Fashion Design BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year)





Develop your own fashion designs from Year 1, with a focus on either menswear or womenswear, by studying our full-time Fashion Design degree at Cambridge School of Art, ARU. Choose to study abroad for one semester in the Netherlands, and get support to find placements and work experience. Graduate with a portfolio and final collection ready to take into a career in the fashion industry.

Full description


Our BA (Hons) Fashion Design will help you develop your own individual style as a fashion designer, with a portfolio ready to present to fashion houses. Or, if you’re a budding entrepreneur, you can explore the prospect of starting your own business, with modules that allow you to create your own business plan.

You will also develop skills and knowledge useful for many other roles in the fashion industry, including styling, buying, pattern cutting and trend forecasting.

We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

Companies including French Connection, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Laura Ashley have recently offered internships and work opportunities to our students.

Find out more about our placements and work experience, or the faculty's employability support.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Art and Design
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in art, design and related courses. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. Students will be introduced to practical art and design skills including developing skills of visual storytelling, image-making both in traditional and digital media, visual language and communication, formulating an independent creative response to a broad range of subject matter. Students will also be introduced to the fundamentals of design from a creative perspective, and to some of the key ideas/movements dominating art, design and culture, during the past few centuries. Students will work extensively in groups and collaboratively, with students from art and design, architecture and engineering pathways. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Composition and Style; Creative Workshops 1; Approach to Design; Critical and Contextual Studies; Creative Workshops 2; Specialist Project.

Year one, core modules

  • Creative Research and Design Development
    The module will introduce you to a creative and practical awareness of the fashion research and design process, with a focus on the relevant skills and techniques involved in 2D and 3D translation and interpretation. You will also be introduced to visual communication techniques, portfolio structure and presentation. Your further understanding of the fashion design process will be established by developing an understanding of 3D realisation through the introduction of fabric awareness, creative and traditional shape development, pattern cutting, toile making, and basic manufacture/construction techniques. Through projects and lectures you will explore contemporary and historical issues based on the context of the research and design process undertaken in the studio. Studio project briefs, practical workshops, seminars, group critiques, student presentations (process and outcomes), and tutorials will allow you to address context, practical application, process; develop self-reflection, communication skills and professional development.
  • Cut, Form and Construction
    This module will introduce you to pattern cutting and construction. It is designed to equip you with technical techniques necessary for manufacturing your designs, and introduce you to a working knowledge of industry standard manufacturing processes and professional practice. In workshops you will learn fundamental pattern cutting techniques using blocks, garment feature and seam sampling, and contemporary technical techniques, while discussing particular methods, challenging rules and focusing on technical detail in seminars. You will be able to practise techniques in the resource area. Through a project designed to help you explore and demonstrate an understanding of pattern cutting and construction techniques for a garment, you will accumulate your learning techniques and application.
  • Digital Media 1
    This skills module will support your design communication and introduce you to a key set of digital communication tools used in industry. This work is undertaken by class exercises and through your drawing project where you will refine the previous work from your Spatial Drawing module. You will be assessed by portfolio.
  • Contextual Studies
    This module will introduce you to valuable skills that you’ll use throughout the rest of your course. You'll cover how to research, analyse and write about art and design, and gain an overview of some of the major developments in art and design relevant to your specific course, considering issues of both industry practice and critical theory in relation to the social, cultural and intellectual climate of their times. The module may draw on examples from graphic design, interior design, fashion, industrial design, architecture, product design, media communications and fine art, but is taught with a particular emphasis on your own discipline. A constant question for us therefore concerns the possible definitions of 'design' itself. As well as this subject-specific content, the module also includes a series of workshops and exercises which will introduce you to the skills of library research, critical analysis of visual imagery, essay writing and academic referencing, providing a foundation for your later studies. For your assessment, you will demonstrate these skills by submitting an essay on a thematic subject.
  • Fashion Thinking Design Visual and Material Culture
    Building on Semester 1, the module will develop and further explore fundamental understanding of the practical, technical, and creative interpretative 2D and 3D processes and techniques within the research, translation and design process for fashion design. The module will examine practical, technical, and creative processes - their application, and outcomes. A fashion project will explore a creative introduction to fashion trends; understanding of fabric properties and their application in relation to shape and manufacture, traditional and creative draping and pattern cutting, toile making, manufacture/construction techniques, development of visual communication techniques combining hand and digital media, and contextualisation of process and outcomes. Projects and introductory lectures will explore the culture of fashion design based on the context of research undertaken in the studio. Studio project briefs and practical workshops will address practical application, process and outcomes either individually or in small groups. Student presentations, seminars, tutorials and group critiques will develop an awareness of the culture of fashion design, professional development, self-reflection, and communication skills. We will formatively assess, analyse and evaluate design solutions; their emotive quality, functionality, their appropriateness for purpose and application to industry.
  • Visual Communication and Portfolio
    This module provides an introduction to visual communication and portfolio for fashion. Your professional physical and digital design portfolio will enhance your employability and enterprise skills through the application of your individual style to a range of audiences. This module aims to challenge you to engage with diverse visual communication methods, and learn how to develop your drawing skills appropriate to specific purposes: observational research drawing, technical drawing and experimental fashion illustration; to communicate your ideas using both manual and digital techniques. You will to learn to critically reflect on your personal skills and develop your individual creativity in promoting your own work, and produce a personal portfolio in both physical and digital formats. Illustration, portfolio and presentation skills will support the promotion of your creative practice to a range of audiences including potential internships/work experience opportunities, and employers.

