This very prestigious course produces some outstanding graduates who go on to exceptional international careers. Even while still at the University, many students regularly sell their work to textile and surface pattern design industries, and win some of the world’s most esteemed design awards. Students have won over 60 national and international design awards in the past three years.

This course has an outstanding global reputation. We look for talented, hard-working people who will develop their own ‘handwriting’, both anticipating and setting future trends. In exchange we offer comprehensive tuition, experiences and opportunities.

As a student, you’ll have the significant advantage of working in an exciting studio environment that houses all three year groups, in an open plan studio that supports and enables student designers to discover and express personal design solutions.

By providing an intellectually challenging course of study, students can engage with the critical, practical and creative issues and debates surrounding the role of the Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Designer.

We place major importance on drawing in its broadest contexts, through which you will translate your ideas into digital formats, wall-coverings, fashion and interior fabrics, greetings and innovative materials and surfaces.

You’ll use cutting-edge computer suites plus professionally equipped workshops for dyeing, screen-printing, heat-transfer printing, digital printing, laser-cutting as well as woodwork and ceramics. The emphasis is on originality and innovation, and the highest standards of work and professionalism.

We love creativity, critical thinking and design in all its guises, but equally we recognise the desire to make a living doing something so wonderful, which is why we place a strong value on offering real world experiences and employability.

Whilst on the course, you will be given opportunities to sell your work at industry standard trade fairs. We have exhibited for many years  at Indigo in Paris, a leading fashion fabric fair, and also at events such as MoOD (Belgium), Maison et Objet (France), Surtex (USA) and Heimtextil (Germany) for those specialising in interiors or surface products, as well as the New Designers exhibition in London, which offers an opportunity for our graduating students to present themselves and their work to a professional audience and to meet potential employers.

Typically, first year students will engage in cultural study trips while second-year students have a choice of visits linked to their growing professional interest and specialised trade fairs.

Our Discipline

We aim to help our students find an audience for their work in the outside world, whether that is in the design studio of a multinational manufacturer or setting up their own design practice; whether their passion is fashion or interiors; whether they wish to be designers, consultants or stylists or whether their market is high street, couture, automotive industries or gallery pieces. We encourage students to develop innovative thinking and engender flexible approaches to multidisciplinary personal working practice, fostering entrepreneurial and professional awareness.

Given the diversity of experiences, employment and opportunities available within the discipline we encourage and offer a focus towards the specialism of interests themed around skills-focused strands commencing at the start of the second year. These strands are not exclusive choices, but rather provide the opportunity for you to invest more time in the areas that you have a real passion for.

In order to help students familiarise themselves with the discipline as a whole, we commit the first year to developing the essential skills: technical, aesthetic and professional, that are features of the course from which you will be able to make an informed position as to your specialist interests in years two and three.

Innovative Print strand

Working within the printed textiles strand, you will be encouraged to engage with a broad range of processes, ideas and methodologies to realise personal solutions and innovative responses.

Typically you will work in specialist workshops and a thriving studio, to engage in live briefs, industrial contexts or working as a designer-maker undertaking challenging and sophisticated understandings of the discipline. Students are encouraged to recognise themselves as professional designers, developing an enquiring, open minded and versatile approach to their work. These explorations are supported and underpinned by a strong studio work ethos, drawing and painting, dye and print workshops, printmaking and bookbinding, amongst others.

Digital Textiles strand

Working within the digital specialist strand you will be encouraged to pursue your creative ambitions through highly informed and considered application of leading industry standard equipment and discipline specific software such as AVA, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, alongside technologies including digital printing and laser cutting, to create innovative designs for the future by expanding and developing new methods of design and production.

This strand is focused on developing the skills, processes and aesthetic sensitivity to communicate drawing, colour and practical solutions through digital means which directly engages in real-world commercial applications for employment and innovation across a number of sectors and material outcomes.

Surface Innovation & Material Concepts strand

Working within the innovative surfaces strand, you will be encouraged to explore and develop approaches towards prototypes and solutions that challenge the traditional conventions of surface design, creating samples which realise responses that are both experimental and forward thinking.

This strand will emphasise dynamic content to engage with emergent ideas, technologies and themes for surface design that transcends the historical notional boundaries of the discipline. Students will be encouraged to develop an enquiring, conceptual and versatile approach to their work, combining a rediscovery of traditional processes and materials with unconventional production methods towards emerging contemporary markets.

