Sequential Design/Illustration MA


Boltelho Animation BrightonImage: Margarida Botelho, figurines for stop-motion movie 'Eva'.*

Primarily for graphic designers and illustrators interested in sequence and narrative, this course also attracts a diverse range of practitioners interested in telling tales and making them visible through a variety of forms. These have included written and illustrated books, interactive design, graphic novels, stage and exhibition design, animation, film, book arts and narrative textiles.

In its 20-year history, this unique course has built on the gathered knowledge and experience of its staff and students and will cover topics that are relevant to all MA students interested in storytelling, visual narrative and delivering complex sequential messages, by any means.

Recent graduate work, ranging from a biography of Edith Sitwell to a series of calendars made from human hair, demonstrates the variety of individual research. Other work examines the legacy of recipes, children’s book narratives, the domestic life of objects and the love lives of playing cards.

Students propose and undertake their own individual projects. These are supported through tutorials, seminars, group events, work-in-progress presentations and a wide range of lectures, helping students to develop an informed, critical and imaginative view of the subject.

Sequential Design/Illustration MA Blog

* Image:  Margarida Botelho, ‘EVA’, a children’s book and a stop-motion movie about how Africa and Europe meet through two children called Eva.  The book is from the collection Encounters where the design allows two characters from different worlds to meet in the middle of the book.  While on the MA course Margarida received a UNESCO grant to develop and undertake a major community narrative project in Africa to help generate sustainable social development through storytelling.


Key facts

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Typical entry requirements Help
individual offers may vary

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The fees listed here are for full-time courses for the upcoming academic year only. Further fees are payable for subsequent years of study.

The tuition fee you have to pay depends on a number of factors including the kind of course you take, whether you study full- or part-time and whether or not you already have a higher education qualification. If you are studying part-time you will normally be charged on a pro rata basis depending on the number of modules you take. Different rules apply to research degrees - contact the course team for up-to-date information.

Visit for more information, including advice on international and island fee paying status, and the government's Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) policy.



Image: Mark Pembrey, 'Extracts from The Harrow and Wealdstone Rail Crash'*


Our MA Sequential Design/ Illustration at the University divides into two 'stages': 

Stage one

  • Sequential Projects(s)
  • Visual Narrative
  • Research and Investigation


Stage two

  • Major Sequential Project(s)
  • Project Report


As the course develops, there is an increasing opportunity for independent and self-directed work. Each student is allocated a personal tutor who oversees the planning and content of individual projects.

In the Visual Narrative unit, which will include lectures, themed group events and small practical activities such as the Surprise Project, where you will be asked to deliver a surprise though a sequence of six images or objects with the unit group as your target audience. From this experience, you will learn the nature and importance of surprise in basic storytelling and developing a vocabulary for narrative. In scheduled theme day events, such as Modern Cautionary Tales, students work in groups to challenge their quick-thinking skills in the invention, planning and presentation of a story.

While students accepted on the course should come with the technical skills necessary to fulfil their projects, access to the diverse workshops facilities will be made available as appropriate to your project. These may include bookbinding, letterpress, printmaking and photography. There is also a substantial specialist library and a full range of computer facilities.

Besides practice-based work, the course also includes a written element in which you will be asked to reflect critically on the research and development of your project.

In order to bring together a variety of students and approaches, this course coexists with the MA Arts and Design by Independent Project. Both are based at our Grand Parade site.

You can study on a part-time or full-time basis:

  • Part-time, for two years, is designed to fit in with your professional life and allows more time for reflection. Part-time students work on the course for two days a week; one day on site and one day working independently.
  • Full-time, for one year, is an intensive year of study. You work four days a week: two days with the course and two days working independently.
  • During vacations you will be engaged in independent study.

Lectures, seminars, reviews and assessments are held at fixed times on Wednesdays. Other patterns of attendance vary according to individual circumstances.

Your work will be predominantly project based, which may comprise of one or more parts, focusing on a central theme or idea. A single project or investigation will in most cases sustain a student throughout the entire duration of the course, though at stage assessment, in consultation with tutors, it may naturally evolve into a new or related area of study.

The nature of the subject demands the continual interaction between research, analysis, and ‘practical’ realisation, and requires an extended period of development for ideas to become fully meaningful. Throughout this investigation you will receive support and guidance from the course tutors.

Image: Mark Pembury, 'Extracts from The Harrow and Wealdstone Rail Crash' from the project ' Cut and Cut Again:  Minimal language and typography as illustration', a body of work exploring ways of illustrating poems and short stories using minimal or 'stripped down' language and typography.  Areas of research include Imagist Poetry, Concrete Poetry, Flash Fiction, and the Oulipo.