Year two, core modules

  • Design - Conceptual Fashion and Materiality
    This module is intended to develop the skills you initiated in Level 4 and broaden their application within the fashion industry. During analysis of the research, translation and design process, tyou will address more complex and conceptual design ideas and problems. These will involve more advanced creative, interpretative and practical 2D and 3D factors for fashion design, production and further explore more advanced visual communication techniques for design development and portfolio presentation. You will explore conceptual fashion design and develop further an understanding of consumer through lifestyle profiling, consumer trends and market level awareness. You will be asked to design a collection, produce fully manufactured outfit, and create a supporting portfolio using hand and digital media techniques. The module will include more advanced and experimental processes with regards to: primary research, and the translation/design development (by hand/digital media). You will draw upon an analysis of design elements and principles, combining 2D and 3D techniques. The module will also involve draping, pattern cutting, and toiling. You will experience: textiles/fabric sourcing, appreciation, testing and application; industry standard manufacturing techniques; trend analysis; conceptual styling concepts; more advanced visual communication and portfolio presentation. Challenging the boundaries of fashion design, introductory lectures will explore social, cultural, political, technological and historical issues, and consumer trends based on contemporary debates within the industry. Primary and secondary research will include a critical understanding of conceptual ideas, design development, their target consumer, industry issues and potential solutions. Studio based project briefs (including some group work), practical workshops, seminars, group critiques, student presentations and tutorials will address critical understanding, the design process, practical application, and the development of self-reflection, visual communication skills and professional development.
  • Fashion Sportswear
    On this module you will focus on developing advanced professional practice, industry standards and technical skills in pattern cutting, draping, construction and manufacture for separates. According to application, techniques will include developing and expanding on seams, dart manipulation, sleeve adaptations, openings, silhouette, lining and fitting - with different fabrics considered. You will also develop an understanding of pattern grading. You will be encouraged to develop confident and creative diagnostic pattern cutting and construction skills for separates. Seminars and workshops will address application, technical methods and approaches to design problems.
  • Design - Contemporary Issues and Design Practice
    This module is intended to further the skills you developed in Trimester 1 and broaden their application within the fashion industry. You will be introduced to brand and competitor analysis, and further practise market level analysis. You will also explore how this will affect the design process. A project will focus upon designing a collection for a specific market level and fashion brand. In practical interactive lectures you will explore market research, branding and marketing/promotion factors. Based on market level and brand expectations, the project will focus on design development, draping, constructing toiles and manufacturing techniques. You will also consider styling, promotion, visual communication and presentation of work for portfolio that is suitable for a specific market and brand. Studio based project briefs, practical workshops, seminars, group critiques, student presentations and tutorials will continue to address critical understanding, the design process, practical application, and the development of self-reflection, visual communication skills and professional development.
  • Debates and Practices
    On this module, you'll explore the links between critical studies and practice, enriching your knowledge and developing your articulacy about your specialism, as well as drawing on wider perspectives in relation to your own work. You will focus particularly on debates about contemporary practice. Your studies will be seminar-based and, where appropriate and possible, held in the studio. In discussions, you'll engage with theory and history alongside your own developing ideas about contemporary production, with an open agenda that will respond to current events, work and interests.
  • Fashion Promotion
    On this module you will undertake a self-directed project to investigate and analyse industry-led and conceptual contemporary fashion promotion strategies; generating creative and innovative approaches to fashion promotion - 'fashion storytelling' - and enhancing your employability and enterprise skills through application to a particular brand and market. In lectures, seminars and workshops you will explore critically and challenge global perspectives on the different tools and techniques used by the fashion industry, both digital and non-digital, in telling fashion stories for different markets and audiences. Your project work will focus on the development of a fashion promotion solution for a particular market, exploring online presence, social media and look books and other targeted strategies.

