Putting together your portfolio for one of our BA (Hons) degree courses? View our top 10 tips and course specific guides below...

We also run a range of daytime and evening portfolio development courses specialising in preparation for further and higher art and design education. For more information on current courses please click here.


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.

Course Specific Guides

BA (Hons) Animation

A well-considered portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement. In general terms however we would expect to see examples of the following:

  • A range of approaches to drawing and image making exploring a breadth of media

  • Sketchbooks, notebooks and development sheets demonstrating the visual development of ideas and concepts

  • Examples of design/idea development/storyboards which may include animatics, character development, sequential drawing, time based media, 2D or 3D animation

  • Critical journals, notebooks, essay or blogs etc. demonstrating an interest in narrative, drawing, image making and contemporary animation

If you have digital media (eg. flash animations or video) work to show, please be prepared to provide an Apple Mac compatible copy of them on a disc which must be left with programme staff.

At this stage in your education we are much more interested in ideas development, work in progress and drawing skills rather than completed polished projects. As a rough guide we would expect to see at interview around a dozen pieces of work and two or three sketchbooks.

BA (Hons) Creative Advertising

We are aware that some students will be from a more literary background and may not have the traditional portfolio (book).

For those who have a traditional portfolio please see our top 10 tips on compiling a portfolio.

BA (Hons) Fashion Design

Sketchbook/developmental work that demonstrates the processes that you have explored, leading up to the final outcomes in a well-presented, cohesive portfolio, will be essential first impressions at your interview.

At this stage in your career we would much rather see experimental and playful drawing and design developmental work rather than necessarily all finished work showing a final solution. We would like to see a personal and well-presented portfolio; there is no need for heavy card and plastic sleeves. We do not need to see all the work you have produced - around 20-30 samples in your main portfolio would be ideal.

The following guidance is intended as a general check-list, but this is open to your individual interpretation, as it is important that you show your unique creative identity through your work.

As a general rule, we would expect to see examples of:

  • drawing; ‘thinking through drawing’ and illustrative examples
  • colour and material considerations and application
  • a critical approach to the developmental stages of your work, through sketches and annotations
  • design/concept development
  • photographs of 2D and 3D work
  • extended critical writing through a critical diary, essay, or similar

BA (Hons) Fashion Photography

A well presented portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

In general terms however we would expect the following:

  • Examples of your photographic practice that demonstrates a range of skills
  • Examples of idea development
  • Sketchbooks and notebooks
  • An example of your written work

At this stage in your career we would much rather see experimental and innovative developmental work rather than necessarily all finished work showing a final solution. We would like to see a personal and well presented portfolio.

We do not need to see all the work you have produced.

BA (Hons) Filmmaking

We are looking for students who have passion and enthusiasm for cinema and film. It is expected that you will be able to discuss and demonstrate this with materials in your portfolio.

We want to see work that best represents you. Work you are proud of and feel you can confidently talk about during interview. Examples of work might demonstrate technique, production methods, concepts, ideas, film critique, discussion or just your passion for film.

Examples of what we expect to see may include one or more of the following:

Showreel – Containing moving image. This can be a range of films or a single production. If you have a great short film you feel we should see all of, then include all of it up to five minutes. If you have lots of films, just use short sequences that total up to five minutes that demonstrate your awareness of filmmaking.

Written Work – This might include short excerpts of scripts or stories you have written, essays about film history, film reviews, critiques and blog posts. Please provide a range of work that you can discuss.

Design and Art Work – If you have designed storyboards, characters, produced illustrations for film development please include a range of samples. In addition, sketchbooks and other materials that outline your approach to storytelling and cinema are accepted. Up to a maximum of five samples.

Photographic Work – You can use photographs that showcase your visual creativity and approach to storytelling. Up to a maximum of 15 photographs.

You do not need to provide all of this. Please choose the materials you have that demonstrate your awareness of film.

