Children's Book Illustration Inclusivity Bursary & Mentorship

Background and purpose

Students from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds are currently significantly under-represented both in the profession of children’s book illustration, and in the student cohort of ARU’s MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art.

The purpose of the ARU Children’s Book Illustration Inclusivity Bursary is to encourage and support talented UK students from under-represented groups to study the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art.

It aims to help overcome some of the barriers that currently prevent students from under-represented groups from taking up this course of study, and subsequently progressing into a successful career as a children’s book illustrator.


The 2022 Bursary is a one-off award of £11,200 (paid to the recipient in instalments – one instalment for each trimester of study) which is intended to cover either typical full student living expenses for one year, or the majority of the tuition fees for study on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art.

It also includes one-year bespoke mentorship to help the recipient student find their footing in the industry after graduating. This is provided by Picture Hooks, an organisation offering opportunity and development for emerging picture book illustrators.

Eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria to apply for this Bursary are that the applicant:

  • Is applying for or has been offered a place on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course (full-time or part-time) at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art
  • Is facing financial disadvantage, and/or is from an under-represented group. Examples of under-represented groups include Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students; care-leavers; students with any form of disability; students who have experienced significant physical or mental health challenges; students who are the first in their family to go to university; students living in areas where fewer people go to university than the national average (HE “cold-spot” areas); students with significant caring responsibilities. (Note -this is not intended to be a comprehensive list.)
  • Is a UK citizen

To be eligible to receive the Bursary, applicants must additionally have:

  • accepted an offer of a place on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course
  • registered as a student
  • begun their course.

Selection will be based on evidence supplied in the application form on:

  • future plans and career aspirations
  • availability of any other sources of financial support
  • evidence of household income
  • proposed use of the bursary
  • strength of personal statement.

Selection process

The Bursary will be advertised alongside the course information and application process. Eligible students will be invited to apply at the same time as applying for the course.

Students will need to complete a short Bursary application form including a simple personal statement and portfolio. The application form will require students to submit evidence of financial hardship in the standard format used by ARU’s Student Money Advice Service (SMAS) to assess levels of student hardship and financial need.

The Bursary will be awarded to the student whose application is judged by the panel to score most highly.

Applications will be scored and short-listed by the course leader and senior lecturer of the MA Children’s Book Illustration course. A judging panel will then meet to agree the scoring and short-listing and determine the successful recipient. The panel will comprise:

  • the course leader of the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art
  • a representative from Bell Lomax Moreton
  • a representative from Picture Hooks
  • a representative of ARU’s Student Money Advice Service (SMAS).

How to apply

Please complete an application form, and submit a PDF portfolio of your work (10-15 images of drawings, preferably done from observation, paintings and/or illustrations) or a link to your website if you have one.

Download an application form

Example work from MA Children's Book Illustration

Support the bursary

If you'd like to support our Children's Book Illustration Inclusivity Bursary, please visit our Donate a gift page. Every penny of your donation allows us to provide life-changing opportunities.