Year two, optional modules

  • Printmaking: Materials, Processes and Ideas
    This module will give you a chance to expand your existing studio practice through the medium of print. You’ll be encouraged to use experimental and innovative print processes as part of a self-reflective strategy informed by practice and theory. You will take part in a student-led research project supported by tutorial supervision, which will develop your ability to analyse and evaluate studio research. You’ll also have access to workshop resources outside of specified taught hours during allocated 'open access' slots. Your progress on the module will be formatively assessed at specified points through individual tutorials and group critiques.
  • New Media Design - Graphic Design for Screen Based Applications
    You’ll explore the role of graphic design across new media and screen based contexts including web design and application interfaces, and to consider the implications and possibilities of new communications phenomena, social networks and viral marketing for the graphic designer. Workshops address the design of motion graphics and digital animation through Flash and After Effects software, and the development of web design skills introduced in the Introduction to Web Design module. Lectures and presentations identify both the creative opportunities and technical constraints of new media and motion graphics for broadcast and interactive applications. These include references from film and TV titling, web graphics and advertising, and consider the use of ambient, viral and guerrilla strategies. A series of individual and small group projects explore both the technical and conceptual issues involved in each of these aspects of practice, addressing the use of new media across a range of both practical and speculative contexts. These projects explore the emerging communication possibilities of new technologies, as well as providing detailed technical instruction on the presentation of the word and image on the screen. Individual and group tutorials throughout the module address the development of you practice and the progress of each project.
  • Business for the Creative Arts
    This module will introduce you to the practical tools needed to set yourself up in business in the creative arts, as a company, a partnership or a freelancer. You'll explore a sector of the creative industries, identifying potential opportunities within it and producing a basic business plan. Your emphasis will be on self-reflection, innovative thinking and communication skills, while the subjects that you'll cover include: the creative industries; developing and analysing a business idea; types of business model; assessing your market; ideas behind marketing; basic accounts; tax and legal issues; and planning for start-up. You'll be asked to translate these into practice by applying them to your own ideas, which will then become part of your own business plan. The module will be delivered through lectures, seminars, student presentations, critiques and workshops. Your formative assessment will involve presentations, while the summative assessment will be based on your critical evaluation of employment opportunities in a sector of the creative industries and your portfolio of work, including a business plan or employment strategy and supporting documents.
  • Identities
    How do we define ourselves? How do we define others? How do images perpetuate stereotypes, and how do artists and film makers unpick these and explore alternatives? How fluid, open and multiple are our identities? These questions are at the root of this module. It’s an opportunity to explore identity-formation from psychoanalytic, sociological or philosophical perspectives. You may select the image of the artist or film maker as a topic, exploring notions of body image and role-play, as well as the connections between memory and history. Gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationhood, class are all important aspects of identity that you will consider, while feminist theories and postcolonial studies are major contributions to debates about identities. How have artists and film makers explored these issues? This is an opportunity for you to decide on a focus of study that links into your own interests in the studio.

