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Example of undergraduate applicant Philippa Lane's design portfolio

After you have submitted your application

If you are a UK mainland applicant who meets our selection criteria and applies by 15 January, 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.

What to bring to the Portfolio Day

We ask you to provide: 

  • a portfolio
  • an example of written work.


If you prefer, you can submit your portfolio and written work digitally up to 24 hours before attending a Portfolio Day. Digital submissions should be made to admissionssupport@reading.ac.uk. 

If you live overseas, you are welcome to attend the Portfolio Day but it isn't required. Instead, you can submit a digital version of your portfolio and piece of written work to admissionssupport@reading.ac.uk.

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. 

You can present your portfolio in several different forms, from a physical folder or box, to a range of digital formats.  

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 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
  • product design
  • animation
  • handmade books
  • painting
  • printing
  • graphics
  • 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 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.
Example of typeface design in undergraduate applicant's design portfolio

Your written work

Our course is academically focused. As such we ask that you provide a single piece of written work with your portfolio 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.

Accepted digital formats for portfolios

You can submit your portfolio to us as: 

  • a web address for an online portfolio, or
  • a single PDF file. Files less than 10MB can be sent as an attachment. You should host files above 10MB on a sharing service, and include a link in your email.

You can send your piece of written work as a single PDF file attachment.

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.