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BA (Hons) in Buying and Merchandising*

  • Fast track to a career in Buying with our two year accelerated degree programme
  • Two thirds of the time, two thirds of the cost
  • Includes guaranteed job interview and mentoring**


This brand new and exclusive ‘Fast-Track’ two-year degree course in partnership with Falmouth University, has been developed with input from over 50 leading global fashion retail companies. It includes the very latest skills, knowledge and insights to ensure you have the best opportunity of securing an industry role upon graduation.

The Fashion Retail Academy (FRA) and Falmouth University Partnership

The FRA Fast Track degree courses have been exclusively developed in partnership with Falmouth University, which has retained its place as the UK’s Number One Art University for the third year running in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

The course will be delivered wholly at the FRA in London and your degree will be awarded by Falmouth University, as such you will be awarded a degree from a top UK University.

As a student on this course you will be a Falmouth University student and will have the additional benefit of having access to Falmouth University’s extensive online library collection and resources.

You will also become a member of the Falmouth University Student Union.

The Degree

FRA ‘degrees with a difference’ includes highly practical, industry-focused content delivered over an accelerated two-year course including industry involvement ranging from masterclasses to live practical projects, industry mentoring and work placements.

This highly practical course has been created in partnership with retailers to fast track your studies and secure a role in Fashion Buying or Merchandising. The course is based upon market leading research into how the functions of Buying and Merchandising are changing and will ensure you can deploy a range of contemporary industry skills. The course will suit anyone pursuing a degree with a clear focus on gaining employment upon completion. The accelerated nature will support you securing a role a year quicker than other available degrees.

This course equips you with the specific and broad skills needed for a successful career in contemporary retail and covers the product lifecycle from concept to consumer.

Fashion buying and merchandising requires strong commercial and analytical skills and in contemporary retail a deep understanding of the main factors effecting business operations and profitability. Alongside the commercial acumen needed for a successful career, you will also develop a range of creative skills to provide you with broad experience in this specialist subject area to ensure that you are work ready and your skills are futureproofed.

The buying and merchandising functions are symbiotic and whether you have a bent for either function, the course provides a solid ground in both disciplines. Whilst each is distinctly different a commonality exists and in contemporary retail these functions will evolve as external factors and trends continue to alter business strategy and operational models.

Having the right product, in the right place, at the right time, is evermore critical to fashion retail and the complexities and logistics of this due to the continued raise and prominence of online and mobile shopping make this central to profitability. Buying elements of the course include identifying seasonal trends, ascertaining the changing buying and shopping behaviour of customers to develop successful product ranges. Merchandising elements reduce risk and manage the range development, production quality and costs with a view to ensuring customers can purchase in the right locations.

This dynamic programme will develop creative flair, commercial, numerical and analytical awareness, management skills, negotiating skills, brand awareness, sourcing and the supply chain and a deep understanding of global retail and the impact of all functions in driving a successful contemporary retail business.

During the course, you will study multiple facets of buying, merchandising as well as sourcing and supply chain in depth to ensure your success in a future buying or merchandising role within the fashion industry upon graduation.

Modules of study include:

  • Contextual & Historical Studies
  • Merchandising concepts
  • Buying concepts
  • Buying & Merchandising systems and data
  • Trading
  • Sourcing and supply chain
  • Merchandising for fashion retail
  • Buying for fashion retail
  • Brand management
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Fashion Retail landscape and environment
  • Professional strategies
  • Internalisation and globalisation
  • Data and Analytics

The course also includes the FRA unique experience:

  • Unique two year condensed delivery
  • Guaranteed interview at the end of the course**
  • Live Industry Projects, led by employers, to build your experience and portfolio.
  • A work placement each year with one of the 130 fashion retail brand partners working with the FRA  – to provide hands on practical experience of different roles and gain industry contacts & experience
  • Industry Mentor throughout your course**
  • Course taught by experienced fashion retail industry professionals

You will study for three study blocks during the academic year between September and the following August (15 weeks in each).

Our Fast Track Degree is an accelerated course so students will work more intensively, and study for more of the year than on a traditional year degree. This means that the course is ideal for anyone who is committed to working in fashion retail, and to getting there fast. You will study the same content as you would in a traditional degree, however, your year will be broken up into three study blocks, rather than the usual two study blocks, utilising the summer period for study.

