Key facts

Entry requirements

112 or DMM

Additional entry requirements apply to this course. Full entry requirements

UCAS code

W235

Institution code

D26

Duration

3 yrs full-time

Three years full-time, four years full-time with a placement. Six years part-time.

Fees

2024/25 UK tuition fees:
£9,250

2024/25 international tuition:
£15,750

Additional costs

Entry requirements

112 or DMM

Additional entry requirements apply to this course. Full entry requirements

UCAS code

W235

Institution code

D26

Duration

3 yrs full-time

Three years full-time, four years full-time with a placement. Six years part-time

Fees

2024/25 UK tuition fees:
£9,250

2024/25 international tuition:
£15,750

Additional costs

A unique course with unparalleled connections, producing industry‑ready graduates who are handpicked to work with some of the best fashion houses in the world.

Intimate apparel is a fast-growing multibillion-pound industry with diverse career opportunities across the globe. At the cutting-edge of the sector for 75 years, Contour Fashion at DMU is a unique course with unparalleled connections, producing industry-ready graduates who are handpicked to work with some of the best fashion houses in the world.

On this course you can specialise in lingerie, athleisure, swimwear, loungewear, nightwear, corsetry, bridalwear, men’s underwear, sportswear or medical applications. Building your understanding in a step-by-step approach from the ground up, you will develop specialist technical skills in 2-3D creative development, digital drawing, pattern cutting, grading, fit methodologies and manufacturing.

Innovation and sustainability are embedded throughout the course, alongside live client projects and opportunities to receive industry feedback on your work. Experienced tutors bring their industry expertise into your teaching and our state-of-the-art facilities for intimate apparel construction will push you to reach your full creative potential.

A new way to learn

Our new student-centred course structure, known as Education 2030, is designed to give you the headspace to absorb and better engage with your learning materials. By studying one module at a time through 'block learning', you'll get feedback faster, be able to work more closely with your tutors and have more time to be part of your DMU community. It's already proven popular with our first cohort of undergraduate students, with 93% stating they enjoyed studying one module at a time.

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What you will study

The focus of your first year will be to ‘Investigate’ through a grounding in research, concept development, 2D illustration, basic technical skills and design development. 

Block 1: Contour Introduction

In this module you will be introduced to the core skills and processes involved in developing and producing non-structured intimate apparel garments, such as soft lingerie, sleepwear and loungewear. In response to taught sessions, you will expand skills in pattern cutting and construction for use throughout the course, including the compilation of a reference file of technical work. You will explore a variety of methodologies for developing creative technical concepts through 2D/3D pattern creation, sampling, documentation and experimentation. You will explore approaches to critical reflection.

Assessment: 70% technical file and 30% sketchbook.

Block 2: Contour Creative

In this module you will develop an understanding of the necessity for visual investigation. You will explore a variety of methodologies for gathering and developing information through research, questioning, drawing, sampling, documentation, experimentation and conceptual development. In response to taught sessions you will expand skills, advancing and personalising a range of investigative techniques for use throughout the course, including technical design and visual communication. This module may involve a study trip.

Assessment: 70% sketchbook and 30% technical file.

Block 3: Contour Consolidation

In this module you will consolidate your learning in the two previous modules. Through supported independent, self-directed study you are expected to demonstrate your technical understanding and the appropriate application of skills and processes in the successful production of your own non-structured intimate apparel outfit design. This module will further advance skills in visual communication through the introduction to the Adobe Creative Suite.

The practical content is further underpinned by theoretical content delivered by the Design Cultures department, which contextualises current practice within a historical framework. You will consider origins and influences - how traditions develop and evolve in response to social and political contexts - as well as research methods, visual literacy and the skills for academic writing.

Assessment: 50% consolidation and 50% written assignment.

