Study Fashion – A Comprehensive Subject Guide

A fashion degree is an academic programme that focuses on fashion, apparel design, and the fashion business as a whole. It is intended to give students the knowledge and abilities they need to seek employment in various parts of the fashion industry. Depending on the school and the exact degree programme, fashion degrees are available at many educational levels, including bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral programmes.


Table of Contents

What is Fashion?

A fashion degree is an educational curriculum that includes the study and practise of fashion and the fashion industry at various academic levels (usually bachelor’s, master’s and occasionally PhD). These curricula are intended to offer students with a thorough understanding of fashion-related concepts, skills, and expertise, so preparing them for careers in the fashion industry. A fashion degree is defined in greater detail below.

  1. Academic Study of Fashion: A fashion degree programme is an academic pursuit that delves into the study of fashion as an art form, a cultural phenomenon, and a business. It explores the historical, social, and cultural aspects of fashion, as well as its impact on society.
  2. Fashion Design and Creation: A significant part of a fashion degree programme is dedicated to the creative process of designing clothing and accessories. Students learn how to conceptualise fashion designs, create sketches and technical drawings, select materials, and construct garments. They gain hands-on experience in pattern making, sewing, and garment construction.
  3. Textiles and Materials: Understanding various types of fabrics, textiles, and materials, along with their properties and applications in fashion design, is a crucial component of a fashion degree. Students learn how to choose appropriate materials for their designs and work with them effectively.
  4. Fashion Business and Management: Many fashion degree programmes incorporate coursework in business and management tailored to the fashion industry. This includes subjects like fashion marketing, retail management, supply chain management, and entrepreneurship. Students learn how to market and sell fashion products, manage fashion businesses, and make informed business decisions.
  5. Fashion History and Theory: To appreciate the evolution of fashion and its cultural significance, students study fashion history and theory. This includes exploring the evolution of fashion trends, iconic designers, and the sociological and psychological aspects of fashion.

Why Study Fashion?

Fashion studies have several personal and professional benefits, making it an interesting option for people who are interested in apparel, style, and creativity. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider studying fashion:

  1. Passion for Fashion: If you have a genuine love for fashion, studying it allows you to immerse yourself in a subject you’re passionate about. It enables you to explore your creativity and interests on a deeper level.
  2. Entrepreneurship: If you dream of starting your own fashion label or boutique, studying fashion can provide you with the necessary skills in design, business, marketing, and management to turn your vision into a successful business.
  3. Creativity and Innovation: Fashion is an art form that allows for constant creativity and innovation. Studying fashion encourages you to push boundaries, experiment with new ideas, and contribute to the evolving world of design and style.
  4. Global Industry: The fashion industry is international, providing opportunities for global exposure and collaboration. Fashion graduates often have the chance to work with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and access international markets.

Best Universities for Fashion in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in arts and design field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

1Loughborough University
2University of Leeds
3Kingston University
4The University of Edinburgh
5University of Dundee
6Nottingham Trent University
7University of Lincoln
8Northumbria University, Newcastle
9University of Westminster, London
10Liverpool John Moores University
11University of Wales Trinity Saint David
12Manchester Metropolitan University
13University of the Arts London
14Falmouth University
15University of Chester
16Ulster University
17Sheffield Hallam University
18Bristol, University of the West of England
19University of Brighton
20University of Salford
21University of Portsmouth
22University of Southampton
23Norwich University of the Arts
24London South Bank University
25Cardiff Metropolitan University
26University of South Wales
27Leeds Arts University
28Arts University Bournemouth
29Coventry University
30University of Manchester

Entry Requirements for a Fashion Degree

The entry criteria for fashion degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the exact programme you are interested in. However, the following academic and application qualifications are often expected:

