The 3-year programme offered by North West School of Design aligns with the registered SAQA Qualification 57205 – Bachelor of Arts: Fashion Design.

The NWSD programme aligns with the Qualification rules of the 57205 SAQA Qualification: There are three exit levels:

Level 1:                        NQF level 05:   National Certificate                120 credits

Level 2:                        NQF level 06:   Diploma:                                 240 Credits

Level 3:                        NQF level 07:   Bachelor of Arts                      360 Credits


While the curriculum has been designed with the end-result in mind: A Bachelor of Arts: Fashion Design, the delivery of the knowledge, skills and practice is cumulative.  This provides flexibility to both the learner and the institution.  The curricula for the Certificate and Diploma does however constitute genuine stand-alone qualifications.

North West School is currently still a registered City And Guilds Centre offering International Qualifications.  Centre number 848446

As per the recent regulations set out by the Department of Education, North West School of Design’s Accreditation application for the Bachelor of Arts: Fashion Design, is with the Council of Higher Education  reference number: H/PR082/E004CAN.  The Registration application is with the Department of Education, ref 16/1/2/1/1776.

 Elective Streams

With the Bachelor of Arts: Fashion Design there are two elective streams from which the student can choose after completing the first semester of the year 1 programme.

  • Fashion Design (FD)
  • Fashion Communication & Buying (FC)

Students will be capable to make this choice after completing the first semester of the first year of study, as they will be capable to comprehend the complex classifications of the fashion industry.  The Fashion Career development module that is taught in the first semester allows for students to understand how the fashion industry works and how each NWSD module is benchmarked against the fragments and links within the industry.

The aim is to provide students with one qualification that will equip them for any fragment of the fashion industry.  One qualification that aligns with the SAQA 57205 – Bachelor of Arts: Fashion Design provides students with the strong foundation required to be employed within any fragment of the industry.  The elective streams provide students with a choice to further advance their academic and practical skill and knowledge within their required field of study.

Both elective streams curricula incorporate the required generic, fundamental and core competencies and minimum exit level outcomes of the SAQA Qualification 57205 – Bachelor of Arts:  Fashion Design

The structure of the elective streams allows for a wide range of students – from those who are interested in the field of design and manufacturing to those who wish to be involved in the wider industry, but who will still have a strong design and manufacturing foundation as required by the SAQA 57205 qualification.

Overall, the qualification aims to produce qualifying learners with appropriate knowledge and skill that will enable them to choose from a range of career options in the wider field of fashion.

Please Note:

Fashion Communication students complete less Pattern Construction and Apparel Construction credits than the Fashion Design Students, but the Fashion Communication student’s credits for these subjects still meet the minimum outcomes for the SAQA 57205 Qualifications.

The Fashion Communication students make these credits up with additional outcomes and credits in Fashion Buying, Public Relations and Marketing.

Students must complete at least one of the SELECTIVE-SUBJECTS per year. These Selective-subjects are presented as evening courses and are also open to the public.


Students develop the skill to engineer (design, plan and construct) patterns for exclusive Couture or mass produced (ready to wear) garments to appropriate standards.  Students begin by learning the basics of measuring and to apply this to a basic block pattern which is then manipulated into any garment style, fabric type, figure shape, size, gender and age.  Students learn to compile and follow pattern specifications.  Grading (sizing) of patterns forms an integral part of this subject.  Taking a pattern from a completed garment and combining existing patterns also forms part of intensive pattern classes.  Pattern Theory Includes the language and set rules of patternmaking in an academic format, as opposed to the practical application. It includes all the standardizations of measurements used to draft patterns. (For example: standard widths of collars and button stands). This theory also aids in quality management.


Without any depth, understanding and knowledge of how clothes are constructed, a future in fashion is no more than an illusion. Designers are rarely responsible for the sewing of garments, but detailed knowledge and experience on various methods of construction is vital. Students develop experience in constructing different parts of the garment and the construction of different garment types.

