Contour Fashion BA (Hons)

Widely regarded by industry experts as one of the world’s best degrees dedicated to the design of intimate apparel, this course combines heritage, innovation and technical excellence.

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Watch: Take a look behind the scenes of our Contour Fashion students' photoshoot of their final year collections and find out what inspired them.

Established in 1947, our course has unparalleled links with the UK and global intimate apparel industry, providing opportunities to work with national and international companies on live projects, work placements, competitions and awards. 

Specialise in lingerie, athleisure, swimwear, loungewear, nightwear, corsetry or menswear, and study a range of topics that will develop specialist skills. These include skills in conceptual design and application, pattern cutting, grading, fit methodologies, technical excellence and manufacturing, and presentation formats to equip you for industry roles in the UK and worldwide. In your final year, you will choose to specialise in either an aesthetic or a technical route. 

Your base will be the award-winning Vijay Patel Building, home to all of our art and design students, which provides both the space and facilities to foster creative thinking. 

The prestigious annual Contour Catwalk Show in London gives you the opportunity to showcase your final collection to a wide range of industry professionals and the public. It will help you to network with brands representing the industry including lingerie, swimwear, leisurewear and textiles companies. This event has become a must-see for talent spotters and forecasters of future trends. 

Key features

  • DMU is ranked in the Top 10 for Fashion and Textiles in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2020). 

  • Work on live projects with industry experts to gain valuable skills and insight into the industrial and commercial challenges of design practice. Recent briefs have been set by global brands such as ASOS, Gymshark, H&M and Lycra.

  • Benefit from opportunities to enter prestigious national and international competitions to boost your industry exposure.  Previous graduates have won a number of accolades, including Boux Avenue’s Lingerie Designer of the Year and the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers award. 

  • This course has a global reputation with industry experts in the intimate apparel industry, with recent graduates employed by ASOS, Gymshark, Agent Provocateur, Triumph, H&M, Clover International, Heidi Klein and Nichole de Carle. 

  • 100% of our Contour Fashion graduates from summer 2017 are in work or further study after graduating (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education 2016-17 report). 

  • Gain valuable international experience as part of your studies with our DMU Global programme. Previous trips have taken students overseas to visit global brands including Victoria’s Secret, Aerie and Adore Me in New York.  

  • We provide core workshop materials at no cost, and give cash awards – £150, £200 and £300 in years one, two and three respectively – to support personal materials/printing costs*. 

  • Contour Fashion (Communication) BA (Hons) is a related course aimed at those who wish to pursue a career in marketing and promotion within the intimate apparel industry.



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More courses like this:

Contour Fashion (Communication) BA (Hons)
Fashion Design BA (Hons)
Fashion Textile Design BA (Hons)

  • UK/EU
  • International

Key facts for UK/EU students

Institution code: D26

UCAS course code: W235

Duration: Three years full-time, six years part-time.

Fees and funding: For 2020/21 tuition full-time fees will be £9,250 per year.

Find out more about course tuition fees and available funding.

Students of this course qualify for financial support as part of The DMU Difference. We will provide awards of £150, £200 and £300, for students in years one, two and three respectively, towards materials and specialist printing*.

*Awards are available to students undertaking full-time study and pro-rata for part-time students. Students on placement and therefore not incurring such costs are not eligible for financial assistance.

Important information on The DMU Difference.

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 for this programme.

Contact us: For more information, call us on +44 (0)116 2 50 60 70.

Key facts for international students

Duration: Three years full-time

Fees and funding international: For 2020/21 tuition fees will be £13,750 per year.

Find out more about course fees and available funding.

Students of this course qualify for financial support as part of The DMU Difference. We will provide awards of £150, £200 and £300, for students in years one, two and three respectively, towards materials and specialist printing*.

*Awards are available to students undertaking full-time study and pro-rata for part-time students. Students on placement and therefore not incurring such costs are not eligible for financial assistance.

Important information on The DMU Difference.

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 for this programme.

Contact us: For more information, call us on +44 (0)116 2 50 60 70.

Entry criteria

Typical entry requirements 

A good portfolio and normally:

  • Art and Design Foundation or
  • 112 points from at least 2 A ‘levels and including grade C in Art and Design or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma DMM in an Art and Design related subject or
  • International Baccalaureate: 26+ Points including Art and Design

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 in Art and Design 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

International students

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

UK applicants with relevant qualifications will be invited to bring their portfolio of work to an open day and interview. Overseas applicants will be invited to send samples of their work. Please see our Contour Fashion BA (Hons) portfolio advice for full details.

Structure and assessment


Course modules

Teaching and assessments



First year

  • Contour Technology
  • Pattern Cutting & Construction
  • Visual Communication
  • Design Cultures
  • Trend & Product Development

Second year

  • Contour Applications
  • Progressive Pattern Cutting & Construction
  • Visual Communication
  • Design Cultures
  • Progressive Trend & Product Development

Third year

  • Advanced Pattern Cutting & Construction
  • Final Collection – Aesthetic / Technical
  • Design Cultures
  • Professional Practise and Portfolio


Teaching is a broad based mix of formal lectures, group seminars, tutorials, practical workshops, studio-based activities and visual and verbal presentations, often to external industry representatives. Assessment occurs generally at the close of each teaching module but may be broken down into smaller sections to deliver verbal critique of elements of the module and to acclimatise the student to public presentations.

Students are expected to engage in self-directed learning when not in scheduled lessons developing work and encouraged to maintain a level of drawn work in sketch books to support practical sessions.

