BA (Hons) Illustration


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

What to expect on the course

Become a skilled visual communicator and make your mark on a rapidly transforming media landscape.

During your time studying BA (Hons) Illustration at HCA, you will hone your ability to convey an emotion, weave a narrative, explain a complex issue and illuminate an astonishing array of subjects, all through the power of your image-making.

You will be armed with the fundamental knowledge needed to become an illustrator, encouraged to explore an amazing breadth of image-making techniques and inspired to create your own path as a creative professional during and beyond this course.

Studying Illustration at Hereford College of Arts offers the workspaces, contact time and opportunities needed to make great work.

On the Illustration degree at HCA, our priority is helping you to develop your unique, personal ‘voice’ as an illustrator. We do this by running a broad-based course, which means you will be supported to explore and develop a myriad of techniques and mediums before focussing-in on what makes your work identifiably your work.

Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to take part in many small group workshops and drawing classes. You will also benefit from talks by our experienced course tutors, workshop technicians and visiting illustrators. When it’s time to get to work on your projects, you can do so in your individual, personalised workspace.

We encourage group discussions and hold regular group feedback sessions so that students can encourage and support one another. One-on-one tutor time means you get the individual help you need with a variety of projects, where you could be making anything from an individual image for a newspaper to a picture book or zine.

With a sturdy footing in traditional processes, such as drawing and printmaking, Illustration at HCA also keeps its eye on the most contemporary practices. The course is associated with many high-profile illustrators and internationally renowned events. Illustration at Hereford also provides access to world-class workshop facilities and trips to cultural epicentres.  Live briefs with external clients mean you will gain first-hand professional experience before you even graduate.

HCA Illustration students also have access to technical support in superb craft-orientated workshops that use traditional print processes, including letter press, collagraphy, mono-printing, engraving, etching and screen-printing. Students benefit from excellent IT facilities and support that provides industry-standard software on both PC and MAC systems. This includes the complete Adobe suite of products, including Photoshop, illustrator and After Effects, plus I-stop Motion and Final Cut Pro for video post-production.

Option Modules offer the chance to customise your program of study and collaborate across courses and years. All students take Critical Studies, where you can gain fascinating insights into the subject you love.

Above all, individual development is the core of Illustration at HCA.

What we provide:

  • Small group teaching in a friendly studio environment.
  • Individual workspaces that you can make your own.
  • Exceptional access to tutorial support and technical advice.
  • Inspiring, high profile visiting practitioners, including award-winning illustrators: Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Jonny Hannah, Rebecca Gibbon, Matthew Richardson, Laura Carlin, Ian Murray, Geoff Grandfield, reportage artist Xaviere Pick and master printmakers Charles Shearer and Nick Morley.
  • Regular drawing classes and print workshops
  • Opportunities to produce a range of outcomes including graphic novels, picture books, zines and small publications, maps, prints and more.
  • Live project briefs with external clients.

Career Options

  • Graphic Designer
  • Production Designer
  • Animator
  • Video Production Engineer
  • Self-published Illustrator
  • Creative Freelance practitioners

Success Stories

Recent examples of commissions undertaken by HCA graduates include:

  • Editorial illustration for The Radio Times and the New Your Times
  • Children’s book commissions for several publishers, including Quarto and Wide Eyed Books, Otter-Barry Books and Graffeg Books
  • Creating artwork for public relations publications for Herefordshire Council and Balfour Beatty
  • Creating site-specific installations and ‘mural’ type artwork
  • Groups of students have grown ‘collective’ enterprises sharing studio space and developing small businesses

“I enjoyed so many things about HCA. We always had amazing and inspiring visiting illustrators and trips. The course is so well connected.”
~ Tina Pearce

What you will study

Year 1

Introduction to Year 1

Investigative, experimental and analytical.

In the first year, you will explore the role of drawing as a core skill as well as the relationship between drawing and traditional print processes. You will study some of the fundamental forms of illustration, such as Fashion and Reportage illustration, which have a very clear reliance on the practice of drawing.

Year 2

Introduction to Year 2

Developing Practice

The second year furthers your exploration of illustration in many of its fundamental forms.  You’ll have opportunities to develop and apply your image-making abilities through a range of contemporary outcomes. These include engaging with externally set projects and tasks in the form of collaborations, competitions and exhibitions.

Year 3

Introduction to Year 3

Confirmation of Practice

Your final year is where you will hone your area of interest and/or specialism within the illustration. You will have the opportunity to develop your research and illustration practice during your personal project and your dissertation. We support you to do this through negotiation and discussion as you plan and develop these bodies of work.

You will create a portfolio which showcases your individual, specialist illustration practice. You will also make introductory media and visual assets, such as innovative business cards and a striking web presence, to help you achieve your early career goals on graduation.


