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

  • Cut, Form and Construction
    Cut, Form & Construction is a module focused on pattern cutting and construction, through which you will acquire the strong 2D and 3D technical skills you need to realise your design ideas, and develop creative problem solving and innovative creative pattern cutting skills. You will develop your understanding of pattern cutting through a range of technical workshops, supported by engagement with a series of thematic research case studies into contemporary social, cultural, historical and ethical issues. Incorporating contemporary and sustainable approaches, you will explore both traditional methods and experimental techniques in creative pattern cutting and construction, to develop both analytical and practical skills. You will experiment with different pattern cutting techniques, both 2D and 3D methods; traditional, contemporary, and experimental, which will help to develop the specialist direction you wish to pursue. Through lectures, seminars and practical projects you will understand and experiment with the tools and techniques of traditional and creative innovation.
  • Design: Visual and Material Practice
    In this module you will explore the fundamental practical, technical, and creative interpretative 2D and 3D processes and techniques within research, translation and design process for fashion design. An examination of historical, social-cultural, theoretical and environmental perspectives in contemporary design practice will help develop your understanding of current issues and contexts. You will gain a solid foundation for innovative design through the application of associated practical, technical, and creative processes. Through projects and introductory lectures you’ll explore the structure of the fashion industry and develop an awareness and appreciation of the varying roles and responsibilities within the industry and their associated employability skills. Studio project briefs and inclusive learning environments (e.g. practical workshops, seminars, group critiques, presentations and tutorials) will address context, practical application, process; develop self-reflection, communication skills and professional development.
  • Visual Communication and Portfolio
    In this module you’ll engage with diverse visual communication methods. You will develop drawing skills appropriate for different purposes, including observational drawing for research, technical drawing and experimental fashion illustration, as you further your understanding of the most effect methods and processes through which to communicate your ideas using both manual and digital techniques. You will learn about key digital communication tools, developing your confidence with key software and digital platforms. You will be encouraged to explore image-making and image-manipulation to develop compelling and engaging visual communication techniques that will contribute to your studio practice modules while discovering the capabilities of the selected programs. You will also 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

  • Contemporary Issues and Debates
    This module builds on the histories, contexts, and ideas introduced at Level 4, and will enable you to begin building a critical framework in which to situate yourself and your own developing practice. We aim to produce creative, socially aware and critically-informed professionals, and this module will engage you with the ethical considerations and responsibilities that are increasingly important for professionals today. You’ll explore contemporary issues and debates within creative practice through examples that address, complicate and solve some of the problems we face globally today. The module content will respond to current issues. To reflect this, your learning activities will be open and flexible, responding to current events, discourses, exhibitions and emerging debates, and you’ll be encouraged to identify your own areas of research throughout. Having engaged with the issues that impact on the contemporary practice of your discipline, and reflected on the role of artists and designers globally today, you’ll apply this critical insight to your own future. You’ll be briefed on how to identify and develop plans for your final year research assignment by either: a) planning for a work placement by researching and identifying possible roles and opportunities in relevant industries/organisations; or b) identifying and developing a proposal for your Level 6 Research Project.
  • Design and Professional Practice
    This module will challenge the boundaries of fashion design, with introductory lectures investigating design as a multidisciplinary practice, and exploring social, cultural, political, technological and historical issues, as well as consumer trends based on contemporary debates within the industry. Through lectures and workshops you will further develop your understanding of industry-led design practices, consumer-through-lifestyle profiling, consumer trends and market level awareness. You will look at more complex and conceptual design ideas and problems through the analysis of the primary and secondary research, translation and design process. These will involve more advanced creative, interpretative and practical 2D and 3D factors and textiles for fashion design production, and will allow you to further explore more advanced visual communication techniques for design development and professional portfolio presentation. You will investigate and analyse industry-led and conceptual contemporary fashion design practices and generate creative and innovative approaches to design. In lectures, seminars and workshops you will explore and challenge global perspectives on varying design tools and techniques used by the fashion industry Through projects, practical workshops, seminars, group critiques, student presentations and tutorials we’ll address the design process, practical application, and personal and professional self-reflection and development. You’ll build the essential skills and techniques needed to develop your confidence of design and enhance your employability and enterprise skills through application to a particular brand and market.
  • Fashion Communication and Promotion
    Fashion Communication and Promotion enables you to develop visual communication skills across a range of creative media, including fashion photography and styling, art direction and graphics, to create brand campaigns that attract consumers and influencers to brands within the industry. You will be introduced to the principles of marketing and explore how brands visually communicate their key messages across a variety of promotional platforms such as branding, advertising, print, digital and social media. You will investigate and analyse industry led and conceptual contemporary fashion promotion strategies and generate creative and innovative approaches to fashion promotion - 'fashion storytelling'. This module will teach you the essential skills and techniques needed to develop your confidence in design and understanding of the effective languages of visual culture in fashion promotion, enhancing your employability and enterprise skills through application to a particular brand and market. Lectures, seminars and workshops will critically explore and challenge global perspectives on the different tools and techniques used by the fashion industry, both digital and non-digital for telling fashion stories for different markets and audiences. Project work will be focused 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 three, core modules

