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Costume Design and Practice with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)

  • UCAS Code: W2WA
  • Level: Foundation
  • Starting: September 2021
  • Study mode: Full Time (4 years)
  • Location: City Centre

Studying with us in 2021/22

It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Develop a range of career-specific skills within costume design and practice in a city culturally rich with dance, theatre and the creative arts. 

Our BA Hons Costume Design and Practice degree course will prepare you as a designer practitioner within a breadth of performance genres. 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.

About foundation courses

The foundation course is an exciting step towards your chosen degree. It provides an opportunity to develop skills to equip you on your professional journey into the creative industries.

The programme encompasses elements of fashion design, fashion business and textile design degree routes. It provides a platform for you to share with and learn from others, while developing visual communication skills and processes. It will help you in building confidence and independence ready for the next stage of your degree.

We aim to excite, engage and challenge you, pushing you to develop into a capable student with a great fashion and textiles aesthetic as well as an enthusiasm to learn.

This four-year programme has been specifically designed to allow you to undertake additional level three study, to ensure you are successful on your chosen degree programme.

After successful completion of your foundation year, you will have the flexibility to switch (should you wish to change direction) onto a number of related undergraduate degree programmes within the School of Fashion and Textiles.

What's covered in the course?

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.

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 Chapman, Lecturer

Why Choose Us?

  • Staff are experienced costume practitioners that contribute and develop content within the course with passion and enthusiasm.
  • We have a history of costume design going back to the early twentieth century.
  • We have established links to international, national and regional theatre companies, including Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Birmingham Royal Ballet.
  • We have an internationally significant archive of historical dress to study and use within your practice.

This course is open to International students

Fashion and Textiles Right Column

Discover the School of Fashion and Textiles

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

Visit the School website

Tom-Serby-480x300

What our students say

We're very proud of the diverse, exciting student population we have on the Foundation Year in the School of Fashion and Textiles. Every year, we welcome many students from across the UK and beyond, so who better to tell you their experience?

Why choose a Foundation Year?

Where our students go

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

And in jobs such as:

  • Assistant Manager
  • Creative Assistant
  • Costume Designer

Signature-project-480x300

Foundation student project

Students on the Fashion and Textiles Foundation took part in The Signature Project where they used personal creative strategies to show off a range of skills and showcase their personal design style in preparation for the next step of their chosen degree.

Read more

Entry Requirements

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

UK students
Essential

80 UCAS tariff points.

At the point of entry, students will need Maths and English Language GCSEs grade 4 (C) or above.

LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS
GCSE
  • GCSE English Language at grade C/4 or above
  • GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment

Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level)

See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details
Scottish National 5
  • English Language at grade C or above
  • Maths at grade C or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment

IELTS

Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.
LEVEL 3 (and above) QUALIFICATIONS
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • CDD / 80 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 4 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.

AS and AS VCE

Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 80 pts

Access to HE Diploma

  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • Arts, Media and Publishing subjects preferred but other subjects also considered.
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
MMP

Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)

  • Pass
  • Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 80 pts

IBO Certificate in Higher Level

  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 11 points or above from two Higher Level Subjects
  • Considered with other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 80 UCAS Tariff Points
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted

International Baccalaureate Diploma

  • Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted

Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)

Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 80 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language and Maths taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma

MMP

Scottish Advanced Higher

  • Achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades DDD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).

T-Levels

Pass overall (C or above on the core)

UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design

Merit overall

UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology

Merit overall

UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts

Merit overall
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.
Extra information for EU/International students
Essential
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements
IELTS

Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.

If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.

Mature Applicants

Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.

  • UK students
  • International students

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 4 years
  • £13,200 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.

Guidance for UK students

UCAS

UK students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Portfolio Guidance

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. 

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.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Foundation year

Your study will involve reading and analysis, discussion and debate, and practical activities which allow you to test and implement your skills and knowledge. In addition to attending classes you will be required to complete preparation and follow-up tasks and activities to support your learning.

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

40 credits

Fashion and Textiles are two very large and interrelated global industries, they encompass many different job roles. The two disciplines also support a variety of related approaches and activities ranging from business to art practices.

This module will provide an overview of processes and skills that are essential to fashion and textiles and also give you the opportunity to develop the skillset and knowledge that interests you. You will be allowed to develop personal approaches that can incorporate one or a mixture of making, business analysis or communications.

20 credits

This module will focus on techniques and strategies for identifying and researching trends, documenting them and how trend analysis can be used in professional practice. In response to seminar discussions and workshops you will experiment with layout and physical compositions to produce a visual interpretation of your findings. You will analyse past, present and future trends using a variety of primary and secondary sources. You will evidence ongoing reflective practice which includes written and visual analysis.

20 credits

This module will allow you to develop an understanding of how the world and lifestyles are changing and how fashion and textiles respond to these changes. Through lectures and workshops, you will be introduced to a range of themes, discussion topics and techniques for future gazing and predicting social and industrial changes, and the development of subcultures and innovations as a result of this and the impact back on to society.

40 credits

This module you will allow you to plan, develop and deliver a project that draws on your own, personal creative strategies to facilitate the realisation of ideas appropriate for progression on your BA course.

Year one

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):

40 credits

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.

20 credits

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.

40 credits

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.

20 credits

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.

Year two

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):

40 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.

20 credits

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.

40 credits

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.

20 credits

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+.

20 credits

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.

 
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Year three

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):

20 credits

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.

40 credits

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.

60 credits

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.

Overseas Opportunities

Our course currently benefits from its active Erasmus Exchange partnerships with the following institutions:

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.

The course will prepare you as a designer practitioner within a breadth of performance genres, and you will develop a range of skills applicable to a career within costume design and practice.


Graduate jobs

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).

Placements

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. 


Links to industry

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.

OpportUNIty

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.

Grace-Bentley-Costume

Grace Bentley

BA (Hons) Costume Design and Practice student

Grace secured an opportunity to work on the reproduction of a historic dress, over 100 years old. Grace used the project to develop her creative skills and tacit knowledge, as well as discovering the intricate details in recreating such a complex piece.

Grace collaborated with another student with a different set of skills, working together to bring the reproduced costume together. The costume was displayed in a public exhibition, attended by industry experts and professionals.

Read more about Grace's opportunity

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:

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

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:  

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

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

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. 

See a full list of our staff

Louise Martin staff profile

Louise Martin

Foundation Year Course Director

Louise’s Masters in textile design established the foundation for her design journey. From this platform, Louise started to build a career as an interior designer, regional design manager, stylist, and as a lecturer in fashion and textiles. Louise now has over 10 years' teaching experience as a lecturer.

As a designer maker, Louise has developed her own business, growing her knowledge within this creative sector, continually learning new techniques, technical know-how and client facing skills in order to develop the final products ready for market.

Louise still actively works as an interior design consultant where she is able to use her extensive experience and creativity to interpret clients’ needs into inspiring schemes that meet their specification and budget. Ongoing research supported with regular visits to design shows ensures she is always aware of current fashions and trends.