Magnetization reversal processes and domain structures have been studied in Mo(1 1 0)/Co(0 0 0 1)/Au(1 1 1) structures grown by molecular beam epitaxy on monocrystalline (11-20) sapphire substrates. Wedge-shaped samples with different Co thickness gradients relative to the Mo [0 0 1] direction were fabricated. Observation of the domain structure was performed at room temperature using Kerr microscopy in a Co thickness range varying from 5 to 50 nm, where the magnetization is oriented in the plane of the sample. A Co thickness-dependent coercivity field was determined through analysis of the domain wall position during the reversal process. A preferential orientation of magnetic domain walls was found, with the domains being needle-like. The orientation, as well as the size of the needles, depends on the Co thickness and the orientation of the magnetic field applied in the sample plane.