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BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising

This exclusive ‘Fast-Track’ two-year degree course in partnership with Falmouth University has been designed from the ground up with fashion retail employers of all shapes and sizes (from high street to high end and pureplay) to create a new breed of employee. This provides you, not only with the latest skills needed for a successful career in buying, merchandising or online trading, but a broad range of futureproofed business skills and the agility you will need to succeed in contemporary retail environments.

Fashion and retail are changing at break neck speed. The continued rise and use of technology, the demand for ‘new now’ and an unstable trading environment has given rise to increased competition and the need to alter business models fundamentally to remain competitive.  Retail today bears less and less resemblance to that of a decade ago and our exclusive research into retail of the future clearly shows that this shift will only continue to grow.

The Fashion Retail Academy (FRA) and Falmouth University Partnership

The FRA Buying & Merchandising Degree has been exclusively developed in partnership with Falmouth University which has been ranked gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework, the new classification of degree teaching standards. Gold is reserved for institutions where teaching, retention and graduate outcomes are consistently outstanding and are of the highest quality found in the UK. Falmouth University has a 115 year history at the leading edge of creativity and is now at the forefront of driving innovation and entrepreneurialism across the creative economy with its mission of “doing it for real”.

The course will be delivered wholly at the FRA in London by its team of dedicated academics and industry professionals. As well as being a student of the FRA, you will also benefit from having joint studentship with Falmouth University, which gives you access to Falmouth University’s extensive online library collection and resources. You will also become a member of the FXU Students’ 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.

Delivered in a model over 2 years your full BA (Hons) will propel you towards your chosen career a year quicker than a traditional degree. The structure of the course has been designed around study at Level 4 (developing foundational knowledge and awareness), Level 5 (high levels skills development and synthesis of information) and Level 6 (your launch pad for your career).

Read our complete guide to Buying & Merchandising here.

*Subject to meeting the expected levels of attendance in accordance with FRA’s Attendance Monitoring Policy.

All applications are processed through UCAS, you will need to register, provide a personal statement (up to 4,000 characters) and one reference. A single application is £13 and multiple applications are £24.

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
  • Brand Management
  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Fashion Retail Landscape and Environment
  • Professional Strategies
  • Internalisation and Globalisation
  • Data and Analytics in a Business Environment

The course also includes the FRA unique experience:

  • Unique two year condensed delivery
  • Industry Mentor throughout your course
  • Live Industry Projects, led by employers, to build your experience and portfolio.
  • A work placement each year with one of the 140 fashion retail brand partners working with the FRA which provides hands on practical experience of different roles and gain industry contacts & experience
  • 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 three 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 meeting the expected levels of attendance in accordance with FRA’s Attendance Monitoring Policy.

 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:


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.


This introduces you to a wide range of reports and systems that are readily available and implemented by fashion retail companies. As part of this module, you will also utilise Excel skills and learn to use information and business reports to optimise trade and profitability. 


Like any large businesses, fashion buyers 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 exploring how to maximise the commercial performance of any group of categories using Web Analytics data on Traffic, Conversion and Order Value and exploring goods, what drives insights, actions and makes measurable improvements to a fashion organisation


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.

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

The Fashion Retail Academy is based in the heart of London, a few minutes from Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus and Goodge Street tube stations. 

Below is a list of independent accommodation providers, any agreement with property providers is direct and not endorsed by the FRA.

LHA London Properties

Independent organisation offering student accommodation in Bowden Court, Notting Hill. A mix of single rooms from £103 per week and double rooms £289 per week/£60.50 per night. Options to book for one night, with prices ranging from £46-£49. Call 020 7834 1545 quoting Fashion Retail Academy to benefit from our discounted rates.

Chapter Living

Private provider with nine accommodation sites located within zones 1 & 2 and in close proximity to major London universities

Unite Student Housing

Independent organisation offering studio rooms and flat shares for up to 5 people less than 25 minute walk away from the FRA

IQ Student Accommodation

A private provider offering seven  accommodation sites in central, east and north London

Independent marketplace, who specialise in helping international students find accommodation

My Student Halls

Aggregated search engine to help you look for and compare potential student accommodation


Independent organisation providing accommodation to students in London. We have dedicated rooms (in mixed university accommodation) for FRA students located at Kings Cross, starting from £299. To enquire call: 020 7042 7890 or email:

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 isn't your first language, we'll need to see academic proof of your level of written and spoken English. We require a minimum International English language testing system (IELTS) score of 6.0 (or recognised equivalent*). This test must have been taken no earlier than two years before you start at the Fashion Retail Academy. * Trinity (taken in the UK) - 111 Cambridge ESOL Exams - CAE or FCE Cambridge English scale 176 Common European Framework - C1 - C2.


£11,100 per year – 2020/21 UK/ EU home 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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Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Anthony McGrath, Lecturer, HE Programme Lead


Anthony’s experience stretches over nearly twenty years. He started out in Mens style magazines and proved himself as both a competent Editor and stylist and went from work experience to Senior Fashion Editor of Loaded Fashion in an 18 month period. As a result of this he was seen as a key player in the Menswear market and lead to him being a highly sort after stylist. Styling and Art directing editorially for Mens Health, Interview, The LA Times and The Saturday Times Magazine to name but a few. The celebrities he has dressed include Ashton Kutcher, Duran Duran, Gerard Butler, Guy Ritchie, Jack Nicolson, James Corden, Johnny Lee Miller, Michael Owen and Steve Coogan and Steve Jones.

Over the years Anthony has styled campaigns for clients including House of Fraser, Emporio Armani, Lacoste and Marks & Spencer. He has consulted and advised brands as diverse as The BBC, Jaguar, Peroni, The Arcadia Group and Vogue Italia on brand progression, re-positioning in the market place, catwalk interpretation & media & PR relations. Due to Anthony’s extensive experience he has been asked by educational institutions, such as London College of Fashion, the Fashion Retail Academy, University of the Creative Arts and Manchester Metropolitan University to write, formulate and teach modules in Fashion, Styling and Fashion Communications.

Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Anna-Karin Nilsson, Lecturer, BA (Hons) Marketing & Communication.


An Internationally renowned fashion editor and freelance stylist who began her career in fashion as an assistant to the Fashion Director of French Vogue before moving on to become a Fashion Director in her own right and contributing fashion editor to many leading international magazines including ELLE France, ELLE Norway, ELLE Sweden, Vogue Homme, L’Uomo Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar International editions etc. with advertising clients including Givenchy, Cacharel, Burberrys, Mercedes and Louis Vuitton. She has also worked as a fashion PR, Brand Manager and Sales Director since opening her own agency in 2013. Her teaching career began in 2014 for several prestigious International Universities based in Paris.



Amie Benton, Graduated 2019, BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising, BAA at Pretty Lavish.


“I have been at the FRA for a total of four years now and have loved every minute. Over the years I have had some amazing opportunities and gained experience from well known fashion brands. This has allowed me to go straight into the industry as a buyers assistant which I have been doing since January alongside my course. It’s my dream job and I have the FRA to thank!”



Annabel Abrahams, Graduated 2019, BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising, MAA at John Lewis.


“My time at the FRA has resulted in a great deal of personal and professional growth. Resilience, subject knowledge and learning that I am more capable than I initially believed were key to helping me land my dream role”



Izzy, BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising, Graduated 2019.


"I have loved doing my degree at the FRA, i have found it challenging and inspiring. They have given me great work experience opportunities and that’s enabled me to get a job in industry before I even graduate"