Arts and media portfolios guidance

Arts and media portfolio

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is the folder or collection of your art and design work. It normally comprises sketchbooks, notebooks, research information, development work and final pieces. Your portfolio is likely to be made up predominately of the work you have undertaken on your current or most recent course, whether it be A Level or diploma. You may include work done in your own time if you feel it’s relevant.

Putting your portfolio together

Your portfolio is a reflection of your skills, personality and experience.

You can include drawing, painting, photography, computer-generated work, objects, websites, videos and artefacts within your arts portfolio. We would recommend you include strong visual communication skills such as idea generation, techniques, your understanding and use of colour. It’s worth spending some time preparing your portfolio and perhaps asking your current teacher or lecturer for assistance.

Make sure your work (online or physical portfolio) is well organised, clean and well presented. We also want to see your enthusiasm and any interests or hobbies you may have that are relevant for your chosen subject area.

When enrolled on your degree course you’ll be expected to answer a brief and solve creative problems. We want to see evidence of how you have solved problems – that could be how you answered a brief at college or during your diploma. 

It’s important to include self-reflection and annotation within your portfolio – that could be by including a short description of the brief and the resolution or including your sketchbook and journal.

Top three portfolio tips


Show us how your work tells a story and give examples about the deeper meaning and narrative behind your ideas and the processes you used. We want to see how you develop an idea to the final outcome.


Show your portfolio to your teacher and class mates before you make your application. Seeking advice and opinions about your work from someone you trust could help your key strengths.


Choose examples of what interests you and areas that you want to develop. Showing life drawings is a great example of your technical drawing skills, however, also include examples of content that motivates you and have a concept.

Portfolio FAQs

What if I don’t have a lot of work to include within my arts and media portfolio ?

We don’t expect you to have a lot of finished work. We are usually more interested in your ideas and development work. Similarly, don’t worry about having to show high levels of technical skill.

Above all, the portfolio should show a good level of commitment to your studies, your personality, evidence of basic art and design skills and enthusiasm for your chosen degree path.

Which courses require a portfolio

You can find out more by visiting our Art and Design or Fashion pages. More details can be found on the course you want to apply for. If you still have any questions please Get in touch with our friendly team by emailing or phone +44 (0)161 295 4545.

When should I submit my online portfolio?

We ask that you submit your online within two weeks of it being requested.

What is an online portfolio?

A portfolio is a selection of your art work, drawings, sketchbook pages, photographs, films or other design work which reflects the range or your abilities. It shows your creative process along with your interest in the course for which you have applied.

Your portfolio can contain written work, such as essays and we advise that where possible you include a short description for each piece explaining the work or project. When submitting an online portfolio, we ask that you photograph or scan your work, so we can review it electronically. 

What happens once I submit my portfolio?

Once you submit your portfolio a member of our Admissions Team will send it to the Admissions Tutor for the course. The Admissions Tutor will review your work and then send a decision to the Admissions Team, who will put this decision on to UCAS. This process could take up to two weeks to complete.

I've applied for a course which isn't listed?

Not every course requires an Online Portfolio so if you have applied for multiple courses they may have different ways of assessing your suitability for the course. This may mean that you have been invited in for an interview or a decision has been made based upon your grades, personal statement and previous experience. If you are unsure about anything please contact us on +44 (0)161 295 4545 or by emailing

What do you mean by choosing relevant work for your chosen subject area?

We would recommend you showcase all the skills you’ve learnt at college if that’s photography or drawing, however, we understand that an art portfolio will be different to a games design portfolio.

We would recommend you research the course you apply for and include subject specific content. If you haven’t got any examples, then show a desire to learn subject specific skills.

What do I do if I've been invited for an interview?

At the School of Arts and Media we hold interviews with applicants to find out more about you and what you’re passionate about. We want to know why you’ve chosen the course and why you’ve chosen to study with us. Find out more by visiting the School of Arts and Media interview webpage.

Do you have more questions?

We're always here to help support you and answer any queries you may have. Get in touch with our friendly team by emailing or phone +44 (0)161 295 4545.