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Fashion Art Direction

BA (Hons)
Fashion Art Direction
3 years (full-time)

There is an increased need to visually communicate fashion-based ideas. This requires a new creative who has a clear appreciation of and experience in developing fashion concepts, understanding and dealing with the associated critical pathways and the practical means by which to communicate. On this course, taught in the Manchester School of Art, you will be encouraged to critically evaluate and creatively respond to these new conditions and define your own new role within fashion.

You will be interested in the way fashion is consumed (beyond wearing it) and the opportunities this presents for developing innovative visual practice-based work. Fashion is changing due to many external factors such as new digital platforms and media, and issues around sustainability. There are also changes in the role fashion plays and how it has become increasingly an exciting area for inter-disciplinary exploration within design, culture and society. At the heart of this are the new ways that fashion is becoming explored, extended, designed and consumed.

We will develop you to be a highly creative fashion visionary, with an emphasis to engage, explore, question, visualise, illustrate, develop and communicate fashion concepts, trends, products and ideas through publication, exhibition, art direction and styling.

Special Features

  • Opportunity to work individually and collectively within the worlds of fashion, graphics and illustration.
  • It is set within an art school environment, which promotes students who take risks and challenge convention.
  • Opportunities for work experience and industry 'live' linked project work.
  • It sits alongside two other Manchester School of Art courses (Fashion and Graphic Design), which have excellent reputations for producing professional graduates who are employed for their creativity, originality, versatility.
  • The opportunity to take part in Unit X, an innovative unit offered to students across Manchester School of Art that encourages interdisciplinary study and collaboration on an external-facing project.

A film by recent graduates of Manchester School of Art

Course Content

The course will explore anticipating change, trend/lifestyle analysis and the generation and development of new creative visual fashion concepts and outputs. You will develop skills and experiences in styling/art direction, editorial/self-publishing, fashion graphics/illustration. You will study the historical, socio-cultural, aspects of design, enabling you to contextualise fashion and communication as part of a contextual studies series of units.

Practical design visual communication skills are taught throughout the course in tutorials and workshops, using traditional and state-of-the-art equipment. You will be encouraged to use analogue and digital responses and develop a range of visual skills.

Individual and collective approaches will link you with industry sectors, locally, nationally and internationally. There will be opportunities for you to work on interdisciplinary and outward facing projects with students from across the design department.

You will take part in regular exhibitions, events and publications of your work and this will be embedded in to the curriculum and situated within the specialised spaces and resources of the Art School environment.

Year 1

In year 1 you will be introduced to the conventions languages and systems of Fashion through a series of 'scoping' projects. You will examine and explore the drivers and concepts to equip you to anticipate change, in order to develop visionary and innovative fashion concepts. You will 'respond' by developing design propositions and will develop a range of visual communication design skills and understand how to communicate design.

This year is supported by a contextual programme that introduces you to theories and ideas set into a wider cultural, critical and social context.


In response to the knowledge and understanding gained in the Scoping unit, you will propose and develop individual and collaborative propositions through practice, for example, through a self-published outcome, moving image, illustration or styling.


This unit introduces you to the conventions, languages and systems of fashion. You will examine and explore the drivers and concepts to equip you to anticipate change, in order to develop visionary and innovative fashion concepts.

Unit X

This unit  encourages collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience. There are lectures and talks from key research staff, students and external experts, tutorial group meetings, and presentations. The set projects will vary from year to year and will designed to be responsive to creative opportunities. The course encourages students to respond to contemporary media and as such, it is a live unit in which we discuss films, television, comics, games and the news relating to the media in any specific week.

Contextualising Practice 1

You are allocated to one of four pathways addressing programme-based clusters of cognate practice areas. Lectures, seminars, guest speakers, visits around cultural contexts and professional issues.

Contextualising Practice with Language 1

You are allocated to one of four pathways addressing programme-based clusters of cognate practice areas. The unit includes lectures, seminars, guest speakers, visits around cultural contexts and professional issues.

Year 2

In year 2 you will start to contextualise 'anticipate' and 'refine' your ideas and concepts through a series of outward facing projects and working with external organisations. You will extend your language of fashion, develop new fashion directions, and publish your work. Uniquely, you will work collectively within an events-based approach to your studies.

The contextual programme will help you to further place practical elements into a wider cultural, critical and social context.


This unit commences with a review/audit in order to develop specialism and related resources, and further understanding of a personal and/or collective focus. A manifesto/rationale for new fashion directions will be proposed and further developed throughout the unit.


In this practice-led and outward-facing unit you will further enhance uour research and analytical skills. Your ability to anticipate change will be tested by making contact with an external fashion-related organisation.

Unit X

This unit explores collaborative and interdisciplinary art and design practice.  You will have the opportunity to engage in a range of external-facing learning opportunities which will encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience; this may take the form of spending time outside of the university and working within the creative community and the public domain.

Contextualising Practice 2

Delivery of critical, historical and professional issues to enhance your development within practice-based clusters. Delivery to clusters of cognate practice areas. Content consists of selected thematic options in critical and historical areas plus cluster-wide professional and employability issues, facilitating and enhancing the development of both studio-based work and identity as a practitioner.

