Access to HE Graphic Design and Illustration

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The Access to HE Graphic Design and Illustration course is ideal for applicants who wish to progress to university to study graphic design and/ or illustration.

On the course, you will explore your creative ideas, build a portfolio and exhibit your work. You will have access to workshops where you can learn new creative digital design skills utilising Apple Macs and Adobe software, along with accessing more traditional creative art techniques and processes.

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Course Information

Video Transcript

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INTERVIEWEE – SHARON DUCE, Graphic Design Course Leader (SPEAKING)

INTERVIEWEE – JAMARI, Student of Graphic Design Level 3 (SPEAKING)

INTERVIEWEE – FRANCINE, Student of Graphic Design Level 3 (SPEAKING)

Scenery – Student grabs a watercolour pencil.

Scenery – Student begins colouring in a rose.

Scenery – Student places lens into camera.

Scenery – A model poses for their photo to be taken.

Sharon Duce – “Hi I’m Sharon and I’m the course leader for Graphic design at Leeds City College. Graphic design is not a computer course, we’re not just invested in teaching you the skills of how to use adobe software. We’re here to help you learn how to think. It might be something that might be typical graphic design, advertising, marketing this kind of thing. Equally it could be a sculpture or it could be something else. Anything goes in our Graphic design course.”

Scenery – Students are shown painting.

Scenery – Sharon provides feedback on Jamari’s work.

Jamari – “Hi I’m Jay and I’m studying Graphic Design Level 3, I think when it gets to design – stuff like that I just enjoy letting my imagination take control. For me specifically I like to lay about 5 – 10 maybe even 20 different foundations, maybe sketches to see what they are asking me to make and what I can produce. Look back at the stuff that I’ve made – It’s like making an art style, when you make an art style you need to look at different pieces and put them together to make a mesh that looks cohesive”.

Scenery – Jamari is seen using Adobe InDesign to do his work.

Jamari – “So like if I want to make something bold and that stands out for people that see it, I want to look at my previous art and think what about that makes me look at it. What’s the first thing I see when I look at this drawing that I’ve done. That’s the kinda stuff that I just really enjoy putting together.”

Scenery – Students are seen using Macs in a classroom.

Scenery – A screen shows a student’s work.

Sharon Duce – “Because I can draw upon my 20 years experience within the graphic design industry, I have a good idea, a very good idea of what students need to be able to do when they leave college and also to understand that we need to give them a variety of skills. We like to offer what we call a pick and mix of technical skills this does include computer skills, adobe, photoshop etc but it also includes getting those ideas on to paper, using a pencil, using paint other mark making materials, getting messy in an art studio and coming up with these ideas to begin with.”

Scenery – A student dabs their paintbrush into some paint.

Scenery – Students paint onto papier mache.

Scenery – Student finishes off a portrait piece.

Sharon Duce – “Trying things out, experimentation because from experimentation comes great ideas and the ideas and the point you’re trying to make the message you’re trying to deliver? This is what graphic design is all about.”.

Francine – “Hi I’m Fran, I’m studying Level 3 Graphic Design at Leeds City College. I’ve been working on a lot of Adobe Illustrator just really trying to practise on that. Whatever we learn at college maybe when I go home because I can use the software at home as well. I just practise on Adobe Illustrator so I can get my digital illustration techniques a little bit better.

Scenery – Fran is seen using illustrator

Francine – “Actually what we are encouraged to do here is work a lot in our sketch books and our studio books and make sure we’re always sketching our ideas up. We have art classes upstairs, so we can do screen printing and lino printing and then we have a photography class as well so I’ve learned how to use DSLR cameras”.

Scenery – Students are seen handling a DSLR camera and setting up softboxes.

Francine – “We’re actually learning the fundamentals of traditional art like I said and developing them further if we actually want to make them digital”.

Jamari – “Drawing a person, drawing a character from a TV show, that’s one thing. It’s fun but it’s one thing but then when you see buildings and billboards, they just stand the test of time. Hundreds of thousands to millions of people can see them. Knowing that if I have kids in the future, maybe one day I could point them at a billboard and say ‘ Yeah your Dad made that’.”

End Slide – Leeds City College (School of Creative Arts)


Who is this course for?

The course is for students over 19 years old who are passionate about the art and design industry, and who would specifically like to develop their skills and experience in graphic design or illustration. The course is ideal for those who have experience at any level and who would like to go to university to study their subject in more depth. It is also suitable for those who are thinking of changing their career or have left education with no qualifications.

Units / Modules

Modules are specific to your area of study and are aligned with both historical and contemporary practises within the art and design industry.

Benefits / Skills

  • Taught by highly qualified, industry experienced teachers and technicians.
  • Academic study, research and writing skills to help with expectations at university.
  • Access to industry standard equipment and resources.
  • Experiencing the expectation of university and industry.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have GCSE or equivalent maths and English (Grade 4 or C) and an interest in a future career in graphic design or illustration.

How will you be assessed

Assessment is conducted at key points throughout the year and your final qualification is awarded based solely on your coursework. There are no exams.

Career Progression

This course will prepare you for independent study at Higher Education Level. This is a one year course and it provides credits that will allow successful students to progress to university at its end.

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Course Details


1 year

Study Type

Full time

Start Date


Course Code


Course Fee (16-18)

No fee

Course Fee (Adult)

£3,928   You may be entitled to support with fees. Click here for more info.

Course Facts

Trips and Opportunities

Industry standard facilities and software


Highly experienced teaching staff

Extra Curriculum

Regular visits to industry and galleries.

School of Creative Arts
Leeds City College
Leeds City College