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What to include in a portfolio – a general guide

There is no ‘formula’ for what an entry portfolio might include. The suggestions below can apply to any course.

We would not normally expect to see a portfolio that includes something from each of the categories below, but we do need to see evidence of creative work of some description for any course at degree level.


We’re always interested to see evidence of drawing ability. This does not have to be ‘traditional’ drawing and drawings don’t have to be ‘finished’. Drawing can be in the form of sketches, collage, mind maps, even doodled ideas on the back of envelopes. They can be in a variety of media including pencil, pen, crayon, marker, chalks… digital drawing is also of interest. Wherever possible, sketches and drawings should be directly from the subject, not from your imagination. Copying cartoons is not advisable.


We’re interested to see examples of painting. This could include paintings in watercolour, acrylics or oils.

Visual journals or visual diaries

Some applicants keep ‘visual diaries’ which can consist of collected images, postcards, tickets, notes and photographs. Often these are annotated and sometimes they contain sketches, but they are not ‘sketchbooks’ as such. They show us the kind of thing you are looking at; what interests you and inspires you, what you like and don’t like, so if you keep a visual diary, we’d love to see it.

3D Work

We are happy to consider images of 3D work. This can include sculpture, model making, architectural models, furniture and products and images of interiors.


We like to see photographs and we are as interested in what applicants choose to take photographs of as we are in the photographs themselves. Photographs don’t need to be taken with expensive or sophisticated cameras, but it helps if the subject matter has been carefully chosen and the resulting image has been considered.

Digital design

We’re interested to see any examples of digital design. The types of design work we look at routinely are logos, business cards, corporate literature, posters, flyers, advertisements, packaging design, t-shirt design, wedding invitations, menus, birthday cards. However as well as seeing ‘finished’ examples we are keen to see evidence of the process or any preparatory work, initial ideas or rejected ideas.

Articulating genuine interest in studying at degree level and showing interest in your chosen specialism

If you are genuinely interested in studying for a degree then you will have given the decision to apply careful consideration. If you’ve done that then you should be able to express why that is your ambition. Ideally you should be able to name some photographers, artists or designers that you admire and/or refer to visual work that interests you and be able to describe why.