Children's Book Illustration
MAIntermediate award(s): PG Dip, PG Cert
Illustration at Cambridge School of Art (CSA) has recently been declared one of Anglia Ruskin's 'areas of proven excellence'.
This course is built on a tradition which goes back 150 years to the founding of CSA. Notable alumni include designer and war artist Edward Bawden; acclaimed graphic satirist Ronald Searle; and the founders of the TV phenomenon Spitting Image, Roger Law and Peter Fluck. The success of numerous undergraduates in this field led to the founding of this specialist, studio practice-based MA, which is the first of its kind in the UK.
Interest in the art of illustration for children has grown considerably in recent years. Our UK heritage is particularly strong going back to early chapbooks, through Thomas Bewick, Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, the 'golden age' of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, and through to the 20th century with Edward Ardizzone and Quentin Blake. Blake is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University.
MA Children's Book Illustration (Image from Good Little Wolf By Nadia Shireen. Published by Jonathan Cape, June 2011. Used by permission of The Random House Group Ltd).
“During my research it became clear that as well as being innovative, the MA in Children's Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin was very well respected.
I didn't realise at the time quite how much the course would affect my life! The course forced me to take my drawing seriously for the first time, which has in turn made me reassess my work and what I want to do in the future. The tutors all shared a commitment to bringing the best out of every student. I found them supportive, encouraging and honest. It is vital to be open to criticism in order to get the most out of the course. There's a real passion for the subject from the teaching staff that is highly infectious.
The course works closely with the publishing industry, which is invaluable for aspiring illustrators. A team from Walker Books regularly visited us, and gave us insight into the ever-changing landscape of the industry, as well as personal feedback on our work. The graduation show in London was attended by talent-spotters from all of the major publishing houses, which I think is a testament to the reputation of the course. At the graduation show I was approached by several publishers, and have signed to Random House Picture Books for a two-book deal.
The MA Children's Book Illustration is a taught studio course that focuses on the creative development and direction of each student artist. The teaching is delivered primarily by internationally recognised artists, writers and publishers who work professionally in the field of children's books. Each module requires you to propose and develop a project through negotiation with tutors, within the broad parameters of the module definition. One-to-one tutorial support is seen as a key element of the student experience along with group critiques, briefings and seminars.
Additional course information
The staff team:
- Martin Salisbury (Course Leader): Freelance book illustrator and course founder (2000). Author of the acclaimed 'Illustrating Children's Books' (A&C Black, 2004).
- John Lawrence (Visiting Professor): One of the UK's most highly respected illustrators, Lawrence has illustrated around 200 books in a career spanning over fifty years.
- Pam Smy: Illustrator of numerous books including 'Follow the Swallow' with Gruffalo author, Julia Donaldson.
- David Hughes: Hughes' brilliant draughtsmanship has won him numerous UK and International awards. Renowned for his editorial work, he is also a prolific author-illustrator of children's books under his pseudonym, Sandy Turner.
- James Mayhew: Mayhew's 'Katie' books have sold over a million copies around the world. He has also illustrated and written books on themes of opera, ballet and folk tales.
- Helen Stephens: One of the most highly regarded young author/illustrators working in the UK today.
- Morag Styles (Reader in Children's Literature at Cambridge University): Author of numerous books on visual texts for children.
- Walker Books: Staff on the editorial and design side of children's publishing at Walker Books contribute regularly to the delivery of the course in a unique collaboration.
- Alexis Deacon: Author-illustrator of award-winning picture books such as Slow Loris and Beegu, Deacon is one of the most admired of the new generation of illustrators for children.
- Paula Metcalf: A graduate of this course herself, Paula's picture books are published in numerous languages and have recently been featured on TV.
- Anglia Ruskin's Royal Literary Fund Fellow is available for tutorials on creative and academic writing.
This module constitutes a foundation for the course. Focusing on drawing, you will propose and execute a thematic drawing project exploring a subject through observation and imagination. There is no requirement for the visual work to be consciously aimed at an audience of a particular age group. This reflects the course ethos of the importance of developing a visual language as an artist rather than pursuing preconceived notions of stylistic appropriateness. Supporting lecture programme.
You will propose and design a project that is presented in sequential, visual form. Workshops and seminars examine and discuss how we read visual sequence. Outcomes do not have to be aimed at children at this stage but must communicate clearly in sequential form. Supporting lecture programme.
You will propose and negotiate a completed visual statement designed to communicate with a child audience of a stated age group. Projects can vary greatly in form of outcome to include, for example, picture books, animated films, series of posters, portfolio of illustrations to fiction or non-fiction texts for older children. Outcomes may be in any form or medium. Supporting lecture programme.
