Year 1/Level 4
The focus of the Level 4 modules is to develop image-generation and development techniques, the ability to respond to briefs in a range of contexts that mirrors industry conditions, a sound knowledge of history, theory and context and working habits that will enable the student to evolve a sustainable practice in the areas he or she chooses to work.
Observational Drawing Techniques
Level 4 Semester 1
Aims: development of visual recording skills, knowledge of the range of techniques in representing form, understanding of conventions of representing space, equipping the student for developing a personal approach to visual recording and representation in succeeding modules.
This module aims to equip the student with the technical and theoretical knowledge to approach observational drawing with an objective and professional attitude, enabling an understanding of visual recording as the main source of primary research for illustrators. Learning will be supported by the critical examination of the history of drawing and reproductive techniques and contemporary practice.
The module focuses on perceptual interpretation and consists almost exclusively of working directly from primary sources including the human form and studio-based set-ups. Through a series of practical assignments, students will be introduced to a variety of media and develop the technical and perceptual skills necessary for critical analysis, selection and representation. This will provide students with a sound working knowledge of visual languages and techniques, in 2D, 3D and Digital Media, through observation, visual analysis and theoretical study. Students will be required to engage in critical debate on the nature of perception and strategies for representing the physical world, in Western and non-Western visual methodologies, and to keep a sketchbook to develop and practice outside taught classes.
Content will include: perspectival systems of representation, light and shade in representation, materials - dry, wet, and digital, historical methodologies and their derivation and functions, contemporary methodologies, book-making, colour, form and perspective, workshops and skills-blocks.
The Articulate Image
Level 4 Semester 1
Aims: expand the range of responses available to the individual student, develop the
ability to communicate effectively within and at the end of a project, implement projects with varying levels of student ownership
This module focusses on developing the student’s ability to generate original and useable ideas for projects, commissions and briefs. Addressing the question of creativity directly, using a series of projects that cover a wide range of illustration, design, fine art and visual communication applications, the module concentrates on the content rather than the technical output, and will be assessed with that in mind. This module also addresses different contexts for creative work ie. group, solo and team work, competitive tendering, and peer learning. Learning will be supported by the critical examination of art history and the history of illustration in Western and Global culture, and contemporary industry and practice.
The module consists of a series of projects designed to challenge and extend the individual student’s capacity for creative responses, in particular to develop the student’s design and aesthetic sense. A variety of creative contexts will be presented to give the student experience of industry conditions, and a rigorous and continuous atmosphere of critical assessment from both staff and peers will be maintained. Students are expected to keep a notebook and portfolio to develop and continue practice outside taught classes. Throughout the module, the working practices of contemporary and historical illustration will underpin learning.
Content will include: competitive brief projects, conceptual briefs, text and form, multi-form brief contexts, product design, non-image outcomes, performance, film work, analogue print work, digital outcomes, workshops and skills-blocks.
Image and Communication in Context
Level 4 Semester 1
This module offers an introduction to key contextual themes and concepts in illustration and relate them to practices. The module introduces appropriate critical vocabulary, allowing students to engage in informed discussion on historical and theoretical contexts. The student will develop critical awareness along with skills in image analysis and visual communication through written and multi-media outcomes.
This module will introduce students to the basic methodological, interpretative and cognitive issues in design and illustration through key connected themes. Students will engage in visual or compositional analysis exercises and the Basic Design theory originating in the Bauhaus design school. Drawing on Cognitive Psychology theory, they will explore colour, perception, illusionistic and schematic modes of representation. This provides a support for students concerned with observational, reportage, diagram and graphics-based approaches. From developing a visual vocabulary as a foundation, the course will then turn to issues of meaning through communication theory. Methodologies such as semiology and iconology will be employed to explore the nuances and relationships between sign, symbol, image and text.
Visual Recording And Research
Level 4 Semester 2
Aims: development of fluency, ambition and ability in approaching gathering visual information, knowledge of the range of possibilities.
This module explores and develops the student’s ability to respond to visual stimuli, through recording, selection and analysis, applying an increasingly sophisticated and personal set of techniques, including 2D, 3D and Digital Media methodologies. It will develop visual ideas towards outcomes that confirm an ability to select and use appropriate materials, processes and environments.