Students learn various factory methods of construction as well as couture methods.  Students learn to compile plans for the correct procedures when identifying, preparing, joining & disposing of sewn components. (Construction plans)

Over the 3-year programme, students learn to sew corsets, lingerie, active wear, swimwear, ladies tailored suit, men’s tailored suit, ready to wear garments and couture gowns.  Students learn how to set and maintain a quality system in the clothing industry. Understanding of SABS Quality standards. Financial implications of quality. Quality audits.

Working with and applying the Markham™ Quality Standards manual and other retail manuals.  Principles of Quality Control and Fitting remedies.  Identification of various industrial machines and developing an understanding of their specific uses.  Setting of sewing machines (Industrial & Domestic).  Maintenance plans for repairs of machinery.

Construction Theory Includes the language and set rules of sewing garments, in an academic format rather than the practical application, for quality management purposes. It includes all the quality standards regarding sewing techniques. (For example: Types of stitches to be used for variety of fabrics and garments, type of zip technique to be used for various garments.)


In the fashion industry, sketching of garments is the language we use to communicate detail, fit and construction. This is not only a creative, artistic approach, but more importantly a technical process as students have to consider the 3-dimensional form of the figure, the reaction of different fabric types and suitable construction techniques, whilst sketching a garment.

Students learn the principles of illustration including, proportion, technical drawings, shading, fabric rendering and a variety of story-board presentations.


Once all illustration techniques have been mastered on manual systems, students learn to plan, draw and present designs using Illustrator, Corel Draw and other specialized industry CAD Software.

Students learn various computer illustration & presentation techniques using Vector-based software programme.


Students develop an understanding of the operation and application of CAD systems for patternmaking, grading and marker making.


1st year students develop a clear understanding of the principles of design including proportion, balance, colour, etc. Students develop an understanding of their creativity and its influences on their designs.  2nd year students learn how to develop a range. (Concept to Collection).  2nd year students explore and expand their creativity with the design and make of the Little-Black-Dress which will be constructed with a technical fabric (fabric made using a creative technique). Creative projects also include hat-making and accessory design and construction.


1st year students develop an understanding of design and manufacturing processes and systems. Logical flow of all product development and quality control documents forms an integral part of product development for 1st year students.  The evaluating, researching, comparing and optimizing of production systems forms part of the 2nd year syllabus. Further to this is the issue and receive of materials. Waste reduction management. Stock taking systems. . Handling systems, Cutting room control, production plans.  3rd year students get the opportunity to apply all of the above in various projects that link subjects to enable students to apply all practical and academic theory into a realistic product development assignment.  3rd year students learn to identify strategies to achieve sustainable competitive advantage for a clothing company. Establish standards and plan, measure and monitor productivity. Practical application of work measurements, method studies and specialised studies. Setting and maintaining acceptable levels of productivity against set times, methods and quality.


Fashion marketing has a major contribution to make towards business success in the ever-changing global and domestic marketplace. Students learn to plan, conduct and analyse market surveys. Student will learn brand building, advertising and promotion techniques.  Fashion Brand Marketing considers the design, development and marketing strategies of diverse fashion brands.  Marketing Communications considers new and old media ways of communicating fashion brands to different consumer target groups.  International Marketing and Retailing Strategies examine case studies of successful international fashion corporations in different global markets and contexts. All units are assessed by a mix of academic papers and presentations.  Psychology of fashion will show students how to get customers to buy and to identify product features and what advantages and benefits the product has to the consumer.


The success of a designer is measured in sales, to obtain this success; students develop business skills and entrepreneurial opportunities in order to apply basic business principles that are focused on the fashion industry.  Students get to explore career opportunities and gain an understanding of how the industry works, by means of the annual Entrepreneurship week whereby industry leaders are invited to present their careers to students by presentation and a Q & A session.  Students learn to foster and maintain customer relations for couture, mass production and retail. Various aspects of customer psychology are explored.  Analyse and present a business plan and business proposal.  Compile a design portfolio and CV.  Produce and use spreadsheets for the designers bookkeeping systems.  Develop and update a supplier’s file. Global supply chain management for sourcing of materials and supplies.  Students are introduced to human resource management and public relations.  Students are introduced to case studies and success stories of fundraising projects run by organizations and individuals. Students learn how to plan, manage and complete large fashion related fundraising events and how to use such events as brand building and community upliftment projects.  All funds raised by students go towards their fashion show expenses and resources levies.


