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Level 4 Merchandising for Fashion

Course Duration

1 year

Start Date

September 2022

Gain the knowledge to become a Fashion Merchandiser on this one year, fully funded course. With industry projects and a three-week industry experience, you will be job ready to fill the huge demand for Merchandisers in the fashion industry.


The Merchandiser plays an exciting part within a busy buying office and collaborates closely with the buying and design functions. While Merchandising is highly analytical and a good head for figures is important, it can also be a creative role. You’ll use your fashion knowledge and natural understanding of trends to plan cohesive product ranges, maximise sales and establish selling opportunities across multiple platforms. This course will give you an understanding of the global fashion market and how buyers and merchandisers plan trend driven ranges together. You will also learn how to ensure the product is purchased in the right quantities and arrives at the right time to reach the customer to ensure the shopping experience is optimised so the product can sell through profitably. Lastly you will recognise that improving departmental performance, optimising new opportunities, and using multi-channel trading are amongst the  skills  you will need within the modern fashion industry.
The Merchandising role focuses on the numbers behind buying a fashion range and you will understand budgets, sales analysis and planning as well as critical path management and sourcing product. Developing an in-depth knowledge of the buying cycle, the critical path, the key activities around trading the range to maximise sales and managing sales promotions will equip you with the skills you will need to find your first AMA role in the industry. We will nurture your professional practice through personal development planning, critical thinking and the importance of sustainability and social responsibility, ensuring that you have the right tools to understand the changing retail landscape with the shift from high street to e- commerce. Working with industry whilst at the FRA is key for our students and you will be involved in live briefs working directly with brands on real business issues. 

Find out what it's like in the Day in the Life of a Merchandiser.

Preparation for Progression in Fashion Retail: Through a mixture of lectures, seminars and workshops, you’ll develop the skills which will help you to maximise career progression, including writing a CV, preparing a portfolio and analysing job descriptions. You will be taught how to research and approach entry level merchandising positions and assess their suitability.

As part of this unit, you’ll hone your presentation abilities to effectively communicate to appropriate audiences and learn to work in a team to become an effective member of a workforce.  

Individual Negotiated Fashion Retail Project: In this unit, you will develop research, creative, and analytical skills relevant to a career in merchandising. Through a mixture of taught and self-directed study, you will learn how to use your presenting, critical thinking and negotiation skills, as well as how to create a viable business proposition.

History and Context of Fashion Retail: Develop your knowledge of fashion regarding its historical, cultural, and contemporary influences. Analyse key ideas and concepts key to the evolution of fashion and enhance your research, critical thinking and academic writing skills.

You’ll learn about producing fashion, consuming fashion, fashion and representation, sustainability and much more.

Fashion Retail Environment – Merchandising: You’ll research, evaluate, and interpret the context of the fashion retail industry, as well as different merchandising environments. You’ll understand sales strategies in a global context, and explore the relationship between Buyer and Merchandiser, and understand the function of the Merchandiser in different businesses. 

Find out more about globalisation and customer profiling, as well as the importance of financial report information.

Fashion Retail – Merchandising Concepts: In this unit, you’ll be introduced to the importance of accurate data, the principles of planning, trading, and the retail Merchandiser’s function. Among other learnings will be: target market management, merchandising mix, ethical issues, retail law, and supply chain management.

Fashion Retail Merchandising Systems and Skills: Gain competencies in relevant merchandising software and systems. You’ll learn how to interpret data and create your own spreadsheets. The unit is underpinned by financial information and theoretical concepts.

Using these systems, you’ll be taught how to forecast data, how to use this to plan strategically, and the relationship between financial planning and the planning and trading process. 

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.

A typical day might begin with learning how to bring data to life and make commercial decisions based on your findings. You may then visit a high street store, to gain a visual understanding of how your decisions affect the real-life shops, followed by a masterclass by from an industry leader. The day might end with a critical look at some best-selling items to forecast stock volumes and figures for a new line.

Job opportunities typically start as an Allocator, although some companies have Administration Assistants called MAAs. Progression is often very quick due to high industry demand for Merchandisers.

Awarding Body: UAL

Qualification Title: Level 4 Diploma in Merchandising 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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Lucy Macleod, Graduated 2017, L4 Merchandising for Fashion, MAA at Dorothy Perkins.


"I made some really wonderful friends at the FRA and got the chance to meet many people from industry! Having the opportunity to do my work placement at Dorothy Perkins I was lucky enough to be offered a job there part time until I finished my course and have now gone full time!"



Delal Akdag, Graduated 2015, L4 Merchandising for Fashion, works at Arcadia.

"The lectures and independent researches enabled me to understand how the brands operate, compete and stay afloat in the ever-changing market and that the need for effective merchandising is crucial to companies’ success. The practise the FRA provided me with, such as retail calculations, formulas set up on Excel and Oracle are invaluable. I now work in Arcadia and practise all the skills that I acquired at the FRA.''



Courtney Spellacy, Graduated 2013, L4 Fashion Merchandising, works at M&S.

"Whilst studying at the Academy I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a number of industry experts through which prepared me for what life in merchandising would really be like. With the help of the Academy's careers fair, I was able to achieve my goal and secure my first job within the lingerie allocation team at M&S."

Meet the Merchandiser

Meet the Merchandiser

Christina Gaughan, Senior Merchandiser, Topman.


"I have worked at Topman since I started as an MAA. Topman is a great place to be a Merchandiser as you are given a great level of responsibility and run your Department as if it was your own business. It is fast paced and challenging but the training we get enables you to be great at your job. I love Merchandising, as you get the full experience of the Buying cycle- from planning and buying the range with your Buyer and Designer to then managing all those orders into the business."