Universities & Degrees

Things to think about when choosing a university

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There are a wide range of degree courses and universities that offer fashion and textiles related courses and navigating university websites can make it quite challenging for students to understand all of their options. This is why it is important to do lots of research both on what courses are available and what is currently happening in the industry.

When choosing courses it is important not just to think about what you currently enjoy doing and instead think about how the course might contribute to a longer term career. It is important, for example, to look closely at what is happening within the industry to see what skills are needed. It is also a good idea to consider how many others will graduate from similar courses and to perhaps consider a degree that is a little bit different.

Visiting a university

  • Visit the university to get a feel of the university campus, the surrounding city, the halls of residence, shopping, nightlife and anything else that will be important to you. Visiting a degree show to see work from the course you are interested in is a good thing to do as well. 
Manchester Met
  • Think about your ideal university: Are you looking for a city campus? Do you want to be able to travel home easily? Do you want a big university or one that’s small and friendly?
  • Speak to students from the university and course: What do they think is good/bad about the university? What’s a typical day/week/term like? What support systems are there if you have a problem?
  • How many are there on a course and what is the student to lecturer ratio?
  • What is the background and experience of lecturers?
  • What is the typical intake e.g. age, gender?
  • What type of work is involved in the course you are interested in: Is there lots of practical? How is theory taught? How are you assessed?
  • How are things taught e.g. lectures, small group work? How many contact hours with lecturers do you get? What about seminars and tutorials?
  • What will the materials costs per term be?
  • Do you have a personal space for working as well as storage so you don’t have to carry things backwards and forwards all the time?
  • How easy is it to access spaces to work e.g. use of the library, access to specialist rooms and equipment outside of lecture time
  • What is the employment rate after students have got their degree? What typical jobs do students go into?
  • What support is there for while you are settling in (many courses require high levels of independent learning so what do they do to support you developing these skills)? What about support during the rest of the year if there are problems?

This link will open a page on my website for D&T teachers where you will find images from different design courses at different universities showing you some of the work from past students as well as some of their facilities.  

Entry requirements

Many fashion and textiles related degree courses require an A level in an art or design based subject or alternatively an art foundation course. These requirements are the most common but it is worth noting that there are a growing number of courses that prefer a science or maths background because of the high tech developments in the industry. Some courses even require A levels in science or maths, whilst others require a good GCSE grade or simply an interest in these areas. If you are interested in these types of courses it’s worth noting that the design and technology textiles qualifications, both at GCSE and A level, have a strong science and maths content which may be an advantage on applications for these types of courses.


Most courses require a portfolio to be taken to interviews. It is important to research what each course and university requires as expectations can be different. As well as showcasing creative skills portfolio work is often seen as a way of getting to know the student so it is important to be able to talk about the work with passion and enthusiasm.

The earlier career options are researched the better as although there is no rush to choose a career the choice of GCSE and A level options can make a difference to what degrees are available so these decisions need to be well informed. It can also be motivating to know how subject options choices are relevant to a long term career goal as this makes working hard in these area have a purpose.

Types of Degree Courses

The following information summarises the types of degree courses universities offer in fashion and textiles. It doesn't list all of the available courses from all universities, as there are too many, and the list is not a recommendation for a particular university or degree. Courses have been selected to illustrate the variety of potential areas of study and these can then be used as a starting point for searching for similar courses elsewhere. Click on the course headings to visit the weblink of the course. Information and links are correct as of September 2017.

To see a full list of current fashion and textiles courses visit the UCAS website 

Popular degree courses

Fashion design and textile design are possibly the most well known textiles courses and the ones that most people think of when they think of a fashion and textiles qualification. There are a lot of these types of courses across a wide range of universities (sometimes under slightly different names).

This course is typical of many fashion design courses where students can choose to focus on menswear, womenswear, print, or knitwear.


This course covers both fashion and interiors and students usually study printing, embroidery, weaving and knitting. Similar courses might also include the title surface design or make particular reference to techniques such as printing or embroidery. (Images from the degree show 2016. See more about this work).

textile design

Courses designed to meet an industry need

Some courses are designed to meet a specific industry need, whether that be a skill such as pattern cutting or an area of specialist design such as footwear.

