Module
descriptions

for MA Fashion Buying & Merchandising

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 gives you a good understanding of consumer theory with specific reference to fashion. You will learn about consumer markets and the fashion consumer landscape. The module considers the social and psychological motivations of the international fashion consumer and the specialist areas of consumer trends and customer relationship management. 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.

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. You will develop an understanding of fashion’s societal, cultural and other contexts. 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 learn how to analyse creativity in styling, photography and digital innovation as much as in fashion design. You will explore semiology and meaning within fashion text and image and concepts and philosophies surrounding this. The scope is global and broad-minded, exploring how and why trends evolve and how fashion relates to other creative sectors including broader lifestyle journalism.

Introduction to Textiles and Fashion Manufacturing

The aim of this module is to develop your commercial fashion knowledge with a broad understanding and appreciation of the fashion product: fabrics, garment construction and clothing manufacture. This will include a fundamental understanding of the key design characteristics that affect clothing manufacture and quality. You will gain an overview of textile technology and terminology. Covering a cross-section of product types, the module will address fabric and garment performance enhancing your 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.

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 that will show you how to use LinkedIn to enhance your reputation, build a network and find opportunities.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Individual Consultancy Project (ICP)

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.

The ICP has a fashion focus. 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.