Tips on building a portfolio

By Middlesex University Modified on November 08, 2018

What to include? How many pieces of work? Find the answers to those questions here.


Submitting an application is just the first step in most universities’ selection process. In most cases you are required to submit a portfolio, audition piece or show reel for your application to art and design programmes including Film, Product Design, Music and Dance. Additionally, you might be invited to an interview.

A question that we get asked a lot is what this portfolio should include. That’s why we've put together some simple notes to help you prepare:

Your portfolio

• The portfolio is expected to consist of 5-10 pages showing a range of recent design work
• Be selective about the work you show while continuing to show a range of skills and ability
• Show mostly recent work that you are most proud of
• Consider how to present your work and the impression the overall look of your portfolio will have on the viewer
• We like to see lots of work but don't overfill your portfolio - you should be able to carry it by yourself!
• You do not need to bring large pieces of 3D work, photographs are sufficient

Sketchbooks are extremely important. They should be a 'diary' of your thinking and include observational and speculative drawings/sketches communicating a visual sensitivity. We also look for evidence of how you develop and work through your ideas. Include photographs and collected images and importantly your reaction to them, but avoid letting your sketchbooks be merely scrapbooks.

We’ve seen many applications be rejected by the tutor simply because the portfolio is not up to the required standard. As subjective as this may be, the truth is the university does not want to put you up for failure but for success. That’s why we need to ensure that you possess the competence in the relevant area of study.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us by e-mailing