As the major written element of this course, you will propose and negotiate a 6,000-8,000 word essay, which places your own visual practice in the historical and contemporary context of the discipline. You will reflect on your practice exploring personal influences and aspects of the 'industry' that are of particular interest, historically or theoretically. The purpose of this module is to bring a more informed and reflective aspect to personal creative practice. Supporting lecture programme.
This is the final, summative project, successful completion of which leads to the award of MA. You will negotiate and propose a substantial creative visual project which you will undertake with a mixture of scheduled group teaching and individual tutorial support. Projects will vary greatly in nature and form but will be sequential and will 'speak' to the child. You are encouraged to be creatively ambitious and to challenge perceived restrictions
AssessmentAssessment of the first three studio modules is weighted 80% on the visual submission and 20% on the essay produced in relation to the series of contextual study lectures that run each semester.
The diploma review thesis is assessed 100% on the 6,000-8,000 word essay. The Masters-stage project is assessed 90% on the body of visual work and 10% on the written project report. Work is normally handed in for assessment within two weeks of the final taught session of each semester.
FacilitiesThere are dedicated illustration studios just off the Ruskin Gallery and a fully-equipped printmaking studio.
Our campus libraries offer a wide range of publications and a variety of study facilities, including open-access computers, areas for quiet or group study and bookable rooms. We also have an extensive Digital Library providing on and off-site access to e-books, e-journals and databases.
We endeavour to make our libraries as accessible as possible for all our students. During Semester time, they open 24 hours a day from Monday to Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday and for 12 hours on Sunday.
Our open access computer facilities provide free access to the internet, email, messaging services and the full Microsoft Office suite. A high speed wireless service is also available in all key areas on campus. If you are away from campus or a distant learner, our student desktop and its many applications can be accessed remotely using the internet. Your personal student email account provides free document storage, calendar facilities and social networking opportunities.
Throughout your studies you will have access to our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), providing course notes, reading materials and multi-media content to support your learning, while our e-vision system gives you instant access to your academic record and your timetable.
Special featuresThis course features field trips and group excursions such as the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Teaching staff on this course are researchers affiliated to Anglia Ruskin's research institute: The Centre for Children's Book Studies.
In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) for art and design, 70% of our research work was 'internationally recognised', 'internationally excellent' or, in some cases, 'world-leading'. As a result, our income from the RAE to support our research is double our 2002 allocation.
BursariesAn Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Block Grant Partnership Capacity Building award is available for this course every year. Winners will receive a bursary in line with the AHRC's current rate, as well as a full fee waiver.
More information is available on our ALSS PG Study website.
Course LeaderMartin Salisbury
Related linksMA Children's Book Illustration Graduation Show
Centre for Children's Book Studies
Children's Picturebooks' shortlisted for Academic Book Award 2013
Jo reaches Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2013 shortlist
MA graduates hold triple-book launch
Festival of Illustration 2012
MA Children's Book Illustration Graduation Show 2013 Brochure
Links with industry and professional recognitionThis course has built strong links with the children's publishing industry. The annual London graduation exhibition, which takes place in a leading West End gallery in February, is attended by representatives of most leading publishing companies and literary agencies. Bologna Children's Book Fair also provides for opportunities for publishing deals. A more formal partnership exists between the course and Walker Books and its American counterpart, Candlewick Press. Walker books work regularly with our students providing work-experience visits to their London offices and the Annual Sebastian Walker Award for the Most Promising Student.
Associated careersGraduates of this course tend to aim for freelance careers as authors or illustrators for children. It has an outstanding record of success in this area. Among our published recent graduates are Paula Metcalf, Marta Altés, Nadia Shireen, Birgitta Sif, Rebecca Patterson, Jo Empsom and Kazuno Kohara.
|Entry Requirements:||A good Honours degree, normally in a related subject. Applicants with professional experience are also encouraged to apply. Entry is subject to submission of a portfolio, and an interview Non-Academic Conditions: Art Portfolio, Interviews|
Portfolio requirementsYour portfolio should include a maximum of 20-30 images with some examples of preparatory/sketchbook work as well as more finished samples.
International applicants are encouraged to host their portfolios online and provide us with the URL or submit in pdf format by email attached. CD or hardcopy formats submitted by post to our International Admissions Office are also acceptable but please note that these will not be returned to applicants.
We welcome applications from International and EU students. Please select one of the links below for English language and country-specific entry requirement information.
How to apply
DurationOne and a half years
Teaching times*Tues and Thurs 9.00am-5.00pm and Wed afternoons
Open DaySaturday 13 July
Postgraduate Open Day
Advice & supportEmployability
FacultyArts, Law & Social Sciences
DepartmentCambridge School of Art
Contact usUK and EU applicants:
- Call 01245 686868
- Complete enquiry form
- Call +44 (0)1245 493131 ext 2609
- Complete enquiry form
*Teaching days and times are for guidance only and are subject to change each academic year. We advise all applicants to wait until they are in receipt of their timetable before making arrangements around their course times.