  • Fashion Design Major Project and Professional Portfolio
    This module provides the opportunity to focus on a specialist direction within fashion design, with a view to producing a market-focused final collection and professional portfolio towards a preferred career direction. In addition, project briefs may include opportunities to engage with industry-based projects such as individually commissioned work national competitions and live projects. Your professional outcomes will enhance your employability and enterprise skills through the application of your independent design practice to a particular audience. You will prepare a proposal for an independent project to be approved by your module tutor. Through independent project management and professional practice, you will develop your understanding of appropriate methods and techniques, and demonstrate the professional commercial context of a fashion collection and portfolio for a target market and potential employers. You are encouraged to solve challenging design problems utilising an advanced awareness of contemporary design practice, sustainability in the creative industries, innovative approaches and specialist software resources. This project will also focus upon the practicalities of your coursework, professional visual communication and self-promotion within the fashion industry in preparation for employment or enterprise. Lectures, presentations, product/toile reviews, and seminars will examine creative innovation and design solutions within current dynamic fashion industry design practice. Workshops and seminars on professional practice and portfolio are designed to provide appropriate preparation for the world of work and to explore opportunities for employment, networking, industry roles and self-employment within the fashion industry. You will be expected to confidently engage in professional practice towards a range of industry networks and collaborations, project manage your work in a professional manner and meet designated deadlines. Coursework for set projects will be summatively assessed on conclusion of the module: Sketchbooks, technical file/packs, market research, fully manufactured toiles, fully manufactured outfits, visual portfolio, self-promotion and pitch presentations.

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)
  • Working in the Creative Industries
    Gaining work experience enhances your employability, and work based learning offers you the chance to key gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module will give you the opportunity to explore a working environment in the industry you have identified as relevant to your future career. It will encourage self-managed learning, and enhance your employability by developing your communication, personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, as well as giving you opportunities to apply those skills to real-world experiences, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. The experience can be used as a basis for directing and focusing your career plans, and can influence your final year projects. In lectures, group tutorials and seminars you’ll also explore skills analysis and reflective writing. You will need to identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of the placement in association with a module tutor, to ensure that the learning outcomes can be achieved. You’ll be given guidance and will need to submit a placement registration form and risk assessments for approval by the module tutor. The work placements may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module. You’ll create a reflective report and presentation on your work experience. The report will include the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; market sector analysis; your role(s) on the placement(s); academic and vocational analysis; transferable/employability and specialist skills analysis, knowledge and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests); and a final evaluation (impact on your final year and career aspirations). It will also include copies of the submitted registration and risk assessments. You’ll also need to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved.


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 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

UK and EU students 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

International students

You can pay your tuition fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees


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

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.

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UK and EU students

Apply through UCAS

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

01245 68 68 68

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International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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