The accelerated model enables you to get into a career in two years having already gained practical on the job experience, to give you a competitive advantage over your peers.

This also means you will only have to pay fees for two years rather than three, saving a full year’s fees and living costs.

*Subject to validation

**Subject to excellent attendance and module assessments marks aligned to at least a 2:2.

 Suitability skilled graduates for these roles are in high demand and career progression is a strong proposition.

During this condensed two year course you will study the following modules:


The history of fashion including geographic locality, technology, sustainability, societal and cultural influences.  You will look at the rise and impact of technology, sustainability and corporate social responsibility, all of which affect fashion at a strategic and operational level.


Through the module, you will develop an understanding of the Merchandising function and relevant strategies deployed in contemporary retail as well as the external factors and trends which impact upon the role.

You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the broad operational concepts required of fashion retail merchandisers through supply chain management including the analytical and external considerations required of the role.

Linking to other modules within the course, your appreciation of different retailer types and the importance of the customer in relation to this will be implicit throughout.

The module will develop your understanding of:

  • the fashion retail merchandiser’s function.
  • the principles of planning and trading.
  • the importance of data and analytics
  • the differentials of online and offline
  • external factors globally and their impact on merchandising.
  • merchandising terminology, e.g. cover, ROS, cloth composition, Kimball reference.
  • Buying and merchandising reports and their effective use


In this module you will gain a deep understanding of the emerging global fashion market, investigate changes in sourcing, the factors influencing those changes and the effects it has on global manufacturing. You will examine the supply chain and effective ways of managing it, how to source agents, suppliers and manufacturers and understand the complexity of cultural differences in business practise, pulling together multiple elements from other modules, contextualised for the buying role.

Additionally you will look at the range of ethical, environment, political and legal contexts, as well as current affairs, which sourcing managers and buyers operate, and the affects upon the logistics and distribution management of the supply chain.


Like any large businesses, fashion marketers have to think globally in order to supply to a cross section of international shoppers whom they can now serve directly. Modern consumers do not have to travel to the high street, let alone abroad, to find the top brands, as multinational labels have blanketed the world with boutiques and now look online.

Fashion trading is a key driving force within the fashion industry, in explore how to maximise the commercial performance of any group of categories using Web Analytics data on Traffic, Conversion and Order Value and explore goods, what drives insights, actions and makes measurable improvements to a fashion oraganisation


This module will explore the complexities and nuances of sourcing and supply chain in a truly global sense. A demand for ‘newness now’ and increasingly squeezed margins for fashion retailers make this aspect critically important.

Examination of  sourcing and supply chain management includes:

  • role of key suppliers
  • evaluating supplier performance
  • manufacturing processes and cost opportunities
  • commerciality of products
  • managing the buying and merchandising process
  • importing procedures
  • delivery margin
  • mark up, mark down and promotional activities
  • reviewing retailer performance and future strategies
  • developing the tactics and skills of persuasion, influence and negotiation including: problem analysis, preparation, active listening, emotional control, verbal communication, collaboration, problem solving, decision making and interpersonal skills
  • analysing and understanding negotiation


This module will develop a practical and detailed understanding of fashion merchandising and the influence of merchandise planning and trading on retail profit. The module will develop a greater understanding of the essential interaction between the merchandiser and other head office roles in a modern, globalised retail environment. You will gain a working insight into different merchandising environments and merchandising for different types of fashion business whether online, Omni-element, high street, brand, concessions, multichannel and wholesale both in the UK and globally.

Students will practically demonstrate an industry level ability in merchandising through live projects and work placements.


In this module you will develop a practical and detailed understanding of fashion buying and the influence of planning and purchasing on retail profit. The module has been developed to ensure a greater understanding of the essential interaction between the buyer and other head office roles in a modern, globalised retail environment. You will gain a working insight into different buying environments and merchandising for different types of fashion business whether online, high street, brand, concessions, multichannel and wholesale both in the UK and globally.

Fundamentally, your understanding of the day to day activities within the buying function will be secured and you will be able to understand the garment lifecycle from concept to consumer. Through live projects and work placements, you will practically demonstrate an industry level ability in buying.


