Portfolio advice

As a creative arts university, we want to attract the best and most creative minds in the country – so we take a balanced approach to candidate assessment, taking both individual portfolios and exam results into account. 

Your portfolio can be an especially important part of your application to study with us – and we can help. If you’re thinking of studying with us, an impressive portfolio will help to demonstrate your practical and creative ability, and will give that extra edge to your application.

Creating a portfolio is your opportunity to identify and refine your artistic aspirations and could be the key to securing the place you want on a pre-degree or degree course.

A portfolio is a collection of your work that demonstrates a range of skills and creative talent. It’s your opportunity to showcase your individuality, creativity, inspirations and artistic abilities, and is a useful way for us to evaluate your suitability for the course you’ve applied to. It might contain: design work, drawings or art projects; photographs; films; sound work; music composition or examples of creative writing or essays.

Think of your portfolio as a statement about your work – it should exhibit your creative journey, thought processes and influences. Don’t be afraid to be bold and appeal to a viewer, keeping their attention and leaving them feeling excited about your creative potential.

Preparing for audition

If you've applied to our Acting & Performance course, you may have prepared a ‘classical’ and a ‘modern’ piece for your audition. Perform the text you feel most comfortable with – it could be something you’ve written yourself, or some students choose text from a film. Please know the text thoroughly, the play or film it comes from and the author. You’ll be asked to perform it in at least one ‘different’ way so you need to be secure with the text. You should be ready to discuss the character who says it and where it’s situated in the play or film.

Your portfolio should feature examples of research and the development of your ideas and projects – this should be highly presentable and well organised. It may be useful to arrange your work into themes, styles or chronological order. This will demonstrate good organisational skills and your own artistic awareness.

It should exhibit your creative journey, thinking processes and individual personality, so we can assess your potential. It’s also important to show both your inspirations and aspirations, as your portfolio should say a lot about you and your creative identity, as well as the course you’re applying for.

Documenting the development of your ideas in a sketchbook is a great way to show us how you approached the task of creating your work, allowing us to gain insight into your creative thought processes and approach to your subject, and demonstrating a clear rationale.

Make sure your portfolio is well presented. Remember, our tutors will only have a short amount of time to look through each portfolio, so you need to organise your work intelligently. Put some of your most attention grabbing and interesting work at the front and lead the viewer through your journey by exhibiting pieces of work that showcase a variety of skills, materials, techniques and influences – this might include paintings, drawings, photography, digital pieces, storyboards, animation images or written work. And be sure to end your portfolio with the rest of your strongest work, so we’re left feeling excited about your talent. Highlight your favourite pieces too, and indicate what or who inspires you.


Should I include projects that haven't been successful?

It’s also important that you tailor your portfolio to the course you’re applying for, so that you include work that demonstrates the skills and techniques that will be required if you’re made an offer. Showcase your relevant strengths and feel free to include pieces that are experimental or may not have worked as you expected them to. Keep in mind that we’ll be looking for quality over quantity too.

We want to see your passion and commitment to your chosen area of study. Show us that you enjoy the discipline – we’d like to know if you’ve worked on independent projects in your own time and taken inspiration from sources outside of education. And, very importantly, you must be able to talk about each piece in your portfolio, if required.

Not all of our courses require a portfolio. Check the relevant course information to find out whether you'll need to prepare one as part of your application. Even if you’re not asked to supply a portfolio, if you have creative work you’d like to share as part of your application and interview with us, we’d love to see it and understand more about you and your interests.

We do accept electronic portfolios for some courses via our Online Portfolio Upload system. You can upload images, or links to external websites such as Flickr and YouTube. We’ll confirm whether we need to see a physical or electronic portfolio after we have received your application.

If you are an International student or unable to travel to an Applicant Day we may also be able to consider a digital portfolio.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about your portfolio and applying to UCA, please get in touch through our enquiries service.