Contextualising Practice with Language 2

Delivery of critical and historical issues to enhance the student's development within practice-based clusters.  Content consists of selected thematic options in critical and historical areas facilitating and enhancing the development of both studio-based work and identity as a practitioner. Modes of delivery include lectures, seminars, tutorials, guest speakers, visits and placements.

Year 3

In this year, you will become more confident in 'directing and producing' work. You will confirm the direction of your work and design work. You will test and develop practice-informed innovative fashion concepts.

You will theoretically explore your work through writing in the Contextualising practice unit and have the opportunity to take a university wide language option.

Directing and Producing

This unit provides an opportunity to distil ambition for designing change within Fashion Art Direction contexts. An initial proposition will be continually refined in order to achieve visionary and innovative responses through practice informed by theory. You will be encouraged to reinforce the notion of the collective through continued engagement with relevant cultural and creative opportunities.

Unit X

On the third year Unit X, there is a student authored final project leading to a showcase of finished work. The unit includes a brief generated by the student, which leads to the presentation of a significant body of final work. Collaborative and interdisciplinary work can be incorporated into the project in relation to the professional context and ambition of the student.

Contextualising Practice 3

Programme of research and critical analysis of cultural and professional issues related to a student's individual practice interests.

Contextualising Practice with a Language 3

Programme of research and critical analysis of cultural and professional issues related to a your individual practice interests. A negotiated project focused around an individually defined area appropriate to your aims and ambitions.


Contacts in all areas of the creative industries help with providing placements to enhance your experience of working in the fashion and design industry. You will be encouraged to take placements during your period of study.

Assessment Methods

Continuous formative and summative assessment with feedback and discussion on completion of all units.

Assessment Weightings & Contact Hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A three year degree qualification typically comprises 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be—

  • Year 1 20% lectures, seminars or similar; 80% independent study
  • Year 2 30% lectures, seminars or similar; 70% independent study
  • Year 3 15% lectures, seminars or similar; 85% independent study
  • Year 1 100% coursework
  • Year 2 100% coursework
  • Year 3 90% coursework; 10% practical

You can find further details about the curriculum in the Programme Specification Document


Graduate Opportunities

Graduates of this course will develop skills and experiences to work within a whole range of exciting creative areas within fashion and in the design industry. They may go on to be freelance designers/stylists or work within established areas of the industry such as publishing houses. Roles such as art directors, designers, digital publishers, writers, fashion film-makers/artists, fashion assistants, self-published fashion authors, 'visionists', stylists, fashion curators, fashion brand designers, fashion creatives, fashion PR, trend observers/commentators.

Making an Application

How to Apply

Apply through UCAS.

If you meet our criteria we will invite you to an Interview and ask you to show us a Portfolio of your work.

You will be notified of our decision through UCAS.

Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff Points/Grades Required

112 at A2 or equivalent (which can include Foundation Diploma in Art & Design). A Level General Studies is not accepted.

Specific GCSE Requirements

GCSE English Language at grade C or grade 4. Equivalent qualifications (eg. Functional Skills) may be considered

Non Tariffed Qualifications

Pass Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject with a minimum 112 UCAS Tariff Points

International Baccalaureate26 Points

International Students

A minimum IELTS score of 6.0 with at least 5.5 in each element is required.

Check our MMU International site for further information if you are applying with non-UK qualifications.

Tuition Fees 2018 Entry

UK, EU and Channel Island students

UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

Non-EU international students

Non-EU international students: Full-time fee: £15,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A degree typically comprises 360 credits, a DipHE 240 credits, a CertHE 120 credits, and an integrated Masters 480 credits.

See Money Matters for further information and advice.

Additional Costs

Specialist Costs

£660*  plus optional £450* Key equipment for all years includes: drawing materials to digital kit: DIGITAL CAMERA, SMART PHONE LAPTOP, DRAWING MATERIALS, PRINT CREDIT DATA STORAGE. See info below for details: DRAWING MATERIALS £100, PRINT CREDIT £100 DIGITAL CAMERA £150, DATA STORAGE £20 Please note: Art materials are available to buy from MMUs A4 and More Store at discount prices. Students often choose to buy a laptop in their first year however there are Macs and PCs on campus with access to Adobe Suite etc. Students can also borrow laptops. AV equipment is available for loan from the MMU AV/Photo store. As your course progresses, particularly in the final year, you may find your costs or additional costs increase in support of your final work although this is dependent on your final outputs.

Trips and Placement Costs

Optional £1250* Throughout your study there may be opportunities for optional course trips (local/ national/ international) or to join optional trips with other courses e.g. BA (Hons) Fashion course in 2015/16 there was a Level 4 trip to Tokyo that cost £1250 (paid in 3 instalments)

Professional Costs

There are no additional professional membership fees required for full qualification.

Other Costs

Optional £60* Dependent upon your discipline preferences you may focus on styling that requires you to source/ loan/ borrow clothes/ fabrics/ accessories etc. For this you will develop a kit box e.g. tape measure, pins, safety pins, double-sided sticky tape, comb/hairspray, hairspray, hairpins and bands etc. £60

* All amounts shown are estimates.