Filter by

L4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising

Our L4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising course has been designed for those looking to secure an entry-level buying or merchandising position in the shortest time possible. This course has been condensed to 22 weeks, studying two days a week to enable you to work part-time simultaneously if you wish.

Buying and Merchandising departments are increasingly becoming more aligned and the two roles often overlap and collaborate, as a result. This course provides a broad foundation of knowledge for both areas. The goal of both the Buyer and the Merchandiser is to ensure that the right product is available to the right customer, at the right time. The Buyer’s contribution to this relates to product development; they are responsible for researching current fashion trends and consumer behaviours, and selecting the garments which ultimately end up in stores. They work with many different departments to achieve this – from the Designers to the Marketers.

Meanwhile, a Merchandiser focuses on the commercial, financial and operational aspects of the business. It’s their job to manage stock flow, ensuring the right quantity of product is available in each store at any one time. They analyse past sales figures and work closely with Buyers to forecast buying patterns, measure performance, and plan distribution. They’re also responsible for fine-tuning collections to boost profits, and clearing lines during sale periods whilst maintaining profit.

Buying and Merchandising both require a diverse range of skills, from creative to analytical. This path is best suited to those who have a strong knowledge of fashion trends and patterns and who have a good head for numbers. Interest in and aptitude for data analysis is key, as are strong communication skills and an awareness of current industry developments.

To equip you for a career in buying or merchandising, this course covers a large number of topics. Our units include customer profiling and customer behaviour; essential in learning how to select the products most likely to maximise profits, whilst experience with garment technology and a knowledge of fabric become key for buyers when working alongside designers to come up with initial concepts for clothing. Other important areas covered include costing and sourcing, critical path management and using trends to inform final commercial ranges.

Merchandisers, in particular, are in high demand at the moment, so this course has a high success rate for placing students into relevant roles. After graduating from the L4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising course, students will be in prime position to pursue the following roles:

  • Buying Admin Assistant (BAA)
  • Merchandising Admin Assistant (MAA)
  • Allocator
  • Buyer’s Clerk
  • Sourcing and Supply Chain Assistant
  • Trend Research and Forecasting Agents

This course is taught by our team of specialist tutors, all of whom have extensive experience in the industry. As a result, our L4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising course has a reputation among employers for producing high quality graduates who are industry ready.

Find out about one of our student's placement at Marks and Spencer here.

Fashion Retail Buying and Merchandising Environment – This is a comprehensive introduction to buying and merchandising. We’ll cover how these roles operate in relation to each other, and how they change depending on different business environments. When it comes to buying, you’ll explore how to create a range using your knowledge of customer behaviour and current trends, while for merchandising, we’ll delve into operational aspects of the role as well as supply chain management. 

Principles of Planning and Trading a range – Creating a commercial range of garments that boosts profits for a brand is one of the key responsibilities of both buyers and merchandisers. To build a profitable collection, you'll need business, creative and research skills and to be involved in the design, production, quality and marketing processes.

Fashion Retail Buying Principles – There are a key set of guidelines you need to understand to achieve success as a Buyer. In this module, you’ll learn about the global market, fabric sourcing, the supply chain, and the set of parameters all Buyers you must work in – from ethical to political. You’ll cover how to source and manufacture from different regions including the pro’s and con’s as well as developing a supply chain and working relationship with factories.

Contextual Studies for Fashion Retail – Gain a deeper understanding of the fashion industry by exploring its history, as well as the cultural and environmental influences which impact it. In this unit, you'll develop your academic writing, research, and analytical skills. You will develop an understating of the social, cultural, economic trends alongside what is happening on the catwalks and trade show.

Individual Negotiated Fashion Retail Project – This unit is designed to fine-tune your creative and business skills through the creation and execution of an individual project. The aim is to create a viable business proposition, and on the way, you'll develop your presentation, research, and negotiation capabilities.

Preparation for Progression in Fashion Retail – This unit is designed to give you the best chance of pursuing a career in fashion retail buying and merchandising on graduation. We’ll cover how to identify relevant employment opportunities, as well as how to prepare for interviews. Our unique Progression Week offers CV-building workshops and masterclasses from the experts to let you know what major brands are looking for.

Buying and merchandising roles require a diverse mix of skills, and so a typical day on the L4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising course aims to incorporate a range of activities. Students might begin the day researching upcoming trends and visiting Oxford Street to make notes on what’s already in stores.

You will be invited to attend a range of masterclasses from some of retails biggest names. Previous speakers have included ASOS; Chloe Miles – Fashion Blogger; Zalando; FRA Alumni Sorcha Kelly, Junior Merchandiser - Accessories at NET-A-PORTER; TK Maxx & New Look. During these sessions held in our state of the art lecture theatre, fashion retail experts advise and inform about a range of subjects affecting the industry with an interactive Q&A session at the end to enable students to have their say.


