I get a lot of emails like this:
Hi :), I hope you don't mind too much but I was wondering If I could ask you a few things about the course you're doing...I read that you're studying Textile Management at Manchester and wanted to know what the course was like from a student's point of view. What kind of things do you do, for example what is involved in the lab sessions? Also, what A Levels did you do, and what A levels would you say the course requires?...How do you find the course, and what other courses did you look at and where?...
This won't interest all you readers so do skip this post, but I type out the same reply to emails every week and hope this post will help a few people in the same position, and in the future I can just refer all emails here! I definitely don't mind answering questions so if you have anymore after this, don't be shy to ask! I know a lot of readers will be choosing their UCAS courses now so here goes!
So I originally wanted to study maths (I love maths, no joke!) and had the interviews and went through UCAS and everything, and settled on Manchester for my first choice, Cardiff second. As I've said before, I'd definitely recommend going to open days and looking around towns and buildings to see if they suit you. By around February/March I was realising that I probably wouldn't get the grade I needed to in Further Maths so looked to other options. I did English Lang and Lit, Maths and Media at A-Level and an AS in Further Maths in the A2 year, plus General Studies and some more AS levels in my first year which I didn't carry on. I was at a girls grammar too but went to college as it was super stuffy and bitchy, and I wanted a bit more fun and to meet new people! I started looking at UCAS at business courses and stumbled across my course at Manchester, Management and Marketing of Textiles. I emailed the uni and rang and they just transfered my offer; I then went to the UCAS open day for the course to check it out. The offer is ABC for three A-Levels. I would say that it doesn't really matter which A-Levels you studied for the courses I'm going to talk about, as they are so varied and every module starts from the bottom, so it's almost like any skills in textiles, fashion, media, art, maths, business, economics, science, etc, are just a bonus!
If you're interested in fashion courses I'd recommend doing them here if you don't want to/can't study in London. If I could turn back the clock I would have taken London into more consideration, but the course here was easy to transfer to. It's not too much like what the prospectus and open day say though so hopefully this will help.
I have most lectures with FTR (Fashion and Textiles Retailing) and DMFR (Design Management for Fashion Retailing). There is the business side of FTR who I mostly have lectures with, and the clothing side have lectures with TDDM (Textile Design and Design Management). You choose your side if you're studying FTR in the first week. Sounds confusing but it's not so much!
With those courses last year for example here are the lectures I had. I wouldn't say this course is impossibly hard in terms of pace and content but there is a lot of subjects to contend with and you do go into depth- so time management is key. If you're thinking 'OMG science? accounting?' then fear not, because I hadn't studied any of these subjects before and they start right from the bottom. So in the first year I had...
-Applied production processes (APP) where I had labs every other week and two 1 hours lectures. This was about Spinning and Weaving in the first term, Knitting and Dying in the second. It's not like knit one, purl two stuff, it was all about the machines in textile factories. I found this quite boring as I'm not too sciencey, and the labs were quite heavy going as it was two hours learning about these huge crazy machines. You had a lab report after each lab class which was a few questions.
-Accounting for managers- They started riiight from the bottom so was easy to pick up and learn. Was only in the second term.
-I.T.- A fairly easy computer lecture with a booklet to complete on Excel and Access. Only one term.
-Introduction to Retailing- V. interesting, helped that we had an awesome lecturer who let us text him with questions during the lecture so we didn't need to stop it and ask in front of everyone! One term.
-Introduction to Textile Management- Same lecturer as above, cool subject. One term.
-Mathematical Techniques for Managers- Nice for me! I was surprised that we went from refreshing people's minds of hot to add fractions in the first week right to matrices and trig. One term.
-Microeconomics for Textiles & Clothing- Not too bad! Again, the subject seems totally alien but they start from the bottom. One term.
-Fundamentals of Textile Marketing- Why don't I remember this lecture?! Hold on yes, it was in the warm, cosy lecture theatre! Quite alright. You guessed it, one term.
-Textile Materials- again boring science, learning about all different materials and fibres and things like tex. Not too bad. Just a 1 hour lecture for the first term.
-Textile Testing- some lab classes every few weeks to study fibre properties in all different ways (yawn) and a 1 hour lecture on a Thursday morning that no one ever went to only because it was at 9am!
Reading these through, they don't seem very fashion friendly but the whole year is very veered towards retailing and so every topic has relevance if you want to get a good background knowledge for a future in management or marketing. The other courses I mentioned do not do all of these lectures. For instance, FTR replaced accounting, maths and economics with fashion and retailing, where they did the fashion show which I wrote about a few months ago and all these cool projects about fashion history. They make lots of mood boards and actually watch shows. I know this because I jealously watch my friend Katie study trends!
It's good to note that we only had two coursework essays through out the whole year, so apart from the lab reports, the outside work load wasn't toooo heavy for MMT. The fashion courses had projects and the fashion show to organise though, but they're actually fun!
Now I'm in my second year, I have muuuch better lectures and all the girls are remarking on how much funner it is. For instance this year I'm doing Global Sourcing and Purchasing, Branding, Fashion Marketing, New Product Development, and Retailing. Also a few other more bussinessy subjects like Costing and Economics, more APP, Organisations and Employment, etc.
I think the lectures have fancier names for what they really are! Also, each subject is worth 10 out of 120 credits that make up the year, and you need 40% to pass. If you get below 40% in an exam, usually you have to retake, but sometimes one fail is OK if your other marks are high, in terms of qualifying to get into the second year. Of course after that, all marks count towards your final course grade in the third year.
It might be worth noting that the courses I've mentioned went into clearing both this year and the year I entered, and the grades needed to apply went down a few letters. I wouldn't say this means that if you are given an offer and don't reach it, they will still accept you, because an offer is given for a reason I guess, and the course may not enter clearing again.
To make some sense of this then, if you love fashion but want to do a degree with more options and a bit more businessy, MMT might be right. If you love fashion, want to work in fashion and are creative but still want to work from a business style angle e.g. as a buyer, look at FTR. If you like the business aspect but are very arty and love drawing and designing, go for DMFR, and if you want to totally work the design side 100%, look at TDDM. I repeat, this course is not as hardcore bussinessy as I've made it sound! Also, out of about 200 students there are 3 english guys and around 10 international guy students from Asia. Think all girls basically!
A word of warning: doing a degree like this doesn't give you a magic pass to the fashion world, so I'm learning. Nowadays most people have a degree and it doesn't mean you have experience or skills in the area, just that you know a lot of theory! Over two hundred girls will graduate when I do and almost all will tell you they want to be a buyer. A buyer seems to be some kind of heavenly job and right now, lots of people are applying for their Year in Industry places around this field. Ah that's one of the BEST things about the Manchester courses- in your third year you can carry on studying or take the year out to get a job in the industry or study at an english speaking uni abroad (like I want to do!). Also Manchester Uni is a very strong uni to get a degree from, it says a lot.
Also, it might be worth noting that as Manchester is no St.Martins (I wish!), as soon as you tell anyone your course, all they hear is 'textiles' or 'fashion' and some can be pretty patronising. We often get 'looked down' upon by some people studying say Politics who might tell you that your degree is easy and a bit pointless compared. There's a lot of 'oooh so you can make me some clothes' or 'ahhh so you just look at dresses all day', to most of which, the reply is 'nope I'm going to an economics lecture, byeeeee!'