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BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising*

Course Duration

2 years

Awarding Body

Falmouth University

Start Date

September 2022

This popular two year fashion degree is exclusive to the FRA and has an 86% success rate into employment. Industry enrichment to support your success includes a dedicated mentor and three week industry experience each year.


The two year accelerated  BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising for Fashion degree will teach you how to develop, plan and manage product ranges by teaching you the creative and technical knowledge required. You will learn about the whole supply chain from product concept to consumer, the art and science of buying and merchandising and how to use the tools and techniques that determine what to buy and when to buy it. You will learn how to manage a critical path, analyse sales and profits and understand the importance and implications of good stock management.

The function of Buying and Merchandising is responsible for creating and sourcing the range of product that will be sold in the stores and for the profit the retailer will make. The Buyer focuses mainly on the selection of the product, its style and quality and where it will be made. The Merchandiser will focus on the quantity of each product bought, number of styles and where it will be sold. Together they are responsible for ensuring the product sells in line with the business plan.

These are exciting and fast paced roles. Both require creative, commercial and analytical skills. To build a product range Buyers and Merchandisers need to understand their consumers in order to forecast what will sell. They work closely with suppliers to understand their capabilities and what can be made, and follow their competitors to determine prices. They need to understand the relationship between stock, sales and profit.

Buying & Merchandising requires strong commercial and analytical skills. Contemporary retail involves a deep understanding of the main factors affecting 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 future proofed.


Delivered in an accelerated model over 2 years, you will utilise the summer period to study over three study blocks instead of two.  The structure of this 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. 

All degree courses are assessed through course work. The assessment types include written work such as reports, articles, and blogs and visual work such as presentations, videos, and apps. Most assessments are individual but all courses will require you to work in a team for some assignments.

Buying & Merchandising Core Modules are:


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 business, 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.


Common Modules which are taught across each degree are:


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.


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 unit also includes the impact of digital and technological advances on conversion rate optimisation


Understand the complex, diverse and continuously changing environment where product and consumer come together.  With continued and rapid changes in the virtual world and an ever increasing appetite for online interactivity, the students have the opportunity to understand how the physical retail space has to undergo substantial adaptations 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 unit 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 e-commerce, 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.


*This course is due to be re-validated during the academic year 2020/21, so course content might change to align with current business needs to enhance employability on graduation.

Working with over 140 brands, each FRA degree includes highly practical, industry-focused content from some of fashion’s biggest names to ensure you learn valuable skills gain employment on graduation. We have a range of Visiting Industry Experts (VIE’s) who are injected throughout your course across a range of different activities:

Industry Mentor

Each student will be matched with their own dedicated industry mentor to meet with a minimum of once per trimester to support, guide and give insight to working life, sharing a wealth of experience and offering money-can’t buy personal access to some of the top names in fashion retail. Current students are working with mentors from businesses such as Jigsaw, Whistles, Burberry and Lipsy.

Click here for a list of our current mentors.

Three-Week Industry Experience

Every student is assigned to an Industry Manager for a three-week period,  who will brief them on specific tasks. This could be within one team/dept or across multiple areas of the business.  Working remotely and in some cases within the brand environment, students will gain an understanding of a specific role and its wider fit within an organisation. 

Example brands include Fortnum and Mason, Next, John Lewis, Whistles, Harvey Nichols 

Bootcamp Assessment Centre

All graduating students will pass through the FRA assessment centre, aimed at preparing you for industry interviews.  You will learn what to expect and how to prepare, how to stand out from the crowd and what talent acquisition teams are looking for.

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 it's 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 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.

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. 

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.  We require all applicants to have GCSE Maths grade C/4 or above. GCSE English grade C/4 or above is recommended but not required for this course.

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.*

If necessary, please contact IELTS prior to booking your test to confirm how they are testing during the current pandemic of COVID-19.


£11,100 per year – 2021/22 UK 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.

Please click here for Falmouth University Fees Policy.

Induction Week: 12 September, 2022

Freshers Week: 19 September, 2022

Term 1 Start Date: 26 September, 2022

Christmas: 12 December, 2022 – 20 January, 2023

Term 2 Start Date: 23 January, 2023

Easter: 3 – 14 April, 2023

Term 3 Start Date: 29 May, 2023

End of Year: 8 September, 2023


*Term dates subject to change.  

Apply Now
Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Debbie Taylor, BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising Programme Lead

Debbie joined Selfridges as a graduate trainee where she spent 2 years working across all levels of head office before finding her true vocation in Fashion Buying. Over a career spanning 20 years she travelled the world in pursuit of new brands and concepts, working with some of the world’s most famous designers and attending the RTW shows. She has worked across Accessories, Ladies Contemporary and Designer and childrenswear. Her specialities are Brand Buying and Trend development. In 2000 she was awarded the Drapers Record Fashion Buyer of the year and in 2015 the FRA Teacher of the Year Award.



Amie Benton, Graduated 2019, L3 Fashion Retail and 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"