Gain key contacts and real world experience to make your CV shine at a placement with a recognised high street brand. Your newly acquired knowledge will help you pursue your first buying or merchandising role with confidence. Work placements are full-time for 3 weeks, you will be expected to make your own travel arrangements. 

This year's B&M students were asked to develop a new concept for Lipsy and design a 20 piece capsule collection, taking into consideration lead time and costings.

They also had to consider how they would promote and launch the collection. At the end of the project they presented their results to the Lipsy Senior Management Team and the winning students were offered work placement opportunities.

The course is now into its 2nd year and has an excellent track record of getting students into Junior Buying/Merchandising and related jobs including Sourcing and Supply Chain. Merchandisers are in huge demand and some students will find that they may have a natural aptitude for analysis and enter into Allocation or MAA roles.

On completion of this course the roles open to you include:

  • Buying Admin Assistant (BAA)
  • Merchandising Admin Assistant (MAA)
  • Allocator
  • Buyer’s Slerk
  • Sourcing & Supply Chain Assistant
  • Trend Research and Forecasting Agents

Awarding Body: University Arts London

Age Requirement: 19+

Start date: September/February

Course duration: 22 weeks, two days per week (Wednesdays & Fridays)

Entry Criteria: 1 A-level (or the equivalent Level 3 qualification) and 5 GCSEs grade C/4 or above, including Maths and English. If you have any non-UK qualifications, please provide us with a NARIC Statement of Comparability, as well as, the IELTS test for English language (our entry requirement is 5.5 overall and in all sections) if you have not studied in the UK or English speaking country.

Offers: After completing our online form, your application will be processed and you will receive the outcome by post and e-mail within 7 days. If we decide you would benefit from an interview, we will contact you with an invite. Your offer will be based on your predicted grades and is only secure after enrolment.

Fast Track course fees are £4220 per annum. For a full list of course fees please visit our Fees page. Advanced Learning Loans will be available for anyone aged 19 or over. Click this link to find out more about course fees.

Disclaimer on fees: Tuition fees are subject to change - the fees due are effective at enrolment.

Applications are processed in the order they are received and you may be required to attend an interview.

Apply Now
Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Debbie Taylor, L4 Buying & Merchandising Tutor.

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.



Azma Akram, Graduated 2017, L4 Fast Track Buying & Merchandising, MAA for The White Company.


"I gave my CV at the careers fair and from that I was invited to an assement centre and then got the job. None of this would have been possible without the FRA. I learnt so much and I'm actually applying the information I've learnt. The tutors were so knowledgeable and their insider tips really helped. But above all they are all really passionate and want you to succeed. I can not recommend this course enough I just wish I'd known about it before and done it sooner!!! "



Elise Stewart, Graduated 2015, works at River Island.

"The FRA has helped me by providing me with exciting opportunities such as meeting some of the key people within fashion retail, work placements and participating in industry projects."



Callie Walters, Graduated 2015, works at Topshop.

"The FRA introduced me to a range of exciting opportunities such as work placements, industry projects and competitions linked to high-profile retailers throughout the year. This challenged me to think professionally and offered the chance to work with the companies I aspire to."

Meet the Merchandiser

Meet the Merchandiser

Kellie Fulton, Merchandising Director, Links of London.


"As Merchandising Director every day is different. I look after three brands so I'm constantly having to change my brand hat. I lead a large team and love developing them and seeing them progress as we work together to meet the company' goals. I communicate with people around the world from UK to Athens, New York and Hong Kong the role could definitely be 24 hours! The environment is always changing, there is never a dull moment, and I really thrive off the dynamic role I have."

Meet the Buying Manager

Meet the Buying Manager

Paul Phipps, Buying Manager, River Island


"Being a Buying Manager is challenging every day yet a truly fantastic and rewarding experience. Leading and inspiring teams to deliver the overall business strategy and ensuring we are consistently exceeding our customers’ product expectations is paramount.


Travelling the world to see new and existing suppliers, reviewing our international stores and understanding new markets is a great part of the role. We live in a international world and understanding the global market is key to personal and business success."

Meet the Tutor

Meet the Tutor

Kim Spencer-Pell, Merchandising Tutor


"I have worked for over 33 years in fashion retail with experience in a variety of retailers from Harrods , House of Fraser , Dorothy Perkins , Pilot to ASOS and Miss Selfridge .
Working as a Merchandise Director for over 17 years I have wide ranging experience to share with students and have particular interest in strategy and planning .
I am as excited by fashion retail now as when I started in the industry and consider it a privilege to inspire new talent entering the industry."