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Level 4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising

Course Duration

22 weeks

This condensed course has a top reputation for producing students for employment in buying and merchandising. You will participate in industry projects and a three week industry experience, all while graduating after only 22 weeks.


The Fast Track Buying & Merchandising course is delivered 2 days a week, allowing you to continue with a part time job or additional time to research the Industry. An Advanced Learning Loan is also available for 19+ learners on this course meaning you won’t start paying back your tuition fees until you earn over £25,000. On top of that, you will only pay back 9% of your salary per year over that amount which may only equal the price of a cup of coffee and a bar of chocolate!

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. The Buying and Merchandising departments are 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 will all the skills and attributes needed to hit the ground running as an entry level BAA or MAA. The Buying and Merchandising team work together alongside the design team to plan and trade a fashion season often described as Concept to Customer.

During the course you will cover the following;

  • Collaborate with design, garment tech and marketing to construct, cost garments to deliver seasonally commercial product for your consumers.
  • Learn how to create commercial ranges by understanding patterns of consumer behaviour and what makes people buy.
  • Understand how Buyers research fashion trends
  • Learn sourcing requirements for your products and the importance of developing good supplier relationships.
  • Plan, build and manage ranges to meet sales, profit targets to maximise sales and maximise customer satisfaction and how markdown can affect your results.

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 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising Diploma course has a reputation among employers for producing high quality graduates who are industry ready. 


Fashion Retail Buying and Merchandising 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. Students will also learn how to use excel in merchandising.

Principles of Planning and Trading a Range – 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 – 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.

Past Present Future – 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 Level 4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising Diploma 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.


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.


The course 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 Clerk
  • Sourcing & Supply Chain Assistant
  • Trend Research and Forecasting Agents

Awarding Body: University Arts London

Age Requirement: 19+

Start date: February and September 2021

Course duration: 22 weeks, 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 a 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.

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.

Fast Track course 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. For more information on Advanced Learning Loans, please click here

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


September 2022 Dates: 

Start Date: 29 August, 2022

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

Last Day of Term: 10 February, 2022 


February 2023 Dates:

Start Date: 20 February, 2023

Last Day of Term: 21 July, 2023


*Term Dates are subject to change.


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Joseph Groves, Graduated 2019, L4 Fast Track Buying & Merchandising, BAA at River Island.


"The Fashion Retail Academy gave me a great opportunity to explore both buying and merchandising, the placement allowed for great head office and social experience. The support from all the tutors in each class was incredible and the course was very easy to manage around a part time work schedule."



Lauren Smith, Graduated 2019, L4 Fast Track Buying & Merchandising, Wholesale Sales Executive at Radley and Co.


"I’m very grateful for my course as it enabled me to transfer buying skills to wholesale from a selling point of view, and I meet buyers from brands regularly and help them plan for their season. I recently hosted my own appointments at a Trade Show in Birmingham! I’m very thankful to the FRA and how quickly the course enabled me to progress in my career."

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."