The module focuses on developing visual recording in a wide variety of contexts. Students will engage in primary research, developing technical and perceptual skills using visits to exterior and interior locations, and studio-based projects. An examination of analogue and digital media will be employed in developing the technical and perceptual skills necessary for visual analysis, selection and representation. Photography and photographic methodologies (inc. pinhole camera and phone-cameras) will be explored and interrogated, alongside manual printmaking techniques, in order to develop an objective and informed methodology for visual recording. Students will be required to engage in critical debate on the nature of perception and strategies for representing the physical world. They will refer to and develop a knowledge of Illustration practice in visual representation. They will keep a sketchbook to develop and practice outside taught classes and employ digital and analogue photography in collecting visual information.
Content will include: location work and site visits, mapping, narrative as description, time vs. information projects, pyscho-geographical projects, communication through description projects.
Concept To Visualisation
Level 4 Semester 2
Aims: develop a range of methodologies in utilising visual information in communication, understand and explore ideas in the presentation of information, recognise appropriate processes to project briefs.
The aim of this module is to provide a context for the development and realisation of ideas that respond to a wide-ranging series of briefs, based on and expanding on the sort of client briefs that an illustrator might encounter in an industrial setting. The focus is on how content matches technical output, and on ideas-generation and presentation within various contexts. Students will be addressing industry conditions in individual, team and group contexts, through interrogating creative responses in material and conceptual terms,
The module explores ideas about presentation and process, using analogue and digital methodologies in the development of images with ideas. The module will examine and extend students’ design communication ideas in an open and developmental context.
Content will include: visualisation, analogue and digital printmaking, character design, branding, technical spreadsheets, text and the body, visualisation, portrait, sequential narrative, workshops and skills-blocks.
Sequential Narrative in Context
Level 4 Semester 2
This module offers an introduction to narrative as a key contextual theme and concept in illustration and relates it to practice. The module introduces appropriate critical vocabulary, allowing students to engage in informed discussion on historical and theoretical contexts. The student will develop critical awareness and skills in visual narrative communication through written and multi-media outcomes.
This module will introduce students to varied perspectives and approaches to sequential narratives in illustration. The module content will encompass the main principles of narrative art, book illustration and the development of the comic, with broader reference to narrative film and animation. Students will relate these contexts to practical sequential exercises such as storyboarding. After developing a foundational understanding of narrative the module will move on to methodologies such as structuralism and psychological concerns such as public and private narratives in Freudian thinking. Students will explore methods of creative practice and ideas generation through theory e.g. using dream imagery, automatism and chance techniques.
Year 2/Level 5
The focus of the Level 5 modules is to enable the student to develop and explore specialist areas of interest, to engage with a live professional context and to define the focus of his or her theoretical studies for the Dissertation in Level 6.
Drawing For Purpose
Level 5 Semester 1
The aim of this module is to examine and and develop the individual’s visual response, through studio and location-based visual enquiry in the context of specific briefs. Students will refine material approaches, including reportage and other information-recording techniques and explore ‘Basic Design’ ideas about visual communication, providing the opportunity to deepen the individual student’s understanding of their personal approaches to the gathering of visual information.
This module is composed of a series of projects employing information gathering as primary research, interrogating the effectiveness of different techniques, methods and media for specific contexts, ie analogue and digital print, 3D work, photography in the context of self-identified project interests.
Illustration is a field with a number of different applications, from reportage to fashion sketching, visualisation to branding, and these applications demand different visual responses. While the individual illustrator may not be involved with all these fields, there is a huge range of visual possibility in the analysis and development of different responses.
Content will include: individual location and site visits, specific visual response based on student interests, analogue and digital print outcomes, further development of observational, communication and developmental drawing techniques, project-driven examination and research into representational methodologies, workshops and skills-blocks in specific technologies.
Level 5 Semester 1
The aim of this module is to develop the individual student’s portfolio within the wider field of illustration, using experience gained in level 4 to detail and undergo a project aligned with the individual’s interests. This module may also be used to exchange to another programme within the SMAD (eg. Photography, Graphic Design, Digital Media, Games Studies, Film, Radio and Television) in the event that the student may wish to add those specific skills to his/her course of study. It is anticipated that a student with a particular interest in typology, for example, might want to take advantage of the Graphic Design programme to widen her/his knowledge.
The module entails each student extending or negotiating a particular, specialist project with his/her tutor, which reflects the interests of the student as they have developed over the last three semesters. The project should be set within the taxonomy of illustration ie.