Block 4: Contour Collaborations

In this module you will be introduced to the key factors and considerations when researching, designing and developing niche technical products applicable to the fashion and intimate apparel market. The project will allow you to develop critical dynamic skills in co-operation, collaboration and communication within the context of a small working group. You will explore creative approaches to presenting design concepts to a professional standard. Industry specialists will be invited to talk to you throughout the module.

Assessment: 50% group project and 50% reflective piece.

The second year aims to ‘Develop’ your skills and knowledge, building on the foundation gained in the first year.

Block 1: Technical Inquiry

The aim of this module is to further extend the practical knowledge related to the design, development and construction of contour-type products. The learning within this module encourages both the commercial method of product construction and pattern awareness. The approach of this practical module will continue to explore the holistic relationship between product aesthetic, pattern, construction, material selection, fit, grading and finish.

Product research analysis, evaluation and communication will continue to develop using a visual technical design book as a continuation from level 4 practical study. Technical information will continue to be recorded within specification files. The use of commercial terminology is embedded throughout the course.

The module provides opportunities for students to consolidate their learning and present practical outcomes. Students will continue to extend their CAD (computer-aided design) Modaris Lectra skills with product grading awareness.

Assessment: 60% technical development and 40% practical.

Block 2: Contour Futures

This module will extend your knowledge and progressive understanding of the key factors in approaching the design of a contour product and its development within the contour fashion industry. It will maintain the developing progression of knowledge capturing commercial methods of product construction and pattern awareness, and will continue to explore the holistic relationship between product aesthetic, pattern, construction, material selection, fit and finish.

A wider base of contour product categories will be covered in this module, including swimwear, sports, and niche, and you will continue to extend your CAD (computer-aided design) Modaris Lectra skills with product grading awareness.

The second part of this module captures the design decision making factors which are essential to extend your understanding of trend and colour, style and shape, fabric and detail, and consumer and cost.

Research will be essential to inform product possibilities, generating innovation in product development. There may also be the opportunity to work with external clients within this area. You will be encouraged to maintain a research file throughout this section of the module to record resources, visuals, promotions, and inspirational ideas to aid your approach to future design concepts.

Assessment: 100% coursework.

Block 3: Contour Exploration and Communication

Within the initial project, you will consider all research taken from the previous module; you will be encouraged to concentrate on the building of your designed product. All areas of the taught sessions will be aligned to ensure a high quality of developed visual work is achieved, concluding in a visual presentation for your chosen contour product concept. This will capture the key design decision making and manufacturing processes concluded via all research and visual development.

The second project will capture the primary research appertaining to a wider consolidation project continuing from this module. All aspects of initial sketchbook work will be progressed, including secondary research, and initial early 2D/3D resolution consideration via experimentation.

Lectures will be given on historic development, brand awareness and design development. Garment fit and construction aesthetics will also be considered alongside technical aspects and current trends in contour garments. You will have the opportunity to structure a self-driven project and select your personal preference/ area for the type of intimates to be developed, including lingerie, swimwear, corsetry, loungewear, nightwear, activewear and athleisure.

Assessment: 50% essay, 30% project one and 20% project two.

Block 4: Consolidation project

Design decision making factors will be covered within this module and will be extended by studies to refine colour, style, shape, fabric and detail with consumer directives and cost. All these aspects will be thoroughly supported with refined technical development and analysis.

You will have a choice regarding which area of contour garments they align with, inclusive of swimwear, sports, and niche products for both male and females. You will be encouraged to maintain a research file throughout the module to record resources, visuals, promotions, and inspirational ideas to aid your approach to future design concepts.

You will be encouraged to concentrate on the building of your designed product, supported by all previous learned elements relating to this specific subject area. Industry specialists will be invited to talk to you, at key stages, throughout the module.

Assessment: 55% creative construction and 45% technical file.

Your third year will ‘Consolidate’ your learning by bringing together all the skills you have learnt into a final product that reflects your chosen area of focus and individual design aesthetic. 