  1. Educational Background:
    • High School Diploma or Equivalent: Most fashion degree programmes in the UK require applicants to have completed high school or an equivalent secondary education. International applicants should ensure their qualifications are recognised by the university.
  2. Academic Qualifications:
    • High School Transcript: You will typically need to provide a transcript or record of your high school grades. This should include grades in relevant subjects, such as art, design, textiles, or business-related coursework.
    • A-Levels or Equivalent: Many universities in the UK require applicants to have A-level qualifications or equivalent qualifications, especially if you are applying for a bachelor’s degree programme. A-level subjects relevant to fashion, such as Art and Design, Textiles, or Business Studies, may be preferred.
  3. English Language Proficiency (for International Students):
    • If English is not your first language and you’re applying to an English-language programme, you will likely need to demonstrate your English proficiency through a recognised English language test such as IELTS or TOEFL. Minimum score requirements can vary but are typically in the range of 6.0 to 7.0 for IELTS.
  4. Portfolio (for Design Programmes):
    • Fashion design programmes often require applicants to submit a portfolio showcasing creative work. The portfolio should include sketches, drawings, photographs of garments or design projects, and any other relevant creative work that demonstrates your design abilities.
  5. Letters of Recommendation:
    • Some universities may request letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or employers who can vouch for your qualifications and potential as a fashion student.

Jobs for Fashion Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Fashion Designer: Fashion designers create clothing, footwear, and accessories. They sketch designs, select materials, and oversee the production process.
  • Fashion Buyer/Merchandiser: Buyers and merchandisers select and purchase clothing and accessories for retail stores or fashion brands. They analyse consumer trends and manage inventory.
  • Fashion Stylist: Stylists curate outfits and looks for photoshoots, fashion shows, celebrities, or individual clients. They select clothing, accessories, and props to create visually appealing ensembles.
  • Fashion Illustrator: Illustrators create fashion sketches and drawings used in design and marketing materials. Their illustrations help visualise design concepts.
  • Pattern-maker/Technical Designer: Pattern-makers create templates used to cut fabric and construct garments. Technical designers ensure that clothing meets quality and fit standards.

What are the Career Paths for Fashion Graduates?

The prevalent career paths for fashion graduates encompass various occupations, with sales, marketing, and related associate professionals, design roles, other administrative occupations, sales and retail assistants, media professionals, administrative positions, artistic, literary, and media occupations, and teaching professionals among the most common. Overall, 80.1% of fashion graduates are employed, while 3.4% pursue further study and 6.9% engage in both work and study.

Salary for Fashion Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,000

Medium-skilled: £20,000

High-skilled: £21,000

Topics for a Fashion Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of fashion and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. The Impact of Sustainability on Fashion Design: Explore how sustainable practices are influencing fashion design, from material selection and production processes to consumer preferences.
  2. Fashion Trends and Their Cultural Significance: Analyse the cultural, social, and historical contexts of specific fashion trends and their impact on society.
  3. The Role of Technology in Fashion Retail: Investigate how technology, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), is changing the way consumers shop for fashion and interact with brands.
  4. The Influence of Celebrity Endorsement in Fashion Marketing: Examine the effectiveness and ethical implications of celebrity endorsements in fashion advertising and marketing campaigns.
  5. Fashion and Identity: Explore how clothing and fashion choices are used as a means of self-expression and identity formation, with a focus on subcultures or specific cultural groups.
  6. Fashion and Gender: Breaking Stereotypes: Investigate how fashion can challenge and redefine traditional gender norms and stereotypes, particularly in the context of gender-neutral or gender-inclusive clothing.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • Art and Design: Explore various forms of artistic expression, such as fine arts, graphic design, interior design, or industrial design.
  • Business and Management: Business studies encompass areas like entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, and management, providing the skills needed to run and grow businesses.
  • Communication and Media Studies: Examine communication theories, media production, journalism, and public relations, contributing to effective communication in various contexts.
  • Linguistics: Study language, its structure, and its impact on culture and communication, leading to careers in translation, interpretation, or language analysis.
  • Environmental Design and Architecture: Design and plan spaces, buildings, and structures, contributing to the built environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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