Illustration is connected to contemporary visual culture in the fine and applied arts. ECA undergraduate courses present a creative and inspiring introduction to this subject, in both form and content, giving students a challenging and appropriate education in the applications of visual media. Projects at this level of study address such connections and they explore Illustration’s role in publishing, literature, design and print. There is a strong basis of observational drawing and a series of projects that cover the range of conceptual approaches to image-making and the interpretation of ideas.

Through years one to four, our academic projects evolve each year to encapsulate current developments in the graphic arts as well as addressing Illustration’s established traditions and working methods. Various courses will address how to answer a brief and develop an original and accomplished portfolio. Story telling and sequential imagery form a large part of the curriculum. Students will become authorial illustrators as well as being able to complement an existing text with their skilled interpretations.

Likewise, collaboration is a natural element for the illustrator, and various projects are particularly focused upon working across disciplines and with practitioners from other fields. Our graduates work as freelance illustrators, with many examples in Picture Books, illustrated literature in fact and fiction, graphic & editorial design, concept art, comics and graphic novels. 

ECA undergraduate illustrators are given permanent individual work-spaces, which are used for day to day study and for tutorials and presentations. Students will also use the Life Drawing Studio, Printmaking Workshop, and various digital suites across the college. These locations give a thorough grounding in the subject, with technical process allied to conceptual thinking, interpretation, and problem solving. A range of visiting illustrators, artists and designers introduce professional aspects of this subject, allied to the academic content of our courses.


Illustration graduates can follow a wide range of careers from freelance illustration for the publishing and design industries such as childrens' and general book publishing; editorial design, packaging and paper products; web design and the games industry; printmaking, art and craft commissions and exhibitions; agency work in print, design and digital media; education and community arts.

How to apply and entrance requirements

If you'd like to study on an undergraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to

  • see the structure of the programme and what you will study each year
  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about fees
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance

Take me to the University of Edinburgh website on how to apply for undergraduate

If you’re applying to study on one of our Art or Design degree programmes, you’ll also be required to submit a mini portfolio. Our application guide explains what you need to submit and by when.

Art & Design: How to Apply application guide (PDF)

If you have any questions about the application process, our Undergraduate Admissions Office will be happy to help you.

Email the Undergraduate Admissions Office: futurestudents@ed.ac.uk

Alumni profiles


Harvey Dingwall

Programme Director - BA (Hons) Illustration

Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of Design

Email: h.dingwall@ed.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)131 651 5726

Facilities and resources

A range of printing, photocopying, scanning and related services are available to students to support projects, events and exhibitions.

Students at the University of Edinburgh have access to a range of library resources across the campus and online.

The printmaking suite provides a host of facilities for traditional and contemporary printmaking processes.


College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Undergraduate Admissions Office

Email: futurestudents@ed.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)131 650 3565