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Level 4 Merchandising for Fashion

With an emphasis on practical skills, this in-depth, one-year course will equip you with all the commercial and analytical skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed as a Merchandiser. The course is taught by industry specialists and combines theoretical learning with hands-on placements, workshops and masterclasses.

Merchandisers are key to the life cycle of a garment, and this field is a varied, pivotal and exciting one to be in. You’ll be sitting right at the heart of the action, at the intersection of business and creativity, deciding how to sell products to customers. It’s a Merchandiser’s job to boost sales and maximise profits, and this can include making sure that stock is monitored and available, working with Buyers to advise on successful lines, working with Operations to agree on production stock levels, and much more.

Over the duration of this unique course, you’ll explore the impact of historical, social and cultural factors of fashion retail, the merchandising environment on a global scale, and the impact of globalisation on the industry. You’ll gain a solid understanding of the importance of financial data and how to use this to forecast future trends, and will also be taught to use a range of systems to prepare you for future merchandising job roles. The course also offers a number of broad and transferable skills. In various modules, you’ll develop your collaborative, presentation and critical thinking abilities. Your independent study and research skills will be improved by an individually negotiated fashion retail project and a three week work placement with a recognised high street fashion brand.

This fusion of theoretical and hands-on skills is effective in preparing you for your career progression following graduation. Level 4 Merchandising for Fashion Graduates go on to secure roles such as Merchandising Administrative Assistant (MAA) and Assistant Merchandiser. To help you get there, we’ll help you to prepare a portfolio and CV and recognise promising job opportunities.

Find out what previous FRA student Liam McClatchey had to say about the course!

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. 

You’ll also experience an exclusive three-week placement with a renowned high street brand. During this time, you’ll develop on-the-job skills, meaning you’ll go straight from the FRA into a merchandising role with unrivalled experience. Work placements are full-time for 3 weeks, and you will be expected to make your own travel arrangements. 


As part of the Level 4 Merchandising for Fashion Diploma course, you’ll take on an industry project to test your skills in a real-life situation and retailers use their merchandising systems. Past industry projects have included working with AllSaints to carry out competitor analysis and devlop a customer profile for a new store opening, using this information to create an opening stock package for the store.

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: September 7th

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 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.

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.

Fees: 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.

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

Start Date: 7 September, 2020

Half Term: 26-30 October, 2020

Christmas Holiday: 21 December, 2020 - 8 January, 2021

Half Term: 29 March - 9 April, 2021

Last Day of Term: 25 June, 2021

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Lucy Macleod, Graduated 2017, L4 Merchandising, 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, 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."