Research is fundamental to the pursuit of academic, entrepreneurial and creative excellence. With strong research approaches, students generate, communicate and transfer new and advanced knowledge.  1st year students are introduced to various research methods and are shown how to do research and how to use research in a project.  1st year research projects allow for research to be presented in written form.  2nd year research projects allow for research to be presented in written, oral and visual form.  3rd year research projects are linked with other projects and subjects, by means of a combined-subject project that will be researched, developed and presented.  Various design influences that occur around the world are researched and applied.  Students also develop an in-depth knowledge of the design style of the world’s top designers, chain stores and fashion brands in order to differentiate between markets and trends.  Period costume and fashion history is also researched.  Contemporary history is fundamental.  Students learn to work effectively with others as a member of a team and to plan and conduct investigation by applying research techniques.  This subject further includes the fashion dictionary and fashion lingo.  Students are also encouraged to report on world and social news. This is to set a custom for news tracking as it is an integral part not only for research but also for forecasting and trend setting.


Students learn to identify and use appropriate materials in the manufacturing process and gain familiarity with the characteristics and textures of fabrics.  Students learn the technical aspects of textiles and the methods and techniques of production.  Fabrics are analysed for purposes of developing an understanding of the characteristics of fabric and how the design is influenced by this.  Classifying of various types of fabrics, their handling and care.  Fabric modification, weaving and fabric testing form part of the practical applications for this subject.



An overview of the role of buyers in fashion, including merchandising, promotion and interpretation of trends

FASHION BUYING – Fashion Communication & Buying Students

 An overview of the role of buyers in fashion, including merchandising, promotion and interpretation of trends.  Apply   knowledge and understanding of international trade documents.   Apply basic principles of local and international trade

Buying & planning functions in the wholesale and retail industry.  Determine selling prices.  Buying merchandise.    Sourcing and selecting & developing of international suppliers.  Negotiating with suppliers.  Range planning.  Importing merchandise.  Internet purchasing.  Manage the financial performance of a range

MERCHANDISING – Fashion Communication & Buying Students

Analyse & respond to merchandise performance.  Accurately forecast merchandise.  Allocate stock to stores.

Producing a financial budget for a range of merchandise.  Monitoring the performance of a range of merchandise.

Recommending action required to improve the performance.


An overview of the awareness and interpretation of trends, theories of fashion adaption.  Students present, organise and communicate information about design movements and their impact on design.  Students investigate fashion trends and evaluate how they can be used to address design briefs.  Research, analyse and report on current trends and to underpin the trend cycle.

TREND FORECASTING – Fashion Commutation & Buying Students

Understand the future so you can create it and not react to it.  Concept of trends, global trends and contemporary fashion.  Cultural studies & analysis.  Fashion analysis and consumer behaviour. Sociology of fashion is a key element to understanding fashion movements and changes in fashion.  Forecast assessments and case studies.  An introduction to project management where trend analysis as a mathematical technique that uses historical results to predict future outcome. This is achieved by tracking variances in cost and schedule performance.  Trend analysis often refers to the science of studying changes in social patterns, including fashion, technology and the consumer behaviour.  Students use project management tools to statistically investigate and prove how a range is performing in the market.  An understanding of the Zeitgeist in trend forecasting.

Students research, analyse, predict and present a key trend element by exploring the definition, history, genesis and current position on the fashion cycle and by exploring the consumer behaviour and fashion magazine pieces in order to make a final prediction of what the key trend will do in forthcoming seasons.