Year three, core modules

  • Professional Portfolio and Pre-collection
    This module will give you the opportunity to focus on a specialist direction within fashion design, with a view to producing a body of relevant work suitable for a preferred career direction and with a focus towards your final major project. It is anticipated that the body of work you produce may act, or could be used, as preparatory work for the Major Project. This articulation enables you to develop deep learning and specialist craft and skills realised both practically and theoretically. Workshops and seminars on professional practice are designed to provide appropriate preparation for the world of work and to explore opportunities for employment and self-employment within the profession of fashion design. You are encouraged to solve challenging design problems utilising an enhanced awareness of contemporary design practice, specialist software resources and techniques within a modern informational culture. Briefs may include individually commissioned work, live projects, or national competitions. This project will also focus upon the practicalities of work, presentation and self-promotion within the design industry in preparation for employment and your major project. Lectures, presentations, discourse and seminars will examine creative innovation and design solutions within current fashion design practice. You will be expected to schedule design work in a professional manner and meet designated deadlines.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Year three, optional modules

  • Research Project
    The Research Project will foster your independent study with the guidance of a tutor. You'll devise your own project that will reflect on/co-ordinate with/enhance your own studio work and interests, encouraging your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Seminars will give you a forum to learn from each other's research. You will also be supported by individual tutorials with a member of staff. The Research Project may include a variety of relevant topics, including reporting on your own work experience. You can illustrate it with photographs, drawings or video, discussing your approach with your assigned tutor. (30 credits)
  • Research Assignment
    The Research Assignment module will foster your independent study with the guidance of a Supervisor. You will negotiate a topic with your supervisor, and devise your own project to reflect on / co-ordinate with / enhance your studio work and interests, relying on your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Classes will provide a forum for all students to learn from each other's research, but you will also have opportunities for individual tutorials with a member of staff. Your Research Assignment may be illustrated with photographs, drawings, and video. You will be assessed by way of a 3000-word written assignment. (15 credits)
  • Working in the Creative Industries
    Gaining work experience enhances your employability, and work based learning offers you the chance to gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module gives you the opportunity to explore a working environment relevant to the industry you hope to build a career in. The module will encourage your self-managed learning, and aims to develop your personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. You can use the experience as a basis for directing and focussing your career plans, as well as inspiration for your final year projects. In association with your module tutor, you will identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of your placement, ensuring that the module learning outcomes can be achieved. You will also create a reflective report on your work experience, including: the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; your role(s) on the placement(s); an academic and vocational analysis; skills and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests). You will also be asked to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved. On completion of the placement, the employer will be asked to complete a Student Feedback package. The work placement(s) may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period of the placement will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module.


For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure (pdf).

NB Modules are subject to change and availability

You will show your progress towards your final portfolio with a combination of written and practical work, depending on the module, with regular feedback from our lecturers.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.

Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.

Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa. They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus


You'll have flexible, out-of-hours access to our sewing and finishing machines and surface textile facilities, but can also request full training on our many other industry-standard facilities, such life drawing and sculpture workshops, photography labs, computer suites (complete with Photoshop Illustrator), and filmmaking equipment.

Study abroad

You can apply to study abroad for one semester, and get funding to help you cover the cost

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2019/20 or 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

Estimated cost of materials across the three years is £1,900.

Optional field trip £300.

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Portfolio review

It is essential that you send us a digital portfolio for review.

For full information on how to prepare and submit your portfolio please visit our cambridge school of art portfolios page.

Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

Similar courses that may interest you

Interior Design

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Graphic Design

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Apply now

UK and EU students

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UCAScode: W230

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International students

Applicants from outside the UK and EU, apply to ARU

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UK & EU applicants

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International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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