Incorporating retail trends, consumer behaviour looks at cultural, social, personal and economical behaviours that drive consumers to purchase, and what causes those consumers to develop product and brand preferences, to enable the successful development of a targeted, personalised marketing strategy within retail to appeal to the relevant target audience.  This module also includes the impact of digital and technological advances on conversion rate optimisation.


Understand the many layers that comprise the retail environment including commercial, cultural, technological and anthropocentric factors.  Look at rapid changes in the virtual world that have created an increased demand for online interaction, forcing the physical retail space to undergo substantial changes to evolve as more than just a shop.


Develop a deeper awareness of self-positioning in the fashion industry through reflective practice for professionals including CV and LinkedIn writing workshops, support for business start-up funding and the development of a range of self-promotional material including websites, online portfolios and interview skills.  Industry employers will share advice and guidance on how to contact relevant people and how to attract business funding whilst maintaining entrepreneurship and innovation.


This module includes the diversity, complexity and vibrancy of the international business landscape for fashion business.  Understand the opposing advantages of presenting a consistent brand globally whilst maintaining a tailored, operational approach at local level.  It provides a deep knowledge of how to manage a single brand in many different ways and the repercussions this has on marketing, distribution, advertising, store layout and visual merchandising.  It also highlights the costs and risks associated using scenario-based planning.


Look at business analytics and statistical analysis to support an evidence based approach to management decision making.  Different stages of the analytics process are examined using case studies and practical applications.  From loyalty schemes, social media and ecommerce, retailers have increasing access to an abundance of rich data on customer behaviour and business costs.  Learn how to leverage that information to interpret the results and present recommendations for business objectives and sales to stakeholders.

The dual content of this course means you will be qualified to work in either specialist area in role such as :

  • BAA (Buying Admin Assistant)
  • MAA (Merchandising Admin Assistant)
  • Allocator
  • Online Assistant Merchandiser

Our state of the art modern facilities just minutes away from Oxford street, has recently benefitted from a £2million facelift. This includes:

  • A new Mac suite within our Digital hub
  • Extensive specialist library with dedicated quite zones for study and group working areas
  • A pop-up shop to expose students to a real life retail situation
  • A new technology suite

In addition, our Higher Education students will have:

  • Dedicated classroom zones, study pods and breakout spaces.
  • Access to Falmouth University’s extensive online library collection and resources.
  • Membership to the Falmouth Students’ Union

A typical offer is between 104 and 120 UCAS points for entry to undergraduate courses, primarily from Level 3 equivalent qualifications such as A levels, a BTEC Extended Diploma or a Foundation Diploma.

You can check how many points your qualifications are worth using the online UCAS Tariff Calculator.
Due to the creative nature of our courses, you will be considered on your own individual merit and potential to succeed. We encourage you to get in touch if you are predicted points below this range, thinking about transferring from another institution, or if you have other qualifications or professional experience as we may be able to consider you.

If English is not your first language, we accept a range of recognised language qualifications that are equivalent to the IELTS Academic minimum score of 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you must take an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) to fulfil government visa requirements.

Application guidance

Click here to apply.


You will be interviewed by a member of the academic staff who will have access to your application form and personal statement. The interview will be conversational, the questions will be asked in response to your personal statement and will provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate an awareness of the fashion retail industry. We will ask about examples of how you communicate as part of a team (e.g. group tasks at school, sporting activities, social media engagement). The interview will last for around 20 minutes after which you will have the opportunity to ask questions about studying on the course.

What are we looking for in a successful applicant?

A successful applicant will be able to evidence their skills, their enthusiasm and commitment to their subject according to the following criteria:

Criteria to be assessed

Evidenced by

Enthusiasm for fashion retail industry

Personal Statement

Interview conversation

Understanding of fashion retail industry

Personal Statement

Interview conversation

Critical thinking

Personal Statement

Interview conversation

Collaborative approach to working

Personal Statement

Interview conversation

Awareness of contemporary fashion news

Interview conversation

Your personal statement should be no more than 500 words.


£9,000 per year – 2017/18 UK/ EU home students

£15, 000 per year – 2017/18 International students

Typical Course costs

£70 - recurring annual cost.

£50-£200 - One off costs for the course duration (compulsory trips, final portfolios or shows, etc).

£300 - Optional study visits and placements for the course duration. Additionally, if you need to bring equipment or materials with you, these will be outlined in your induction

Please refer to our fees and funding page for additional information on student loans and funding your studies.

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