Design and Advertising
Decorative and Merchandising
Editorial and Political
The negotiated project should have clear parameters, including guidelines for submission and for any print or other requirements.
Site And Audience In Context
Level 5 Semester 1
This module aims to develop students’ independent thinking about illustration from a historical and theoretical point of view and to locate their practice within the broader creative industries. The module will pay particular attention to the sites and audiences for a range of illustration practices. The module aims to foster a highly developed critical and theoretical vocabulary, allowing students to engage in informed discussion on a range of issues in global visual culture. The student will develop critical awareness and an understanding of social contextualisation through written and multi-media outcomes.
The content of this module will explore the sites in which illustration takes place and the audiences it addresses. The module will adapt the theory and methodologies of Anthropology and Ethnography to reconsider the traditional sites for illustration i.e. books, comics, posters etc. and their audiences. It will also expand the scope of enquiry into Situationist theory and Relational Aesthetics considering marginalised forms of illustration such as graffiti and street art. Other important perspectives will be Feminist and Psychoanalytic theories of ‘the gaze’ and Post-Structuralist considerations of visual appropriation.
Level 5 Semester 2
The aim of this module is to explore visual enquiry toward individual visual statements, interrogating the range of possibilities inherent in discrete processes and attempting individual synthesis in deriving an individual approach to visual recording and presentation.
This module is composed of a series of projects, based around studio contexts. It is designed to explore the range of possibilities supplied by developmental technology and applications for enhancing the primary research of visual information in producing developed imagery. This would include technology like analogue printmaking techniques and processes, digital applications and media, 3D and animation methodologies, photographic and typeface, puppetry, analogue process skills, toward individual visual statements, providing an opportunity to extend the individual student’s range of skills and aptitudes in dealing with the visual response.
Content will include: individual project-driven research and practice in production technologies, workshops and skills-blocks in specific technologies.
Level 5 Semester 2
The module aims to develop students’ understanding of the concepts of entrepreneurship, marketing, and business activities and highlight key transferable skills which enhance employability; to appraise a selected industry context with a view to post-graduate employment, develop ‘live’ contacts and particular knowledge of contemporary conditions; and to develop increasing levels of independence, confidence and professionalism in the particular area of study they have identified.
It encourages students to evaluate their own working interests in terms of potential professional practice and to understand how illustrators in specific areas engage with the needs of art directors, publishers, editors, and other commissioning bodies, through projects, proposals, contracts and commissions.
This module is concerned with the business side of the work of an illustrator. Illustrators work across several markets in many different contexts, and it is expected that the individual student will have identified the markets and contexts which are of most interest by this stage - this module gives the opportunity to make an objective study of these interests, examining the market in detail.
Content: the student will, through reflection, portfolio presentation and exhibition, present work which demonstrates a coherent view of his or her place within the overall context of illustration. This may entail further commercial placement, but will certainly mean detailed research and live product generation.
Visual Persuasion In Context
Level 5 Semester 2
This module explores strategies of visual persuasion both historically and theoretically. It introduces contemporary issues in global visual culture related both to the illustration industry and to the students’ own practices. The module aims to foster a highly developed critical and theoretical vocabulary, allowing students to engage in informed discussion on a range of issues in illustration and design. The student will develop critical awareness and skills in persuasive visual language and image-making through written and multi-media outcomes.
The content of this module will investigate the capacity for persuasion and satire within illustration and related industries. It will examine how style relates to ideology through the principles of caricature. Of particular concern will be how notions of the grotesque, carnivalesque, utopian and dystopian. We will explore how these are manifest in various media from portraiture to playing card design to the graphic novel. Drawing upon Marxist critiques of culture and the commodity, this module will move on to consider ideologically-driven images such as propaganda posters and advertising. The students will be introduced to appropriate methodologies such as discourse analysis and communication theory in philosophical hermeneutics.
Year 3/Level 6
The focus of Level 6 is to define the student’s position in a professional context, providing practical research outcomes, a professional portfolio and a skill-set appropriate to the student’s interests as a practising Illustrator, or helping to define further research interests to pursue at a postgraduate level.
Level 6 Semester 1
This module focuses on employability and aims to develop an understanding of the professional context. Module content will include workshops, seminars and skills-blocks addressing professional contexts, business conditions and product development, commercial product outcomes, developing business ideas and producing industry and company analyses. Some lectures and workshops will be delivered by industry practitioners.
