, designer at Design Studio, responsible for the recent rebranding of The Premier League and Airbnb; Malik Thomas-Smeda who was commissioned by the National Football Museum in Manchester; Al Murphy, freelance illustrator with an international client base including MTV, Guardian and TimeOut NY; Richard Turley, Global Creative Director at Wieden + Kennedy, New York.
Additional opportunities available outside of the studio include study trips at each Level (typically to Manchester, London and Berlin) and the prestigious Susan Cotton Travel Awards and Sue Dunthorne Travel Bursaries, that give students opportunities to undertake overseas trips for personal and professional development.
The course recently collaborated with The Double Negative, an arts criticism and social commentary online magazine, to launch a series 'In These Times: Pandemic Conversations'. The partnership between LJMU Graphic Design & Illustration and The Double Negative focuses on students, acknowledging the profound difficulties posed to students in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also recognises outstanding work produced during this challenging time.
"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."
Fees and funding
There are many ways to fund study for home and international students
The fees quoted above 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
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)
- 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 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 funding pages.
This highly vocational programme presents many opportunities to make contacts in the world of graphic design, through live 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:
- Rosa Kusabbi (2020) Freelance Illustrator, selected by The Association of Illustrators in the Top 10 UK Illustrators Graduates to watch in 2020
- Chris Martin (2019) Freelance Illustrator, clients have included Levis and Guardian Labs
- Fleur Ellis (2018) Graphic Designer at wearepi (Amsterdam)
- Lol Gallimore (2018) Graphic Designer at AGA LAB (Amsterdam)
- Millie Chesters (2018) Freelance Illustrator, clients have included The International Slavery Museum, Goal Power and is an artist in residence for homotopiafest
- Rachael Dean (2017) Childrens book Illustrator represented by Pickled Ink Agency (Liverpool)
- Bryn Walden-Jones (2017) Founder and Art Director of Stiles Magazine (London)
- Rachel Victoria Hillis (2017) Freelance Illustrator, clients have included Airbnb, Elle Dcor Italia, Goop, Slowdown Studio and RHS (Liverpool)
- Jasmine Floyd (2017) Freelance Illustrator, clients have included Google, The Skinny and Aquila (Shropshire)
- Rosha Patel (2017) UX/UI Designer at Mindwave Ventures (Manchester)
- Lowri Evans (2016) Junior Designer at Music (Manchester)
- Connor Spink (2016) Middleweight Designer at Definitive Creative (Leeds)Matthew Varker (2015) Graphic Designer at Gorilla (Manchester)
- Sana Iqbald (2015) Creative Consultant at The Storytellers (London)
- James Gosnold (2015) MA Visual Communication at Royal College of Art (London)
- Beci Kelly (2015) Graphic Artist at Penguin Random House (London)
- Malik Thomas-Smeda (2014) Commissioned by National Football Museum (Manchester), Designer at Marketing Liverpool
- 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) currently studying MA Visual Communication at Royal College of Art (London)
- Rachel Davey (2013) MA Visual Communication at Royal College of Art
- Sam Howard (2013) Graphic Designer at Ragged Edge (London)
- Sophie Gordon (2013) Design 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 Stothard (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 (London)
- 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 (London)
- Joe Bramall (2003) Director at Well Made Studios, (Liverpool)
- Heather Almond (2001) Senior Graphic Designer at Smiling Wolf, (Liverpool)
- Gavin Sherrat (1999) Founder and MD of Studio Mashbo (Liverpool)
- Richard Turley (1998) Art Director at Bloomberg Business Week (NYC)
- Tash Willcocks (1996) Programme Manager at Hyper Island (Manchester)
- Jonny Hannah (1996) Illustration Senior Lecturer at Southampton Solent University
- Simon Vaughan (1995) Creative Director at Amaze (Manchester)
- Jeremy Coysten (1995) Partner at North Design (London)
- Paul Pensom (1994) current Art Director at Creative Review
Student Futures - Careers, Employability and Enterprise Service
A wide range of opportunities and support is available to you, within and beyond your course, to ensure our students experience a transformation in their career trajectory. Every undergraduate curriculum includes Future Focus during Level 4, an e-learning resource and workshop designed to help you to develop your talents, passion and purpose.