At this stage in your career we would much rather see experimental and innovative image making and developmental work rather than finished work, therefore choose a range of materials that best demonstrate your enthusiasm and knowledge of film and cinema.

BA (Hons) Fine Art

A well presented portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

In general terms however we would expect the following:

  • Examples of drawing that may also include colour usage and an understanding of 3D
  • Examples of idea development
  • Sketchbooks and notebooks
  • Examples of the use of a range of materials and processes
  • Critical diary, notebook, evidence of gallery visits, essay etc.
  • Evidence of final pieces (if too large or site specific, photographs will suffice)

At this stage in your career we like to see experimental innovative drawing and developmental work as well as your examples of finished work.

We would like to see a personal and well presented portfolio.

However there is no need for heavy card and plastic sleeves. We do not need to see all the work you have produced - around 20-30 samples in your main portfolio would be ideal.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

A well presented portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

In general terms however we would expect the following:

  • Examples of visual investigation through a range of appropriate media
  • Examples of design/idea development
  • Sketchbooks, notebooks and design sheets
  • Examples of work which demonstrates an involvement in the use of type and image in relation to visual research
  • Critical diary, notebook, essay etc.

At this stage in your career we would much rather see experimental and innovative image making and design developmental work rather than necessarily all finished work showing a final solution.

We would like to see a personal, selective and well-presented portfolio that demonstrates an informed interest in graphic design.

We do not need to see all the work you have produced - around 10-15 samples in your main portfolio would be ideal - supported by notebooks/sketchbooks and design sheets, where appropriate.

BA (Hons) Illustration

A well considered portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

In general terms however we would expect to see examples of the following;

  • A range of approaches to drawing and image making exploring a breadth of media.
  • Sketch books, notebooks and development sheets demonstrating the visual development of ideas and concepts.
  • Examples of work that demonstrates an involvement in the use of image in relation to the visual communication of ideas, opinions, content and messages.
  • Critical journals, notebooks, essay or blogs etc. demonstrating an interest in narrative, drawing, image making and contemporary illustration.

At this stage in your career we would much rather see experimental and innovative image making and developmental work rather than necessarily all finished work showing a final solution.

We would like to see a personal, selective and well-presented portfolio that demonstrates an informed interest in Illustration.

We do not need to see all the work that you have produced- around 15 samples in your main portfolio would be ideal- supported by notebooks/ sketchbooks and development sheets where appropriate.

BA (Hons) Photography

A well presented portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

In general terms however we would expect the following:

  • Examples of your photographic practice which demonstrate a range of skills, preferably exploring both traditional and digital methods
  • Examples of idea development
  • Sketchbooks and notebooks
  • An example of your written work

At this stage in your career we would much rather see experimental and innovative developmental work rather than necessarily all finished work showing a final solution. We would like to see a personal and well presented portfolio.

We do not need to see all the work you have produced.

BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design

A well-presented portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

In general terms however we would expect the following;

  • Examples of drawing and colour usage
  • Examples of design/idea development
  • Sketchbooks and notebooks
  • Examples of print and/or materials manipulation
  • Critical diary, notebook, essay etc.

At this stage in your career we would much rather see experimental and innovative drawing and design development rather than finished work showing a final solution. We would like to see a personal and well-presented portfolio.

Work should be mounted on cartridge paper; there is no need for heavy card and plastic sleeves.

We do not need to see all the work you have produced - around 30 samples, plus sketchbooks in your portfolio would be ideal.

BA (Hons) Visual Communication

A well presented portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

  • Examples of drawings
  • Examples of design/idea development
  • Sketchbooks/notebooks
  • Critical diary, notebook, essay etc.
  • Examples of personal/work interests

We do not need to see all the work you have produced – around 15-20 samples in your main portfolio would be ideal.

In general terms however we regard the portfolio as a means to discuss with you your ideas and where you see yourself going.

Be prepared to talk about yourself.