These explorations are supported and underpinned by a strong studio work ethos, a collaborative outlook and a simulative approach to design thinking.

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course details

What You'll Study

Year One — You will engage with a number of themes and core skills to explore drawing, colour, design and a range of print methods both ‘traditional’ and digital for paper and fabric. We will help you find, develop and express your own personal interests and approach to designing.

Year Two — Innovation and employability is the focus along with an outward facing approach to live briefs, events, competitions and work experience, whilst striving to develop a personal ‘handwriting’ that you can apply to your choice of design contexts and specialist strand interests.

Year Three — You will plan your own programme of work in your chosen area of specialisms to give you the experience and professional portfolio you require to confidently present yourself to the design industry.

The Textile Fellowship, part of the Creatives in Residence scheme, allows some students to stay on after graduating and use our facilities to do professional collaborations and/or set up their own business with the support of course tutors.

Work Experience

Alongside your core study you are encouraged to identify and negotiate your practice to external contexts and experience which may include work experience, industrial research and studio visits to suit your particular interests or specialisms which will enhance your overall experience. Our students are in high demand and many secure work experience opportunities with top studios, companies and designers. In 2015-16 these included H&M, Tigerprint, Mary Katrantzou, Ted Baker, Timorous Beasties, Zandra Rhodes, Tom Dixon, Trend Bible, Monsoon, Lemon Ribbon, UKG, ASDA George Living, Studio 9191, Andy Singleton, Longina Phillips, Karolna York, Rob Ryan and Mothercare, amongst others.


Students win countless national and international design awards.

Recent successes, amongst others, include:

  • New Designers 2016 – Clothworkers Award
  • i-dott awards 2015-16, 2016 -17 including grand prize winner
  • New Designers 2015 – The Wilkinsons Award for Innovation
  • New Designers 2014 – Winners of New Designer of the Year Award and the Wilkinsons Award for Innovation
  • New Designers 2013 – Winners of the John Lewis Award, the Wilkinsons Award and the Harlequin Award
  • New Designers 2012 – Winners of the Tiger Print Award & Harlequin Award
  • Texprint 2014 – Winner of Lululemon Atheletica Award and the Como Award
  • Texprint 2013 – Winner of Lululemon Atheletica Award
  • Surtex - New York (2015, 13, 12 & 11 Award Winners!)
  • Textile Society Bursary Award Winners 2016, 15, 14 & 13
  • Emerging Designer – Award Winner 2013 & 14 plus people’s choice winner 2014
  • Bradford Textile Society 2016, 15, 14, 13 – multiple award winners and commendations

Course Specification

Contact Hours & Teaching/Learning Methods

Undergraduate degree programmes at Leeds Arts University are delivered and supported through a range of teaching and learning strategies. Programmes are made up of modules, these are elements of study that are taught and assessed separately. Each module carries a clearly identified credit value, the accumulation of which will allow you to progress to the next level of the programme. 100 hours of learning are expected for every ten credits of the programme. Each level (year) of the programme is made up of 120 credits and therefore requires 1200 hours of learning. This equates to 40 hours of study per week throughout the academic year.

For every 100 hours of learning, approximately 25 hours are delivered as taught or supported sessions and remaining hours are allocated for studio/workshop access and independent learning. Individual programmes have their own learning cultures based on their specific use of the teaching and learning methods listed here. These methods feature differently depending on the programme, level, aims of module, content of the sessions and progress through an academic year.

For further information see our Undergraduate teaching & learning at Leeds Arts University document.

Destination Careers

Graduates of this course are highly sought- after, joining the design studios of influential companies. Many find jobs in fashion prints and interior products and furnishings; wall coverings; cards and gift wrap; media and publishing; fashion marketing; styling; buying; and interior design. Others set up their own businesses, producing work for private commissions or major brands.

Entry Requirements

We’re looking for students with the best potential to succeed - irrespective of their background. That’s why we welcome a wide range of qualifications and experience.

Click here to view our entry requirements

Portfolio Guide

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.

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.

Interview Guide

When you arrive at reception you will be met by a member of the course team who will take you to the textile studio, where you will be asked to leave your portfolio for staff to view.

You will be shown around the department and introduced to the course, with the opportunity to ask questions. Whilst you have been doing this, the course staff will have been looking at your work. You will then have a 15-minute personal interview with two members of staff with your work.

