Portfolio Preparation

What is a portfolio?

What should be in a portfolio?

Why is a portfolio important?

Preparing a portfolio

When you apply for a practice-based art and design course at University of the Arts London, you usually need to submit a portfolio of artwork.

You should check the relevant course page to find the requirements for your chosen course. For guidance on how to prepare a portfolio or improve an existing one, watch the videos and read the frequently asked questions below. 

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of your work, which shows how your skills and ideas have developed over a period of time.

It demonstrates your creativity, personality, abilities and commitment, and helps us to evaluate your potential.

When we assess a portfolio, the research and processes you have used to develop your work are as important as the final work itself. We are particularly interested in your most recent work, even if it is unfinished.

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What if I don't have a portfolio?

UAL offers a number of courses to help you prepare your portfolio for entry onto our foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

These courses include 'orientation' courses for each study level, full-time portfolio preparation courses for various subjects (lasting one term to a full year), and short courses (lasting a few days to a few weeks).

Browse our course range to find a programme suitable for your level and requirements:

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Do portfolios differ for different levels of study?

Portfolio requirements differ for foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Make sure your portfolio is appropriate to the level you are applying for.

Postgraduate portfolios should demonstrate your ability to research through meaningful investigation, include reference materials and show your arguments to justify the result.

For more guidance, check the portfolio requirements on the individual course pages and watch the videos above.

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What should my portfolio contain?

The portfolio should contain examples of research, development of your ideas and final pieces.

It might include drawings, paintings, sketchbooks, colour studies, materials investigation, design development (2D and 3D), construction, consumer and market information, written notes, design presentation sheets, or any other types of work you choose.

Sketchbooks show your research and help us to understand how you think. They form the background to the more finished work in your portfolio and, together, these tell the whole story of your creative journey.

If you have 3D pieces you should photograph and present these within the portfolio and bring one or two physical examples with you if you have a face-to-face interview/portfolio review.

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How many pieces of work should it include?

There is no limit, but you might need to transport the portfolio to an interview (if selected), so be practical.

Five projects, plus sketchbook plans, is a manageable amount of content. 

Do not include too many examples of one 'type' of work (for example, life drawing or painting); one or two of your best examples of each type is a good amount.

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What size should it be and how should it be presented?

A portfolio can be of any size, depending on what works for the content – A4, A3, etc.

You should edit the work and compile the portfolio as a series of projects or studies. Keep the presentation format uncluttered and relevant. Avoid over-decorating your portfolio as this can detract from the content.

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How do I submit my portfolio?

If you are sending your portfolio by post, please do not send original work.

Portfolios may be physical, or they may be submitted online. Your College will let you know which format to submit your portfolio in.

Requirements differ from course to course, so check the instructions on your course page before you submit your portfolio.

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If I cannot attend an interview in person, can I send my portfolio instead?

Yes - our Colleges accept portfolios by email from applicants who live outside the UK.

This can be arranged with your College admissions office who will contact you on receipt of your application. Check the individual course page for more instructions.

If you have applied through your local UAL representative you will usually have a face-to-face interview in your country with one of our academic staff in which you will get feedback on your portfolio and finished pieces.

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