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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.

After you have submitted your application

If you are a UK mainland applicant who meets our selection criteria and applies by the UCAS deadline, you’ll be invited to attend a Portfolio Day to present examples of your work.

There are no formal interviews on the Portfolio Day, but there are lots of opportunities to interact with staff and current students.

On the day, you can let us know why you think you'd be a good fit on our course. You can also find out detailed information to make sure that Reading is the right place for you.

Until then, there are lots of ways to stay in touch and discover more about our course. 

How to prepare for your Portfolio Day

After you have booked onto a Portfolio Day, we ask that you email with:

  • your portfolio
  • an example of written work.

What to bring to the Portfolio Day

Just yourself, though you are welcome to bring your parents, guardians or supporters with you. We’ll have your work in advance, and this will be looked at by our staff privately, so there is nothing else to bring.

What to expect at a Portfolio Day

The day itself is about you having a space to discover more about our course, meet current and future students, and ask questions of our staff. It’s about you confirming that Reading is the right choice for you, and us being comfortable in offering you a place.

There are no one-to-one interviews, though you will have lots of time to tell us about yourself and to chat to our students. We don’t think that putting you on the spot and challenging you about the content of your portfolio is the best way to judge your potential. We’ll let your work speak for itself.

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.

Early design sketches as part of applicant 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 you work is more physical than digital in nature, photographs are welcome.
Example of typeface design in undergraduate applicant's design portfolio

Digital portfolios

You can present your portfolio in several different ways. Although people usually submit portfolios in physical form, this year our entire process will be digital, and we will only be able to accept digital portfolios. The portfolio can be:

  • a single PDF attachment in your email (only if less than 10Mb)
  • 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
  • a website, in which case just include the link in your email.

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.

You can send your piece of written work as a single PDF file attachment when you email

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