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We look at all applicants holistically – reviewing your portfolio, personal statement, academic record, and a sample of your writing. We welcome applications from across the UK and internationally.

Example of undergraduate applicant Philippa Lane's design portfolio

Thank you for choosing to apply to our BA Graphic Communication course. Now that you’ve submitted an application through UCAS, read our guidance on what happens next, including being invited to submit a portfolio to us and attend one of our Portfolio days.

Next steps

  1. Read through the information below to get a feel for the whole process.
  2. Book a Portfolio day by following the instructions provided in your interview invitation email. Consider whether an in-person or online event suits you best.
  3. Review our guidance on what we hope to see in a portfolio.
  4. Choose an essay or another piece of writing that you want to share with us.
  5. Send your portfolio and written work to admissionssupport@reading.ac.uk prior to attending a Portfolio day. If you are attending a Portfolio day in person on campus, you have the option to bring the physical portfolio and a printed copy of your written work with you to the Portfolio day instead (further information is provided below). 


When you’re done, there are loads of ways to start engaging with our staff and students. 

What is a portfolio day?

We like to meet applicants before offering a place on our course. We look at your work, talk to you about your ambitions, and answer your questions to help you make the best decision about your future. But these days are not ‘interviews’ and there is no one-to-one meeting with a tutor. Instead, it’s an informal event designed to give you the best possible sense of whether Reading’s unique design programme is the one for you. This year, all of our Portfolio days will take place on a Saturday. The Portfolio days usually last for two or three hours. 

We follow up on these days with an email to confirm whether or not we are able to offer you a place.

How to submit your work 

If you are attending a Portfolio day in person on campus, you can either submit your digital portfolio and piece of written work to admissionssupport@reading.ac.uk by the Thursday before the date of your Portfolio day. Alternatively, you can bring the physical portfolio and a printed copy of your written work with you to the Portfolio day instead. Your physical portfolio can be any size and format but do consider how easily you will be able to transport it.
If you are attending a virtual Portfolio day, please submit your digital portfolio and piece of written work to admissionssupport@reading.ac.ukby the Thursday before the date of your Portfolio day.

If you are submitting your digital portfolio and piece of written work to us via email, please note the following:

  • The portfolio can be either:
  • a PDF attachment in your email
  • a file hosted in a cloud storage location (e.g. google drive, onedrive, dropbox, wetransfer). Just include the link in your email and make sure that anyone with the link has permission to view it
  • An actual website, in which case just include the link in your email
  • The written work should be in PDF format.


We will assess your work and inform you of a decision in the days after the Portfolio day.

Schedule

The programme for the Portfolio day will be as follows:

  • 11.00: Welcome from our current students, meet and greet
  • 11.15: Welcome from James Lloyd, First Year Tutor
  • 11.45: Roundtable discussion: getting to know you
  • 12.45: Q&A with our current students
  • 13.00: Q&A with staff
  • 13.30: Estimated finish time


At the end of the Portfolio day, staff and students will still be on hand to continue discussions for as long as it’s useful. We want you to get what YOU need from the day.

Location for in-person portfolio days

The Portfolio day on campus will take place at the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, which is located near the Earley Gate entrance to the Whiteknights campus at the University of Reading. For further information about travelling to the University of Reading and a map of the Whiteknights campus, please visit www.reading.ac.uk/about/visit-us.aspx. The Department of Typography and Graphic Communication is Building 21 (TOB2) on the Whiteknights campus map.

If you are travelling by car, parking will be available adjacent to Building 21 (TOB2). The sat nav postcode for the Earley Gate entrance to the Whiteknights campus is RG6 7BE.

Early design sketches as part of applicant portfolio

Connecting to virtual portfolio days

If you book to attend a virtual Portfolio day, we will send you a Microsoft Teams meeting invitation via email, which will contain a link to join the virtual Portfolio day. The Microsoft Teams meeting invitation will be sent to you closer to the date of your virtual Portfolio day. No special software is needed, though the experience will be far better on a laptop or desktop computer than on a phone or tablet.

We suggest:

  • A quiet, comfortable space in your home
  • A strong network connection (ideally a wired connection)
  • A good computer that you trust
  • Headphone with a built-in microphone

    Please also remember that we’d love to actually see you, so if you plan to put your camera on do think carefully about your location, lighting, and privacy.


Information for parents


The Portfolio day is aimed at applicants, but parents and guardians are free to join in, observe and ask questions. 

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of your design work that showcases how your skills and ideas have developed over a period of time. It should demonstrate your creativity, personality, abilities, and commitment, and helps us to evaluate your potential.

When we assess portfolios, we believe that being able to demonstrate your research and development processes are as important as the final work itself. We are particularly interested in your most recent work and pieces you have produced independently in your own time, even if they are unfinished.

Example of typeface design in undergraduate applicant's design portfolio

What kind of work should your portfolio contain?

We have no expectation of the kind of work you’ll show us in your portfolio. It could be:

  • sculpture
  • websites
  • photography
  • architectural work
  • animation
  • product design
  • handmade books
  • painting
  • printing
  • graphics
  • apps
  • branding
  • posters... or anything else 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 not essential, however, and we are happy to consider students without specific art or design qualifications.

Presenting your portfolio work

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.

  • Show us between three and six 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 won't 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 include work of any size and any medium. If your work is more physical than digital in nature, photographs are welcome.


Your written work


Our course is academically focused, so 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 a piece of personal writing.

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.

We value argument and discussion over a more "narrative" approach. We like to see footnotes, citations, or a bibliography, demonstrating an academic approach.

Any questions?

If you have any further questions about how to prepare your portfolio and written work, please contact James Lloyd, Admissions Tutor by phoning 0118 378 4906 or emailing j.c.lloyd@reading.ac.uk.