Module
descriptions

for MA Fashion (Buying & Merchandising)

Fashion Cultures: History, Theory, Creativity

The aim of this module is to allow you to develop your knowledge of fashion history from the late 19th century to the present day. Balancing this are lectures on the fashion industry – how it works and how it is changing, including retail, manufacturing and the luxury sector. You will also learn how to analyse creativity in styling, photography and digital innovation as much as in fashion design. The scope is global and broad-minded, exploring how trends evolve and how fashion interlinks with many other creative sectors, for application to fashion and broader lifestyle journalism.

Introduction to Textiles and Product Manufacturing

The aim of this module is to develop your commercial fashion knowledge with a broad understanding and appreciation of fabrics, garment construction and their manufacture. It will provide you with an understanding of how garments are made including the essentials of mass-market manufacture. This will include a fundamental understanding of the key design characteristics that impact on clothing manufacture and an overview of textile technology and terminology. Covering a cross-section of product types, it will address fabric and garment performance and respond to a demand for a greater understanding of the fashion business.

The module also explores the product development cycle from the initial design idea, mood boards and colour palette creation, through to sampling, costing and final production.

Fashion Buying and Merchandising

The module aims to provide you with a range of academic and vocational knowledge and skills relevant to entering or developing a career in fashion buying and merchandising. You will learn about the roles of buying, merchandising and related head office functions in a typical own brand or multi-brand buying office and how fashion ranges are developed, distributed and traded across retail channels to optimise sales and maximise profitability. The module will consider both mass market fashion retailer own-brands and premium fashion and luxury fashion brands to contrast differences in approaches to design, manufacture, range development and distribution. This module also aims to develop your skills in preparation for job interviews after the programme. For example, frequent presentations, applied numeracy in buying and merchandising workshops, putting sample outfits together to reflect fashion trends and product offers for different brands.

The Global Fashion Consumer

This module will give you a good understanding of consumer theory with specific reference to fashion. You will learn about consumer markets and the fashion consumer landscape. You will examine the impact of economics and politics on consumers nationally and internationally and the differing influences that society and culture have on decision-making.

In addition you will learn how the industry uses sophisticated marketing techniques to influence decision-making processes, and how modern technology is changing the relationship between industry and consumer within a global context. You will explore concepts such as the power of influencers and the democratisation of fashion. You will analyse shifts in attitude and behaviour and how these translate into products and services in fast-moving consumer markets. You will learn how consumer theory relates to fashion branding and retail strategies.

Sustainability and Fashion

The module aims to develop your understanding of sustainability issues in the contemporary fashion industry. Sustainability in fashion is investigated with a focus on the supply of fashion products and the context in which demand for them is created. Implicated in the global supply chain are questions of ethical standards and social justice.

You will develop an understanding of the substantial ethical challenges facing the fashion industry, particularly with regard to the need to develop a sustainable ethos for the fashion system in a world of finite resources. You will also consider what has been called the ‘true cost’ of fashion: its human and environmental impacts.

Research Design and Methods

The aim of this module is to examine research design and to explore a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods which you will learn to apply to your specialist area. You will become familiar with research ethics and its importance to research projects. You will learn how to design and conduct advanced research and how to select appropriate research tools and methodologies. You will acquire the necessary skills to analyse and interpret research data. Through exercises and projects, you will apply research techniques to your area of study. You will learn through lectures, group and individual exercises, field work and tutorials. The module will prepare you to engage in original research during the final term of your degree.

Marketing and Distribution

This module develops your understanding of how marketing impacts on buying and merchandising strategic planning and implementation. You will study a range of marketing and retailing theory and models relating to fashion markets, consumer profiling and behaviour, branding, communication and channel management. These will be applied to the management of range development and distribution decisions of fashion brands in both the mass and luxury markets. This module also aims to develop your skills in preparation for job interviews after the programme. For example, the LinkedIn Master-Class is a two hour workshop will show you how to use LinkedIn to enhance your reputation, build a killer network and find opportunities.

Trading and Response to Change

This module aims to develop your understanding of how to respond to in-season changes in demand, influenced by a variety of external macro factors beyond the retailer’s control. Pre-season range planning needs to be supported by an ability to take effective action in response to negative influences on demand. Retail sales are vulnerable to many industry forces including deteriorating economic conditions, increasing or intense competition or even unseasonal weather conditions. Equally there is always the possibility that a range may include some poor fashion decisions. Consequently you need to be able to recognise when data is becoming a trend and to determine the appropriate response using a range of tactical retail merchandising and marketing options. You will work in teams in a role play scenario making decisions consistent with specific retail functions that address issues in the case scenario presented to you.

Dissertation

The aim of this module is to enable you to learn how to determine a suitable topic for research, to conduct research at the forefront of the discipline, engage in critical analysis and in the formation of an argument that involves original thought. The Dissertation must be founded upon a topic or research question relating to contemporary fashion.

This is the final module of the master’s degree and provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate that you have gained the necessary knowledge, understanding, conceptual awareness and skills to plan, organise and conduct a significant research project. It should demonstrate your ability to identify a suitable topic for research: setting aims and research objectives; locating, organising and critically analysing relevant secondary sources and authoritative literature; devising an appropriate research methodology; collecting and critically analysing primary data and drawing from the latest relevant literature in the field; drawing conclusions; and where appropriate making relevant recommendations and indications of areas for further research.

Individual Consultancy Project

The Individual Consultancy Project (ICP) is a major research-based activity. It is the final stage of the master’s degree and provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate that you have gained the knowledge, understanding, conceptual awareness and skills to plan and conduct a research project worthy of achievement at this level. It should demonstrate your ability to identify an area or topic suitable for research: to set aims and research objectives; devise an appropriate research methodology; locate, assimilate, organise and critically analyse relevant primary and secondary data and relevant authoritative literature in the field; draw conclusions based on sound judgement; and where appropriate make relevant recommendations and indicate areas for further research.

You can opt to complete a negotiated work placement as part of the Project. Work placements are self-generated with support from the Careers and Business Relations Department, and should involve assisting a fashion organisation in a particular area that relates to the taught modules on your programme.