The module also offers the option for students to undertake a work placement in a commercial, educational or other institution, organization, co-operative venture or professional relationship. Examples might be an internship with a design group, work-shadowing a self-employed illustrator or working in a publishing house. Placements arte expected to have a direct relationship with the student’s developing professional interests.
Level 6 Semester 1
This module provides an opportunity for students to research a topic relating to their illustration practice specialism independently and in depth. It encourages the further pursuit of contextual and theoretical issues raised earlier in the programme. The module engenders a culmination of the students’ research, analytical and critical skills through reflective academic writing. In addition, the module aims to encourage scholarly interchange between students undertaking individual studies.
Students will engage in independent reading and research. Students will be expected to find and engage with additional educational opportunities within the University or elsewhere (e.g. public lectures, archives, museums) as appropriate to their needs.
The student-led nature of seminar programme along with the supervisory process will encourage the students in peer-learning and as partners in learning. Student-led seminars play an important role in allowing students to present and discuss issues surrounding their dissertation subject whilst also increasing confidence. The VLE platform will be used to highlight and archive any seminar materials. Students will be invited to submit a 1st draft for formative feedback. Tutorials will provide individual help and formative feedback.
As a culmination of the theoretical modules on the course will be active in self-directed learning, demonstrating key transferable skills: to make accurate evidence-based judgements, think critically, use a range of sources effectively, communicate clearly and coherently, work independently and as part of a team, manage diverse workloads and meet deadlines, and to use technology.
Negotiated Specialism 1
Level 6 Semester 1
This module is undertaken by those students not opting for the 40 credit Dissertation. The aim of the module is to encourage students to recognise and exploit the interests and skill sets that they have built during Level 5, developing a practical portfolio that will extend their work in the Professional Practice module. Students will be expected to apply a high level of self-critical evaluation and review their practice in terms of subject and methodology.
The module entails each student negotiating a particular, specialist project with his/her tutor, which reflects the interests of the student as they have developed over the previous four semesters. The project should be set within the taxonomy of illustration.
The project should have clear parameters, including guidelines for submission and for any print or other requirements, set by the individual student with negotiation.
Live Major Project
Level 6 Semester 2
The module supports students in demonstrating the conceptual and technical expertise they have acquired through the Illustration Programme, with specific emphasis placed upon their application of Illustration skills. It is expected that students will produce a project work that sits within their specialist field, in a ‘live’ context ie. competition entry, submission of publication, self-publication, or other publicly accessible context. Students will be expected to employ the full range of multi/inter disciplinary skills in completing a self-directed practical project.
It allows the student to conceive, plan and create a major project, with tutorial support from subject specialist tutors, allowing them to learn from practising illustration professionals as they negotiate their projects. Introductory lectures will look at examples of possible outcomes for the final major project, creative methods for tackling a wide variety of ideas, existing practice and audience. Additional sessions exploring the necessity for documentation, reflective and reflexive practice related to the completion of the project will be scheduled.
Students will be expected to demonstrate planning and documentation skills, a technical competence of the required equipment and display management skills, whether developing a project single-handedly or by leading a group. The module will culminate in a public exhibition of selected work, and students will be expected to maintain a research file to include a 300 word rationale of their intended project and, on completion, a 300 to 400 word reflective exhibition statement providing an informative description and critical appraisal of their interests and achievements. All work not selected for final exhibition including drawing books, journals or files, must be available for scrutiny and provide examiners with clear evidence of critical reflection, points of reference and research and developments that have informed this final project.
Negotiated Specialism 2
Level 6 Semester 2
This module is intended as an extension or support for the Live Major Project, and could be used in a developmental sense, without the pressure of exposure to the ‘live’ context. This is in order to provide an opportunity to make practical work toward a developing professional portfolio, and exploit any factors that might emerge in research for the Live Major Project that are not immediately appropriate to it. Students will be expected to apply a high level of self-critical evaluation and review their practice in terms of subject and methodology.
The module may be used as a means of exploiting and developing practical research that might fall outside the remit of the Live Major Project, and as such may concern process-driven, academic research driven or other activities. It might also be used as a research/theoretical study to extend the Dissertation module. The project must be negotiated with the tutorial team and its aims made explicit, but this aims may emerge and alter during the process of the module.
Optional modules are still to be confirmed.