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This course is validated by: Lancaster University

Contemporary Fashion Foundation Degree FdA

Location: University Centre at Blackburn College
UCAS Code: W230
Code: IA2540B16
Fees: View fees and financial information
Validated by: Lancaster University
Study Mode: Full Time, Part Time
Duration: Full time: 2 academic years
Part time: 4 academic years
Start Dates: september 2020
Term Dates: View term dates

This creative and intensive Contemporary Fashion Foundation Degree (FdA) programme is specifically designed to develop your ability to transform initial ideas and concepts in to innovative fashion garments. Modules are delivered by experts from a range of design disciplines as well as fashion specialists. The course focuses on exploring style awareness, contextual influences, design theory, and developing creative and design thinking. Some of the exciting topics covered on the programme include: trend awareness, drawing, fashion illustration, pattern drafting, fabric manipulation and garment construction.

As you progress on the course you will develop your expertise and gaining experience by working on live project briefs with industry based specialists. You are encouraged to undertake a range of practice based opportunities consisting of national/international competitions, and industry placements. This has been specifically designed to place all graduates in a strong position for a creative career. It is challenging both intellectually and practically. The course will prepare you for the ever-changing interdisciplinary nature of the wider design industry.

You will be based within the School of Art & Society at the University Centre at Blackburn College where the focus is on creativity and innovation, integrated with professional business practice as well as market awareness. This artistically challenging course will help you forge a vigorous role within the Fashion or wider Creative Industries. The Foundation Degree provides undergraduates with creative and technical skills whilst increasing industry and commercial awareness offering the best opportunities for employment security.

What will I study?

You'll develop your understanding of fashion trends, pattern-making, manufacture and research methods. You will learn how to utilise Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator in your work and be encouraged to experiment with a variety of illustrative, print making and fabric manipulation techniques to develop your portfolio presentation.

You will also be encouraged to (and given support with) entering live competitions and industry briefs as well as securing potential industry placements. Throughout the programme you'll produce a range of creative samples and designs in response to a variety of exhibitions, visits and workshops.

Students are encouraged to undertake a work placement in industry or spend at least 240 hours over two years working in a relevant role. This can be your paid employment providing it is relevant to the course, or via a voluntary placement in a relevant role. 

Former graduates from the programme have worked at Ted Baker, Deni Deni for Topshop Boutique, Wild Things children's wear, Emmerdale costume department and bridal studios or design studios for major high street retailers.

Whatever your work-based learning choice, you can be sure that you will not only gain experience in a specific area but also learn about the bigger systems that operate within fashion operations.

All students take a total of 120 credits per level.

Level 4 Modules (all modules are mandatory) include:

  • Contextual Studies
  • Processes and Practices
  • Drawing: Visual Enquiry
  • Surface Innovation
  • Construction and Visualisation - Fashion

Level 5 Modules (all modules are mandatory) include:

  • Critical Studies
  • Experimental Research
  • Creative Futures
  • Refining Studio Practice
  • Materials and Techniques - Fashion 



Entry Requirements

You’ll need 48 UCAS points to join this programme (formerly 120 UCAS points).

All applicants must show that they have a good level of spoken or written English, and if English is not your first language you’ll need to demonstrate the ability to study in English.

Applicants who do not meet the standard entry criteria but have relevant work / life experience will be considered on an individual basis and may be invited to interview.    

All applicants will have to interview successfully and must show a portfolio of work indicating an awareness of what constitutes art and design theory and practice, competence in basic skills such as drawing and computing and enthusiasm for the subject. 

In addition, for this programme, you will be required to have a GCSE (or equivalent qualification) at grade 4 (grade C) or above in Maths and English. 


How will I be assessed?

Throughout the course you will be assessed through a variety of methods. These include: final practical solutions to both given and self-initiated briefs, journals and personal sketch books, technical files, documentations of processes using digital technologies, presentations, critiques and project pitches, written essays, a dissertation, Project proposals and schedules, project reports,  work-based projects, portfolios, evaluative statements, group presentations, projects, peer assessments and group asssessments 

Each module is formally assessed through, for example, examination, open-book test, individual and group presentation, essay, observation of practice, assessment of course work e.g. art portfolio, written report, reflective practice and portfolios of evidence.  This formal assessment will count towards your module mark and feedback is usually given within 3 weeks following the submission of your formal submission of work.

Additionally, some lecturers will provide informal feedback, for example, following an examination they may choose to work through the exam paper in a tutorial. It should be noted that feedback is part of the ongoing learning cycle which is not limited to written feedback. Other forms of feedback include one-to-one meetings with a personal tutor, dissertation and project supervision meetings, a lecturer responding to learner questions or responses during topic or situation discussions. 

Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.

Teaching and Learning

We endeavour to make timetables available one month before you start your course.  Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week.  Part-time classes are normally scheduled on one or two days per week. 