Block 1: Creative Practice

The first part of this module aims to provide you with the opportunity to further your employability and educational skills and opportunities. Incorporating research and professional practice studies, the module content is designed to provide a holistic learning experience for you. You are supported by a series of professional practice sessions including guest speakers, to allow the development of presentation skills, marketing and promotion, social media usage, current and future digital opportunities, global job search, starting a small business, digital website development, mock interviews, and C.V. preparation. CAD tutorials will be offered throughout the module.

The second part of the module is designed to support you in experiencing holistic learning, relating to the commencement of a creative brief. This will further your innate design skills within the context of your awareness of commerciality, being aligned to a possible external client - linked to industry. This will also assist in supporting international links globally. The project brief incorporates the design of a range of outfits for a potential International Intimates Company. This will include research into the target customer, market research awareness, primary research and sketchbook progression with thematic relevance and design development, culminating in selection and illustration of the final range.

Assessment: 55% professional practice and 45% sketchbook.

Block 2: External Client

This module is designed to support students in experiencing holistic learning, relating to the continuation of a creative brief. This will further your innate awareness of 2D/3D resolution skills within the context of your awareness of commerciality, being continually aligned to a possible external client - linked to industry.

This will also assist in supporting the experience with fabric selection and illustration of the final range, pattern cutting, toile making, construction of the final 'hero' garment outcome, fit and evaluation, alongside both verbal and visual presentations.

This brief is supported by sessions on advanced pattern cutting for bras and intimates, pattern drafting, garment evaluations, fit evaluations, and the development of product data management information for a range of garments that links directly with their collection.

It is envisaged that this creative work will form the basis of the Final Collection in Block 3 & 4.

Assessment: 60% creative outcome and 45% technical file.

Block 3 and Block 4: Major project with cultural context

The module encompasses a personally negotiated body of work which enables you to combine all your acquired skills throughout your studies and resolve them into a final solution.

This captures primary and secondary research, design, and product development, 2D to 3D experimentation, defined focus on technical skills, pattern drafting and cutting and fit methodologies. Garment/product manufacture, collections/products for showcasing via catwalk, digital, film and degree shows are also part of the creative processing.

The module allows students to specialise in either Aesthetic or Technical design:

The Aesthetic option will pursue innovation, creativity, fit and fabric applications for fashion forward garment solutions. The development of four outfits for presentation will be created, and will be used for catwalk display, fully supported by a design portfolio.

OR

The Technical option will identify niche product/research potential for the intimates market, possibly working alongside an industry mentor, and could address medical applications, disability sportswear, plus size cups for example. You will produce four outfits for presentation (or three if electing for an increased focus upon in-depth technicality), supported by a technical portfolio.

You are encouraged to reference key outerwear trends as a means of directional fashion forward solutions and styling, supporting an increased awareness of intimate apparel applications. Market research will be an essential element for both options, and will embed an understanding of relevant, applicable market definitions utilising referenced and annotated contextual research. Outcomes should reflect the international breadth of the Intimate Apparel arena and be relevant for showcasing.

For Design Cultures, you will consolidate your skills or research, organization, critical analysis, and communication in order to develop and agree a self-directed title for an extended essay or alternative assessment. A link between the written assignment and studio projects is encouraged to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between theory and practice.

Assessment: 30% technical file, 25% garment development and manufacture, 25% essay and 20% 40% research and design.

Structure

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical studio sessions, tutorials, workshops and self-directed study. Your personal tutor will support you throughout your learning journey and will encourage you to reach your full potential.

External client projects are embedded in each year and you will receive invaluable feedback by showcasing your work to a panel of industry experts. You will be taught by highly experienced staff who have all worked in industry and are undertaking cutting-edge research that feeds into the global intimate apparel sector. This is complemented by guest lectures and workshops from our industry partners.

You are encouraged to enter prestigious design competitions in which we have a proud history of success, including The Leathersellers Award, Fashanne Awards and The Hand & Lock Prize.