Learning through practical application and manufacture are key components. The course is directed by highly experienced staff who have all worked in industry and advise and train intimate apparel and the wider fashion industry globally. The course benefits from visiting lecturers from the wider fashion/intimates industry and often staff from other courses to support teaching and learning e.g. graphic, typology and presentation skills.

Students engage with international design competitions such as The Leathersellers Award, The Hand & Lock Prize and have won awards including New Lingerie Designer of the Year. External client projects with industry are a feature of the course and have included: Luxury French label Aubade, Stretchline Innovation Prize, Gossard Game Changing Competition, Lepel Swimwear Competition, Miraclesuit Swimwear USA, and H&M Lingerie competition Sweden.

Gillian Proctor Programme Leader for Contour Fashion received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK Lingerie Awards in 2013 in recognition of her career spanning the past 30 years. Gillian chairs the IIIA and staff team have received numerous teaching awards. 

Contact hours
You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars, group work and self-directed study. Assessment is through coursework (presentations, essays and reports). Your precise timetable will depend on the optional modules you choose to take, however, 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.


International Institute of Intimate Apparel (IIIA)

The Course has an unofficial advisory body in the International Institute of Intimate Apparel (IIIA) which comprises representation from all aspects of the intimates industry globally; including; Directors and CEOs from Manufacturing, fabric suppliers, technology, retail, trend prediction, journalism, and global sportswear and lingerie brands. The IIIA meet twice annually at key European trade shows (where student work is showcased) to discuss advancements in the industry, student placement and job opportunities, travel bursary support and integration of technological advancements. Institute members contribute to the Professional Practise module at level 6 as Visiting Lecturers and work as mentors for the students during final collections. Level 6 students produce bi annual newsletters for the IIIA outlining student achievement, competition results and employment outcomes.

Facilities and features

Art and design facilities

Contour Fashion studios include full-size pattern cutting tables, Lectra Modaris pattern generation system, Macpi Moulding machine, Hashima Heat Press, industrial steam irons, a visualiser, the latest computerised lockstitch sewing machines, specialist contour sewing machines and specialist intimate apparel mannequins.

You will be encouraged to work with a breadth of materials common to the intimate apparel industry e.g. stretch and rigid fabrics, while embracing experimentation in other materials and processes.


The main Kimberlin Library is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (other than in exceptional circumstances) and offers a huge range of online resources, all of which can be remotely accessed from anywhere you choose.

The library is run by dedicated staff who offer additional support to students, including help with academic writing, research strategies, literature searching and reference management and assistive technology, and mathematical skills for non-maths students. There is also a Just Ask service for help and advice, available via email or telephone.


Learning zones

Our Learning Zones and The Greenhouse also provide space for group or individual work and study.

There are 1,600 study places across all library locations, more than 700 computer stations, laptops to borrow, free wi-fi and desktop power outlets.

You can also book rooms with plasma screens, laptops and DVD facilities for group work and presentations, secure an individual study room with adjustable lighting or make use of our assistive technology.


Opportunities and careers



Contour students have completed work experience and placements with Agent Provocateur, ASOS, Bordelle, Boux Avenue, Calvin Klein, Clover Hong Kong, Coco de Mer, Crystal Martin, Curvy Kate, Fleur of England, Gymshark, H&M Sweden, Heidi Klein, Jenny Packham, Seafolly Australia, Tommy Hilfiger Amsterdam, Triumph and Victoria’s Secret US. In many cases this has led to employment opportunities.

We have an exchange agreement with Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) which enables two students to spend one month studying at HKPU and one month working with industry partner - Clover International.

Contour Fashion also has a placement opportunity with GAP, USA for a 10 week placement.

We also have an optional year out between level five and six with industry placements available.


DMU Global

This is our innovative international experience programme which aims to enrich your studies and expand your cultural horizons – helping you to become a global graduate, equipped to meet the needs of employers across the world. Through DMU Global, we offer a wide range of opportunities including on-campus and UK activities, overseas study, internships, faculty-led field trips and volunteering, as well as Erasmus+ and international exchanges.

DMU Global supports the first year trip to Paris in January to visit the Salon de la Lingerie and Interfiliere trade show, along with a cultural experience of Paris exhibitions, architecture and shops. The trip is open to all year students too.

Contour Fashion has been well represented as a part of the GREAT Festival of Creativity where work from the course, and our annual catwalk show DVD were showcased in Brazil, Shanghai and Beijing.


Graduate careers

The course produces highly sought-after graduates, acclaimed for their technical skills and design excellence, who work for international brands such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Moving Comfort, Victoria’s Secret USA, Triumph International, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Stretchline Sri Lanka, Clover International Hong Kong, Seafolly, O’Neill, Ace Style, Superdry, House of Fraser, Heidi Klein, John Lewis, Eveden, Ted Baker Intimates, Jenny Packham, Boux Avenue, Asos, Panache, Agent Provocateur, Aubade, Courtaulds, New Look, Tesco, H&M Sweden, Intimas Group plc.

Recent graduates have taken up job opportunities in the USA, Australia, Sri Lanka, France, Taiwan, Canada, China and Hong Kong. Others have set up their own lingerie labels including Nicole de Carle, Lascivious, Tutti Rouge, Made by Niki, and Lorna Drew. 

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More about your DMU

Festival of Creativity
Vijay Patel Building
Backstage at the Contour Fashion catwalk

Contour Catwalk Show

The Contour Catwalk Show celebrates the outstanding work produced by the students on the course.

New Art and Design facilities in the Vijay Patel building

Vijay Patel Building

The award-winning Vijay Patel building has been designed to provide the space and facilities where ideas can develop and flourish for all of our art and design courses.



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