Fashion Design with Design for Performance - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
Full Time (3 years), Sandwich (4 years)
September 2016, September 2017

Places on this course are available through Clearing

240 points (or equivalent) are required for this course in Clearing.
See the 'Entry Requirements' tab for more detail.


0121 331 6777

Open 9am - 5pm
Monday to Friday

This fashion design course is an ideal choice if you want to design and make bespoke outfits for performance and special events.

You will examine character interpretation and script analysis, as well as the use of special effects make-up and prosthetics.

New for 2017/18

Costume Design and Practice

If you’re looking to start this course in 2017, it's important to know that the content and structure are undergoing a substantial review and are likely to be different to what is outlined here. Next year's course will also have a new name: Costume Design and Practice. We’ll publish more detailed information about the changes over the next few months. If you’re starting in 2016, the course content/structure won’t be affected by the review.

Sign up for course updatesMore about our new curriculum

What's covered in the course?

You will become an expert in costume design for stage and screen and be able to create one-off designs for a range of special occasions. The course encourages you to work in a diverse range of performance areas including, bridal/occasion wear, dance, theatre, burlesque, circus, and special events.

You will be taught bespoke fitting skills and learn to ‘cut on the stand’; learning traditional cutting techniques relevant to both bridal wear and costume for theatre, television and film.

Throughout your final year, you will collaborate on a live project with external clients, designing and collaborating with professionals in your chosen industry within the supportive environment of the University.

Reflecting current practice in the bespoke garment industry, this course helps you to develop a professional and enquiring attitude.

You will be given the space, skills and support to strengthen your individuality and creative confidence.

“I was encouraged and supported by my tutors to push my boundaries, encountered all sorts of opportunities to create garments I never dreamed I could make, and I was given the foundations to set up my own career path with confidence and individuality.”
Romany Kemp Ghani, Fashion Design with Design for Performance graduate

Why Choose Us?

  • Benefit from our excellent links with bridal, theatre and bespoke designers including Sparklewren, Area 51, Suzanne Neville, Dance Exchange and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
  • Enjoy a vast archive of fashion publications dating back to the 1930s.
  • We have an archive of original garments dating back to 1775 donated to the University that you can access for primary study purposes.
  • Work with the Gerber pattern-cutting and design system, widely used across the global fashion industry.
  • An opportunity to showcase your final-year work to industry leaders at events such as Graduate Fashion Week and New Designers in London.
  • Current students have been working with the Gres Portela Samba School, having designed and made costumes for the ‘final,’ this is the event when each samba school selects the samba used in the Rio de Janeiro carnival.
Student ambassador helps Open Day visitor

Open Day - 8 October 2016

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 8 October 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

Please note: we are currently reviewing our entire course provision for 2017/18. Details will be included in your registration email.

This course is open to International students

School of Fashion and Textiles

Discover the School of Fashion and Textiles

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Cancer Research
  • Charlie Brear
  • Gri Grizzly (at home)

And in jobs such as:

  • Assistant Manager
  • Creative Assistant
  • Costumer Design

Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements for Clearing 2016

240 points (or equivalent) are required for this course in Clearing.

Use the UCAS Tariff Tables to work out your points.

Call our Clearing hotline 0121 331 6777.

Alternative options

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students

In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio.

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2016/17
GCE A Level/ AS Level BBC at A-Level or 280 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) DMM - 280 UCAS points
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design Distinction
International Baccalaureate Diploma 32 points overall
Irish Leaving Certificate 280 UCAS points - Higher Levels
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher 280 UCAS points
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) 120 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
EU/International students
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2016/17
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses). 28 points overall
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.


International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

Unconditional Offers

Unconditional Offers

If you are a full-time undergraduate applicant for the 2015/16 year, and show particular potential, we may be able to make you an unconditional offer if you make us first choice and satisfy certain criteria.

To be considered you must hold, or be predicted to achieve:

300 tariff points or above from three A levels (equivalent to grades BBB or above)
be predicted DDM profile at BTEC level

You will also be required to attend an interview.

Learn more about unconditional offers >>

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2016 FT 3 years £9,000 per year Apply via UCAS
SW 4 years £9,000 per year Apply via UCAS
Sep 2017 FT 3 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS
SW 4 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2016 FT 3 years £12,000 per year
Sep 2017 FT 3 years £12,000 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.


