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  • Showcase your skills

    A portfolio and a piece of written work will be part of your application


We consider both a portfolio and a piece of written work in order to make a final decision on your application.


A portfolio is a collection of your work, showing how your skills and ideas have developed over a period of time. It demonstrates your creativity, personality, abilities and commitment, and helps us to evaluate your potential. It can be presented in a number of different formats, such as a folder, box or digital range of pieces.

When we assess a portfolio, the research and processes you have used to develop your work are as important as the final work itself. We are particularly interested in your most recent work and work you have produced independently in your own time - even if it is unfinished.


One of the great strengths of our course is the diversity of the students who choose to study with us. We have no expectation of the kind of work you will show us in your portfolio. It could be sculpture, websites, photography, architectural work, product design, animation, hand-made books, painting, printing, graphics, branding, posters... almost anything that shows how you can shape things into a graphic form.

Ideally we would like to see projects that translate easily to graphic design, such as an interest in lettering or typography. This is however not essential, and we are happy to consider students without specific art or design qualifications. A portfolio is a good way for students without graphic design qualifications to demonstrate their passion for the subject.

Graphic design is presentation focused, and so from your portfolio we're hoping to see you embrace the challenge of presenting your own work in a clear and compelling way. In practice, this means we'd like you to:

  • Show us between 3 and 6 projects. These can be from school or college, or be more personally-directed.
  • Demonstrate the progression within each project, from initial sketches to finished items
  • Show us your interests and the knowledge you've gained so far
  • Bear in mind that you will not be there when we look at your work. This means that your portfolio needs to be self-explanatory.
  • Include graphic design techniques such as annotations, footnotes, diagrams and any other methods that interact with your content
  • Your portfolio can be of any size, but if you have items that are awkward to transport (such as large canvasses or sculptures) you are welcome to bring photographs instead of the originals.


Our course is academically focused, and as such we ask that you provide a single piece of written work so that we can assess your skills in this area. This could be an essay or report from school or college (from any subject), or alternatively a piece of personal writing.

  • We value argument and discussion over a more "narrative" approach.
  • We like to see footnotes, citations or a bibliography, demonstrating an academic approach.
  • If you don't have an academic essay, you are welcome to show us a piece of written work that demonstrates your commitment to principles that you think we might value: work ethic, creativity, typography, research or professional design skills.


Applicants meeting selection criteria and applying by 15 January will be invited to attend a Portfolio Day to present their work in an informal setting. There are no formal interviews, but there are lots of opportunities to interact with staff and current students. You can let us know why you think you'd be a good fit on our course, and find out detailed information to make sure that Reading is the right place for you. We ask you to provide:

  • A portfolio
  • An example of written work

Your portfolio and written work can be submitted digitally up to 24 hours before attending a Portfolio Day if you would prefer. Digital submissions should be made to If sending your work electronically, please bring an A4 coloured page with you, containing your name, Reading ID number and the text "See digital portfolio" to hand in on arrival.

Accepted digital formats:

  • Web address for an online portfolio 
  • A single PDF file. Files less than 10mb can be sent as an attachment. Files above 10mb should be hosted on a sharing service, and a link should be included in your email.
  • Your piece of written work can be sent as a single PDF file attachment


Non UK mainland students are not required to attend a Portfolio Day, but will be asked to submit a digital version of their portfolio and piece of written work to

Accepted digital formats:

  • Web address for an online portfolio
  • A single PDF file. Files less than 10mb can be sent as an attachment. Files above 10mb should be hosted on a sharing service, and a link should be included in your email.
  • Written work may be submitted as a single PDF file attachment


If you have any further questions about how to prepare your portfolio and written work, please contact our Admissions Tutor: James Lloyd: 0118 378 4906 or

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