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Portfolio advice

Sketchbook by Miguel Desport and Marion Bisserier during their Internship at Pentagram
Sketchbook by Miguel Desport and Marion Bisserier during their Internship at Pentagram
Sketchbook by Miguel Desport and Marion Bisserier during their Internship at Pentagram

Preparing a portfolio is an exciting opportunity to select your strongest work and present it in a personal, professional way. To help you prepare, we've gathered advice from across UAL.

When you apply to a course in a hands-on subject area, it's likely that you'll be asked to submit a portfolio. Your portfolio will ideally show a range of relevant work, from initial sketches and ideas, to contextual references as well as some finished pieces.

A chance to showcase your creative potential, your portfolio is an important part of your application. As courses vary in their selection criteria, we encourage you to read all application information native to your chosen course while preparing your portfolio.

What is a portfolio?

Our definition

At UAL we like to think of a portfolio as a window into your world through which we can see your skills, personality and potential. It's a collection of work demonstrating how your creativity has developed over a period of time. It will vary depending on the level of study you're applying to and will likely develop over time – both in content and format.

It shows your ability to work with different materials, themes and techniques, as well as how you research, develop and plan your ideas. A portfolio should be professional, but ultimately human – we want to see you amongst the pages.

6 tips for your portfolio

We've gathered 6 informative tips to help you while you're preparing your portfolio. From being decisive, to showing us what you love – these tips will provide direction so you can concentrate on making your portfolio the best it can be.

Hear from staff and students

When you're preparing your portfolio you'll likely have a lot of questions. What to include? How to present it? What should it look like? To make life easier we've asked UAL staff and students their advice on everything from the type of work to put in your portfolio to tailoring it to specific study levels.

What is a portfolio

How to submit your portfolio to UAL

For a course where a portfolio is required, there are 2 different paths you typically take once you've made the application. In both, you submit a portfolio once you've made the initial application.

1. Online portfolio submission

You’ll be invited by email, usually within 2 weeks of applying, to submit a digital portfolio through UAL’s online submission tool, PebblePad, for the first assessment of your work.

If successful, you may be invited to an interview and asked to bring your full portfolio so you can talk about it. For some courses, you may be offered a place based on your digital portfolio without being invited to an interview.

2. Bring portfolio to interview

If you've been invited to an interview you may be asked to bring your portfolio along. Our portfolio advice videos can help you decide what to bring as well as how to best present your portfolio within an interview.

We've also developed some helpful tips to help you prepare for your interview.

International applicants

If you live outside of the UK and have applied through your local official UAL representative, you may have a face-to-face interview in your country with one of our academic staff – they'll also give you feedback about your portfolio. As you're preparing, check out our application advice specifically for international students.

If you’re unable to attend an interview in person, a digital portfolio may be accepted instead. This will be arranged by our Admissions Service, who will contact you once they receive your application and ask you to submit your digital portfolio through UAL’s online submission tool, PebblePad,

Need more help to create a portfolio?

  • Portfolio Building 18+ (Online Short Course)

    Portfolio Building for over 18’s will encourage you to develop an approach to constructing a body of art work that will extend your thinking and practice, enabling you to apply for further education courses with confidence.

  • Sketchbook by Marion Bisserier
    Sketchbook by Marion Bisserier, Central Saint Martins Graduate by Alys Tomlinson
    Portfolio preparation courses at Central Saint Martins

    Central Saint Martins offer a range of portfolio preparation courses. Choose the length that suits you best.

  • Michelle Chong working in the Studio BA (Hons) User Experience Design
    Michelle Chong working in the Studio BA (Hons) User Experience Design by Alys Tomlinson
    UAL Short Courses

    We have a vast selection of short courses available across our 6 Colleges.

  • Materials composition by Lucie Hands BA (Hons) Textile Design
    Materials composition by Lucie Hands BA (Hons) Textile Design
    Pre-degree courses

    Our pre-degree courses are 1 year in length and will help you develop the skills experience and portfolio required for undergraduate study.