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About the course

Got an eye for design? Want to kick-start an exciting career in retail? This hands-on degree will introduce you to the techniques that professional visual merchandisers use to encourage sales and reinforce a brand’s message inside stores. You’ll also develop the essential business, marketing and digital skills required to get ahead in this competitive industry.

Southampton Solent’s unique curriculum places an emphasis on visual merchandising, retail design and the use of new technologies within the retail environment. Students are also supported to develop the general online and offline skills required to launch a successful career in retail. 

The core curriculum is supplemented by a range of optional units. These units allow students to specialise their knowledge further, covering topics such as retail architecture, freelancing and future technologies.

The teaching team maintain strong links with industry, ensuring that the course content is up-to-date and meets the needs of employers. These contacts also enable students to benefit from a range of guest lectures. Recent speakers have included representatives from WGSN, Marks & Spencer, Next, All Saints, Fat Face, Michael Kors, and Hobbs. 

Students will have the opportunity to work in the University’s high street store, Re:So. This store sells a mix of fashion, accessories, publications, furniture and art produced by the University’s creative students and graduates, making it the ideal space to get hands on experience with creative visual merchandising. The store’s upper floor ‘learning zone’ has previously hosted guest speakers, workshops, photo-shoots and exhibitions – all with an emphasis on developing student retail, enterprise, networking and employability skills.

Study abroad Built in work experience placement Further studies

Students study a curriculum that emphasises practical skills and work experience – gaining their first taste of professional practice by working in our dedicated high street retail space. Solent’s links with the fashion industry have provided past students with access to a range of guest lectures and networking opportunities.

What does this course lead to?

As a visual merchandising and retail design graduate, you’ll be well positioned to pursue a range of professional opportunities in high-street and online retail. The specialist nature of the course can give students access to opportunities that might not otherwise be available to those entering the industry for the first time.

Who is this course for?

This course supports those with an eye for design as they learn to apply their talents to modern retail environments.

Candidates should aspire to work with brands to help them present their products in a way which is appealing, eye-catching and bold.

Facts and figures

UCAS codes icon

UCAS codes

Full Time

  • 3 Years Standard Entry NN22
Fees icon

Fees and costs

Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2018/19 academic year are:
UK and EU full-time fees: £9,250 per year
International full-time fees: £12,500 per year 

Other costs

While most course costs are covered by your tuition fees, some essential resources and optional extras may need to be paid for separately. These additional costs are listed below. For advice on budgeting and managing your money, please contact

Year one:
Compulsory art materials and portfolios: £140
Compulsory books and magazines: £50
Compulsory travel and transport: £50

Year two:
Compulsory art materials and portfolios: £140
Compulsory books and magazines: £50
Compulsory travel and transport: £50

Year three:
Compulsory art materials and portfolios: £140
Compulsory books and magazines: £50
Compulsory travel and transport: £50
Major project materials: £100

Optional costs:
MAC/PC Laptop: £1200
Adobe Creative Cloud Annual Subscription: £180 per year
Trips: £500-£2000 overall to cover all three years.

Bursaries and scholarships

Southampton Solent University offers a range of bursaries and scholarships that provide financial assistance or waive fees for tuition or accommodation. Each bursary or scholarship has specific eligibility criteria. Check out our bursaries and scholarships pages to find out more.

Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

112 UCAS tariff points from A-levels or equivalent

  • A-levels, a BTEC Extended Diploma at DMM or BTEC Diploma at D*D* or equivalent.
  • Applicants will be asked to attend a portfolio viewing.

We welcome applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds. Applicants who are not in possession of the minimum entry requirements but are able to demonstrate aptitude, enthusiasm and motivation will be considered on an individual basis and may be admitted subject to satisfactory interview and/or portfolio. Please contact us for further details.

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each individual component
  • TOEFL IBT minimum 80 with a minimum of 19 in each individual component
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

The University also offers a pre-sessional English programme for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.


of students feel the library resources support their learning well

Study location

East Park Terrace

Got a question about this course?