Contact hours

In your first year you will normally attend around 14 hours of timetabled taught sessions (lectures and tutorials) each week, and we expect you to undertake at least 25 further hours of independent study to complete project work and research.

Note: All modules are indicative and based on the current academic session. Course information is correct at the time of publication and is subject to review. Exact modules may, therefore, vary for your intake in order to keep content current. If there are changes to your course we will, where reasonable, take steps to inform you as appropriate.

Contour Fashion in the spotlight

Student work

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Our facilities

The creative industries require imaginative graduates who can develop new ideas and products. Students use our sophisticated and contemporary workshops, labs and studios to experiment and test in the same way they will in industry.

Contour studios and spaces

From dress forms to Computer Aided Design, we have a range of facilities to support you.

Contour Fashion Studios

Vijay Patel Building

It is a major landmark on the De Montfort University campus and provides students and staff with the space and resources they need to thrive.

Explore the Vijay Patel

Our expertise

Experienced tutors bring their industry expertise into your teaching and our state-of-the-art facilities for intimate apparel construction will push you to reach your full creative potential.

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Rachel Toner

Programme Leader for Contour Fashion

A multiple award-winning educator, Rachel's diverse fashion background includes significant roles in lingerie design for global brands like Warner’s and Triumph International. Recognised for her expertise in preformed cup development, she infuses her academic role with global design insights. Rachel is dedicated to enhancing student creativity and design skills in various fashion areas, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and industry collaboration.

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Emma Rose

Senior Lecturer in Contour Fashion

Emma translates her rich design experience from working with leading brands in the US and UK into her teaching. She is passionate about education, with an emphasis on development in design, trend forecasting, and CAD. Her approach to teaching is focused on nurturing individual creativity and professional readiness, equipping students for successful careers in the fashion industry.

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Laurie Truscott

Senior Lecturer in Contour Fashion

Laurie has worked at DMU for 16 years and expertly blends academic and practical aspects of fashion in lingerie and technical design. Her international roles in The Netherlands and Hong Kong enrich her teaching, emphasising garment construction and technical solutions. Laurie is involved in medical design research, and is pivotal in delivering DMU's postgraduate programmes in Sri Lanka, focusing on pattern development, fit analysis, and CAD applications.

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Julie Swinfield

Senior Lecturer in Contour Fashion

Julie brings over 27 years of industry experience. A professional in lingerie, swimwear, and nightwear design, her career boasts collaborations with leading retailers and a focus on product innovation. She brings a rich industry background, specialising in technical garment design and enriching students' learning through industry collaborations.

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Abbie Swinfield

Senior Lecturer in Contour Fashion

Abbie combines a wealth of industry experience as a lingerie and swimwear designer with a passion for teaching. Her career includes designing for Urban Outfitters, Topshop, Knickerbox, Oliver Bonas, Ann Summers, and Ted Baker. She has a student-centred teaching approach, focusing on skill development in design, trends, illustration, CAD, and entrepreneurship. Her dedication to student success is evident in her integration of industry insights and practical experiences while ensuring students feel safe and supported.

Awards and memberships

Ranked as one of the best fashion schools in the world for 2022 (CEOWORLD, 2024) and in the top 10 in the UK for 'career after 15 months' (The Guardian University Guide 2024), our innovative and widely-respected courses help prepare students for fulfilling futures in this fast-paced industry.

Green Gown Award logo

Green Gown Award

The School of Fashion and Textiles won the Next Generation Learning and Skills Award in the Green Gowns Awards 2021 and received global recognition in the International Green Gown Awards 2022. These awards are the gold standard for sustainability in universities around the world and this puts DMU at the forefront of sustainable fashion and textiles education in the UK. Sustainability is at the heart of our curriculum and teaching, empowering our students to be agents of change within the industry.

UK Fashion and Textiles Association logo

UK Fashion and Textiles Association

We are members of the UK Fashion and Textiles Association which ensures our teaching stays up to date with the latest developments in the sector and provides valuable industry links that enhance our courses.