3rd year students predict the movement of fashion and predicting a theme and trend to a fashion buyer to assist in the buying decision for a specific fashion season, price point and target market, using tolls such as a competitor scan, media scan, trend scan, semiotics, consumer scan, current trend reports, fashion genesis, history, zeitgeist, essay and scenario writing, trend board, mood board, colour board, fabric board, conclusion

FASHION PR – Fashion Communication & Buying Students

Students learn what fashion PR is and the role of fashion PR in the fashion industry and what PR specialists do on a daily basis.   An understanding of the scope and ethics of public relations in fashion, and the development and practice of public relations in fashion.  Students study the development of Fashion PR and of financial public relations, various models of public relations, crisis communication.

Students develop a good press release adapted for a fashion audience which is distinct form sales and marketing and includes all the components of a good press release.  Students study and apply press kit, interviews, PR tools, press materials, executive bio’s, product fact sheets and corporate profiles.   Students develop of a corporate image for a key audience.

3rd year students study communication theories, types of communication, fields of communication, elements of communication and case studies of communication models and theories.  Students compile and present case studies on the theory underpinning public relations practice, applying communication theories in a South African context, the role of public relations in the South African government.

FASHION JOURNALISM – Fashion Communication & Buying Students

 Fashion writing and communication has never been so exciting or had such career potential, ranging from print and broadcast to fashion film and online media.  This subject is designed to equip students with the practical and critical skills needed to success in various areas of fashion journalism.  Introduction to various media types (magazines, news, blogs, etc) Students will be versatile enough to meet the demands and challenges of today’s fashion journalism in its different forms and to contribute meaningfully to the discipline. Understanding of fashion writing and communication, within the changing framework of digital technologies and Innovation.  Report – Interview – Inquiry – News, Information – Fashion (including an analysis of clothes) – Fashion Description (photo collage, words, starching or drawing) – Advertising etc.  Criticisms, judgments, opinions will be discussed openly in the class.  Students learn communication skills in writing for blogs or news portals.  Introduction to all on line communication opportunities


FASHION EVENTS MANAGEMENT – Fashion Communication & Buying Students

 The annual Platinum Fashion Festival forms part of a Graduate Fashion Show and Awards Ceremony at year-end.  Fashion Communication students plan and manage this event in order to apply or their fashion PR and events management theory into practise.


Students complete a 3-week, fulltime internship in their 3rd year of study. North West School of Design lecturers and academic coordinator facilitates these Internship programmes trough the placement of student with host organizations for a minimum of 150 hours of experiential learning during the third year of study of the Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design learning programmes.


3rd year Fashion Design Students get 4 days to design, make and present a Wedding Gown.



The annual PLATINUM FASHION FESTIVAL forms part of an Annual Graduate Show and Awards Ceremony at year-end. Students combine all training received in the relevant subjects and combine this into a realistic project.  Compile and co-ordinate ranges. Production planning and costing. Pattern construction. Mark, plan and cut fabrics. Assemble complete garments. Fit and alter garments. Production processes. Financial management of the range.

Students participate in two annual Advertising Fashion Shows whereby the student will design, make and model a garment made out of packaging and branding material.  Students enter a minimum of two external fashion competitions each year.


Students must select subjects from this list. These subjects are presented as part time courses and are all 2-month part time courses, twice weekly. Students must complete one of these subjects per year.

Window Dressing, Photography, Shoe Designing, Fashion Make Up

  • Each year consists of 4 terms and term breaks are estimated in accordance with provincial school term-breaks.
  • 2015 Classes start on Wednesday, 25 January 2017
  • Classes are Monday to Friday – 08h30 to 16h00
  • Morning sessions are from 08h30 to 10h30
  • Afternoon sessions are from 11h00 to 13h30
  • Self-directed sessions are from 13h30 to 16:00 (With lecturer supervision)
  • All of the above sessions will be attended as essential lecturing sessions and are compulsory class hours.
  • Attendance registers are kept at all sessions.
  • Students may take 1 hour (per week) leave absence from self-directed sessions for tuition related errands.