Overall Workload

You overall workload consists of class contact hours, around 15 hours of independent learning and assessment activity and any field trips which may take place.

Academic Support

We have a dedicated Student Engagement Team who will be able to provide support in the following areas;

  • Study Skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)
  • Written English
  • Academic Writing (including referencing)
  • Research Skills

Work Placement

During the course you are required to spend at least 240 hours working in a relevant role in order to improve your knowledge and practice of the subject. This may be through paid employment or via a voluntary work placement in a relevant role. Your work placement is expected to have a focus on applying the knowledge from your degree programme in an employment context.

Please note: work placements are subject to availability.  You are also responsible for any costs in travelling to and from your work placements, for any accommodation costs and in some instances the cost of acquiring a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) report.

What can I do next?

There are excellent and diverse career opportunities available in this sector from careers in design studios to working as an independent designer/design maker/maker in womenswear, children's, menswear, accessories designer, costume designer, garment technologist, pattern cutter, pattern drafter, sample machinist, fashion illustrator, stylist, merchandiser and fashion marketing.  The Fashion industry is wide ranging and the course caters for different areas within this industry. Many graduates however choose to top-up their degrees to a full BA (Hons) Contemporary Fashion (Top Up) through studying an additional year at University Centre at Blackburn College. You will need a pass in your Foundation Degree in order to progress to this level.

Supplementary Information

Download the Programme Specification for FdA Contemporary Fashion. The Programme Specification will give you further information about the course structure, learning outcomes and detailed information about the assessment you can expect during the course. 

Work Placement

Work placements are subject to availability.  You are also responsible for any costs in travelling to and from your work placements, for any accommodation costs and in some instances the cost of acquiring a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) report.

Career Options

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers design clothing and fashion ranges. As a fashion designer, you could work in high fashion or designer ready-to-wear fashion. You could also work in high street fashion. You would often specialise in particular types of clothing - for example in men’s, children’s or sportswear. If you love being creative and you are passionate about fashion, this job could be perfect for you.

To be a fashion designer, you will need to have a good eye for colour and shape. You’ll need skills like pattern cutting and sewing. You’ll also need to able to spot trends.

You will usually need a relevant degree to do this job. A course that teaches both design and technical skills will give you the knowledge you need to work in the industry.

Job Opportunites in Lancashire

Fashion Design Assistant

If you've got creative flair and would like to work in fashion, this job could be ideal for you.

Fashion design assistants support designers by helping them create new materials, styles, colours and patterns for fashion brands and labels.

In this job you would need to have an eye for pattern and colour. You would need to manage your time well and prioritise your work. You should also know what's coming in and going out of fashion.

To get into this job you can work your way up through a company or take a higher education course before joining a fashion business. Getting work experience, paid or unpaid, is especially important for this job.

Job Opportunites in Lancashire

Retail Buyer

A retail buyer is responsible for selecting products to be sold in retail outlets. Most buyers specialise in one product type, for example, clothes, homewares or food and drink.

To be a buyer, you’ll need to be able to recognise future trends and work out what people might want. You’ll also need excellent communication skills and ability to work under pressure.

Many people in this job start out as an assistant buyer, then go on to become a trainee buyer or junior buyer. Most buyers have a degree in retail though it’s possible to start without a degree and work your way up.

Job Opportunites in Lancashire

Costume Designer

As a costume designer, you would be responsible for the overall look of the clothes and costumes in theatre, film or television productions. As well as researching and designing costumes, you would often lead a team of people in the costume department. If you have knowledge of fashion and costume history, and want a creative job in film, TV or theatre, this could be ideal for you.

You will need to have excellent design skills, be organised and work to a budget. You’ll also need the ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines.

Many costume designers have a university qualification in costume design or fashion and start as a wardrobe assistant or costume maker. You could also get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship.

Job Opportunites in Lancashire

Footwear Designer

Footwear designers create new designs and sample patterns for men's, women's and children's footwear, as well as sports and work shoes. They use computer design software and traditional drawing skills to create their designs.

If you have a keen interest in fashion, good drawing skills and can spot trends, this career may bring out the best of your creative side.

You'll normally need a higher education qualification like a degree in fashion or footwear design to get into this career. You may also be able to start as a designer's assistant and work your way up.

Job Opportunites in Lancashire

Hat Designer Or Milliner

As a hat designer or milliner you’ll be using your creative skills to design hats. You may create unique hand-made hats or design hats to be mass produced for designer shops or department stores.

You’ll need practical millinery skills and creative flair to produce fashionable designs that will appeal to your customers. Good marketing and promotion skills can be useful, especially if you wish to run your own business.

Many new hat designers have a foundation degree, HND or degree in a relevant subject such as fashion and design. You can also become a hat designer if you have practical millinery skills, a good understanding of the industry and can produce designs that people want to buy.

Job Opportunites in Lancashire