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Illustration Level 6

Course Code AIH

NFQ Level 6*

Duration 2 Years

Award Year 1: Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificate in Art and Design (Art Practice)

Award Year 2: Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma in Art and Design (Art Practice)

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

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

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Why choose a HND in Illustration?

This unique course enables you to develop strong visual language and narrative skills in a range of illustrative styles. You will focus on developing your drawing, digital and media abilities while learning to direct your work in terms of commercial viability. You will be encouraged to engage in a range of methods to realise your ideas, both two and three-dimensionally.

In-house and industry-linked assignments explore the entire spectrum of illustrative practice which includes children’s books, graphic novels, editorial, fashion illustration and much more. Valuable feedback from tutors and industry sources alike is key.

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

What will you study?

Year 1

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

End of Year 1 Certification Higher National Certificate in Art and Design (Art Practice)

Year 2

  • Advanced Life Drawing
  • Art Direction
  • Applied Practice – Collaborative Project
  • Advanced Art Practice Studies
  • Professional Practice
  • Conceptual Practice

End of Year 2 Certification Higher National Diploma in Art and Design (Art Practice)

Course Features

  • Erasmus+ study programme that enables students to continue their education abroad, such as Malta and Finland for a number of weeks and to work on a live assignment for industry with their peers.
  • Workshops and lectures with practicing and published illustrators and artists.

What do you need to apply?

In addition to the Entry Requirements, for this course you will also need to provide a portfolio of your recent Please see the ‘Portfolio Guidelines’ for details.

Year 1 Higher National Certificate

Year 2 Higher National Diploma

  • Students who have successfully completed year 1 and have achieved a Higher National Certificate in Art and Design (Art Practice), can progress automatically to year 2.
  • Applicants with an equivalent Higher National Certificate, and subject to module compatibility may also apply directly to Year 2, Higher National Diploma in Art and Design (Art Practice).

Art Portfolio Guidelines

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

  • 10-15 pieces of recent and original work which MUST include observational drawing.
  • Personal work should be creative and conceptual and can span techniques such as painting, collage, textiles and printmaking.
  • Sketchbooks should include influences, ideas generation and development of work.
  • Three-dimensional work may be photographed for inclusion.


  • 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.
  • Industry Day at BCFE invites employers to meet soon-to-be graduates with a view to employment and internships.

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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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.