Every student has access to Careers Zone 24/7, LJMU's suite of online Apps, resources and jobs board via the LJMU Student Futures website. There are opportunities for flexible, paid and part-time work through Unitemps, LJMU's in-house recruitment service, and we also offer fully funded Discovery Internships.
One-to-one careers and employability advice is available via our campus-based Careers Zones and we offer a year-round programme of events, including themed careers and employability workshops, employer events and recruitment fairs. Our Start-Up Hub can help you to grow your enterprise skills and to research, plan and start your own business or become a freelancer.
A suite of learning experiences, services and opportunities is available to final year students to help ensure you leave with a great onward plan. You can access LJMU's Careers, Employability and Start-up Services after you graduate and return for one-to-one support for life.
LJMU aims to make international opportunities available to every student. You may be able to study abroad as part of your degree at one of our 100+ partner universities across the world. You could also complete a work placement or apply for one of our prestigious worldwide internship programmes. If you wanted to go abroad for a shorter amount of time, you could attend one of our 1-4 week long summer schools.
Our Go Citizen Scheme can help with costs towards volunteering, individual projects or unpaid placements anywhere in the world. With all of these opportunities at your feet, why wouldn’t you take up the chance to go abroad?
What you will study on this degree
Please see guidance below on core and option modules for further information on what you will study.
Further guidance on modules
Modules are designated core or optional in accordance with professional body requirements, as applicable, and LJMU’s Academic Framework Regulations. Whilst you are required to study core modules, optional modules provide you with an element of choice. Their availability may vary and will be subject to meeting minimum student numbers.
Where changes to modules are necessary these will be communicated as appropriate.
Understanding Visual Communication
This module introduces you to the key principles, ideas, people, places and approaches that have shaped visual communication and studio practice enabling you to develop a broad understanding of the history of the Graphic Arts and the approaches that have influenced it.
This module introduces you to the programme through a series of complementary briefs that encourage curiosity and experimentation with a variety of approaches to build confidence in taking risks and develop a practical understanding of some of the key skills and concepts that underpin visual communication and the graphic arts. The module culminates in a Portfolio of work demonstrating an exploratory approach to, and understanding of, the key skills and concepts.
In this module you will reflect on your own background, interests and values. You will develop an independent approach to your practice to explore how visual communication can be used to interrogate, discuss, challenge and communicate complex issues related to culture and society enabling you to recognise the purpose, power and possibility of the work you produce. Through this module pathway preferences and strengths are identified to inform module choices and key areas for exploration at Level 5.
Politics and Purpose
This module draws on historical and contemporary practice to consider the relationship between visual communication, culture and society exploring issues such as the climate crisis, decolonisation, emerging technology and identity to enable you to better understand the implications and intent of Graphic Design & Illustration practice in the context of a changing world.
Visual Communication Cultures
Through a focus on contemporary practitioners and researchers this module introduces you to new and emergent thinking, approaches and business practices in the Graphic Arts. Emphasising the role of the responsible practitioner, the module will challenge and expand your understanding of Graphic Design and Illustration, enabling you to identify and utilise contextual frameworks to develop your own viewpoints and a critical understanding of your practice.
This module introduces you to a range of research methodologies and writing styles to widen approaches to critical investigation into, through, and for practice and develop your creative voice. You will identify and investigate a field of interest that reflects you and your future aspirations within graphic design, illustration or the visual arts, and use this to develop a project proposal and research plan to guide your L6 studies.
This is Graphic Design
This module is focussed on developing and expanding your graphic design practice through experimentation, creative play and iteration. You will examine the relationship between media, method and audience developing skills across a diverse range of areas such as typography, layout, print, moving image, design for screen and emergent technology to inform the production of a portfolio of work. Experimentation across a diverse range of digital and analogue processes and formats within graphic design practice will inform the production of a portfolio of work.
