Compiling a great portfolio

UCA is a place for creativity, ingenuity and personality, not just good grades. Your exam results are only part of your picture - and we want to see the whole of you and your potential.

We do this by asking you to show us via a portfolio or audition – a showcase of your thoughts, processes and passions.

If you’ve never put together a portfolio or audition before, then you’ve come to the right place!

Subject portfolio

Your portfolio
questions answered

Well, not all our courses need one, but we do look for one in most of them. Mainly because we want to get to know you as a creator and as a personality. Exam grades tell us that you know a subject to a certain level – but they don’t tell us the way you think, how you approach a task, or your creative style.

You’ll show us your portfolio at your Applicant Day. These are informal days on campus where you’ll get a closer look at the facilities you might choose to study in, get a true impression of UCA life as it takes place on a regular teaching day, and the chance to meet properly with the people who’ll be teaching you.

If you're not in the UK currently, or you are UK-based but would prefer to upload your portfolio digitally, there's also the option to do that via the UCA Applicant Portal. We'll give you more information about that once you've applied.

Your portfolio is a collection of your work in a neat and tidy package! In most cases, we’ll be looking for 12 to 20 pieces of work. You don’t need to make anything especially for your portfolio (unless you feel the need!). If you are applying to performing arts course, you’ll need to showcase your work via an audition tape.

If you get an offer email, we’ll send you details of the specific requirements for your course. But it might be an idea to start gathering your work now and selecting your favourites.

It all depends on what it is you want to study but it could include sketches, photographs, digital art, concepts and even creative writing – and for performing arts and music courses, short sound samples and audition tapes.

We love a work in progress – the true artist is as fascinated by the journey as the destination! We’re not looking for super-polished near-professional work – we want to see your early ideas, your half-finished work, your failed experiments, thoughts and ideas. These are your starting point – your time at UCA will be what helps you develop your work a professional standard.

For lots of people, sharing their work with a wider audience is quite daunting. If this is the first time you’ve showed your work to anyone that’s our privilege and we are so honoured to see it. So turn those nerves into excitement – try to view this as a special chance to chat to someone who is curious to know what sparks your imagination.

We have plenty – but if you don’t see any of your questions answered here, then you can find out more by filling out our enquiries form. Or, if you’re coming to an Open Day any time soon, we’re on hand to chat with you in person.

The first thing is to share your story. It’s a simple thing but put your work in a sequence that makes sense to you - this will really help you to explain your journey to us. Keeping things as neat as possible will also make things easier for you as you guide us through it.

Second – your passion is our passion! There's nothing we love more than seeing someone excited and enthusiastic about the work they do. If you’re passionate about something, show us.

We also recommend really spending some time on presentation – getting things in order ahead of time and presenting it in a neat and tidy way will help you when it comes to talking about it, and help your future tutors see your work in its best light.

Finally - check your course information. This one is really important as each course will want to see different things. You’ll get this information by email, so make sure you give it a good read to guarantee your including the right work!


If you have any questions about your portfolio and applying to UCA, please get in touch through our enquiries service.