This course allows you to specialise in fashion pre-production processes, including pattern cutting, fittings, grading and sizing, production planning, costing, testing and producing technical packs. Garment technologists are currently in high demand in the UK and abroad and this type of course is a good example of one that has the good bits of the popular fashion design degrees whilst also being set up to meet the current and future needs of the industry.

This course focuses on developing creative pattern cutting skills for garments, which is a skill that is much in demand at the moment, and the course has been developed with this demand in mind. This course includes traditional skills along with skills in digital technologies. At interview as well as a creative and technical portfolio applicants also have to demonstrate awareness of fabric development, designers, trends, the design process and their own ability to work independently and as a team.

This course focuses on developing the design and making skills required to meet the needs of the footwear industry. This type of course is a different twist on the traditional fashion focus. This course requires a portfolio which includes evidence of experience working with modeling techniques (not just within footwear) as well as evidence of an interest in footwear and materials generally. It also requires evidence of how a project brief is explored and documented.

De Montfort University 2

This course focuses on the design, development and realization of footwear products for the fashion industry. Preferred subjects for entry requirement are English, maths, art, design, textiles and science.

Just like the footwear degrees this course still has links to fashion but with a focus on textile design and accessories for the fashion industry. A wide range of materials and techniques are investigated along with skills such as pattern cutting. Courses like these can sometimes gives students skills in a specific area whilst also giving them transferable skills into other areas of the industry.

This course focuses on bags and accessories for the fashion industry. Preferred subjects for entry requirement are English, maths, art, design, textiles and science.

This course focuses on contour garment design including lingerie, swimwear, sportswear, corsetry, bodywear, loungewear and nightwear. This allows students to focus on fashion but from a different angle. This is an internationally renowned course and few universities internationally offer a specialist course of its type and this could be an advantage when starting a career.  

De Montfort University

Science based courses

With the growth in high tech textiles, even in high street fashion, science based fashion and textiles courses are on the increase. The level of science required varies from an awareness of science being important through to courses that are very heavily science based including those linked to engineering. Fashion and textiles careers that require at least some knowledge of science are likely to increase in the future because of the high tech world we live in.

Leeds Art & Design School 1741

This course has all of the elements of a traditional fashion course but there is an increased focus on a broader understanding of the role of science and technology in the fashion and textiles industry. Although it is a science and technology based degree there are still lots of modules that focus on creativity, design and fashion in the traditional sense. The science and technology approach is particularly reflected in the course entry requirements where there is a preference for at least one science or maths related A level rather than an art or design related subject. The course leader has indicated that a D&T Textiles A level would be a suitable alternative to a science or maths qualification because of its focus on science.

This course is another fashion course that focuses on technology and innovation within the industry. Although it is a science and technology based course there are still lots of opportunities for design and creativity. The entry requirements don’t state that an art or design qualification is required but an interest in fashion is considered essential. A number of courses have this type of entry requirement and it is important to think about how this interest will be showcased particularly if a student has not done an art or design qualification which might limit their portfolio work.

Manchester Met Benzie Building

Sportswear is a fast growing area of design and it allows students to study fashion with a specialist focus on sportswear. The course has links to the types of things studied on a traditional fashion course with the added study areas on innovation, the use of new technologies and materials, along with understanding the specialist needs of designing for the global sportswear market in areas such as surfing, snowboarding, running, climbing, and mountain biking. In an increasingly high tech industry these skills are transferable to other areas.

This is a women’s and menswear fashion course with a focus on sportswear, new technologies and cutting edge equipment. As well as being creative there is an emphasis on technology and business. Business focused courses can give transferable skills for career areas outside the textiles industry.


This course focuses on the skills required to enter the high performance technical textiles sector of the industry, whether it be apparel or other textiles uses. This is a science based course that is a combination of textiles, physics, engineering, chemistry and maths but which still allows opportunities for design thinking. This course would be of particular interest to students interested in cutting edge design of clothing that reacts to climate changes, clothing that integrates electronics, and uses of textiles in applications such as medicine. Entry requirements include maths & science or 2 sciences.