What makes us special

Education 2030 - Block Learning

Block learning

With Education 2030, you’ll learn in a focused ‘block’ teaching format, where you study one subject at a time instead of several at once. As a result, you will receive faster feedback through more regular assessment, have a more simplified timetable, and have a better study-life balance. That means more time to engage with your DMU community and other rewarding aspects of university life.

Students Skims-contour-2023-LA

DMU Global

DMU Global, our the award-winning international experience programme, took Contour students to LA. Challenged with a sports bra design project by Kim Kardashian’s company SKIMS, students presented ideas at the SKIMS Head Office. SKIMS designers shared career journeys and company structure. A Fabletics visit connected students with design and manufacturing teams and a day at FIDM – the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising allowed them to view other students globally, their work and creative progression.

Where we could take you

Contour Fashion Placements

Placements to make you work-ready

Our Careers Team can help to hone your professional skills with mock interviews and practice aptitude tests, and an assigned personal tutor will support you throughout your placement.

Previous students have worked with Agent Provocateur, ASOS, Boux Avenue, Calvin Klein, Curvy Kate, Gymshark, H&M Sweden, Heidi Klein, Seafolly Australia, Tommy Hilfiger Amsterdam, Something Wicked, Tisja Damen, Stretchline, Studio Pia, Crease Studios and DSTM.

Graduate careers - Gemma Cheyne and Elissa Grainger

Your future career

The course produces highly sought-after graduates, acclaimed for their technical skills and design excellence, who work in senior positions for brands all over the world such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, O'Neil, Superdry, John Lewis, Ted Baker, Boux Avenue, ASOS, Agent Provocateur and New Look. Others have set up their own lingerie labels, including Nichole de Carle, Karolina Laskowska, Elissa Poppy, Azarla Swim and Roshni Desai.

Course specifications

Course title

Contour Fashion

Award

BA (Hons)

UCAS code

W235

Institution code

D26

Study level

Undergraduate

Study mode

Full-time

Part-time

Start date

September 2024

Duration

Three years full-time, four years full-time with a placement. Six years part-time.

Fees

2024/25 UK tuition fees:
£9,250

2024/25 international tuition:
£15,750

Additional costs

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds.

  • Art and Design Foundation or
  • 112 points from at least 2 A levels
  • BTEC Extended Diploma DMM
  • International Baccalaureate: 26+ Points or
  • T Levels Merit

Plus five GCSEs grades 9-4 including English Language or Literature at grade 4 or above.

  • Pass Access with 30 Level 3 credits at Merit and GCSE English (Language or Literature) at grade 4 or above

We will normally require students to have had a break from full time education before undertaking the Access course.

  • We also accept the BTEC First Diploma plus two GCSEs including English Language or Literature at grade 4 or above

English language requirements

If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.0 overall with 5.5 in each band (or equivalent) when you start the course is essential.

English language tuition, delivered by our British Council-accredited Centre for English Language Learning, is available both before and throughout the course if you need it.

Interview and portfolio

Applicants with relevant qualifications will be invited to submit a portfolio of work. Please see our portfolio advice page for full details.

Non-standard applicants may be invited to attend an interview via MS Teams with a portfolio.

Applicants who receive an offer for this course will be invited to attend an offer holder day. You’ll get to spend time with our teaching team, current students and be able to experience our fantastic facilities. Your email invite will be sent to the address you used to register when you applied, so keep an eye out and book to join us.

Additional costs

Here at DMU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Kimberlin Library and specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs, which for this programme could include the following:

  • Contour materials: £50 in your first year, rising to £100 in your second year and £400 - £500 in your third year to include your final major project. These costs may vary depending on what materials you choose to work in.
  • Field trips and visits: £20 in your first year, 2nd year optional DMU Global trip, depending on location, £250 - £450, 3rd year optional DMU Global trip, depending on location, £250 - £450.

Learn more about fees and funding information