Our BA Hons Costume Design and Practice degree course will prepare you as a designer practitioner within a breadth of performance genres.
Develop a range of career-specific skills within costume design and practice in a city culturally rich with dance, theatre and the creative arts. You will develop a range of skills applicable to a career within costume design and practice. Birmingham is a city culturally rich with dance, theatre and the creative arts, and collaboration with many of these creative partners is encouraged and embedded within course content. Staff delivering the course are both practitioners and researchers who continue to contribute to their discipline.
You will gain experience in custom pattern cutting, design and illustration, bespoke fitting and costume construction techniques, developing you into an active and engaged contributor to costume.
Previously, students have collaborated on live projects with Birmingham Royal Ballet, DanceXchange, Area 51, Sparklewren and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
Staff have worked as costume practitioners within national and international companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Google+, as well as the Stephen Joseph Theatre with Alan Ayckbourne.
Staff are engaged in research and practice within their discipline, and with costume as an emerging research area there are opportunities for undergraduates to contribute to this vibrant discipline.
While studying with us, you will gain access to an archive of historical dress bequeathed by the arts and crafts artist Kate Elizabeth Bunce, which will inspire and develop your knowledge of the history of dress through the use of primary resources.
There is an optional placement year between years 2 and 3, providing an opportunity for internship in industry. You will be supported with the application process with CV workshops, portfolio building and careers tutorials, and the assessed outcomes of your experience will be submitted on return to the University.
The course will be sited at Parkside Campus (City Centre) and have rooms that are resourced with industry-specific machinery for all aspects of garment production, as well as photography studios to capture final outcomes.
BA (Hons) Costume Design and Practice, BA (Hons) Fashion Design and BA (Hons) Garment Technology have a shared first year of study.
‘The BA Hons in Costume Design and Practice nurtures and encourages students to develop their creativity within the context of costume design and practice alongside experienced industry professionals and researchers." Louise E P Chapman, Lecturer BA Hons Costume Design and Practice
Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Saturday 28 September 2019. Register your interest and we'll send an email update nearer the time. Visit us to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.
We're offering new Home and EU undergraduate degree students enrolling in the 2019/20 academic year £150 credit to spend, giving you the best possible start to life at BCU. It can can be spent on a wide range of items from an online shop stocking books, clothes, art supplies, medical/nursing equipment and more.
*Term and Conditions apply - some undergraduate courses are not eligible for this scheme.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
Our blog is the online home for our community of aspirational, innovative and creative individuals. It’s for sharing our experiences and visionary ideas with each other, the industry and the world.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
(or equivalent) is the minimum you will need to be considered for this course in Clearing. Use the UCAS Tariff Calculator to work out your points.
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio.
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBC at A-Level or 112 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 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)||DMM - 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years)||D* or combined with 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||
Obtain a minimum of 28 points overall. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 14 points or above from three higher level subjects and alongside other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 112 UCAS Tariff Points.
|Irish Leaving Certificate||112 UCAS points - Higher Levels|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||Achieve a minimum of 112 tariff points. Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades CCD. Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of CD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of CC in two Highers). Where only Highers have been taken a minimum of (BBCCC) are required.|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||Grade Pass plus grades CC at A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|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.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good digital portfolio.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements|
|IELTS||6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).||
In addition to the above, applicants will also need:
English Group A - Grade 4 or above
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2019||FT||3 years||£9,250 per year||Apply via Clearing|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2019||SW||4 years||
|Apply via Clearing|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2019||FT||3 years||£12,300 per year|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.
If you'd like to start this course full-time this September, you can apply through Clearing.
International and part-time students can apply online as normal using the links above.
Want to start in September 2020?
You can apply via UCAS from September 2019.
If your application is progressed, you will be asked to submit a portfolio of your creative work. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show us examples of your work and creative interests to support your application.
If you are a UK home-based student you will need to bring a physical portfolio with you to one our portfolio review days. Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips and advice on putting your portfolio together.
If you are an EU or International student you will be asked to submit a digital portfolio as part of your application. Please see our international portfolio guidance page for guidance on how to create and submit your portfolio.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
The personal statement 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:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
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.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
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 your course. 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.
If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.
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.
In your first year you are introduced to a broad range of fashion studies theory and technical skills, building a sound base for further study in years two and three.
You will learn design skills such as CAD, live fashion drawing, fashion illustration, fashion flats, styling and photoshoots. Alongside this, you will gain theoretical skills, such as contextual studies in fashion and related art and design.
You will also gain the skills that you need to solve practical problems and create presentations.
BA (Hons) Fashion Design, BA (Hons) Costume Design and Practice and BA (Hons) Garment Technology have a shared first year of study.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):
Design, Development and Realisation
This module aims to provide you with the essential skills and knowledge as a holistic learning experience that will form the building blocks for the course and underpin further study. We use this module to ‘create a bridge’ between your prior study and the start of the course by introducing you to the basic visual research, design and technical knowledge needed to professionally construct a garment of your own design. We employ small workshop groups to induct you into studio practice and the appropriate and safe usage of industry standard sewing and garment construction machines.
