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Portfolio Reviews for Art and Design

Update on Portfolio Reviews for Art and Design

In light of the updated advice from the Government about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we are not currently offering face to face portfolio reviews but are instead accepting portfolios through digital submission. Please see information below under 'How will my portfolio be reviewed?' on how to submit your portfolio through online digital submission.

What is a Portfolio Review

When you apply to a course in a creative subject like photography, fine art, product, illustration, interior architecture, fashion management and communication, graphic design, jewellery, materials and design, we ask you to submit a portfolio of relevant work for us to review.

The portfolio review helps us understand whether we are able to offer you a place on the course you’ve applied for. Your UCAS statement and portfolio provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your creative experience, potential ability and enthusiasm for the course you’ve applied for.

If your application is successful you will receive an email inviting you to submit your portfolio by email and your submission details by an online form.

Having a portfolio review doesn't mean you're guaranteed a place on the course – your UCAS personal statement and reference, contribute to us making our decision.



How will my Portfolio be reviewed?

In light of the updated advice from the Government about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we will be accepting portfolios through digital submission only. If you are not able to submit your portfolio in this way, would like further support, or to arrange an alternative way for us to review your portfolio, please email myportfolio@shu.ac.uk and we will contact you to make alternative arrangements.

To determine whether the course you have applied for is the right course for you, members of the course team will carefully review your portfolio and UCAS statement.

Your portfolio should be in PDF format and feature examples of your work. Any sketchbook, painted, printed or 3D examples should be photographed or scanned and placed within your pdf. If you wish to submit a video as part of your portfolio this should be embedded within your portfolio as a link for us to view.

Read our guidance on how to format and submit your portfolio. Please refer to the invitation email for the email address of where to send your submission, as well as a Google Form to provide your submission details.


What else can I experience at the University?

All students are encouraged to find out more about the university at one of our virtual open days. It’s your chance to find out what we’re about – how we teach, how we support you, and what facilities and activities are on offer on our campuses. You can also discover more about your new home of Sheffield which is a lively, friendly, scenic and affordable place to study.

You can also chat one-on-one with our students and staff at any time or visit our Art and Design Department website for more information.

What should be in my portfolio?

Imagine your portfolio as the way we can view your world allowing us to see your skills, your personality and your potential. Your portfolio is a collection of your work that demonstrates to us how your creativity has developed over a period of time.

It shows your ability to work with different materials, themes and techniques, as well as how you conduct research, develop and plan your ideas. We do not look for highly finished professional work, a portfolio should be carefully put together; but we want to see imagination, enthusiasm and a confidence in exploring a range of creative approaches. Your portfolio should provide a clear view of your creative potential through the work you have done.

Take time with your selection when putting the portfolio together. Do not include everything you have ever done, present a good, clear selection that represents your abilities. Your portfolio may include past and current school or college work, other personal projects, work in progress and other work that you feel demonstrates your creative potential. Alternatively, this may include work completed in other fields outside of those traditionally thought of as the 'creative subjects' such as writing, research, problem solving.


The portfolio should include some or all of the following:

  • A range of drawing skills. Different types of drawing and mark making.
  • Experiments with a range of media, printmaking, photography.
  • Typography, illustration, layout, design sheets.
  • Screen-based/digital work.
  • 3D work and making skills in wood, metal, plastic, ceramic, card, fabric etc.
  • Sketchbooks demonstrating research, idea generation and problem solving.
  • Anything else that you feel promotes your creativity.

If your school or college work is likely to be sent away for assessment or put on display, keep copies so that you can still include that work in your portfolio.

For advice on how to put together your online portfolios please refer to the online portfolio submission help section above.

How should I organise my portfolio?

The important thing is to assemble a lively collection that shows both the breadth and depth of your work.

Order your portfolio so that it opens with your strongest piece of work that you are confident about and which represents you best. You can’t include every bit of work you've done. Be selective, but not too selective. Show your process – sketchbooks and evidence of your research and development work is just as important – we want to know how you think

Portfolio commentary
Make sure your name is clearly visible at the start of your portfolio. Add a short explanatory title and one or two sentences at the start of each piece of work saying what it is, what it’s about and when it was done. This will help to ensure that your portfolio is understood in the way you want it to be when you are not there to explain it. 

What are we looking for?

Throughout the process, we will be looking for people who are genuinely curious about their subject with an enthusiasm and motivation to thrive at University.

Who is on the portfolio review panel?

Sheffield Hallam Art & Design academic staff.

I'm disabled and require support at the portfolio review. Can you help?

If you have a disability (this includes sensory and physical disabilities, dyslexia, mental health conditions and medical conditions) and you feel that you will need some support during the portfolio review process (for example, materials provided in different format), we strongly recommend that you contact the Events team on 0114 225 6737 or a.mallon@shu.ac.uk within three days of confirming your face to face portfolio review or in advance of submitting your online portfolio.

The selection team will then be able to make any reasonable adjustments so that you can fully participate in the portfolio without any disadvantage.

Disability advice whilst studying at the University

You may or may not have indicated that you have a disability on your application form. In either case, the Disabled Student Support Team is keen to hear from you. If you would like to meet or talk to an advisor to discuss, in confidence, possible support whilst studying, please ring +44 (0)114 225 3813 or email disability-support@shu.ac.uk

Inclusion at the selection event

We welcome everyone to Sheffield Hallam University and want to be as accessible and inclusive as possible. If you wish to disclose any information with us, such as a change in name or any other personal status that you feel is relevant this will be treated sensitively and fairly, ensuring you are represented impartially at your portfolio review. Please contact our events team on (0114) 225 5584 or at recruitmentevents@shu.ac.uk

What happens after my portfolio review?

After the portfolio review our offer will be communicated via UCAS track, so please check your account regularly.

You will receive one of the following decisions.

Conditional offer for the course that you have applied for – you must fulfil certain criteria (usually based on the qualifications you are currently taking) before you can be accepted on the course. If the requirements are met, the offer becomes unconditional.

Unconditional offer for the course that you have applied for – usually made when you have already completed your qualifications and met the academic requirements we are asking for.

Contextual offer for the course that you have applied for - we take into account a range of additional factors when we assess applications. If you meet one or more of our contextual admissions criteria, an offer with a lower tariff requirement than our standard entry criteria will be made. Find out more about why we make contextual offers and the criteria on which we base our offers.

Change of course offer for the foundation degree. If your portfolio reviewers decide that you are not ready to make a successful start on the degree course that you have applied to, you may be offered a place on this course. This takes the form of a foundation year, run in-house by our tutors, with the aim of building your creative skills and attributes. If you complete the foundation year successfully, you will automatically progress onto your chosen degree course.

Unsuccessful – This means that unfortunately we are not able to offer you a place on the course as your portfolio reviewers do not feel that you have the necessary skills or experience to be successful on one of our courses. However, this does not prevent you from applying in the future, should you undertake further study to develop your skills and experience and portfolio.

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