©Hereford College of Arts

Entry Requirements

  • Minimum age 18.
  • Successful portfolio interview.
  • Academic achievement – we would normally expect applicants to have achieved 80 UCAS Tariff Points at entry but, whilst qualifications are important, our offers are not solely based on academic results. We may make offers based on other evidence of talent and suitability for the course.
  • 80 UCAS Points on the New UCAS Tariff system for 2017 equates to 200 UCAS points on the previous points system – for more details please see tariff explanation and advice on the UCAS website.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English – proof of IELTS overall score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all sections (reading, writing, listening & speaking) is required.
  • Applications from mature students with relevant experience will also be considered.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning Opportunities – the college welcomes applications from students with prior learning and/or previous experience. Further details on eligibility can be found on page 15 of our Admissions Policy.
  • Alternatively, please contact us at and we can offer further advice on HCA and the UWTSD awarding body requirements.

NB for Top-Up students different entry requirements apply

A new creative campus for Hereford:
Station Approach Student Accommodation

With a heavy heart, we announce to you that the new Station Approach student accommodation build will not be opening to students as planned on the 21st of September 2020. Construction was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and although they have been working tirelessly to catch up the building will not be ready for students until the 2nd of January 2021. We appreciate this is not ideal news and will have an impact on the plans of the new 2020/21 cohort of students. However, the City heart living team have put things in place so that students are able to come in September and have a temporary comfortable home to start the new term in. 

Station Approach is new, purpose-built accommodation for Hereford College of Arts students in the heart of the City, within easy walking distance of the HCA’s teaching campuses.

The accommodation has been specially designed for the college, and HCA staff and students have been involved with the design concepts and the decision-making around how the building will operate as a homely, creative hub.

The accommodation is located next to Hereford Railway Station and is mid-way between the two teaching campuses (College Road & Folly Lane) and the city centre. This gives easy access to all the social and cultural resources of the  City as well as connections with the wider community.

The majority of rooms are arranged in clusters with a shared kitchen and living space, all bedrooms are en-suite.

The building has a unique focus on the display of creative work both internally and externally and there is an exceptional, spacious social space on the ground floor designed for exhibitions and performance as well as informal socialising.

This new building benefits from an innovative, ‘smart’ off-site construction process that supports exceptional quality.


Station Approach is within a couple of minutes’ walk of many facilities to support students independent living including a large supermarket opposite the site.

Hereford’s modern, multi-GP Medical Centre is opening a few hundred metres along the road.

The site gives students easy access to the beautiful green space of Churchill Gardens as well as entertainment such as Hereford’s popular Bowling Alley.

For travelling further, afield Station Approach couldn’t be better placed for rail, bus, bike and taxi.


Station Approach will be run to promote student community and student wellbeing.

It will have a staffed reception during the day and emergency contact service out of hours.

Individual bedrooms include creative wall-boards to for students to personalise with a display of their own work or sources of inspiration.

Year-round events and social programme curated by the Station Approach management team in collaboration with students will support the creative community.

Student reps and HCA staff will be involved in on-going decision making around campus management.

Abigail Appleton, the Principal, said: “It’s been really exciting for me to work with partners who are as committed to supporting the student community and student wellbeing as Cityheart.  We are opening the Station Approach to the second and third years as well as the first years as this reflects our ethos to develop an interconnected college community.  It promotes sociability, collaboration, creativity and supportive behaviour between year groups.  We are also working with Hereford’s new engineering education pioneer NMiTE, and degree students starting their new programme are also invited to apply for rooms in Station Approach.  Creative arts practice and innovative engineering have a great deal in common.  I’m thrilled HCA’s students have this chance to live within the same creative hub and look forward to seeing many creative collaborations emerge.”

Some of our partners

Development Company Cityheart Partnerships specialises in working with the public sector and has delivered smaller scale Student Accommodation buildings across the UK as well as Healthcare buildings.  It has a strong ethos of working closely with partners and delivering sustainable solutions.  From Director Alastair Gourlay to Operations Manager Sian Evans, Cityheart is as passionate as we are about ensuring students are happy and supported in their residential accommodation.

Engie is one of the UK’s largest energy and services companies with a profound commitment to regeneration, community and placemaking. Engie is excited to promote student art across the site hoardings as well as the finished building.

Caledonian Modular is a pioneer of offsite building. Our Caledonian designer David Wallace has ‘Art School’ in his DNA and is as happy talking Bauhaus as bathroom fittings with us.

Herefordshire Council is hugely supportive of the development of the Hereford’s historic art school and to further developing Hereford’s international reputation for specialist higher education as well as to making Hereford a sustainable city.  We love it that Chief Executive Alistair Neill comes to visit the college on his bicycle.

Accommodation costs

The rental rate per week for a cluster bedroom will be approximately £142 for 42 weeks – equivalent to £5,964 per annum.

The rental rate per week for a studio apartment will be approximately £163 for 42 weeks – equivalent to £6,846 per annum.

* Subject to terms and conditions

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

HCA’s intimate scale lends itself to natural collaborations and distinctive creative groups. It is the ideal setting for you to discover alternative ways of looking at things – surprising yourself and ... Read More

HCA’s intimate scale lends itself to natural collaborations and distinctive creative groups. It is the ideal setting for you to discover alternative ways of looking at things – surprising yourself and each other. Students also experience an excellent amount of contact time with tutors in a forum which is small enough for your voice to be heard. Read less