Postgraduate study

Illustration MA, MFA

Awards: MA, MFA

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Illustration

Postgraduate study in illustration reflects the diversity of the subject and the opportunities that exist in areas such as publishing, advertising, graphic and web design, theatre, television, art galleries and museums.

We welcome applicants with a variety of approaches to Illustration, from both academic and professional backgrounds. You will be encouraged to explore various methods with support from accomplished and respected staff, who all have understanding and expertise in the art of illustration.

Facilities include excellent individual working spaces with access to a drawing studio and extensive printmaking resources. There are life drawing classes, workshops and field trips. You will also have the chance to study bookbinding, book arts, digital technologies and web publishing. The programme also includes working with writers, designers and publishers in collaboration and in live briefs. Many of our postgraduates have their work published and a number of set projects evolve from year to year to reflect contemporary developments in illustration. For example, students have made work for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh Filmhouse and the ECA Bookmarks symposium.

Much work in the studios is concerned with storytelling, documenting current events, fiction and non-fiction, visual complements to literature, and authorial illustration. You will be encouraged to take part in national and international competitions, with the aim of joining the ranks of those who have exhibited and won prizes in events such as the V&A Student Illustration Awards, AOI, Image Nation, Folio Society, Penguin Book Awards, 3x3, Batsford and D&AD briefs.

Illustration offers an excellent opportunity for independent, focused study. MA students produce a body of practical and written work on an agreed topic, while MFA students produce an extended range of work.

Self-directed projects are connected to set projects, workshops and collaborations throughout the year. You will combine practical studio work with theory and written studies, including professional practice, in preparation for industry employment.

A lecture/seminar series examines the wider context of your studies, presented by contemporary artists, illustrators and designers.

Illustration includes working to a brief and developing an individual portfolio. An international group of illustrators, working at this level reflects a global sense of identity and ambition. We will provide you with individual workspace in a shared studio.

Each course presents a set of three learning outcomes, to which students may gauge their progress. Oral and written feedback gives direction and academic guidance for a variety of approaches to Illustration.

Graduates explore an exciting and diverse range of careers, including working as picture book illustrators, designers, freelance illustrators, artists and craftsmen, or in leading agencies.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in illustration or a related subject that gives appropriate grounding for postgraduate study. You should demonstrate knowledge of the subject and its contemporary practice.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. Your portfolio should contain examples of work that show an understanding and level of skill appropriate to the postgraduate study of illustration, including:

  • observational drawing
  • colour, line, composition
  • idea development
  • awareness of narrative image-making and sequential image-making
  • awareness of print and applications of digital media
  • awareness of the professional practice and the cultural context of historical and contemporary Illustration

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 08/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 09/05/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Jonathan Gibbs
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5732
  • Contact: j.gibbs@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Jonathan Gibbs
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5732
  • Contact: j.gibbs@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX