Course Overview


The ability to communicate an idea visually is a difficult and employable skill. If you can affect people’s emotions and make them think by engaging them with a story that entertains and thrills and you’re able to explain information accurately and with style, you could be rewarded with an exciting career that would be the envy of many.

imagination head

There are opportunities for illustrators to contribute visuals in film & television, theatre, publishing, advertising, information graphics, print, and with interactive new media platforms and this course seeks to give its students experience of working in many of these specialist areas.

The course has been developed in consultation with a wide range of practicing artists, designers, writers, publishers and teachers. Their accumulated knowledge has been combined to create a course that delivers skills and knowledge, challenges and stimulates the imagination and most importantly, is fun to take part in.

Projects are designed to take on real world situations and issues. We want our students to begin showing, selling and sharing their work with communities at local, national and global level whilst still on the course, not just after they leave.

Mural at Hereford Buttermarket

We offer opportunities for our students to meet A-list practitioners, see their work and learn about the world they inhabit. We travel and take part in the most interesting events and exhibitions. We actively seek out partnerships with national profiles and work with them in order to gain valuable experience of problem solving and gaining confidence through success.

Student talk with Quentin Blake

All this is delivered in a friendly and industrious studio environment, where everyone enjoys their own workspaces. Our students form part of a larger college wide community that collectively supports and nourishes individual creative development.

Illustration studio

Critical Studies

These studies are entirely focused around the students’ course area, providing a solid grounding in subject history and in critical ways of thinking about creative practice. The Critical Studies programme enables students to set their own work in a wider context, and also helps them develop a better understanding of how creative work can be interpreted and assessed. Click here for more details.

Illustration by John Walker


What you will experience
The course continues to take on collaborative projects with a range of local and national partners, including:
The BBC One Show
The Hay Literary Festival
The House of Illustration
The Courtyard Theatre
Hereford Cathedral
Great Brampton House
Hereford Buttermarket


In recent years students have visited Rome, Barcelona and  Amsterdam with other trips to Book Arts Fairs and museums and exhibitions both  locally and nationally. Many of these involve meeting world famous practitioners including Mark Hearld, Nick Sharrat, Quentin Blake, Laura Carlin, Oliver Jeffers, Katherina Manolessou, and many more

Oliver Jefferies

In 2015 the course worked alongside House of Illustration and Hay Festival to celebrate the 175th anniversity of the first postage stamp.  The programme inlcuded exhibitions, workshops and guest speakers.


Workshops & Studios
HCA Illustration students have continual access to 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 Photo-shop, lllustrator and After Effects, plus  I-stop Motion and Final Cut Pro for video post-production. Students also have access to technical support in superb craft orientated workshops that include opportunities to use traditional print processes, including letter press, collagraphy, mono-printing, engraving, etching and screen-printing.
Printmaking workshops



Careers & Progression

Hannah Rees
The majority of our graduates enter employment within the creative sector as freelance illustrators or designers. Some form small group partnerships to share knowledge, skills and resources and support each other as they develop their practice, whilst others gravitate to postgraduate study or towards teaching. 

Britney Davies

Entry Requirements

  • Minimum age 18
  • Successful portfolio interview
  • 80 UCAS Points New UCAS Tariff system for 2017 (equates to 200 UCAS points previous tariff) For more details on the new tariff system please visit
  • Mature Students with related experience
  • 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)
  • 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 advise you on the college’s and the University Awarding body requirements

What you will study:

At each level, you will work both individually and as part of a team to encourage, support and develop knowledge and understanding in a variety of contexts. Theory and practice are ‘integrated’, where possible, in order to keep learning meaningful, relevant and engaging. A wide variety of assessment tasks are used to develop key and core skills that will be necessary to deal with all aspects of lifelong learning and working.

During the first year, there will be a focus on key fundamental picture making skills, delivered via series of activity based workshops and projects. Drawing, mark-making and composition will be core, developing into work in print, collage, basic photography and storytelling. You will constantly reflect on your own personal study progress, and begin to plan activities that best suit your ambitions
The second year seeks to apply some of this new found knowledge and skill by undertaking a range of competition and live briefs that introduce you to the demands of the professional Illustrator. Study trips and visiting Illustrators and Designers will invigorate the learning environment, and extend your knowledge of what it takes to survive in the commercial world.

There will be space to begin to develop a personal visual language, tested by a variety of tasks that conclude with exhibitions and presentations. Discourse modules allow for free discussion of this emerging personal vision and how best to apply it in a professional context.
The final year is designed through collaboration between teacher and student. Personal study plans and the declaration of realistic career goals will form the basis of extensive personal projects designed to create a portfolio of work with which to launch a career in a specific specialist area of illustration. Professional Practice elements and the development of an on-line presence will continue the process of preparation for employment or post graduate study.