Since we interview several students in one half-day session, you should be prepared to be in the University for up to three hours. If you have had to travel long distances and have a train pre-booked, please let us know in advance and we will try to arrange the timing of your interview so you can get away in time.


This is identified from one or more of the following:

Good use of drawing and colour.

  • Samples of work

The ability to generate and develop a range of creative ideas for design development.

  • Samples of work
  • Interview

An open minded approach to experimentation and innovation in the use of materials and media.

  • Samples of work
  • Interview

A passion for the subject both historical and contemporary and ambition to succeed.

  • Personal statement
  • Samples of work
  • Interview

Tuition Fees and Other Costs

Tuition Fees

Our current fees are listed here

Other Costs:

Equipment & Materials* 

A list of essential equipment is provided each year, such as metal ruler, scalpel, brushes etc – most of this you will already have accumulated from previous study. If buying from scratch this will cost in the region of £45 but can be collected much cheaper with some shopping around.

Level 4 (First Year): We have found that our students spend between £120 -£160 on materials and processes in their first year.

Level 5 (Second Year): We have found that our students are spending in the region of £150 - £250 in the second year of studies on materials and processes.

Level 6 (Third Year): The individual exploration of design ideas at Level 6 means there is a much greater variety of expenditure, based on personal interests, ranging from £150 - £800. The average tends to be around the £500 mark.

*We have found that costs vary significantly as some of our students choose to work with very low cost materials, collect and recycle materials throughout the year or work more in the digital domain, others decide to work on large scale, physical objects that can involve expensive materials or processes, and some students prefer to invest on specific materials.  This is not mandatory; whilst we encourage innovation, we are aware of the costs of materials, and reiterate that where possible, we subsidise materials and costs of printing.  We obviously also consider good design as working to restricted budgets and re-cycling materials. 

We provide a lot of materials for free or heavily subsidised lower cost, and encourage wherever possible to reclaim and re-use.

We are an Apple Mac centric institution. Whilst not necessary, if you are buying a computer, students may want to consider waiting until they have enrolled as educational discount is available through the Apple educational portal. Students will need to consider purchasing the licence for Adobe Creative Cloud software, which students can get at a discount on once they have enrolled on to the programme. 

Adobe Photoshop – CC (creative cloud) is recommended as you will be taught a few programmes from this. All the Macs and pcs in the building hold this software but if you choose to purchase your own copy this package can be bought at a reduced rate via  website under educational store. Subscriptions for this package cost approx. £15 per month.)

You will be able to borrow our loan cameras, so unless you feel strongly about owning one, then again there is no need to buy a camera specifically for the programme. 


The cost of the first year European residential trip is approximately £290-310.

Other trips to Leeds & surrounding areas do not involve much in the way of cost, notionally £20-30 in total and bringing a pack lunch.

In the second year we offer a European residential trip to professional trade fairs to exhibit work, costing approximately £290-£310.

There is no third year organised trip, students are encouraged to undertake appropriate first hand research.

Enhancement activities

As a programme, we have a very strong engagement with competitions, professional events and placements.

These activities are not requisite of the programme and are undertaken as a personal decision. Competitions are usually subsidised and involve nominal costs, similarly trade and professional events are normally covered by the department, occasionally costing a small fee, or a small % commission for selling work.

Placements vary considerably in location, length and whether payment is offered, subsidised or undertaken purely for experience. The programme team offer guidance to help inform and ensure an appropriate relevance of any placements undertaken.

Terms & Conditions and Key Information

Our Terms & Conditions are here.

If you would like to download the Key Information on this programme click here.

International Opportunities / Visiting and exchange students

We are delighted to welcome undergraduate visiting and exchange students from Europe and around the world who would like to spend a semester or a full academic year taking credits from our exciting range of courses. You will be fully integrated into the academic and social life of the University during a period of full-time supervised study and your credits transferred back to your home institution.

You can join us through programmes such as Erasmus+, individual university partnerships or as an independent applicant. Please see here for more information and how to apply.

Leeds Arts University students interested in spending some time overseas can find information on the international opportunities available during your course here.

Questions? Contact

3 Years
Study Mode
Full Time
Term Starts
Institution Name
Leeds Arts University
Institution Code
Awarded by
Leeds Arts University


BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design

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"The emphasis is on originality and innovation, and the highest standards of work and professionalism."
Duncan Harrison, Programme Leader
BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design