Illustration: Authorial Practice MA

Falmouth Campus
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
Direct line
01326 213730

On this unique illustration course - the only one of its kind with a specific academic focus on authorial practice - you'll develop your own voice. You'll learn to see your work as an evolving practice rather than as a response to an already defined concept or brief, as you challenge and re-evaluate your work with the help of teaching staff who are experienced practitioners.

As your authorial voice develops and you learn to identify your audience, you'll also be encouraged to take an entrepreneurial approach, thinking creatively about the outlets and options for your work. This professionalism is aided by the course's close relationship with independent publisher Atlantic Press, offering you opportunities to gain direct experience in the many aspects of producing and publishing graphic literature.

At the heart of this studio-based course is a belief that there is a need to reassert the characteristics of personal origination, ownership, storytelling and literary ideas within the medium of illustration. We'll help you gain the confidence to take ownership of your work, you'll develop new ideas and concepts driven by your desire to create a distinct, original, authorial voice.

You'll explore narrative and storytelling as defined by your developing voice, working on longer-term projects across a variety of mediums that suit your interests – including children's books, graphic novels, digital work and screen-based production. The course will also engage you with current ideas and thinking related to notions of authorship, encouraging you to draw inspiration from a diverse range of influences, providing further personal insight and direction for your practice.

Building professional experience

A unique feature of our MA is our relationship with Atlantic Press. The specialist publishing house, based in Penryn, was founded 15 years ago by course leader Steve Braund. The partnership enables you to learn about the whole publishing process, from concept to realisation – as well as the practical aspects of printing, distribution and marketing. The close proximity of a publishing press also means that internships to students on the course are offered on a regular basis.

The course will give you a grounding in all aspects of professional practice related to the work of an authorial illustrator. You'll also be encouraged to consider entrepreneurial approaches to your practice. At the end of the course, you'll mount a professional presentation of work from your negotiated MA project.

How the course is taught

Teaching takes place in the form of lectures, seminars, group critiques and workshops, supported by high-profile guest speakers. The Illustration Discourses lecture series considers authorial positions, related theories and their contexts. Both lectures and seminars will help inform your negotiated practical projects, whilst recording your studio practice in a research journal will aid self-reflection.

Typical workshops

  • Research Journals
  • Creative Writing
  • Screen Printing
  • Life Drawing
  • Listening to Images
  • Book Art
  • Printmaking & Collography
  • Etching
  • Composition
  • Professional Practice
  • Table Top Book Binding
  • Visual Thinking
  • InDesign I
  • What are Archives?
  • Professional Practice, Networking & Entrepreneurship
  • Visual Narrative
  • Perspective
  • Book Design, Layout & InDesign
  • Bookbinding
  • Graphic Design

Course outline

This is a one-year course delivered over 45 weeks and divided into three 15-week study blocks. Alternatively, you can study part-time over two years, totalling 90 weeks.

Over the course of the year you'll be required to produce a sequence of three negotiated practical projects based on personal authorial illustration work.

The lecture and seminar series Illustration Discourses supports the practical work, running concurrently with a research journal, which builds connections and the opportunity to reflect on practice. You'll be expected to demonstrate progression; indicating the research, analysis, reflection and investigation necessary for the development of a successful and distinctive authorial illustration practice.

You'll also produce two analytical essays and deliver a presentation exploring areas of personal interest within the authorial context relating to your practice. These will show a consideration of audience awareness and the processes and development of your practice. In order to develop self-reliance the course allows you a good deal of freedom to develop your projects.


  • Individual studio space
  • Full IT facilities
  • Print room
  • Comprehensive library facilities
  • Access to specialist equipment


  • Assessment takes place at the end of each module
  • Combination of visual, verbal and written assignments
  • Final assessment takes place in September


Potential careers include:

  • Commissioned or self-published illustrator
  • Art director or creative director
  • Illustration residencies
  • Curatorial roles
  • Teaching
  • Further study

Interview and selection process

When you apply to join the course, we'll ask you to send us a study proposal and either samples of work or a link to your website or blog, if you have one. At interview we'll look for authorial illustration potential or capabilities, illustration ability, graphic skills, drawing skills, creative writing/storytelling potential, ideas and concepts. We really value meeting you in person but we can hold a telephone or Skype interview if this is not possible.

Falmouth Illustration Forum

Our respected annual Falmouth Illustration Forum recently celebrated its tenth anniversary with the publication of the world's first book devoted to the subject, The Authorial Illustrator (available from Each annual forum explores different aspects of authorial illustration and includes internationally renowned guest speakers.

View information about our forums here