The minimum academic requirement is a National Senior Certificate (NSC) – Matriculation (Grade 12) or an international equivalent.

  • The minimum institutional admission requirement is also a National Certificate (Vocational) (NCC) Level 4 issued by the Council of Further Educations and Training.
  • Candidates will be given an entrance exam which is designed to assess their admission-level capability. This entrance exam determines written communication skills, creative aptitude and technical abilities.
  • Candidates who have obtained less than 60{541c99cc92914d9ab749c515405b5401689d61aa5c8a4d52728c68ca47bb4644} for this aptitude will first complete the Bridging Design Programme.
  • North West School of Design recognizes prior learning (RPL) for candidates that have not obtained a Matriculation Certificate but is aged 22 years. These entrants are able to apply for registration based on the RPL application which includes the Entrance Exam, submission of the RPL application form, an interview with the principal, and completion of the Bridging Design Programme which will assess their knowledge, skills, values and attitudes embedded in this qualification.
  • Candidates from other institutions wishing to transfer to the North West School of Design will be considered on credit accumulation. Candidates must complete the entrance exam and submit their portfolio of work and results sheets, together with the RPL application form to the principal who will then evaluate their skills to determine if they can be admitted directly to second or third year or if they can be considered for partial exemption from the learning programme.
  • Foreign candidates must obtain the required visas and study permits as well as a valid temporary resident permits. Study permits are obtained from the South African Embassy/High Commission of Consulate in their home country. Study permits should be valid for Protocol General Sales t/a North West School of Design.
  • Prior training in sewing and arts are not admission requirements, but candidates must have a strong interest in fashion.
  • Candidates must read, write and understand English. A certain level of proficiency in English is required for success in Higher Education studies. This includes a pass in English at A-level or O-level. Other post-school English language qualifications will be evaluated on merit.

Students who have absenteeism problems not only suffer academically, but also socially. Absenteeism leads to inadequate learning on the part of the student and affects their overall performance. In the class or group situation, absenteeism of some of the students leads to unsatisfactory class averages and because our lecturer’s job performance is measured on class averages obtained by the group, NWSD cannot tolerate any unnecessary absenteeism and late comings of students.

You are welcome to apply online or come to the college where you can talk to lecturers and students and see for yourself what NWSD has to offer. We are also available on any academic day of the year to help you with the application and registration process.

If you need help with your application, please

If you want to transfer from another fashion institute to NWSD, please contact our Head of Institute, Marlene Oosthuizen directly for a RPL application.


Have you considered the number of career options within the global fashion world? Not all fashion graduates end up as designers. From the exciting, edge-of-your-seat world of red carpet designs to the highly valued practice of fashion buying and fashion styling; the fashion world has a career for every aspiring entrepreneur, designer and even computer junkies!

So how do you secure your future in the fashion world? As with the globalization of our designs and the manufacturing thereof, it has become important to distinguish between the two types of fashion training out there; Fashion Design on the one hand and Fashion Retail on the other.

Fashion Design Students – For the more practical, creative and technical aspects of designing, like being involved in the design and manufacture of garments.  This elective field will prepare you in design, construction, illustration, pattern engineering, product development and business management. Careers to follow with this qualification: Fashion Designer, Retail Designer, Couture Designer, Costume Designer, Patternmaker, Pattern-grader, CAD Specialist, Fashion Illustrator, Graphic Designer for Clothing, Production Manager/Specialist, Tailor, Quality Controller, Clothing Technologist, Procurement Specialist, Lecturer, Productivity Specialist.

Fashion Communication & Buying Students – For those who are interested in the retail and management, financial, administrative and communicating side of fashion, and who want to get to such a position where all the big decisions lay on your shoulders, should follow this elective field, which will prepare you for careers in Fashion Buying, Fashion Journalism, Fashion Editing, Merchandising, Fashion Blogger, Trend Forecaster, Fashion Photographer, Fashion Agent, Fashion Marketing specialist, Fashion Events coordinator, Retail / Boutique management, and Fashion Publicist.