Fashion Design - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
Full Time (3 years), Sandwich (4 years)
September 2017

This is a Creative Skillset-ticked course with excellent links to international fashion brands, including Burberry, Karen Millen, Abercrombie and Fitch, Adidas, H&M and Iris Van Herpen.

You will learn to work with different design systems alongside staff who have valuable industry experience with a range of recognised brands. Each year, a selection of our final-year students showcase their final year work to industry leaders at events such as Graduate Fashion Week and New Designers in London.

What's covered in the course?

The course equips you with the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes to succeed in a wide range of careers related to fashion.

In your first year, introduction to a number of fashion topics helps you to develop a good foundation of fashion knowledge and skills in both design and technical areas.

Your second year helps to build advanced fashion skills and knowledge, and strengthens your personal and professional development in relation to your own career goals through a choice of options, business planning and a four-week work placement. There are also opportunities to take part in the international Erasmus exchange programme during this year. You will have the chance to follow our four-year sandwich option, which provides the opportunity for a one-year internship in industry.

In the final year, you have the chance to specialise in Fashion Design, Fashion Communication, Garment Technology, Design for Performance, or Fashion Accessories. The Fashion Design pathway is for imaginative, motivated and committed students who wish to work within the fashion industry.

The course blends individual creativity and commercial realism and you will be able to apply your skills and knowledge of the professional design process from concept to product.

"The tutors came to know me well over my study years. I had a fantastic support base which meant I was able to find my style and work to the best of my abilities, pushing myself in the last year of my degree." Thomasin Gautier-Ollerenshaw

Why Choose Us?

  • We have excellent links with regional and international brands such as Burberry, John Lewis, Adidas, Karen Millen and Rab, which give the course colour and contemporary relevance.
  • You can enjoy a vast archive of fashion publications dating back to the 1930s and also develop skills within Abobe Photoshop and Illustrator computer aided design (CAD), essential tools within the global fashion industry.
  • You will have the chance to showcase your final-year work to industry leaders looking for new talent at events such as Graduate Fashion Week in London.

This course is subject to approval

Student ambassador helps Open Day visitor

Open Day - 19 November 2016

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 19 November 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

School of Fashion and Textiles

Discover the School of Fashion and Textiles

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work in jobs such as:

  • Clothing designers
  • Textile designers
  • Buyers and procurement officers

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students

In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio.

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2017/18
GCE A Level/ AS Level BBC at A-Level or 112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) DMM - 112 UCAS points
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design Distinction
International Baccalaureate Diploma 14 points overall
Irish Leaving Certificate 112 UCAS points - Higher Levels
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher 112 UCAS points
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) 48 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
EU/International students
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2017/18
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses). 14 points overall
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.


International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2017 FT 3 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS
SW 4 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2017 FT 3 years £12,000 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Non-EU (International) students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Portfolio Guidance

Show us who you are 
Include relevant work related to the subject area of fashion design, but also show us who you are as a creative practitioner. Show ideas generation, experimentation and development, and include a cross-section of ideas to evidence your creative interests.

Think about the basics 
Show examples of drawings; these should include fashion sketches, life-drawings and observational drawings. You can also include textiles, print ideas photographs, three-dimensional work, garments and anything else relevant to the area of creative practice.

Tell a story 
Try to show one full project from start to finish with the preparatory drawings included. Annotations are helpful as they show how you research and reflect on the development of your work.

The finished article
Include one to three final pieces that you are able to talk about. This might include garments or accessories.

The sketchbook 
Include sketchbooks, this will give us an understanding of how you think (through your annotations) and allow us to see the development of your drawing (if the portfolio is digital, photograph or scan some of the best pages).

Be focused
Don’t feel you have to include everything - your interview will last approximately 15 minutes. You will have time to talk through your work but we also want to find out a little about you too.

Additional Costs

During the course you will need to purchase art and design materials, fabrics and publications dependent on your areas of research. There will also be the opportunity to go on option study visits both within the UK and abroad.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Year one

In your first year you are introduced to a broad range of fashion studies theory and technical skills, building a sound base for further study in years two and three.

You will learn design skills such as CAD, live fashion drawing, fashion illustration, fashion flats, styling and photoshoots. Alongside this, you will gain theoretical skills, such as contextual studies in fashion and related art and design.

You will also gain the skills that you need to solve practical problems and create presentations.

First year

Year two

In your second year, you will develop more advanced research, design development, presentation and technical skills, with a view to gaining work experience that will enhance your skills and employability upon graduation.

Placement Year (optional)

  • This module is partially completed during the year placement with a reflective journal. Final assessment takes place in year three, when you return to complete the final year of your four year degree. 
Second year

Year three

During your final year of study, you will focus on your own individual area of practice and produce a collection of garments that reflects your personal direction as a creative fashion design graduate.

