The following are examples of what we will be looking for in your portfolio:

  • Observations drawn from life (this may not necessarily be ‘life drawing’ in the traditional sense, but should provide evidence of your ability to record three dimensional information from the world around you). Observational drawing would not include drawing directly from photographs
  • A preparedness to play and to explore materials
  • Quality and care taken in the exploration of ideas
  • A demonstrated ability to follow an idea through from initial research (evidence for this is usually found in sketchbooks or on worksheets), to items made (outcomes)
  • A quantity of work that reflects the creative qualifications you are taking or have achieved, such as design based A levels (Graphics, Design Technology), Photography A levels, National Awards or Certificates. You should always include current work. We have recently had a lot of students at interview with only their AS work. Whilst this is very important, it is essential that we see current work from A2, Extended Diploma or Diploma level. GCSE work is not relevant unless you have not taken a level 3 art course
  • You don’t have to bring large and/or heavy works. A series of photographs that clearly document these pieces is adequate
  • We are very interested in seeing any art and design activities that you may be involved in outside of the academic programmes that you are undertaking

We place a special emphasis on your portfolio, as this is the best reflection of your abilities and your enthusiasm for art and design.

You can also view our Foundation Diploma Portfolio Guide films.


International applicants
International applicants will be invited to submit their portfolio by email. We accept a range of formats including PDF, PowerPoint and url links to online portfolios. Please click here for more information or contact the International Office if you have any questions about the application process.

Portfolio Guide

Top 10 Portfolio Tips

  • Make it come alive! Make sure your portfolio could only be yours; unique, full of passion, packed with information about you - your skills, your interests, your style, your personality.

  • Presentation is everything. Even the most brilliant work, stuffed haphazardly into a plastic bag, is hardly going to shine! You don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive holder, but it might make you feel more organised and confident. Any method will do, as long as it looks good.

  • Be selective. Don’t put everything in - we won’t have time to look at it all. Pick pieces that really worked, and which showcase your particular skills and direction. You may be proud of the A* you got for a piece of work when you were 14, but make sure it still stands up today.

  • Tell us why. Either attach a piece of paper to each piece, write it on the back, or be prepared to talk it through - but we’ll want you to tell us about your work. What was the brief? What were the objectives? How did you research it? What was your design rationale? What were the challenges? What were your conclusions?

  • Show us you’re organised! Order your work logically - chronologically, or by theme, or by medium, for example.

  • Don’t forget unfinished work or work-in-progress. If relevant, these can be just as useful. It’s also good to attach sketches or plans to finished work, to show how you got there.

  • Don’t leave out the big stuff! Got something huge or cumbersome you’d like to show us? Just take some photos and bring them instead.

  • Balance your running order. Start and end well: if you begin brilliantly and then fizzle away by the end, you’ll finish on a flat note. Think carefully about how you balance things all the way through.

  • Practice presenting your portfolio. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable if you feel familiar with the running order and what you want to say.

  • Label it. Make sure your name is on the front of your closed portfolio (we’d rather not open it upside down and make everything fall out!), and neatly label all the work inside with titles and approximate dates.