Course image
Filter by

L4 Intensive Buying and Merchandising

   •  12 week programme to fast track your career in fashion retail

   •  Includes unrivalled two week work placement to gain invaluable experience with a major fashion brand

   •  Over 90% of former FRA students go on to full time employment or further studies

This brand new intensive course is aimed at students who want to start or progress a career in fashion retail in the shortest time possible, avoiding the cost of lengthy University courses, to enter job roles at graduate level.

This 12 week course, delivered five days per week will prepare you for a buying role within a head office environment. Buyers work closely with merchandising teams to maximise profit and ensure that stock is exciting, contemporary and sells well in a competitive market. You will balance practical and creative skills with theoretical studies to include communication, negotiation and presentation alongside supply chain, marketing and external factors which influence the development of a commercial product range.

A two week work placement with a major fashion brand will provide you with experience of real time challenges facing the industry today and current on the job experience, to secure your future in fashion ensuring you are job ready by September.

Find out what advice the Divisional Merchandising Manager at Urban Outfitters has to offer for a career in fashion here.

Some of the key subjects covered include; customer profiling and consumer behaviour, trend history and development, turning trends into commercial range plans, garment technology, use of fabrics, costing and sourcing, manufacturing regions and critical path management. You will also study how Buyers respond to the ever changing fast pace on both in store and online fashion. Merchandising is a key unit and students will learn how to interpret data using excel to Industry standard.

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.

Your day may include researching current trends using industry websites such as WGSN and Style sight in order to put together mood boards, to working with current product to develop ranges for different customer profiles.

You could be out comp shopping on the high street in order to prepare a report of recommendations for an industry head office team or listening to exciting industry speakers to inspire your journey towards becoming a Buying Admin Assistant (BAA).

This course includes a two week internship at a high street brand aimed at developing on the job skills to enable graduates to go straight into the workplace with unrivalled hands on experience.

This course is a direct route into industry and can lead to a variety of career paths including BAA, MAA, Allocators, Buyer’s Clerk, Sourcing & Supply Chain.

Awarding Body: University Arts London

Age Requirement: 19+

Start date: Week commencing 26th June 2017

Course duration: 12 weeks full time, five days per week

Entry Criteria: 1 A-Level or the equivalent grade C or above and 5 GCSE’s grade 4/5-9 including Maths and English or 5 GCSE's A*-C grade including Maths and English, or a BTEC National Diploma or NVQ level 3, or a one year one year foundation diploma in Art and Design plus 5 GCSE’s grade 4/5-9 including Maths and English or 5 GCSE's A*-C grade including Maths and English. Please provide us with a NARIC Statement of Comparability, if you have any non-UK qualifications. We will not be able to process your application without this information.

Applicant Guidance:  Applicants should demonstrate an interest in fashion and retail, looking at high street trends.  Numeracy, literacy, ICT and computer skills including word and excel.

Fees: If you are 19 or over at the start of your course your 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.

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.



Thom Scherdel, Graduated 2006, L3 Fashion Retail, works at The Idle Man.

"The FRA was totally and utterly life changing. Without the tutors and experience that I had there, my life would not be the same. They spotted skills in me that I didn't even know I had - and they nurtured and supported me in my career choices. It changed my life and I hope it continues to change the lives of others."



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

Natasha Jeffers E-commerce Merchandise Manager, Forever 21


"I began my career in core merchandising, having obtained some fantastic experience at renowned retailers Tesco and Wanting to focus on growth areas, I made the decision to specialise in E-commerce, and took a role as Senior Trading Manager with the Arcadia Group. Now at Forever 21 as Merchandise Manager for EMEA, I enjoy a fast paced role trading our product across the desktop and mobile sites as well as the App. Working within E-commerce is extremely rewarding and allows me to strategise with other business functions including logistics, customer services, finance, marketing and design & creative. The continued advancement of technology makes every day different from the last!"

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."

© 2017 Web Development by NXT Digital Solutions