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Level 4 Fashion Buying

Course Duration

1 year

Start Date

September 2022

This one-year Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course, taught two days per week has been specially designed for those looking to pursue a career in buying. It combines theoretical study and hands-on experience teaching you both practical and creative skills. Students will also have the opportunity to complete an invaluable three-week industry experience.

Fashion retailing is a dynamic Industry and the landscape is changing at an ever increasing speed to encompass consumer shifts in spending behaviour, advances in technology and ongoing social change. A Buyer is ultimately responsible for deciding which products make it onto the shop floor. They are key to maximising profits and must have a thorough understanding of the brand's target audience. It’s a Buyer’s job to recognise customer demand and at the same time keep a brand contemporary and up-to-date with current trends.The Buying department is at the heart of the head office and responsible for ensuring that the right product is in the right place at the right price at the right time.

The course will equip you with all the skills and attributes needed to hit the ground running as an entry level Buyers Admin Assistant. This role is highly collaborative, as buyers are expected to work alongside merchandisers to maximise sales and measure performance, as well as the design teams to plan and trade a fashion season often described as Concept to Consumer.

This course is taught by our team of specialist tutors, all of whom have extensive experience in the industry. As a result, our Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course has a reputation among employers for producing high quality graduates who are industry ready. 

 Find out more about the day in the life of a Buyer here

Fashion Retail Buying Environment – In this unit, students will explore the buyer & Merchandiser’s role within the fashion industry in a variety of business contexts. Students will understand the dynamics in which the team operates and how to research and analyse key external factors that influence buying decisions, such as changes in fashion design, trend and colour forecasting and customer profiles, to maximise and promote effective business. Students will also explore planning and buying for different types of a fashion business to include physical and digital environments, brand buying, high street, concessions, E-tailers and wholesalers. Students will examine different multi-channel trading methods fashion companies employ and understand the buying & merchandising cycle and calendar in the UK and globally.

Fashion Retail Range Planning and Building – This unit will provide students with the opportunity to integrate their business and creative skills and knowledge in developing commercial ranges of products for an identified business. Students will understand how to interpret business vision and create a strategy to produce a range. Students will also understand how to work with a development team to project manage the design, production, quality, financial and marketing aspects used to build profitable ranges for branded and own brand retailers. Students will also learn how to create visual range plans using a variety of design software.

Fashion Retail Buying Principles – In this unit, you’ll explore the global market, paying close attention to changes in sourcing fabrics and garments, as well as the global supply chain. In more detail, you’ll look at sourcing agents and suppliers, as well as how to manage cultural differences. The ethical, political and environmental landscape is also a key aspect to consider. We’ll then help you to develop your knowledge of fabrics, garment construction, and pattern.

Past Present Future – Learn how social, historical and cultural influences have impacted fashion, and brought us to where we are today. You’ll discuss a wide range of influential ideas to improve your research, writing and analytical skills.

Individually Negotiated Retail Project – You’ll use the knowledge you gained during the course to implement your own project to a professional standard following a brief set by industry experts. You’ll also learn how to self-evaluate and present your work in a variety of different situations.

Preparation for Progression – In this unit, we will help to identify career opportunities and prepare you for a career in buying, enhancing your teamwork and presentation skills.

A day on the Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course day might begin with some research for a new collection. In the morning, students might curate a bigger picture of current trends using forecasting tools such as WGSN. These findings will be used to put together mood boards, which can then inform the development of ranges to suit a number of different customer profiles.

In the afternoon, students might check out the high street stores to write a report on their recommendations for the Head Office team. The day might finish with a masterclass from industry speakers. As part of the course, you'll have the opportunity to attend masterclasses from some of the biggest – and most knowledgeable names in retail, including fashion blogger Chloe Miles, New Look, Zalando and TK Maxx. Pick up insider tips and tricks, and learn about the reality of life in fashion retail.

A three week remote/blended experience that assigns you to an Industry Manager who will brief you on specific tasks.  This could be within one team or across multiple areas of the business. You will be expected to work independently with the support of your assigned manager.  Working remotely and in some cases within the brand environment, you will gain an understanding of the specific role and wider fit within an organisation.

A Visiting Industry Expert will stage an intervention during a set project to give contextual direction and specific feedback on a task, aimed at offering real-time insight to support and cement your knowledge around a specific project and provide guidance to achieve a successful outcome.

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

Awarding Body: UAL

Qualification Title: Level 4 Diploma in Buying and Range Planning for Fashion Retail

Age Requirement: 18+

Start date: 6 September, 2021

Course duration: One year (two days per week)

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 an ENIC 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.

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

Assessment: The course is 100% coursework via termly assignments that measure a student’s knowledge and understanding.

Offers: After completing our online form, your application will be processed and you will receive the outcome by post and e-mail within 5-10 working 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.


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

If you are 16-18 as of 31st August in the academic year of which your course starts and are a UK resident you will be eligible for full fee remission and do not have to pay any tuition 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 are available for anyone aged 19 or over. 

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

Induction Week: 29 August - 2 September, 2022

Start Date: 5 September, 2022

Half Term: 24-28 October, 2022

Christmas Holiday: 19 December, 2022 - 6 January, 2023

Easter Holiday: 3-14 April, 2023

End of Term: 16 June, 2023


*Term Dates are subject to change.

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Amber Riddleston, Graduated 2017, L4 Fashion Buying, BAA at M&Co.


"I graduated from the Level 4 Buying course and I am now working for M&Co as a BAA on Knitwear. I went to M&Co for my work placement in February set up by the FRA, which helped me get the job I have now! I am very grateful for all the contacts I have made through the FRA which has really helped set me up for a future in fashion buying."



Callie Waters, Graduated 2015, L4 Fashion Buying, 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 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."