Open Day: Central Saint Martins (1/2)

I spent the late afternoon at the BA Fashion open day at Central Saint Martins, a specialist arts university in King’s Cross, London.


I had seen the university a couple of times in the past, yet the extraordinary campus never fails to deliver this fresh atmosphere of creativity within the busy area it is situated in. King’s cross is also right next to my home, which is perfect because I hope to stay in London for my BA course.

The open day began with a talk given by a tutor on what the university expects from applicants, the funding, course structure etc. In the past year, CSM received 3,000 applications for only 102 spaces. It is one of their most competitive courses, and they want a student who is self-directed, hard working and confident with a very individual approach to design. And like many fashion courses, they emphasise on seeing strong drawing ability in portfolios.


The university has excellent links to industries, and the biggest names within fashion are part of their alumni. The three year course offers an optional 4th year spent on placement (internship) in industry. Students choose their pathway in either Menswear, Womenswear, Print, Knit or Marketing. All pathways take roughly 55% Home and EU students. Students achieve a high level of employment/ further study within a year after graduation. Many come to employ from CSM specifically, and what’s more is that UAL supports young designers in starting their own businesses.

All applicants must submit a mini-portfolio via UCAS for assessment. Then, a shortlist is produced for a full portfolio review in March/April. The portfolio requires:

  • A broad variety of skills and interests, with self-initiated projects supported by sketchbooks.
  • Tailored to the chosen pathway, like a strong interest in surface design for Print, or textures for Knit.
  • Research, design development, illustration, basic fabric selections.
  • Your best figure drawings.
  • Light on text.
  • Photographs of garments.
  • Awareness of fashion, art and design.

The studios were buzzing with production, and the facilities were at a very high standard, like the weaving and knitting machines. There were large desk spaces, and even in the library too for those who need to do sketchbook work. Soon, the library will have 24/7 access, however this cannot happen with the studios, which are only open from 8-5pm.

Apart from the clips on the final pieces produced by previous undergraduates, I wished that there were sketchbooks presented, or an example of a successful portfolio. Nonetheless, I am very satisfied with the campus, people, and course at CSM, and I intend to place it as a top choice.

Currently, I do not know for sure if I want to study Fashion or Textiles design, but I am leaning towards Textiles just a bit more. I hope the answer will be clearer after exploratory stage.


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