FRA News

What is a Level 4 Diploma in fashion?


23rd May 2022

Choosing your next steps after A-Levels or a Level 3 course can feel daunting. You want to take the best path to your future career, and that can be different for everyone.  

At the Fashion Retail Academy, our Level 4 diplomas are some of our most popular courses for students wanting to work in the fashion industry. Unlike a degree, they are fully-funded by the government so you can study entirely free*. We have seven different Level 4 programmes, offering specialist skills in everything from Digital Marketing to Garment Technology, Visual Merchandising to Buying.

What is a Level 4 diploma? 

With so many qualification levels and titles, it can be hard to know what they all mean. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are 8 qualification levels. The higher the level, the more advanced the qualification is.  

At the Fashion Retail Academy, our courses are between Levels 3 and 6. 

Graph demonstrating Level 4 diploma qualification

Our Level 4 diplomas are an excellent alternative to a degree. They’re the equivalent of studying the first year of an undergraduate course. 

How long does it take to study a Level 4 diploma? 

If you study a Level 4 diploma with us, you’ll be fully qualified in just one year! They offer one of the fastest routes into your dream career in fashion.  

We structure our timetables at the Fashion Retail Academy over two full days a week. This means you can save money on travel to the Fashion Retail Academy, and you’ll have plenty of time to complete homework, study or work part-time on your free days.  

Alongside your academic learning, you’ll gain invaluable first-hand experiences from our industry partners and support in building your professional network. You'll benefit from a three-week industry experience working with a brand, either in head office or remotely. This is a great way to boost your CV and gain invaluable job insight. You’ll also complete live projects set by brands and attend regular masterclasses from industry professionals.

We also offer 22-week Fast Track courses for adults 19+ wanting to retrain or boost their professional skills whilst working. 

How much does a Level 4 diploma cost? 

Level 4 courses are fully funded for 18-year-olds, so you won’t need to pay course fees.  

If you’re 19 or older, your course will cost £4,220 - much less than an undergraduate degree!  

Anyone aged 19+ qualifies for a government-funded Advanced Learner Loan to cover your fees. These work in the same way as student loans for university tuition fees, and you won’t need to repay them until you’re earning over £27,250 a year.   

What do our students say about studying a Level 4 diploma?

Ella, Level 4 Visual Merchandising 

Ella Level 4 Visual Merchandising Graduate

“I chose to study a Level 4 because I was changing my career plans. I wanted to be sure fashion was the right area for me, and I didn’t want to do a master's and be out of my depth. At the time, I was working at Selfridges, and they recommended the Fashion Retail Academy to me. My Level 4 course still really challenged me, so it was perfect! 

My course highlight was the second term project - which was more about the branding side of things. I chose Natasha Zinko, and I posted my work on Instagram and she gave it a like and comment! 

When I first left the Fashion Retail Academy, I went straight into a visual merchandising role at Reserved on Oxford Street. I used my final major project as a portfolio at interviews, and it helped so much.  

Any advice for new students? 

“Network! That’s one of the biggest things that’s helped me - try to network constantly throughout the year. Getting to know loads of people in the industry is the best thing you can do. Through networking whilst I was studying, I got a role another role as Events Manager and now I’ve been promoted again!” 

Opeyemi, Level 4 Digital Marketing for Fashion 

Opeyemi Level 4 Digital Marketing Graduate

“I chose the Fashion Retail Academy because it was the only fashion college that offered a Level 4 course like this - I knew I didn’t want to do fashion design.  

I feel like I really flourished at the Fashion Retail Academy; I enjoyed every topic. My favourite was our industry project with COS - my group won that one!”

Any advice for new students? 

“Don’t think you need to know everything before you start - I didn’t know anything about marketing before I did my course!” 

Claudia, Level 4 Fashion Buying 

Claudia Level 4 Fashion Buying Graduate

“I chose the Fashion Retail Academy because of the direct links to industry. I’d already done some work experience at Next before I started my course. I loved working in the buying department, so that’s why I chose my course. 

Level 4 Fashion Buying was amazing, it was the direct path into industry I wanted. The highlight of my course was working with brands like Net a Porter and Selfridges - they stood out on my CV and helped me get a job really quickly. It was also nice to meet friends who were into fashion like me! 

Level 4 courses are good if you don’t know what area of fashion you want to work in, they’re a great stepping stone into the other areas of industry. You get a good insight into a fashion head office. Studying at the Fashion Retail Academy doors; I have friends who have decided to go into garment technology, designing and business management instead. 

I now have a job at ASOS as a Buying Admin Assistant for men’s activewear!” 


Olivia, Level 4 Fashion Business (with Marketing) 

Olivia Level 4 Fashion Business Graduate

“I chose to study at the Fashion Retail Academy because I knew other people who’d studied here and had a really good experience. I liked the idea of studying in London as well! 

I really enjoyed my course. I got to experience all different sides of fashion retail: buying, merchandising, visual merchandising, business. My tutor also put me forward for the ‘Women in Dior’ sustainability programme. It’s quite exclusive so I was super excited to get on to it!” 

Any advice for new students? 

“Take every opportunity your tutor gives you! They can be so helpful getting you industry links and opportunities you didn’t ever think you could get.” 

Our friendly Applicant Services team are always happy to offer advice and answer any questions you have about studying with us. You can reach them by emailing or by phoning 0300 247 0039 

You can also visit us in person on one of our informative Level 4 and Undergraduate Open Days! 

*As long as you are 18 and a UK resident at the start of your course

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