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.
Whatever your artistic background, our Master's course will develop your visual practice in areas that are important for illustrators and book artists, such as visual sequencing and visual text. It will challenge you to cross the divide between fine art and applied art found on many undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, making it a unique course for the UK.
Studying in our purpose-built studios at Cambridge School of Art, much of your work will be practice-based. You’ll propose and undertake self-directed projects, attending group critiques and tutorials that will help you develop your creative skills.
You'll also attend a series of integrated lectures and seminars. These serve two purposes. You’ll explore aspects of illustration and book art, such as the relationships between word and image, narratology and visual language. And you'll receive guidance on research methods and critical writing - which you'll put to immediate use on the course, as well as in your future career.
Throughout the course, you’ll collaborate and discuss your work with staff, visiting professionals and fellow students, giving you an invaluable opportunity to see how others respond to it. All of our teaching team are practising artists, so you’ll hear about the latest news and issues in the industry, and have access to sound careers advice.
Course Leader: Jim Butler
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.
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.
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. At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.
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.
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.
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.
Optional field trip to Antwerp - 2 nights
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
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
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.
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.
We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.
If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.
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.
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