This is Illustration
This module is focussed on developing and expanding your illustration practice through experimentation, creative play and iteration. You will examine the relationship between media, method, text, and audience and investigate making and interpreting meaning within images. Experimentation across a diverse range of digital and analogue processes and formats within illustration practice will inform the production of a portfolio of work.
Graphic Design Practice
In this module you will work across a range of briefs informed by external contexts and socio-cultural themes to develop and assess self-directed, independent and collaborative working methods, and to cultivate a professional approach to your practice. The module culminates in the production of a portfolio that positions your work within contemporary graphic design practice and the broader creative industries.
In this module you will work across a range of briefs informed by external contexts and socio-cultural themes to develop and assess self-directed, independent and collaborative working methods, and to cultivate a professional approach to your practice. The module culminates in the production of a portfolio that positions your work within contemporary illustration practice and the broader creative industries.
Study Year Abroad – Graphic Design & Illustration
This is an additional year of full-time study at an approved higher education institution. The modules to be studied must be agreed in advance, and must be appropriate for the student's programme of study. Assuming successful completion of this year, mark-bearing credit will be awarded by the University Recognition Group. The grade conversion scale to be used will be made available in advance of the year abroad.
Graphic Arts Research Project
This module offers you the opportunity to articulate your own creative voice. Through sustained self-directed research, analysis and evaluation you will critically explore a subject, related to graphic design, illustration or visual arts, to produce a written outcome and a practice-based project, that reflects your interests, aspirations, ethical principles, lived experiences and personal values.
Ambition & Authorship
This module supports the transition towards more ambitious, independent and self-directed learning giving you the opportunity to undertake projects relevant to your personal practice and future aspirations. You will develop projects from a range of platforms with socio-cultural themes and engage with practice-based research methods and directed creative experimentation to develop imaginative and original outcomes.
This module is the culmination of the programme and offers you the opportunity to propose and undertake an individual programme of study that will position your work in a professional context. A series of workshops, industry focussed skills sessions, and portfolio development exercises will prepare you for the transition to postgraduate study, entrepreneurship or employment.
Teaching and work-related learning
Excellent facilities and learning resources
We adopt an active blended learning approach, meaning you will experience a combination of face-to-face and online learning during your time at LJMU. This enables you to experience a rich and diverse learning experience and engage fully with your studies. Our approach ensures that you can easily access support from your personal tutor, either by meeting them on-campus or via a video call to suit your needs.
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 design history and theory lectures, and an annual visiting lecture series of high-profile guest speakers. Previous series have featured keynote lectures by Lance Wyman, Kate Moross, Jonathan Barnbrook, Adrian Shaughnessy, Bjorn Rune Lie, Jon McNaught, and Morag Myerscough.
You will have plenty of one-to-one contact with your tutors, either in group briefings, lectures, seminar groups 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 and students are timetabled for 1218 hours per week in groups of 1020 students per tutor.
Materials and Equipment:
- We cover the cost of materials needed during induction workshops
- Each Level 6 student receives a starter pack including a pen drive and sketchbook
- Printing is heavily subsidised within the Liverpool School of Art
- Free access to Risograph printing facilities
- Students will have some access to dedicated graphics Apple laptops. But students are expected to buy items that are closely linked with their personal approach to making work. For the teaching year 2022/23 it would be advisable to purchase a laptop/computer for home use.
Each year group has its own dedicated studio space. Final year students have access to a dedicated desk space within the final year studio. You will also have open access to digital photography, printmaking, digital fabrication and moving image workshop areas. There are two dedicated Risograph print work shop areas within the graphics studios. John Lennon Art and Design Building is open from 8am - 9pm weekdays and the library is open 24/7. For the academic year 2022/23 access to the building will follow the government guidelines on social distancing measures.
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.
For the academic year 2020/21 most of the teaching will be delivered online and you will be offered the opportunity to attend studio sessions. This means that you get the benefit of tutorial support and guidance through a blended learning approach.