This course is very science based with lots of traditional science and technology related to textiles for uses in technical textiles, including smart textiles, sportswear, aerospace and automotive materials and biomedical implants. Entry qualifications are challenging and include A grades in 3 sciences. Graduates are highly sought after and the qualification can lead to a variety of careers.

Other fashion and textiles related courses

There are a range of courses that are fashion and textiles based but which focus on developing other skills, for example, business skills, photography or journalism.

Whilst still fashion based, this course focuses more on the aesthetics of design and style in fashion products, as well as on consumer behaviour. It also looks at the history of design and fashion as part of a focus on developing trends and styles. The course might lead to different careers including buying, product developer, and visual merchandising, as well those linked to marketing, brand development, PR and journalism. It also has transferable skills beyond the textiles industry, for example skills linked to business, research, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving. 

This course is designed for students interested in fashion and how the industry works but who also have a talent for writing, either as a traditional journalist or in areas such as social media. Students applying for places will need a specialist portfolio to demonstrate their writing and research skills.

This course focuses on the management of the entire fashion chain, from design development, product sourcing, manufacture, sales and marketing to the end consumer. This course is suitable for a student interested in fashion who also wants to develop business skills. No creative portfolio is required for interview on this course.

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This course is designed for students who are interested in fashion and how the fashion industry works but who want to focus more on their practical photography skills and developing a career in that area. Students are expected to have a photographic portfolio for interview.

The interiors industry ranges from decorative arts to interior architecture and this course reflects this diversity. The focus is on any space we inhabit and the complex design requirements they have.

This course develops designing and making skills for costumes used in the theatre, film, ballet, events, festivals, concerts and historical contexts. A portfolio is required at interview including evidence of the ability to make garments and costume related products such as masks and hats. (Images from the degree show 2016. See more about this work)

NTU costume design degree show 2016

General design courses

Textiles as a material is used on a range of degree courses other than those specifically related to fashion and textiles. Textiles materials can, for example be used on product design, furniture design and graphic design courses. With textiles materials now being used in a range of unusual ways, along with non traditional materials being used more and more in textiles applications, these types of courses might suit students interested in experimenting with a broad range of materials particularly as from 2017 students will focus on a broader range of materials as part of their GSCE studies. 

This course would appeal to students interested in a range of materials and not just textiles. It’s probably one of the most common general design courses with a focus on understanding the needs of a user in different situations and designing the best possible solution to meet their needs rather than just focusing on a solution in a particular material. The 2016 degree show at Nottingham Trent University included a strong emphasis on textiles materials as part of product design. A portfolio is required at interview that reflects an interest in product design. (Images from the degree show 2016. See more about this work).

NTU degree show 2016 Product Design

Like the product design degree, this course would appeal to students who are interested in working with a variety of materials and skills, including those used in textiles. (Images from the degree show 2016. See more about this work).

furniture design NTU degree show 2016

Like the product design degree and furniture degrees, graphic design students often use a variety of materials including textiles. This type of course is suitable for students who are interested in graphic design and who might want to specialize in textiles in this area. (Images from the degree show 2016. See more about this work).

graphic design NTU degree show 2016

Other Routes into the Fashion and Textiles Industry

A degree is not the only entry point to the textiles industry and it is worth checking out local further education colleges for fashion and textile courses.

Apprenticeships are another option for those who want a career in the industry but who don’t want to go to university and who would prefer to learn as part of a paid job. Many apprenticeships cover much of the content of the degrees mentioned above, with some also resulting in a degree qualification. Apprenticeships include fashion and textiles, costume and wardrobe, design, as well as a range of other creative routes. 

Click here to find out more about apprenticeships that are available visit  or visit the website https://www.getingofar.gov.uk.

Click here to see images from design courses from a few universities showing you some of the work from past students as well as some of their facilities. The link will open my website for teachers where this these images are held. 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240   Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

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