Illustration and Book Arts MA

Postgraduate (12 months full-time, part-time)

Cambridge

September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Course duration: 12 months full-time or 24 months part-time.

Overview

Design and carry out your own visual projects, exploring the relationships between word and image, as you prepare for a career as a visual artist in a growing creative industry.

Full description

Careers

Our course will prepare you for a career as a freelance illustrator or freelance book artist. In recent years these roles have been increasingly in demand thanks to the growth of interest in artists' books, graphic novels, self-publishing, e-books and an awareness of small, batch publishing. You’ll also gain skills that will be useful in many other fields, such as bookbinding or teaching.  You might even find a way to combine it with your current career, as did Dr Katy Shorttle, whose artwork on health issues was recently featured by The Guardian.

Or you might decide to move on to a research degree, like our PhD Fine Art.

Find out more about working with the creative industries

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Making Methods
    How do we overcome institutionalised and tired paradigms of valid and purposeful enquiry? How can we examine our modes of seeing as constitutive of the world they allegedly mirror objectively? If approach determines outcome, can we identify and unlearn our silent ideologies of vision? What if originality has nothing to do with origins? How do we overcome learned ‘correct’ ways of achievement? Making Methods provides a space to consider the ways in which we have been taught how to ask questions; a space for seeking ruptures of the ‘successful’ way to ask creative questions. Our sessions will probe methods of making through slow and divergent rhythms of querying/queering the creative process. We will visit (and try to break) key contemporary debates on methods and methodologies as constitutive, ubiquitous and transversal components of creative practice. Concrete examples of creative practices from painting, music, interactive media, installation, activism, tactical interventions, book arts, wreading, etc., will ground discussions and explorations in empirical matter. These will be conducted with reference to contemporary and cutting-edge debates on the ‘world-making nature’ of enquiry, and the theory/practice divide as an untenable construction. Making Methods aims to provide you with tools and approaches to question existing frameworks of creative engagement with the world, and provide strategies to see creativity as disruptive, as it is by definition. You will be asked to write a 3000 word piece on a creative methodological approach (this could be your own, or not), its underpinnings, process and consequences.
  • Sequence and Series
    On this studio-based module, you will develop your personal visual language visual work through a consideration of series and sequential imagery. In lectures and seminars you will explore contemporary theory and practice in relation to visual language, narratology, composition, structure and editing of sequential and serial visual work. Ultimately, you will be expected to propose and resolve a self-contained project or projects. A large proportion of the teaching and learning activities will focus around the development and resolution of your research project, with group critiques and tutorials centred on developing visual practice. Self-directed study and the ongoing development of visual work on a weekly basis outside of taught sessions is a necessary part of the module. You will be assessed by a portfolio comprising a written project proposal, developmental and final visual work and a 500-word reflective commentary.
  • Visual Text
    Through self-directed visual projects you will explore the relationships between text and image, words, authorship and the artist's voice. In lectures and seminars you will look at the role of text and typographic identity in the generation of meaning, and text and image relationships. Ultimately you will be expected to propose and resolve a self-contained project or projects. A large proportion of the teaching and learning activities will be focused around the development and resolution of individual student research projects, with group critiques and tutorials centred on developing visual practice. You will also be expected to take part in self-directed study and the ongoing development of visual work on a weekly basis outside of taught sessions. You will be assessed by a portfolio comprising a written project proposal, developmental and final visual work, with a 500-word reflective commentary.
  • Master's Dissertation Art and Design
    This module forms the major written element of the MA programme. On it, you will be invited to choose a topic related to your area of study, as the basis for a research essay of up to 6,000 words. The essay should demonstrate an awareness of current critical debate in the subject, through appropriate reference to relevant examples both from visual practice and critical writing. Your subjects may be thematic and issue-based, or may focus upon the critical analysis of a particular body of work. It is expected that you will use the module to investigate the use of critical writing as an aspect of your own creative development, by investigating issues and preoccupations for which you feel a particular affinity or concern, and that you will use the dissertation as an instrument of enquiry into the debates, conventions and values which define your own field of practice. In group tutorials you will explore the use of different modes of critical method and conventions of art and design research, and the production of critical writing as an aspect of an individual's creative and professional practice.
  • Master's Project: Art and Design
    The Masters Project represents the culmination of your learning on the programme, giving you the opportunity to develop and resolve a major area of enquiry. This is a self-directed visual project negotiated with the staff team and peers. You'll need to negotiate, manage, co-ordinate and bring to successful conclusion a complex, practice-based project within your field of art, media or design. You'll start by formally presenting your research proposal to staff and peers, and will be expected to build on your previous modules to identify a complex area for investigation and enquiry, as well as research methods appropriate to the project. Following negotiation with staff, peers and, where appropriate, outside agencies, you'll then submit a written research proposal. Your project may involve external engagement alongside a personal exploration of themes and concepts in your specialist field. You'll need to show your ability to innovate, think strategically and be sensitive to changing cultural and social climates. You'll be assessed by portfolio (a body of work comprising a written project proposal, and developmental and final visual work) and a 1200-word reflective commentary. This commentary will specifically outline the methodological and ethical considerations relevant to your portfolio work, and evaluate your final visual work.
  • Visual Research Practises
    This module is designed to provide the foundation for the further development of your practice in your Masters Project, and to inform your Masters Project Proposal, which you will submit upon completion of this module. During the course of the module you will explore and document the ways in which practice informs the development of method, and the manner in which experimentation within your practice is used to test propositions, verify findings, and demonstrate these through your outcomes. These ideas form the main precepts of practice-based research, and will be explored through a preliminary project designed to test the basis of your Masters Project proposal. The module provides a context within which to explore the ways in which the processes associated with your practice serve as tools of investigation and analysis. In the course of the module you will identify the key research questions implicit your Masters Project proposal, develop strategies and experimental methods for addressing these questions, and contextualise these methods in relation to precedent within your discipline. This will also enable you to locate your method within the wider context of research methodology addressed in the companion module Making Methods. During the development of your project you will investigate and critique your method to ensure that it is appropriate to the investigation of your question and to the expression of your findings. You will review the ways in which practice shapes and refines experimental method, and the analysis of experimental findings informs successive phases of the practical outcome. According to the context of the projects and the nature of your practice, this may involve different considerations of audience, purpose and impact, as well as reference to a variety of sources and precedents. You will be assessed through the body of visual coursework, a research logbook kept during the development process, and an evaluative commentary of 500 words reflecting on the work after completion. You will also submit a finalised proposal for the Masters Project.

