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Portfolio and interview information for applicants – University of Reading

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Portfolio and interview information for applicants

The application process for art-based degrees is slightly different to that of academic degrees. 

Find out what a portfolio is and what is expected of you at an interview for an art degree.

 What is a portfolio?

When you apply to the Reading School of Art you will need to submit a portfolio of your artwork. This is the most important part of your application.

A portfolio is a collection of your work, which shows 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.

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 - even if it is unfinished, and work you have produced independently and in your own time. 

What should your portfolio contain?

Students based in the UK are invited to attend an interview with actual examples of their work. Students applying from overseas have the option of submitting a digital portfolio if they are not able to attend in person.

Your portfolio should consist of your recent artwork including current, perhaps, unfinished pieces.

  • We would like to see some images of your sketchbook pages, worksheets and drawings.
  • The quality of the work is more important than the quantity.
  • Large 2- or 3-dimensional work should be photographed. You can upload videos online, and send a link or included a mpg 4 video clip.
  • Be sure to include some work which you have completed independently and in your own time.
  • Please supply title, media, date and dimensions of each piece.

Guidelines for submitting a digital portfolio if you live overseas

  • Please ensure it is Mac- and PC-formatted.
  • All portfolio images should be arranged into one, single PowerPoint or PDF file, and not as separate files/folders.
  • Individual images imported into PowerPoint or PDF files should be no larger than 1024 x 768 pixels.
  • You can also email a link to your online portfolio (Sky Drive, Flicker, website etc.).
  • Please provide up to 20 images.

Top tips

  • Take time with your selection when putting the portfolio together. Do not include everything you have ever done, but a good, clear selection that represents your abilities.
  • Show your best work.
  • Demonstrate your personal interest.
  • Show your technical skills.
  • Select work that you have produced in your own time.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary practice.
  • Keep your portfolio up to date, don't include old work. 

Interview days

Applicants for BA Art, BA Fine Art and all our joint programmes will be called for an interview to which you should bring a portfolio of recent work. A typical interview day includes an introductory talk about the Department and its programmes from our Head of Department, a presentation by one of our finalist students and a tour of the department. Undergraduates give guided tours to applicants and answer their questions while there will also be opportunity to visit other departments and the campus.

The interview panel usually consists of a member of academic staff and a student representative. The aim of the interview is to establish which programme is right for you. It provides an opportunity for you to show your work, discuss your ideas, enthusiasms and ambitions with members of staff and to ask questions about the programmes. The interviewers will want to discuss your work with you. You will be asked about recent exhibitions you have seen and contemporary artists that are of importance to you. The panel may also want to hear about your other interests and how they have influenced your thinking.

Your portfolio should show a full range of your recent work, including current,  and perhaps, unfinished pieces. Be sure to include any work that you have done independently, and sketch books if you use them. Work that is too large to transport can be shown in photographic form.

Non UK mainland students are not required to attend an interview, but are asked to send digital documentation of their work with accompanying statement.

Portfolios for Postgraduate levels of study

In addition to the above, postgraduate portfolios should demonstrate your ability to research through meaningful investigation. Please include reference materials and show your arguments to justify the result. 

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