Places available to start in September 2016

If you would like to start this September, you can apply through Clearing.

0121 331 6777

International students can also apply to start this September through Clearing. More information for international students.

Want to start in September 2017?

You can apply via UCAS from 6 September 2016.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Year one

In your first year you will be given an introduction to key fashion topics that provide you with in-depth knowledge of what it takes to succeed in both design and technical areas.

Modules include:
Fashion practice and theory

Pattern cutting and sewing skills: Tuition of basic pattern cutting and sewing skills students will be taught the basic principles through workshop sessions. Pattern cutting demonstrations are also available via Moodle. Continued use of ipods in the workroom to facilitate students working at their own pace. Fabric knowledge embedded.

Design skills: Drawing development, CAD; live fashion drawing, Design, Fashion Illustration, fashion flats, styling and photo shoots.

Theory: Historical, current, contextual studies in fashion and related art and design. Including sustainability and green issues. This module adds breadth to the student awareness and understanding in relation to their own work

Design and Making project: that brings together skills and embeds that knowledge through practical problem solving, design realisation project.

Fashion materials and form

This module is a conceptual design and making project that incorporates experimentation with a range of fabrics, with a final outcome as a styled photo shoot.

Fashion design practice

This is a design and make project that incorporates trend and predictions research and fabric sourcing as part of the design process.

Personal development

Careers Research and self analysis.

Portfolio development drawing on previous project work, concentrating of presentation skills.

Year two

Your second year builds your advanced fashion skills and your personal and professional career goals. You will benefit from a choice of options, business planning, and a four-week work placement. You can also take part in the international Erasmus exchange programme and can choose to follow our four-year sandwich option, which features a one-year industry internship.

Modules include:
Fashion business and entrepreneurship

This module provides an understanding of the Fashion Industry and entrepreneurship, it involves both individual and team work.

Portfolio presentation
Work experience placement or external/collaborative self-directed project
Advanced skills relating to third-year pathways

This module seeks to provide the opportunity for advanced skills building prior to embarking on year three pathways.

Placement year (optional)
Reflective journal
Placement project

This module is partially completed during the year placement with a reflective journal, final assessment takes place in year three when you return to complete the final year of your four-year degree. The placement project replaces the dissertation for sandwich year students.

Year three

In your final year you can decide whether to specialise in Fashion Design, Fashion Communication, Garment Technology, Design for Performance, or Fashion Accessories. As well as learning about character interpretation and script analysis, you will also focus on the use of special effects, make-up, and prosthetics. You will work with external clients throughout your final year.

Modules include:
Costume design and special effects

This module challenges the you to produce a costume that includes both the design of the costume and the special effects that complete the character. Usually a live project.


The dissertation is closely linked to and supports the Major Project.

This module can also be a Placement project which relates to the sandwich year placement for the four-year sandwich option.

Major project

The Major project is a self-initiated brief with negotiated outcomes appropriate to the pathway

The rationale for the Major project will form part of the final assessment.

This pathway is ideal if you wish to work within the performance industries. Fashion and costume overlap in contemporary performance and fashion skills are essential if you wish to work in TV, film, music and theatre productions.

At Level 6 you will be able to choose your subject route either keeping it broad with Fashion Design or more specific with Fashion Design with Garment Technology, Fashion Design with Design Performance, and Fashion Design with Fashion Accessories.

Not only will you have access to a specialist art and design library on site, with a vast archive of fashion publications dating back to the 1930s, but there is also a state-of-the-art computer suite with a CAD pattern cutting and design system – GERBER – that is widely used in the global fashion industry.

The course has excellent links with industry regionally, nationally and internationally, including Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Jimmy Choo.

Download our lookbook to see examples of student work

Teaching breakdown

26 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
70 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
4 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further study

You can go on to study a postgraduate degree with the School of Fashion and Textiles, such as MA Fashion Design or MA Fashion Accessory Design.

Trips and visits

Inspiration can also be found during the international study trips which are on offer every year. These have previously included the fashion capitals of Paris, Milan and New York. We also run several visits to London each year to take in new exhibitions.