You will have three or four meetings each year to talk about your personal development planning with your personal tutor, 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 and engagement with all modes of teaching is 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."
Assessment varies depending on the modules you choose, but will usually include a combination of exams and coursework.
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 interim reviews.
At the end of each module, you will receive written feedback with an indication of your marks within three weeks of submitting work, although this may take longer if the marks go through an external moderation and approval process.
Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning
Graphic Design and Illustration is a diverse graphic arts degree course covering graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, interactive design, printmaking, photography, bookmaking and animation. The course has a tradition of delivering an interdisciplinary yet specialist curriculum. This approach is distinctive to Liverpool.
Where you will study
What you can expect from your School
Rated a Top 10 Art School in the 2021 Guardian University League Tables.
Cross-disciplinary learning in art and design subjects takes place in the Liverpool School of Art and Design 's John Lennon Art and Design Building, based in the Mount Pleasant Campus. Here students studying a variety of disciplines, including Architecture, Art in Science, Exhibition Studies, Fashion, Fine Art, Graphic Design, History of Art and Museum Studies and Interior Architecture, will have the opportunity to develop their work in state-of-the-art workspaces and facilities within a stimulating and critically demanding environment.
Please choose your qualifications below to view requirements
Grades/points required from qualifications: BBC-ABB (112-128)
GCSEs and equivalents
Prior to starting the programme applicants must have obtained GCSE Grade 4 or C or above in English Language and Mathematics/Numeracy 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
- Northern Ireland Essential Skills Level 2 in Communication or Application of Number
- Welsh GCSE in Maths
- Wales Essential Skills Level 2 in Communication or Application of Number
- 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
- Average A Level offer: BBC-ABB
- Are AS level awards acceptable? Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- Maximum AS Level points accepted: 20
- National Certificate (RQF): Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- National Extended Certificate: Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- National Diploma (RQF): Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- National Diploma subjects / grades required: D*D* in an Art/Design subject if studied on its own or to the total of 112-128 UCAS points if combined with other qualifications
- National Extended Diploma (RQF): Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- National Extended Diploma subjects / grades required: DMM-DDM in an Art/Design subject if studied on its own or to the total of 112-128 UCAS points if combined with other qualifications
- 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: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- Additional information: 112-128 UCAS Tariff points from IB Composite parts, or in combination with other Level 3 qualifications which must include an art/Design subject
OCR Cambridge Technical
Extended Diploma: DMM-DDM
- Irish Leaving Certificate: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- Grades / subjects required: 112-128 UCAS Tariff points, to include Art at higher level and a maximum 20 UCAS Tariff points from Ordinary Level
- Welsh Baccalaureate: Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- T Level requirements: 112-128 UCAS Tariff points in an art and design subject. Acceptable on its own or combined with other qualifications.
- Are Level 3 NVQs acceptable? Acceptable when combined with other qualifications
Alternative qualifications considered
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 considered on an individual basis. These applicants should demonstrate potential and motivation and/or have relevant experience.
International applications will be considered in line with UK qualifications.
Assessment of suitability to the course will be include a review of a portfolio of work (portfolio guidance) and interview.
Shortlisted applicants will be required to produce a portfolio and be invited to interview
Applicants need to be studying an Art/Design Level 3 qualification
6.0 (minimum of 5.5 in each component, taken within two years of the course start date) or equivalent English language proficiency test.
DBS, Occupational Health requirements
Is a DBS check required?
Reduced offer scheme
As part of LJMU’s commitment to widening access we offer eligible students entry to their chosen course at a reduced threshold of up to 16/8 UCAS points. This applies if you are a student who has been in local authority care or if you have participated in one of LJMU’s sustained outreach initiatives, e.g. Summer University. Please contact the admission office for further details.
Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check.
Application and selection
Securing your place at LJMU
UCAS is the official application route for our full-time undergraduate courses. Further information on the UCAS application process can be found here https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/study/undergraduate-students/how-to-apply.
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 include a review of a portfolio of work (Portfolio guidance) and interview."
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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