BA (Hons) Textiles and Surface Design

This multi-disciplinary degree explores surface design for fashion, interiors and contemporary craft and design products. Our students have an impressive history of success in national and international competitions, and our industry-experienced, dedicated team will work to nurture your skills in traditional practices and innovative digital processes, ready for a career in professional design.

Key information


BA (Hons)

Mode of Study:



3 years


The University of Bolton

UCAS points:


UCAS code:


Start date:


Course Details

Textiles and surface design is a fast-moving global industry encompassing a wide range of commercial contexts – from fashion fabrics and accessories, through stationery products and packaging, to interior fabrics and wall coverings, as well as contemporary gallery/design led pieces. Our creative and challenging degree is taught by a dedicated and passionate team with extensive professional experience of researching, designing, creating, selling and exhibiting textile/surface design work. We understand the skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed as a professional designer.

Our intensely practical approach aims to help you gain a broad portfolio of traditional and digital design skills. You’ll have space to experiment with different approaches, materials and techniques, and we’ll support and encourage you to ‘cross the boundaries’ of textile disciplines and develop your own innovative approaches to designing and making. Historical and contextual studies help to underpin your practical knowledge and provide sources of inspiration.

Our professional design studios are equipped with work spaces, and high-specification facilities for embroidery, digital printing, non-woven textiles, garment manufacture, felt making, printed and dyed textiles, and computer aided design are available.

We’ll also support you to develop commercial awareness and entrepreneurial skills, including how to market, exhibit, work with design studios and set up in business, ready for success in this often freelance career.

  • Our Art courses are placed in the top ten in the UK for student-to-staff ratio by the Guardian University League Tables 2020, so you have access to individual tutor support and small group teaching.
  • We’ll encourage you to enter national and international competitions, and are proud that many of our students have gained prestigious awards through the Bradford Textile Society, Première Vision Paris, New Designers Awards, Embroiderers Guild and the Society of Dyers and Colourists.
  • In 2016, second year student Kera Allen won top award at the highly esteemed Surtex Designext Awards in New York.
  • We offer numerous opportunities to visit national and international trade fairs. In recent years we’ve organised study trips to Surtex New York, Indigo Paris, The British Craft Trade Fair and New Designers in London.
  • Our dedicated and specialist tutors have industry connections and extensive experience in researching, making, exhibiting and selling textiles, surface and design work, and are engaged in PhD research that feeds into the content of the programme.
  • You’ll be introduced to the varied working practices of studio designers in industry, contemporary textile artists and designer-makers and explore the range of materials and products textile and surface designers use and create – everything from fashion and interior fabrics, through wallcoverings, gift wrap, stationery, and cards, to ceramic tableware.
  • You’ll benefit from the opportunity to work on a major personal project and present it to the public as part of the Bolton School of the Arts final-year Creative Show.
Key Features
  • Bolton has an impressive history of textile manufacturing and engineering spanning over 650 years, so you’ll be studying at a historic home of textile innovation in the UK. The University of Bolton maintains this tradition and is a leading centre of textile and materials research of global importance.
  • Facilities on campus include design studios, computer suites, a printed textile workshop, digital textile printing, embroidery and textile workshops, and paper print facilities. We offer industry-standard software and access to the latest global trend prediction sites. You’ll also have access to our wider arts and design facilities, including photographic studios, fine print and ceramic workshops.
  • Our long-standing reputation in the teaching and development of textile subjects means we can attract outstanding visiting speakers from across the commercial design and craft-led sectors. Recent speakers include Concetta Gallo MA Royal College of Art (RCA) designer for Habitat, Leigh Cooke designer for Salvatore Ferragamo and Hermes Paris, and Alison Willoughby MA RCA.
  • Our close proximity to Manchester, and links with the North West Craft Network and major galleries, workshops and associations in the region, mean you’ll be well-placed to take advantage of work placement opportunities.
  • We regularly set-up industry-relevant live projects with external organisations and companies in our practical modules. These are designed to give you experience of working to industry standards, help you learn the realities of working to design briefs, and offer insights into current design practice.
  • We pride ourselves on the small group learning and one-to-one support we offer. You can expect to receive individual attention and guidance from our expert tutors, as well as online support through the University’s eLearning system Moodle.

  • 96 UCAS points. Please see our guide to the UCAS Tariff for examples of how to achieve these points.
  • Your Level 3 subjects must include textiles or a related subject; for instance, A-level Textiles or BTEC Extended Diploma in Fashion and Textiles.
  • You should also have five GCSEs at grade C or above or grade 4 to 9 (or equivalent) including English Language.
  • You'll be required to attend for interview and provide a portfolio of appropriate work.
  • Special consideration will be given to applicants with alternative qualifications who have a strong portfolio.
  • If English isn’t your first language you’ll also need IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details.

Want some reassurance or advice? Speak to one of our advisors. Email us at or call us on +44 (0)1204 903 903.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.

This course is designed to develop your practical skills, and equip you to be a successful designer. As a graduate of this programme, some of the key skills you will possess include your creative ability, project management skills, IT and technical skills, ability to work independently, interpretation of materials, and commercial awareness. You’ll also be able to critically evaluate and interpret materials, research designs, predict trends and communicate with clients, manufacturing staff, buyers and retailers.

The opportunity to visit galleries and museums, design studios and manufacturers, as well as fashion and textile trade fairs in the UK, Europe and USA, will broaden your understanding of commercial practice. Links with industry, including enterprise activities, professional exhibitions, live projects, national design competitions, and optional work placements will enhance your learning experience.

What can I do with this qualification?

