In the first term you will study two units.
Introduction to the Fashion Business for Fashion Visual Merchandising & Branding introduce you to your course and its subject specialism as well as to effective learning and studentship at undergraduate level. It will orientate you to the practices and knowledge-base needed to understand your discipline and help you to develop your skills for independent & collaborative learning, reflection and your own self development. Students come from many diverse educational backgrounds and a part of this unit will enable to reflect on your own background and how that shapes the way you approach your course.
Principles of Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding introduces you to 2D and 3D design processes by exploring creative vision through drawing and appropriate media applications. You will be encouraged to explore, investigate and analyse a variety of subject matter, in order to facilitate the development of your design ideas through visualisation techniques and product installation. Basic techniques are explored and developed through a variety of creative applications relevant to visual retail environments. Through this unit you will begin to understand the relationship between design research, design development and product installation, and you will have a coherent framework for future 2D and 3D visual retail concept development.
In the second term you will study two units.
Introduction to Cultural and Historical Studies introduces you to key concepts and ways of thinking about fashion and its context in society and culture. You will attend lectures, seminars and workshops, and do a significant amount of reading of academic texts in order to complete a formal academic essay for assessment. Completion of this unit will allow you to make an informed choice of subject for study in the second year Cultural and Historical Studies unit.
Principles Fashion Branding looks at the fashion brand as a holistic customer experience. The management of both product and retail aspects of the brand will be considered in depth, thereby covering the total branded offer. The brand experience from concept to completion will be examined across physical and online retail environments, Connections between brand essence, visual brand identity and product presentation in relation to the shopping journey will be explored. There will be a mix of theory-based work around brands and practical studio work.
In the third term you will undertake the Collaborative Project unit. This gives you the opportunity to work collaboratively with other students. This mirrors the real-world challenges faced by fashion enterprises that depend on close working relationships between departments. You will consolidate the knowledge and skills that you have already acquired, and the project will give you opportunities for fieldwork and research, as well as increasing your teamwork and presentation skills. The project will be concerned with the development and expression of brands in the marketplace, and will have an operational focus.
In the first term you will be able to study a Cultural and Historical Studies unit of your choice that will broaden or deepen your learning of areas relating to your interests in your chosen field. You will have the opportunity to participate in lectures, seminars and workshops with students from other courses within your School, and will read relevant academic texts and complete a formal academic essay for assessment.
Also in the first term, the Designing the Fashion Store Environment unit introduces you to a variety of media used in the planning of visual retail activities. You will be encouraged to explore industry practice that makes good use of appropriate solutions in commercial spaces. More advanced techniques are introduced and developed through a variety of creative applications. The relationship between design research, design and design development in computer generated contexts is a fundamental part of this unit, and you will acquire a coherent framework for future two to three dimensional concept development. You will also explore commercial restraints on visual retail planning.
In the second term the Research Methods, Consumer Behaviour and Psychology unit will introduce you to concepts of consumer behaviour and psychology through the investigation of how consumers respond to a branded fashion retail environment. You will develop your understanding of what motivates consumers to shop and how fashion psychographics influence consumer identity and behaviour. The unit will introduce you applied research methods to help you to practically investigate how consumers respond to aspects of a branded retail environment.
Also in the second term, the Visual Brand Communications unit explores the relationship between brand communication and the consumer. You will investigate the wider marketing communications mix, including digital media platforms and the role of design in digital brand communications. The rise of online retailing has challenged traditional selling platforms and transformed the visual communication landscape and the role of the visual merchandiser. The virtual shopping representation, blended with the physical store experience requires new omni-channel branding strategies. You will examine the theoretical relationship between fashion branding and marketing communications and investigate how brand identities and personalities are built through online and physical retail and media space.
In the third term you will undertake the Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding Project, which will broaden your design, visualisation and presentation skills. You will be able to expand on the key understanding of creative branding and visual merchandising in a professional context from concept to completion and installation. This unit links freehand drawing skills, industry software packages, and product handling skills at a larger scale to the branded environment. The unit is underpinned by relevant branding theory.
Professional placement year (optional)
You can opt to undertake the Diploma in Professional Studies for a period of industrial placement of at least 30 weeks duration. The placement is undertaken between the second year and final year of your course, and you will normally be working full-time in a company. You will be able to experience the pace, atmosphere and discipline of working in the industry through your involvement in the day-to-day activities of a fashion business. This will give you practical experience of the roles, functions and operations in the fashion industry that you have studied on your course. There is flexibility to combine a work placement overseas (minimum 20 weeks) with a period of overseas study (minimum 10 weeks). You will be required to write a negotiated report on your placement, which will focus on issues or opportunities related to the placement company. This will develop your study skills and allow you to demonstrate your research, analytical and evaluative skills. Successful completion of the year will give you the additional qualifications of a Diploma in Professional Studies.
In the first term you will study the Futures and Innovation unit. You will look at current issues affecting the fashion industry in general and visual merchandising and branding in particular. You will explore various trend indicators that are likely to point to important influencing factors in the future. The specific content of the unit will evolve as the fashion industry changes, but will focus on trends in design, materials and the retailing landscape. Scenario planning and futures forecasting will be investigated.
In the first and second terms you will undertake the Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding Strategy unit. This gives you the opportunity to develop your understanding of corporate strategy and business models, which will enable you to analyse fashion strategies at both corporate and business levels. You will also learn how to formulate strategic plans for businesses in different contexts, such as online and international markets. You can choose a specialist direction that reflects your career aspirations.
Throughout the final year you will do your Final Major Project. This gives you the opportunity to develop your project proposal from your initial idea, and negotiate your final project brief within the general area of visual merchandising and branding with your supervisor. This will reflect your particular interests and your future career aspirations, and the final outcome of your project will be a considerable body of work. This will be communicated to a relevant audience via an appropriate medium as the culmination of your project.