Our graduates typically go on to professional roles in fashion design, womenswear, menswear, children’s wear, sportswear, garment technology, styling, trend forecasting, graphic design, visual merchandising, buying, PR, costume making, and event management.

One of our outstanding graduates is Betty Jackson CBE, an internationally-renowned fashion designer who is well known for developing bold and imaginative textile prints and translating them into clothing.

Betty first launched her own collection in 1981. She introduced the Betty Jackson for Men collection in 1986, and opened her flagship shop in London’s Brompton Road five years later.

Betty received a CBE for services to the fashion industry and is famous for her innovative, yet eminently wearable designs.

Her achievements were further evidenced in 2000 by her commission to design Marks & Spencer’s ‘Autograph’ collection and, more recently, by her Betty Jackson Black range for Debenhams.


Your development is enhanced by work placements either in the UK or overseas, giving you a real opportunity to make important industry contacts.

Throughout the course you will be supported by our experienced teaching staff, as well as specialist visiting tutors who are practitioners in the industry, giving you an excellent learning experience in a wide range of fashion specialisms.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

Recent graduates have developed careers with companies such as Angels the Costumiers, ‘The Paradise’ television series, Pashley, The Couture Bridal Company, Kitten Van Mew (Burlesque Artist), Costumes for Character, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Suzanne Neville, Gracie Bleu, Area 51 Events, Charlie Brear and Sparklewren.

Graduates have also continued to develop their own bridal and occasion wear companies including Hannah Wilkins Webb, Wagtail and Willow, and Grimm and Grizzly, with some graduates going on to develop their own fashion labels, for example, ‘Anna Apostolou,’ and ‘Efieri Blanc’. Many others have continued their study with a Master’s degree.

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Studying in the UK is better

Overseas students studying in the UK are happier and have a better learning experience compared to those studying in other countries.

The International Undergraduate Students: The UK's Competitive Advantage report asked 365,754 international students studying outside their home country to give their feedback on what it's like to study in this country. And the UK scored top in every aspect.

So if you're looking at studying with us, you'll be making a good choice.

Overall measures: ranked positions
Undergraduate 2014 2014 2014 2013 2014
Recommendation 1 4 3 5 2
Overall satisfaction 1 4 3 5 2
Arrival overall 1 2 4 5 3
Learning overall 1 4 3 5 2
Living overall 1 2 5 3 4
Support overall 1 4 5 3 2

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our fashion design course is most popular with international students from:  

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

The Parkside Building is part of our new multi-million pound City Centre Campus development in the heart of Birmingham's Eastside development.

Home to the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, School of Fashion and Textiles, and School of Visual Communication, the five-floor site is packed with fashion design workshops, studios and social 'collision spaces.'

The campus also provides extensive workshop space, and the very latest in industry-standard equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer.

You will have access to Vicon 3D, an external tracking motion capture facility, and Gypsy, an exoskeleton-based motion capture system to extend the many possibilities for production of 3D animation and films.

There's also a comprehensive range of tools and machinery in the wood and metal workshops.

You can use the latest in high-tech digital print, plus a range of other facilities including:

  • Editing and animation suites with unique equipment
  • Digital Visualisation Hub
  • Traditional print
  • Photographic studio and darkroom
  • High power laser cutters and rapid prototyping systems
  • Theatre
  • Fashion workshops
  • Computerised looms and printers
  • Art shop
  • Library
  • Café

We are committed to showcasing the best student concepts and collections in exhibitions and on catwalks that include London Fashion Week, London Free Range, New Designers and Birmingham Made Me.

Our staff

All of our staff come from an industry background and bring a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience.

All of this gives you access to the latest thinking, creativity and professional networks.


We have a diverse team of lecturers, all from an industry background. Our team have a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience.

Expertise includes buying, merchandising, design, marketing, trend forecasting, PR, event management and business. We have a real world focus, which prepares students for a career in the fashion industry.

See a full list of our staff

Louise Chapman

Pathway leader and lecturer in Design for Performance

As pathway leader on the design for performance pathway with over 15 years’ experience as a costumier, Louise is a passionate and informed communicator on my subject.

With the knowledge and industry experience to inspire and enhance student learning, she has developed the Design for Performance pathway with current undergraduates being featured in Vogue Italia, (2015) and having been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Film prize (2015).

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295