You can work in the textiles industry, or use your creative flair and ability to generate ideas and concepts to match a brief, in many other sectors. Graduates are currently using their experience to pursue careers as studio designers, in fashion retail roles, interior design, illustration, product design, as self-employed designer-makers and entrepreneurs, and as teachers in educational establishments or art gallery environments. Others progress to self-employment, often designing and producing work for exhibitions, direct sale or through retail craft outlets.

Postgraduate study provides the opportunity to develop and experiment with ideas and techniques and to extend personal expertise into related areas. The job market is competitive so you may find that taking a one-year Master’s or professional short course, for example in computer-aided design (CAD), helps give you the edge, particularly when combined with relevant work experience, and enables you to further develop your portfolio.

Alternative career options

Graduates can use the qualification to enter a range of other careers, and for some of these roles, both relevant experience and/or postgraduate study may be required. They include:

  • Training and education
  • Industrial product design
  • Museum/gallery conservation and education
  • Printmaking
  • Retail buying
  • Journalism
  • Theatre set/costume production
  • Fabric technology
  • Research and development

Course fees
Home EU Fees Year of study Total
Entry year2020/212021/222022/232023/24
International Year of study Total
Entry year2020/212021/222022/232023/24

The fees for a student’s course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.

The university is currently awaiting government guidelines as to EU fee charges for students commencing study in 2020/2021.

UK undergraduate tuition fees are subject to UK government approval and are subject to the outcome of the Teaching Excellence Framework.


Click here for more information about the scholarships and bursaries available to University of Bolton undergraduate students.

September start

Please apply through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for September entry.

The online application form and guidance notes are available on the UCAS website.

You can apply for up to 5 courses through UCAS (at the same or different institutions) for a fee of £24. Alternatively, if you only wish to apply for a single course at a single institution then a reduced applicant's fee of £13 is applicable.

You will need the following information to complete your UCAS application form:

  • Institution Code Name: BOLTN

  • Institution Code Number: B44

UCAS - Universities and Colleges Admissions Service

Tel: 0870 1122211

The University welcomes applications from international students from all over the world. We try to make the application process as simple and as fast as possible for our international applicants.

How you apply is determined by your current location and what you are choosing to study:

  1. Apply direct to the University. Links for the next available intakes of this course are shown below. Please click the link which will direct you to the online application form. Please read the user guidance before completing this.
  2. Apply via one of our approved in-country referral partners. A list of our partners may be found on the International pages of this website.
  3. Apply via UCAS for courses starting in September only – visit

Should you have any queries please contact the International Team on +44 (0) 1204 903110 or email

University of Bolton Group Partners

Bolton College
University Technical College
Alliance Learning
University of Bolton

The University welcomes applications from our group partners and progressing students so we try to make our application process as simple and as fast as possible. By selecting the link for your chosen course from the list shown below you will be taken directly to our online application form. Please read the user guidance before completing this and ensure you upload all supporting documents such as certificates and your personal statement when you apply.

Please ensure when you are asked to add a contact email address you add your college/university email account address as well as your personal address. If you do not add your college address as your contact address we will be unable to identify you as a partner and you will be referred to apply via UCAS, which incurs a cost.

We look forward to receiving your application and you continuing your academic journey with us!

We use a blended approach to teaching and learning – you’ll have face-to-face sessions and take part in online learning. Studio and computer suite-based activities are important features of the programme, alongside lectures, seminars and practical-based workshops in printed, embroidered and embellished textiles. We encourage you to participate in visits to locations such as galleries and museums, to attend presentations by our visiting speakers, and to go on location for drawing and visual research. You’ll also engage in self-directed study, with support from a range of staff including technicians and library/learning resources staff.

Module briefs include a wide range of activities such as commercially-based design projects, live briefs, competitions and commissions, and self-initiated projects. In addition, there are opportunities for collaborative design briefs that involve working with students from other areas of art and design. The sharing of ideas and practices across disciplines helps you to gain a broader understanding of the position of textiles and surface design in the wider creative and global art and design based industries.

In terms of assessment, you’ll have formative assessment to help you learn and develop your knowledge and skills, and summative assessment on which you are graded. You’ll receive individual help and advice on your personal work in one-to-one tutorials. Peer reviews, where you present your work to a small group of your fellow students for their comment, also provide useful feedback.

Formal assessment is by coursework. This may involve you presenting your portfolio of drawings/design work, textile samples or practical outcomes, along with a supporting sketchbook of developmental ideas, technical note files, and a written research journal. It can also take the form of essays, reports, verbal presentations, assignments, projects and other written work.


The modules listed below may be a mixture of compulsory and optional. You may not have the opportunity to study all the modules shown as part of the course.

  • Material Practices 1
  • Material Practices 2
  • Design Studies 1
  • Surface Pattern: Principles and Processes
  • Employability and Enterprise
  • The Surface Designer: Digital Textile Design and Print
  • The Surface Designer: Studio and Freelance Practice for 2D and 3D
  • The Designer Maker: Research and Ideas Development
  • The Designer Maker: Making for Exhibition or Sale
  • Past Present and Futures: Theory into Context
  • Research in Context
  • Advanced Textile and Studio Practice
  • Advanced Techniques and Processes
  • Professional Practice and Self-Promotion
  • Major Project
Assessment methods
LevelAssesment method
Level oneCoursework 100%
Level twoCoursework 100%
Level threeCoursework 100%
Learning activities
LevelLearning activity
Level oneGuided independent study 53%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 47%
Level twoGuided independent study 53%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 47%
Level threeGuided independent study 60%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 40%


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

Donna Claypool
Programme Leader

+44 (0)1204 903370

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