This module aims to provide you with the underpinning skills to enhance the visual articulation of your design processes and output. A broad exploration of 2 & 3 dimensional, and multimedia, techniques will be undertaken; fostering appropriate, innovative, and individual approaches to be developed and applied to future design tasks throughout the course.
Creative Direction aims to help you develop your skills for your chosen exit award, Garment Technology, Costume Design and Practice or Fashion Design. The module provides you with a technical option and a design option to enable you to develop a cohesive portfolio of work to support the securing of potential work placements or internships within your chosen discipline.
Context and Theory
The module will introduce you to the broader context of fashion through a series of contextual lectures covering the theoretical context of fashion and its wider industries. These will allow you to frame your own aspirations develop your knowledge of your chosen industry, be that fashion, costume, or garment technology. The module will also introduce you to writing techniques, a range of respective research methods and resources in the planning of your research proposal. You will also analyse your strengths and weaknesses to allow you to identify a range of career opportunities.
In your second year, you will develop more advanced research, design development, presentation and technical skills, with a view to gaining work experience that will enhance your skills and employability upon graduation.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):
This module is an opportunity to develop your creative and technical exploration skills aligned with your chosen exit route. Building on the enquiring skills and ability gained at level 4 to progress your ideas and professional practice, in readiness for your final year of study.
This module aims to build on your knowledge of academic writing. You will be encouraged to discuss, argue and critically analyse the lectures, this will be further supported with research, academic writing, referencing and essay structure sessions.
This module aims to expand the knowledge and skills required to progress your particular career aspirations Providing an opportunity for you to focus on a specified brief that will prepare you for your final year. Advanced practice should evidence your capacity to work at a professional level within your selected discipline, whilst being supported by both the academic and technical teams.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.
The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and ADM Careers+.
The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff. Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework, several kinds of collaborative opportunities are available. For example, with the approval of your supervisor, you can determine a project based on your own interests; your supervisor may set you a predetermined project to enable you to work with other students in a way that is appropriate to your subject area; or there may be opportunities for you to collaborate with staff on research projects. In all cases, you must apply your subject skills to an interdisciplinary project which will be agreed in advance with your supervisor.
During your final year of study you will focus on your own individual area of practise. You will collaborate within industry on a live brief to produce costume designs, and final outcomes for your chosen performance genre. Developing skills specific to costume industry through these live collaborations within a supportive, nurturing environment.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):
Independent Project Research
Within this module you will research, establish and consolidate your ideas, which will provide the foundation for the development of outcomes within your Independent Practice module. The project will focus and cultivate your ability to experiment, collate, organise and present your work to achieve your own professional direction within your specialist area.
The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practice-based portfolio.
The Independent Practice project is the culmination of your studies, during the course you will have identified and developed your own personal goals. This project provides an opportunity for you to create a portfolio of work that will demonstrate your skills and potential to employers or clients.
This course is ideal if you wish to work within costume design, performance design and costume practice. The theatre industry is often populated by freelance designers and practitioners. Previous graduates and current students have worked with Welsh National Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company, Angels Costumes, Costumes With Character and Circomedia.
Within the first year, you will be introduced to the fundamental skills needed to work within the creative apparel industries. You will be exposed to pattern cutting, research methodologies, fashion and dress theory, CAD technologies and garment construction. In the latter part of the first year you will be working on modules that are costume-specific, developing skills in readiness for your second year.
During your second year, you will develop these skills to a more focused and advanced level, before applying for work experience within your chosen sector of the industry, with the option of a sandwich year between the second and third years of study.
In your final year you will design and produce a collection of garments in collaboration with external partners, and you will be developing a costume-specific pathway portfolio of work with a focus on the performance genre that you hope to specialise in.
Our course currently benefits from its active Erasmus Exchange partnerships with the following institutions:
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.
A requirement of the optional sandwich year within our course is to gain valuable experience to enhance employability within our students. Our students can be found gaining experience in may major companies including Birmingham Royal Ballet.
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.
Throughout our course we actively encourage collaboration sponsored and live projects with the performance industries. We have worked with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Collaborations underpin our delivery and add value to the curriculum within the course, with practice encouraged within live projects throughout.
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.
Graduates from our course progress into roles within many theatre companies, however the majority of graduates are freelance and therefore go from project to project, often developing working relationships with other industry professionals.
You’ll find Birmingham City University alumni working in Angels Costumes, Costumes with Character, Pitlochery Festival Theatre and ‘The Paradise’ (BBC TV series).
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:
The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students.
The first-class experience offered by universities are reflected in the world’s largest survey of international students. International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination.
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.
Our students come from around the world but our fashion design course is most popular with international students from:
You’ll be based in our School of Fashion and Textiles, within The Parkside Building. The Parkside Building is part of our new multi-million pound City Centre Campus development in the heart of Birmingham's Eastside development.
Our staff team have industry experience within computer-aided design, pattern cutting, fashion and dress history, and design, and have worked alongside many internationally-recognised brands.
You will learn to work with the Adobe creative suite, widely used in the industry alongside supportive staff who are well placed to inspire and shape your future careers.
As Course Director of BA (Hons) Costume Design and Practice 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 previously 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).