Modules include:
Research and Creative Development
20 credits
Graduate Portfolio
20 credits
20 credits
Major Project
60 credits

This course is ideal if you intend to pursue a creative career in fashion design and related industries. Our previous graduates work within companies including H&M, Victoria Beckham, Marks & Spencer and Erdem, as well as many other international brands.

Within the first year you will be introduced to the fundamental skills needed to work within the fashion industry including fashion theory, commercial and conceptual design, trend research and garment development.

During your second year, you will develop these skills to a more focused and advanced level before applying for work experience within your chosen sector of the industry, with the option of a sandwich year between the second and third years of study.

In your final year, you will design and produce a collection of garments plus associated portfolio work for your major project, with a focus on either the menswear or womenswear market sectors.

On successful completion, you will graduate with a portfolio-based final outcome relevant to your individual career aspirations.

Download our lookbook to see examples of student work

Teaching breakdown

26 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
70 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
4 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

Student stories

Rebecca Short

Fashion design graduate Rebecca Short had the surprise of a lifetime when one of her experimental outfits was worn by pop icon Lady Gaga in front of a worldwide audience.

Cleo McColgan

Cleo McColgan gained a prestigious graduate position with world-famous fashion label Abercrombie and Fitch after graduating. She was one of a handful of elite graduates recruited by the company each year, alongside fellow graduate Phoebe Stonehill. They both took up their new roles at Abercrombie’s Head Office in Ohio in February 2014.

View more examples of student work...

Our BA (Hons) Fashion Design course currently benefits from its active Erasmus Exchange partnerships with the following institutions:

Student stories Betty Jackson CBE

Internationally Renowned Fashion Designer

Betty Jackson is an internationally renowned fashion designer who is well known for developing bold and imaginative textile prints and translating them onto clothing.

Betty first launched her own collection in 1981. She introduced the Betty Jackson for Men collection in 1986, and opened her flagship shop in London's Brompton Road five years later.

In 2008, she was asked by the Lord Chief Justice for help with modernising the gowns of the civil judiciary, and she also designed costumes for the characters Eddy and Patsy in the 1990s hit TV comedy 'Absolutely Fabulous'.


A requirement of the optional sandwich year within our course is to gain valuable experience to enhance employability within our students. Our students can be found gaining experience in may major fashion brands including; H&M, Next, Amanda Wakeley, Mary Katrantzou and Iris Van Herpen.

Links to industry

Throughout our course we actively encourage collaboration sponsored and live projects with the fashion industry. We have worked with Paul Smith, Burberry, George and Rab. These collaborations underpin our delivery and add value to the curriculum within the course.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

Graduates from our course progress to gain jobs within many of the major high end and high street companies, both within the UK and overseas. You’ll find Birmingham City University alumni working in Adidas, Marks & Spencer, Erdem and Victoria Beckham.

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Studying in the UK is better

Overseas students studying in the UK are happier and have a better learning experience compared to those studying in other countries.

The International Undergraduate Students: The UK's Competitive Advantage report asked 365,754 international students studying outside their home country to give their feedback on what it's like to study in this country. And the UK scored top in every aspect.

So if you're looking at studying with us, you'll be making a good choice.

Overall measures: ranked positions
Undergraduate 2014 2014 2014 2013 2014
Recommendation 1 4 3 5 2
Overall satisfaction 1 4 3 5 2
Arrival overall 1 2 4 5 3
Learning overall 1 4 3 5 2
Living overall 1 2 5 3 4
Support overall 1 4 5 3 2

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our fashion design course is most popular with international students from:  

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

The Parkside Building is part of our new multi-million pound City Centre Campus development in the heart of Birmingham's Eastside development.

Home to the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, School of Fashion and Textiles, and School of Visual Communication, the five-floor site is packed with fashion design workshops, studios and social 'collision spaces.'

The campus also provides extensive workshop space, and the very latest in industry-standard equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer.

You will have access to Vicon 3D, an external tracking motion capture facility, and Gypsy, an exoskeleton-based motion capture system to extend the many possibilities for production of 3D animation and films.

There's also a comprehensive range of tools and machinery in the wood and metal workshops.

You can use the latest in high-tech digital print, plus a range of other facilities including:

  • Editing and animation suites with unique equipment
  • Digital Visualisation Hub
  • Traditional print
  • Photographic studio and darkroom
  • High power laser cutters and rapid prototyping systems
  • Theatre
  • Fashion workshops
  • Computerised looms and printers
  • Art shop
  • Library
  • Café

We are committed to showcasing the best student concepts and collections in exhibitions and on catwalks that include London Fashion Week, London Free Range, New Designers and Birmingham Made Me.

Our staff

Our staff team have industry experience within computer aided design, pattern cutting, fashion history and design, and have worked alongside many internationally recognised brands. You will learn to work with the Adobe creative suite, widely used in the industry, alongside supportive staff who are well placed to inspire and shape your future careers.

See full list of our staff

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295