Vicky Ilott Sequential Design and Illustration, BrightonImage: Vicky Ilott, 'The Unintentional Archivist:  The Confiscated Papers Of Patient H. A.' An archival display of items, including collaged documents and ephemera, supposedly amassed by a patient at an anonymous institution. (image 1 of 12)

Because of the diversity of our students and the projects they create, their professional achievements are equally wide-ranging. Highly successful commercial enterprises have been established, research degrees undertaken, books published, collaborative design groups formed, work exhibited in major galleries/institutions and graduates have participated in festivals and conferences around the world.

Two example graduates:

Lesley White

Lesley White's coursework led to publication success. With the help of her tutors on the MA Sequential Deign/Illustration, Lesley worked on the first drafts of three children’s books. Her book 'The House Rabbit' was chosen as Highly Commended for the Macmillan Prize 2010. As a dummy book it was first on display as part of the exhibition at Foyles Gallery, Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road and then earned Lesley a contract as Author/Illustrator with David Fickling Books. Sample pages from The House Rabbit (2012) can be seen below.

Lesley says, "During my two years on the MA Sequential Design/Illustration I learnt a fantastic amount about narrative development, text and image relationships and sequential illustration. The course challenged me to focus and refine the ideas behind my work and helped me develop self belief in a style that has become authentically my own. The structure of the course was so well balanced with in-depth Personal Tutorials, student and staff led seminars and visiting lecturers."

Lesley White: The House Rabbit, Helping Children Cope with Fearful Thoughts, University of BrightonImage: Lesley White, proof pages from 'The House Rabbit.'

Margarida Botelho

For a period of 8 months, children´s book illustrator/writer and art educator, Margarida Botelho travelled through Mozambique with a bag full of 'empty' books which were given out to members of the community. Step by step, page by page, the books were filled with an array of personal stories.

The project was based on a simple idea: If we can learn how to convey our life story in a book with words and illustrations perhaps we can further our awareness of who we are and what is around us.

This was part of Margarida's Encounters project. While on the MA Sequential Design/Illustration course at the University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities, Margarida received a UNESCO grant and support of Inov-Art (Portuguese Government) to develop and undertake this major community narrative project in Africa to help generate sustainable social development through storytelling.

Back in England she produced as her course work the children’s book and a stop-motion movie 'Eva' about how Africa and Europe meet through two children called Eva.

The Encounters project recognises that, in poor communities, communication can be a generator of sustainable social development. In Africa, Margarida Botelho worked in a number of areas: on the Island of Mozambique, in some Maputo slums, a rural village and an International refugee camp. After the course, Margarida continued her work around the world, next working in Community Art Education Projects between Lisbon, Mozambique and Reserve Uatumã, Amazonia.

Margarida's own film of studio work, making her movie 'Eva'

 UNESCO Project by Margarida Botelho, University of Brighton College of Arts and HumanitiesImage: UNESCO Project, Margarida Botelho



images from Helping Children Cope with Fearful Thoughts' by Lesley WhiteImages: from project 'Helping Children Cope with Fearful Thoughts' original drawing and pages from book 'The House Rabbit' by Lesley White, chosen as Highly Commended for the Macmillan Prize 2010.

Project Proposal Guidelines

You are required to write a 600 word project proposal to accompany your application form. The following headings should assist you.

  • Title (or working title) and any sub-title of the project.
  • The form the project might take; book, comic/graphic novel, digital, film, interactive, etc.
  • The editorial limits of the project (number of pages, running time etc).
  • Who is the project designed for and what are its intended objectives?
  • A description of what the project will involve.
  • How you would start to work on the project?
  • Possible technical requirements.
  •  In what way do you feel the project is designed to be sequential?
  • Any information you think is relevant.

This proposal represents a project that you would choose to do. It is useful as an example of your thinking. However, many students change their projects by agreement either after interview or upon joining the course. In some cases students may prefer to do more than one project on a theme. If this is the case, write a brief summary about this.

Some Portfolio Criteria

Many applicants for the course are aiming to change their personal/ professional position either within a subject/discipline in which they have already been trained (for example, illustration, multimedia, graphic design, typography or animation), or by moving to a new subject/discipline (for example, painting to illustration, textiles to animation). Other applicants are aiming to deepen their understanding of their chosen subject/discipline.

You do not need to start the project you have proposed or have work in your portfolio that relates directly to it. We feel able to assess an applicant’s potential by looking at the work you choose to present at interview.

Your portfolio, together with the project proposal, will enable us to assess your abilities to carry out your chosen project. It should demonstrate evidence of:

  • completed projects. It is essential that at least one of these projects should be accompanied by all its development work. You will also be required to explain the nature of the tasks or briefs in relation to these finished pieces;
  • an ability to use maps, plans, diagrams and rough sketches to discuss large projects before you start work on them;
  • scrapbooks, sketchbooks, notebooks that demonstrate your ability to visually research any subject;
  • independence (projects and work other than those required by academic or client demands);
  • interests outside your particular subject/discipline.


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