Assessment

You’ll show your progress through your self-directed visual projects, which will include written project proposals, developmental and final visual work, and a reflective commentary. On the Master's Dissertation module, you’ll submit a 6,000-word essay. Finally, the Master's Project will allow you to build on all previous modules to design a visual project which shows mastery of your subject.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.

Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.

Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa. They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Specialist facilities

You’ll work in purpose-built art and design studios, with open access to our printmaking, bookbinding, letterpress and laser cutting facilities, and training from dedicated technicians. We have many digital imaging resources that you can use, including Macs, scanners and A3/large-format printers, as well as photography darkrooms, animation and moving image studios and 3D workshops. You can also borrow photographic and recording equipment from our University’s Media Services Unit.

Find out more about Cambridge School of Art's facilities

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)

£7,100

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)

£3,550

International students, 2018/19 (per year)

£13,100

International students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)

£6,550

UK & EU students, 2019/20 (per year)

£7,500

UK & EU students, 2019/20 (part-time, per year)

£3,750

International students starting 2019/20 (per year)

£13,700

International students starting 2019/20 (part-time, per year)

£6,850

Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

Additional costs

Optional field trip to Antwerp - 2 nights
£160

How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter/financial guarantee. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Students taking up a place on this course are eligible to apply for the Mark Wood Art and Design Scholarship, which recognises and encourages excellence. Download the application form here.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Interview and portfolio

You will be required to attend an interview of around 20 minutes, during which you will evidence your discussion with a portfolio or, if you are resident outside of the UK, an e-portfolio.

For more information on how to prepare and submit your portfolio please visit our portfolios and interviews page, or go straight to the detailed guidance for MA Illustration and Book Arts portfolios.


International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online