Fashion Atelier

BA (Hons) - UCA Rochester - 2019

BA (Hons) Fashion Atelier has been developed in consultation with and in response to fashion industry needs for high-calibre graduates skilled within design, and the technical and product development sectors of the industry.

The course has earned an international reputation for producing incredibly talented graduates working at the highest levels of the industry and with a business acumen that enables them to make a name for themselves in a highly competitive market.

As the only course of its kind, this very practical degree will provide you with an innovative, hands-on approach to experimentation and realisation, with a clear focus and depth of learning on specialist industry technical and creative skills.

The course is based on the traditions of technical craft skills cultivated over many generations, combined with a forward-thinking approach to design and innovation.

You’ll develop specialist technical skills in draping, creative pattern cutting, machine sewing and realisation, and the specific creative skills and expertise needed for bespoke tailoring, couture-inspired fashion and contemporary design for the modern wardrobe.

Our unique BA (Hons) Fashion Atelier course enjoys an international reputation for producing talented, ambitious and dedicated graduates. As the only course of its kind, it’s a very practical degree that develops and refines the skills required for the design studio and atelier workshop.

Providing an innovative approach to experimentation and realisation, with a clear focus and depth of learning on specialist industry technical and creative skills, the course is based on the traditions of craftsmanship, combined with a forward-thinking approach to design and innovation.

Our fashion and textiles courses are ranked sixth in the UK by The Guardian University Guide 2018.

During this fashion atelier degree, you’ll learn the specialist technical and creative skills needed for handcraft tailoring, couture-inspired fashion and contemporary design for the modern wardrobe – these include specialist draping techniques, creative pattern cutting, bespoke tailoring, fabric manipulation and three-dimensional realisation. You’ll also learn design communication skills such as illustration and computer-aided design.

You’ll have access to spacious studios dedicated to research and design, pattern cutting and production, with specialist industry-standard facilities. Our team of highly skilled staff and visiting practitioners will offer you a wealth of knowledge and experience in order for you to develop a range of tangible and transferable skills that have real industry value. 

With a work placement in the second year, you’ll also have the chance to gain invaluable industry experience, further strengthening your CV and skillset for your post-graduation career.

Length of study:

Three years full-time


UCA Rochester

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Entry requirements:

112 UCAS tariff points

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Next event

20 Feb 2019

Open Day - all campuses

Course details

  • Year 1

    The first year of our course centres on experimentation and encourages a culture of enquiry and analysis. Combined with developing essential technical and creative practices such as research and design communication, draping on the stand and fabric manipulation, pattern cutting, production methods and finishing techniques, you'll gain an appreciation of a broad range of essential atelier skills. This is a very practical course and throughout your first year you'll progressively build your skills through a range of dynamic projects. 

    A Question of Angles and Curves
    Your first unit is an introduction through critical analysis and review to the concept of transferring 2-dimensional cloth into 3-dimensional garments utilising geometric shapes. The investigation of basic shapes: squares, circles and triangles will enable you to explore creativity through a clear, simple and edited format. Scale, construction, repetition and fabric will all transform the geometric element into creative garment outcomes. At the initial starting point, design realisation through both 2-D flat cutting and 3-D stand work will introduce you to the concept of creative draping and cutting as the main design vehicle, as apposed to designing on paper.

    Form and Silhouette
    Understanding the relationship between the fit, the hang and the balance of the finished garment relates to the successful alignment of the correct pattern shape to the correct body shape with the correct fabric selection. In order for you to successfully align all these elements, you will be taught the essential technical disciplines as well as the creative principles. In this unit you will be expected to start to explore in a creative and analytical way, the way in which dart manipulation can enhance both the silhouette and the 3-dimensional form of a garment, (long top or dress). This is in conjunction with the understanding of style lines within a garment. 

    Sleeves and Collars
    The shoulder line and the armhole are vital focus areas for silhouette and creative cut. In this unit you'll explore the range of developments within the sleeve area of creative cut, with in-depth focus on both the set of the armhole and the shaping of the sleeve itself. Collars and cuffs will also feature as an area of focus, where pattern drafting and modeling techniques will be taught and applied to a range of styles. This unit is also about teamwork and you will work in small groups to produce and promote your skills across a range of final garments.

    The Dress
    Occasion wear dresses for events such as for a reception, party, through to a full gala ball gown or red carpet award dress requires two very specific creative cutting areas of expertise and a specialist series of techniques. In this dress unit we will focus on the fitted and strapless boned bodice.

    History and Theory
    This unit will develop your knowledge and understanding of the academic discourse surrounding fashion and textiles and their skills in research. It extends competence in formal essay writing and will introduce you to a range of academic literature to develop your skills in critical evaluation and textual analysis.

  • Year 2

    This is the highly specialised and developmental year where you'll learn advanced competencies and further develop in-depth techniques, blending traditional handcraft and production skills with contemporary design and innovation. This will encourage you to investigate further theories and taught methodologies, whilst gaining new skills and approaches to product realisation.

    The Tailoring Atelier: Craft and Heritage
    This unit focuses on developing your ability to use informed research, applied to cut, fit, balance and attention to detail in order to achieve contemporary tailored garments that reference a precision and demonstrate an understanding of tradition. Through the realisation of tailored garments, you will therefore learn to understand and work with the influence and implications of heritage to inform craft skills which have evolved over centuries.

    Professional Preparation: Industry Placement
    This unit aims to prepare you for both your third year and your future career. You will select one of the following options: 

    Option 1: Industry Placement: this option enables you to undertake a five-week self-initiated work placement that is relevant to your potential career direction and contributes to the fulfilment of the course aims and objectives. 

