Ballyfermot College of Further Education BCFE

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Illustration – Illustration Diploma (HND) Level 6 Higher

Course Code AIH

NFQ Level 6*

Duration 2 Years

Award Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma in Illustration (Art and Design)

* The Higher National Diploma is recognised by the QQI as being comparable to the Higher Certificate at NFQ Level 6

On successful completion of Year 1 of a two-year Higher National Diploma (HND) an Higher National Certificate (HNC) will be claimed for each 1st Year HND student. It will be included as part of the overall HND award on successful completion of Year 2.

A 2-year course developing drawing & illustration styles: advertising, fashion, graphic novels, book covers, children's books, botanical & archaeological

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Illustration is a highly specialized discipline. This unique course enables you to develop strong visual language and narrative skills, and a range of illustrative styles. You will focus primarily on developing your drawing, digital and media abilities while also learning to regard your work in terms of commercial viability.

You will be actively encouraged to engage in a range of methods, both traditional and non-traditional and to realise your ideas in a variety of ways. These include three dimensional formats such as paper engineering and pop-up books.

Assignments will explore the entire spectrum of illustrative practice including editorial, art direction, archaeological, advertising, instructional and fashion as well as illustration for graphic novels, storyboarding, websites, book covers and children’s books.

Working to tailored in-house and live competition briefs is a key component of the course and includes gaining valuable feedback from tutors and industry sources alike.

Guest lectures are delivered by a variety of practicing and published illustrators and artists, which often include workshop-based sessions. Location trips to relevant exhibitions and events also enhance student practice.

Emphasis on developing your own professional practice is key over the two years of study, culminating in a portfolio which reflects a strong individual style, while being varied in content.

Additionally, the Erasmus+ study programme enables students to continue their education abroad for a number of weeks and to work on a live assignment for industry with their peers. In 2020, students of the HND in Illustration visited Malta to produce a capsule merchandise package for production and sale by Heritage Malta and the Esplora Science Museum.

While BCFE continues to partake in the EC funded Erasmus+ programme and has prepared work experience placements for the 2020 – 2021 academic year the College will continue to be guided by the HSE and NPHET. Therefore, travel abroad may be postponed or cancelled depending on the advice from the Government. 

Course Content

Year 1

  • Principles of Life Drawing
  • Contextual Studies
  • Professional Development
  • Media Practices
  • Individual Project
  • Visual Narratives
  • Material Practice
  • Techniques and Practices

Year 2

  • Advanced Life Drawing
  • Art Direction
  • Applied Practice
  • Advanced Art Practice Studies
  • Professional Practice
  • Conceptual Practice

Entry Requirements

Portfolio Guidelines

Students should bring to the interview a professionally presented Portfolio of recent and original works including:

  • Life and observational drawing, showing strong use of line, tone, texture and composition.
  • A wide range of media and a variety of subject matter.
  • Life Drawing should include 10 – 12 examples of a variety of poses and media.
  • Colour, work should include painting, collage, printmaking, textiles and mixed media.
  • Personal work should be creative and conceptual.
  • Sketchbooks, work should show artistic/cultural interests as well as thought processes and ideas development.
  • Three-dimensional work can be photographed for inclusion in the portfolio.


  •  Graduates of this course may also apply through the CAO and/or the Higher Education Links Scheme for entry to higher and advanced certificate and degree programmes at national Institutes of Technology, Technological Universities and Universities (applicants should confirm linked awards and eligibility requirements with the relevant Higher Education Institution).
  • Students may also apply for advanced entry to honours degree programmes in national and international third level institutions

Career Opportunities

  • Viable progression routes include: freelance illustration; design studios; newspapers and magazine publications; publishers; architectural firms and museum work.
  • Graduates have established themselves as successful freelance illustrators. Several of our graduates are members of Illustrators Ireland and continue to publish their work regularly in addition to participating in prestigious festivals such as The Bologna Book Fair, The Children’s Books Ireland Conference, The Bratislava Illustration Biennale and Art Source.
  • Graduates have also been nominated and have won notable awards for their work including the An Post Irish Book Award and the Children’s Books Ireland Award.

Students' Work

Developing drawing skills & illustration styles: advertising, fashion, graphic novels, greeting cards, websites, book covers and children's books.
Developing drawing skills & illustration styles: advertising, fashion, graphic novels, greeting cards, websites, book covers and children's books.


Being a student of Illustration at BCFE was a challenging and enjoyable experience. The course helped me improve my artistic skills as well as develop my career professionally. It has broadened my horizons and prepared me to continue forward in this field. I found the staff and tutors to be friendly, supportive and highly skilled. In my final year, I did an Erasmus+ programme in Malta.
Carla Rodera
HND in Illustration (AIH, 2017- 2019)

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