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Level 4 Visual Merchandising

Course Duration

1 year

Start Date

September 2022

This one year, fully funded course is exclusive to the Fashion Retail Academy as the only Visual Merchandising diploma in the country. You can develop the skills required to become a successful Visual Merchandiser through specialised projects and an unrivalled three week work experience.


A Visual Merchandiser is responsible for how merchandise is displayed and promoted; whether that’s through physical and digital store layouts or window displays, with the ultimate aim of maximising sales. While doing so, a VM has to keep in mind a brand’s values, and align all collateral – including graphics and branding. Have you ever noticed how different a shop floor or website homepage looks at Christmas time? Visual Merchandisers definitely do – you may need to create a new environment based on seasonal or sale requirements. As you can see, the role of the VM is highly creative, varied and dynamic.

During your Level 4 Visual Merchandising Diploma course, you’ll learn all about historic and cultural influences on fashion, as well as gaining a background in window design principles, including the use of lighting, colour, props and products. You’ll discover how branding can support a design concept in regards to typography, layout and image manipulation. Other essential factors include how physical and digital store environments contributes to the image of a retail brand in terms of architecture, product adjacencies, fixture placement and product placement.

Once armed with our Level 4 Visual Merchandising Diploma, we’ll also help you to understand your career progression. Upon graduation, opportunities available to you will include a role as a Visual Merchandising Assistant, with the view of working your way up to becoming a Visual Merchandiser. We’ll help you to create the perfect portfolio and CV, putting you head and shoulders above the competition.

For more insight into Visual Merchandising, what they do and career options click here.

Designing and Installing Window Displays for Fashion Retail: One of the main functions of a Visual Merchandiser is to effectively create a window display which communicates the image and ideals of a brand, and maximises sales. In this unit, we’ll introduce you to the aesthetic value of window displays as well as the core concepts of their design, incorporating key areas such as: schemes, colour, graphics, lighting, styling and product. At the end of the unit, you’ll also have a better understanding of planning techniques, and the industry techniques needed to effectively design a window using digital software. The next step will be creating your own!

Fashion Retail Branding: Branding is how a fashion house or label communicates its identity to a customer. Visual Merchandisers are in charge of making sure this branding is correctly created on the shop floor. As part of this unit, you’ll discover how VM is used to support brand identity across physical and online retail environments. Along the way, you’ll gain skills in typography, logo design, layout and digital image manipulation, exploring the role of web design and multichannel branding in the success of a store.

Fashion Retail Store Concepts: You’ll then advance on to learning how retail architecture can be effective in further creating a successful brand. The ambience and “theatre” provided in store, or, in other words, the ways in which a physical space is manipulated and managed, can help to promote specific stock and drive sales. Key aspects will be covered, such as product adjacencies, fixture placement and in-store/online displays. You’ll be taught about industry-wide techniques to help prepare you for your first day on the job.

Preparation for Progression in Fashion Retail: As part of your course, you’ll learn about how to make the most of your qualification once you graduate. As well as improving on your teamwork, you’ll hone your presentation skills.

Individual Negotiated Fashion Retail Project: Using what you’ve learnt, you’ll have the opportunity to create and execute your own fashion retail-specific project, through a mixture of directed and self-study. You’ll improve your research, self-evaluation and written communication skills.

Contextual Studies for Fashion Retail: To really understand the state of the fashion industry today, you have to examine what’s gone before. In this key unit, you’ll learn all about the historic, cultural and contemporary influences on the industry. Key debates and store concepts will be discussed to deepen and broaden your knowledge.

The life of a Visual Merchandiser is exciting and ever-changing, and the Level 4 Visual Merchandising Diploma course aims to prepare you for that. In short, every day is different! However, to give you an idea, you might begin your morning by designing a new concept pop-up store and window scheme. To get inspired, you might then visit some of London’s brightest and most beautiful window displays, like Selfridges. Next, it’s time for a masterclass with an industry leader, before you work on a self-directed project.


To give you the most rounded and hands-on experience, your classroom learning at the FRA will be supplemented by more “real world” learning in the form of placements and projects. This way, you’ll be prepared to hit the ground running as soon as you get in the door of your first Visual Merchandising job.

You'll participate in a 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 also includes an industry project which will be set by employers in the sector. Past industry projects have included the incredible opportunity to design the windows for the flagship Topshop store in London’s bustling Oxford Circus, considering things like colour schemes, props and mannequins. Another was designing the Concept and Visual Merchandising strategy for a digital campaign for Harvey Nichols. Who knows what yours might entail?

Our graduating students are employed in VM roles as either a Creative Assistant, part of the in-store VM team, Prop Maker, Graphic Designer, VM Communications Coordinator or Online VM. Other students may choose to continue their studies at university.

Awarding Body: UAL

Qualification Title: Level 4 Diploma for Visual Display and Branding for Fashion Retail

Age Requirement: 18+

Start date: September 6th

Course duration: One year full time, 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 will be available for anyone aged 19 or over. Click this link to find out more about course fees.

Please note that there is a course materials contribution of £99 per year for all students.

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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Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Suzanne Dewsbury, Level 4 Visual Merchandising Group Lead

Suzi worked in Visual Merchandising for fourteen years and became a Global VM Manager by the age of twenty-eight. Working for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Dorothy Perkins, Boden and Oasis, Suzi has held many roles within Visual Merchandising and now has a great range of professional industry links.

In more recent roles, Suzi focussed on brand modernisation and the link between digital and physical visual merchandising. This is an important concept that she includes throughout the course as it is the future of modern retail.




Brianna Gilmour-Smith, Graduated 2017, L4 Visual Merchandising, Visual Stylist at M&S.



"I studied L4 Visual Merchandising and have now secured a job as a Visual Stylist for Marks and Spencer's. The FRA set me up with the perfect skills I needed for the fashion industry and I made friends for life. It was a fab year!"



Lucy Peters, Graduated 2016, L4 Visual Merchandising, Visual Stylist at AllSaints.

"I was on the Level 4 Visual Merchandising course last year and graduated with a distinction. I really enjoyed the course and found it really beneficial to my career, I found it such a good opportunity that we went on a work placement in the industry to get a real sense for the job. I am now working at the Allsaints Flagship on Regent Street as a Visual Merchandising Stylist"

Meet the Visual Merchandiser

Meet the Visual Merchandiser

Alexander Wells-Greco, Head of Visual Merchandising at Harrods.

“I’ve been at Harrods now for almost 7 years and being Head of Visual Merchandising, working across fashion, accessories and beauty, I can honestly say no two days are ever the same. It’s this variety of work that my role entails that makes it so interesting and motivating. My role involves ensuring the store is always looking its best, from the famous Brompton Road windows to in-store displays and listening to the business needs whilst also being creative and coming up with new concepts – merging the two is no easy task so striking the balance is a skill I’ve learnt over the years and something I enjoy very much – seeing the commercial and creative aspects of the business come together is very satisfying. Having worked in five of the world’s major cities – London/Shanghai/New York/Venice/Milan – has resulted in me adopting a global mind-set which, along with my experience of single brand, wholesale, multi-store and department store retail, makes for invaluable qualities anyone looking to peruse a career in visual merchandising should strive to achieve”.