MA Children's Book Illustration

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Introduction

Experiment with methods, explore ideas and critically reflect on your practice to develop your own personal visual vocabulary. Create original children’s book projects, supported by a team of internationally-recognised illustrators.

Apply for our inclusivity bursary

Our bursary is open to applicants eligible for UK fees and from an underrepresented group and/or facing financial disadvantage. If successful, you can get your full course fees paid, as well as mentoring from Picture Hooks.

Read more about our bursary

The first course of its kind, MA Children’s Book Illustration was established at Cambridge School of Art in 2001 and is led by Course Leader Shelley Jackson. Over the last twenty years, we’ve seen hundreds of graduates publish children’s books around the world, many to critical acclaim. Students and graduates often dominate national and international awards, too.

This taught, studio-based postgraduate degree is offered full-time or part-time. You’ll develop your practice in the art of children’s book illustration in a supportive, open and friendly studio environment with leading practitioners.

Course options

Course options

This popular course is currently closed for September 2022 for full-time places, but still has part-time places available.

Key facts

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Entry requirements

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Fees and paying for university

MELISSA

"Since 2015, I have been a full-time freelance illustrator, illustrating for book covers, picture books, editorial, textiles, packaging and stationery. It’s what I hoped and dreamed of doing."

MELISSA

MA Children's Book Illustration graduate

Read Melissa's story

Facilities and accreditation

Studios and workshops

As well as our dedicated illustration studio, you’ll have use of the following facilities:

  • a specialist printmaking studio with facilities for etching, screenprinting, relief printing, plate lithography, risograph and letterpress
  • a life drawing studio 
  • a 3D workshop with facilities for wood/metal work, laser cutting, 3D printing and an annexe for 'wet' work including plaster, clay and mold making
  • photography studios and darkrooms
  • Mac suites for digital imaging and book design.

Industry-standard equipment

All our Illustration students have access to facilities including:

  • the full Adobe Creative suite
  • Macs
  • scanners and wide-format printers 
  • printmaking workshop
  • letterpress workshop
  • photography and video equipment, including digital cameras and lighting kits.

Beth Waters

"My book, Child of St Kilda, came out of my Masters project. I discovered printmaking for the first time in the fantastic print room, and it was a real lightbulb moment - it taught me so much about image making."

Beth Waters

MA Children's Book Illustration graduate

Discover Beth's inspiration for her Kate Greenaway shortlisted book

Careers

Many graduates of our MA Children’s Book Illustration degree now enjoy careers as freelance authors and illustrators for children. Among them are Paula Metcalf, Marta Altés, Nadia Shireen, Birgitta Sif, Steve Antony, Matt Robertson, Flavia C Drago, Matty Long, Melissa Castrillon, Taylor Dolan, Nicola Kent, Emily Haworth Booth and Eva Eland.

You may choose to show your work to leading publishing companies and literary agencies at our optional annual graduation exhibition held in London before returning to our own Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge. The graduation exhibition also includes a catalogue of student work shared with publishers, a website (cambridgemashow.com), and social media campaign, all organised and funded by students separate of the course.

Upon completion of the course, you may also choose to take part in our student stand at the annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where tutors will show your work to publishers from around the globe. Like the graduation exhibition, this professional development event is available only to our course graduates, requires an additional fee, and is separate of the course. Many students also attend the fair in-person in order to participate in lectures and workshops or volunteer on our stand.

Graduation doesn’t have to be the end of your time with us. You could choose to continue your academic career with a research programme at ARU such as our PhD Children’s Book Illustration. Take advantage of our Alumni Scholarship and save £400 on your fees.

SHU-TI LAO

“My work has developed in so many ways since being here. After a year-and-a-half of study, I won the Macmillan Illustration Prize for my first book, Adventure at Night. Winning the prize has been unbelievable... [it has] opened doors everywhere.”

SHU-TI LAO

MA Children's Book Illustration graduate

Shu-Ti's story

Apply now for MA Children's Book Illustration

Life in Cambridge

Our friendly, bustling campus is a stone’s throw from the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

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Benefits of postgraduate study

Improve your employability, progress in your career, and take on an intellectual challenge with our flexible postgraduate degrees.

Postgraduate study at ARU

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