    Option 2: Industry case study: this option offers the opportunity to study an aspect of the industry that you have identified as an area of interest. Through the method of case study research you will undertake fieldwork into a self-selected topic or question. 

    The Flou Atelier
    The French haute couture workrooms use the term 'le flou', meaning softly sewn garments with a fluid handle to them. This unit focuses on the 'soft sewing' where traditionally crepe de chine, georgette, mousseline, lace and other fragile/unstructured fabrics are used. Specialist draping, fabric manipulation and finishing techniques will play a key role in this unit.

    Developing Research and Critical Enquiry
    This unit provides space to consider the research and inquiry options available to you in the final year, and evaluate your future direction. Through exploration of a subject area related to either broader contextual issues, or a concern within the industry you aspire to work in, you will develop appropriate research skills applicable to your final year of study.

    Modernism and Postmodernism
    After a year of looking at fashion specifically, this unit is devoted to the investigation of a broader spectrum of cultural production. This ensures a thorough understanding of the connection between fashion and culture and the relevance of clothes to modern life.

    Study Abroad (optional)
    This optional unit will allow you to spend a period of time in an overseas educational institution. 

  • Year 3

    In Year 3 you'll consolidate your acquired knowledge and understanding, preparing you for a very individual interpretation of your professional practice in your chosen career pathway as you develop and express your personal signature style.

    Atelier Signature
    Provides you with the opportunity to verify, articulate and demonstrate your understanding of atelier practice skills developed in Years One and Two. Through the practical application and craft of draping and creatively cutting defined silhouettes, production and finishing skills will express your technical and creative learning. This is an extended unit, which will allow you to fully concentrate on the interrogation and realisation of ideas from first prototypes to finished production garments, to the highest standards. The Atelier Signature collection and range will be publicly displayed at a salon presentation/show to the client or through an exhibition.

    Professional Portfolio
    Good portfolio skills are as essential, in the realm of day-to-day atelier practice, as they are in the pursuit of acquiring work as a creative professional. In this unit, you'll prepare your final exit portfolio to take with you as you launch your professional career.

    Option 1: Research for Industry
    Provides you with an opportunity to critically reflect on and evaluate your practice, and offers a space to conduct more in-depth research into the specific sector of the industry you aspire to work in. 

    Option 2: Thesis
    You'll undertake a substantial period of individually-devised research on a subject related to the contextual and/or theoretical concerns of your discipline or professional aspirations. This will be applied and presented within a structured written dissertation that conforms to academic conventions.

  • Study abroad

    This course offers the opportunity to study abroad for part of your second year. To find out more about studying abroad as part of your course please see the Study Abroad section:

  • Fees

    Find out all about the fees for studying with us, as well as the grants, loans and other financial support you may be entitled to:


This course has large pattern cutting studio used for both tutorials, seminar and personal working; an additional studio space for personal and group working; dedicated studios for third year students to work on their final collections and sewing workshop and samples room with dedicated technical assistance.

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Course connections

On this course, you'll be exposed to a world of opportunities

  • Industry links

    Our Fashion Atelier course at UCA has strong links with the industry, with students collaborating on projects for fashion companies including Ted Baker and Hardy Amies, and participating in high-profile competitions with organisations such as the British Fashion Council.

    Our industry links are particularly valuable for the placement module in Year 2, which offers you the chance to gain authentic industry experience. We enjoy particularly close connections with companies such as:

    • Comme des Garçons
    • Marc Jacobs
    • Ann Demeulemeester
    • Aquascutum
    • Max Mara
    • Alexander McQueen
    • Hussein Chalayan
    • Céline
    • Ade Ackerman.

    These companies also regularly employ graduates from our Fashion Atelier course.

  • Careers

    Our graduates secure a variety of design roles, including:

    • Savile Row apprentices
    • Creative pattern cutters for high-end brands
    • Freelance or in-house design and pattern cutters
    • Production managers
    • Studio managers.

    A number of our graduates have secured rewarding roles in industry areas such as:

    • Fashion design
    • Creative pattern cutting
    • Pattern technologist
    • Design consultant
    • Studio manager
    • Production manager
    • Sample maker – freelance or in-house for high-end brands
    • Savile Row apprentice.
  • Further study

    You may also like to consider further study at postgraduate level.


How to apply - 2019 entry

I am a UK or EU citizen ...

I am not a UK or EU citizen ...

When to apply:

If applying via UCAS the application deadline is the 15 January. If applying directly to us, you can apply throughout the year but we recommend you apply as early as possible so you have time to arrange accommodation and visas.

More information:

Go to our how to apply pages

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Along with your portfolio, the standard entry requirements* for this course are:

One of the following:

  • 112 new UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 112 new UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 27-30 total points in the International Baccalaureate Diploma with at least 15 IB points at Higher level, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade A*-C and/or grade 4-9 including English (or Functional Skills English/Key Skills Communication Level 2).

Other relevant and equivalent Level 3 UK and international qualifications are considered on an individual basis, and we encourage students from diverse educational backgrounds to apply.

*We occasionally make offers which are lower than the standard entry criteria, to students who have faced difficulties that have affected their performance and who were expected to achieve higher results. We consider the strength of our applicants’ portfolios, as well as their grades - in these cases, a strong portfolio is especially important.

International entry requirements

To view the equivalent entry requirements for your country please select it in the list below.

Pick Your Country

Non-UK equivalent qualifications

English language requirements

Your portfolio

For this course we will require you to attend an Applicant Day and bring your portfolio for assessment. Ensure that your portfolio is well presented and logically organised, with material evidence that demonstrates your ability to develop a project or idea – ideally it should also include an exploration of drawing techniques, and experimentation with colour and different types of media. Further information on how to compile a portfolio and the specific requirements for examples of work to be included will be provided on the Applicant Portal after you apply.

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