Contact our Ask Solent team: 023 8201 3039

How to apply

Any student applying for the first year of a full-time/sandwich undergraduate course must apply through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). This includes mature, overseas and EU students.

Nearly all schools and colleges offer their students the facility of applying electronically through the UCAS website using 'Apply'; it may also be used by those applying independently in the UK and overseas. This facility and all course information can be found on the UCAS website:

Your application should reach UCAS by January if you hope to enter a course the following autumn. Early application is advised for the most popular subject areas. Late applications may be made until June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

Click the link below to apply through UCAS:

BA (Hons) Visual Merchandising and Retail Design

How to apply

What you'll study

Year one

Core units
  • Introduction to Fashion and Lifestyle Retail
  • Introduction to Visual Merchandising
  • Applied Visual Merchandising
  • Omni-Channel Marketing
  • Retail Design 
  • Retail Environment

Year two

Core units
  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Design for Visual Merchandising Experiences
  • International Fashion Communications
  • Retail Technologies


  • Freelancing at Solent Creatives
  • Fashion Merchandise Planning
  • Model Your Business
  • Curriculum Plus

Please note: Not all optional units are guaranteed to run each year.

Year three

Core units
  • Creative Direction for Retail
  • Work Based Learning for Fashion and the Creative Industries
  • Major Project


  • Retail Architecture
  • Retail Innovation and Technology 

Please note: Not all optional units are guaranteed to run each year.


Web-based learning

Solent's virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.

The Student Hub

The Student Hub is a central space where you can access all of the information and support you need during your time at University.

Professional and experienced staff can help resolve any query, and if they cannot answer the question themselves they will find the person who can.

Career support

Key figures


Assessment by coursework


Practical exams

Meet the course team

Mark Jones academic profile Mark Jones Head of Subject View profile
Emma Pritchard academic profile Emma Pritchard Senior Lecturer View profile
Lesley Taylor academic profile Lesley Taylor Associate Lecturer View profile

The university cannot guarantee any particular members of staff will teach specific aspects of the course in the future, but will endeavour to ensure the teaching team maintains their balance of experience and qualifications.


Throughout your studies you will have the opportunity to use a range of industry-standard facilities. These include photography studios, IT suites, cameras and media equipment, and specialist facilities within Solent’s media academy. 

You will also have access to a range of merchandising equipment within the fashion school, and our award winning and industry acclaimed retail initiative.

Students study specialist units including Applied Visual Merchandising, Omni-Channel Marketing, Retail Environments and Creative Direction for Retail. Solent’s extensive media loans scheme gives students access to a range of photography and video recording equipment to aid with portfolio development.

Your future

Suitable roles for graduates include: :

  • Event/Environment Management
  • Visual Communication
  • Brand Manager
  • Retail Architecture
  • Visual Merchandiser
  • Retail and Creative Designer
  • Store layout designer
  • Creative Brand Director 


of students go on to work and/or study six months after finishing the course

Industry links

The course team maintain strong links with industry, regularly inviting guest speakers to impart their knowledge to students. Past speakers have included Caryn Franklyn, as well as representatives from Ilovedust (UK design house for major clients including Nike and Reebok). Ted Baker, ASOS, Harvey Nichols, Urban Outfitters, WGSN, Marks & Spencer, Next, All Saints, Fat Face, Michael Kors, and Hobbs. Industry contacts have also been instrumental in the development of the course, helping ensure that graduates are equipped with the skills required by industry employers.


In the third year you will study a work based unit throughout semester one and two. This will help you to develop your practical skills. 

You will also be encouraged to carry out further work experience alongside your studies, and will be supported by the course team as you look for suitable placements. This is in addition to the valuable work experience gained within Re:So, our award winning and industry acclaimed retail initiative.

Further study

Enhance your career prospects by continuing your study at Solent.

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