Portfolio Guidance

Our students give their top tips on preparing your portfolio

BA (Hons) Art and Design
BA (Hons) Fine Art

Each Art and Design Course is different. Some courses will have more detail on building a portfolio so do your research, ask questions at Open Days or make contact with Course Directors.


  1. Be relevant
    Include relevant work related to the subject area of interest. Know about the course you are applying for. Show ideas generation, experimentation and risk taking. Within your portfolio, are you able to demonstrate knowledge of the subject discipline, practitioners and individuals that have inspired you?
  2. Think about the basics
    Show examples of paintings, drawings, photographs, three-dimensional work, time-based work and anything else relevant to the area of practice.
  3. Tell a story
    Try to show one full project from start to finish with the preparatory drawings included. Annotations are helpful as they show how you research and reflect on the development of your work.
  4. The Finished Article
    'Include work that evidences a range of ideas and techniques and at least six to seven final pieces that you are able to talk about. If it is sculpture, film or installation, bring photographic documentation.
  5. Visual Journal 
    Include visual journals. This will give us an understanding of how you think, develop ideas and research a context for practice through artists you are interested in and exhibitions you have seen.



Think of it like a book. Your name and a title on the outside will be useful - this also helps distinguish the front from the back!

The Physical portfolio can be any size, but make sure you can carry it! Hold mock interviews with friends or tutors so that you are comfortable showing and discussing your work prior to any interview.

No more than 20 sheets.


If you are sending a digital portfolio, follow these guidelines. (Digital portfolios are only relevant for overseas students).

  1. 20 slides are more than enough. Annotate each slide explaining your processes.
  2. The file that you send should be no bigger than 20 MB (megabytes).
  3. PDF (portable document file) or PowerPoint are accepted formats.
  4. Audio compositions/moving image work are also acceptable formats. If they cannot be embedded within your PowerPoint then please send mp3 or QuickTime file formats not exceeding 20MB.
  5. Please ensure that all submitted materials is are properly documented citing materials used, and where appropriate, explaining the processes used.
  6. Please make sure that your name / email is on each file attachment.

Final word of advice

What is the first thing that we will see in your portfolio? This should grab our attention. What will be the mid-point highlight? What will you end with? Consider the flow of your portfolio - this will help keep viewers interested. Also, are you able to talk about the portfolio with passion?