module specification

MC4009 - Fashion Concepts and Systems (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Fashion Concepts and Systems
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 20%   Group visual/video presentation of up to 10 minutes
Group Coursework 40%   Group Portfolio of 3,000 words
Coursework 40%   Individual assignment of 1,500 words
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Friday Afternoon
Year City Friday Morning

Module summary

This core module provides students with a holistic introduction to the discipline of fashion through consideration of a range of historical, practical and theoretical issues, together with the manner in which the inter-relationships between these elements give meaning to and determine the forms and functions of fashionable dress.  Specifically the module addresses:
i) the globalized nature of the fashion industry;
ii) sartorial identities and the consumption of fashion;
iii) the impacts of technology on the creation and fabrication of fashion products; 
iv) ethical and environmental issues pertaining to ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion;
v) the role of fashion as a driver of contemporary culture.

Skills development includes: problem solving, written, visual and verbal communication to different audiences, independent study and group working, self-management, time management, digital literacy and commercial skills. The summative assessments require the student to initially work together in order to produce market research, followed by an analytical group portfolio and an individual assignment. Students are able to demonstrate research abilities, critical thinking, evaluative skills and problem solving abilities for innovation in the fashion industry and practice creativity through producing visual/video presentations together with supporting materials.

Module aims

The principal aims of this core module are:

  • to provide students with an introduction to the modern global fashion industry.
  • to offer opportunities for exploration of the fashion businesses’ variety of evolving job roles/ functions and their inter-relationships, and to appreciate the social, technological, cultural and economic significance and value of the industry within the global and UK economies.
  •  to acquire commercial and cultural understandings of the different structures, key players, products, systems and operations from a historical and geographical perspective.
  • to suggest possible interventions into the ‘business-as-usual’ approach taken by much of the industry


Structures, Processes, Operations and Skills:
• Global overview of the fashion industry structure and associated lifestyle industries
• Fashion seasons and cycles, from (fibre) production to consumer purchase
• Key players in design, production, retailing, marketing, forecasting, media and public relations
• Roles, functions and inter-relationships within the industry.

Global Issues:
• Historical development of the contemporary fashion system
• Spatial and cultural aspects of the global and UK fashion industries
• Economic significance of the fashion industry.
• Ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability in fashion

Commercial and Consumer Culture:
• Traditional, contemporary and evolving markets.
• Consumer lifestyles
• ‘World’ cities of fashion and global trade.
• Effect of political, economic, sociological and technological factors on global and local fashion
• Relationships between business environments and fashion cycles, zeitgeist and industry innovation

Learning and teaching

Module Structure
Module delivery is structured over a 30-week period and consists of a 1.5-hour lecture and 1.5-hour seminar each week. Exceptions to this are the designated activity weeks that will be used for employability workshops, assignment preparation and academic support.  Submission of work will take place in weeks 12, 24, 26 (where week 1 is the first teaching week of the academic year).

The main briefing, lectures, seminars, supporting material via Weblearn, group critiques, group tutorials, mock presentations, are all methods used to inform, support and guide the student in preparation towards the assessments. The weekly lectures will focus on case studies, key theories, concepts and frameworks in the context of the contemporary UK and global fashion industry. Lectures will involve both individual and team teaching.

The seminar sessions will include opportunities to discuss assignments and track student progress. The sessions will include a variety of participatory learning including exercises, observation, discussions, debates, questions and answer sessions to nurture understanding of the topics covered in the lectures and to discuss both formal industrial and non-conventional fashion practices.

The module is delivered in three distinct phases each with its own discrete assignment. The first eleven weeks are designed to increase awareness of fashion history, the work of foremost fashion theorists and to familiarise students with the fashion system that supports the domestic apparel industry. The following seven weeks will build awareness of the different market sectors that exist within the UK and will examine the fashion artefact, the key players, the size and growth of various sectors and macro-environmental factors that impact on innovation. The focus switches in final weeks to the micro-processes behind production and students are asked to consider the multiple steps involved in manufacturing and distribution of a fashion product.

Individual and group study, self-directed tasks, industry contact and networking are all incorporated into the programme; students are encouraged to engage in independent study. Students are required to read widely and research beyond the parameters of the lectures, seminars and to also fully engage in their allocated seminar groups. Learning methods include: group work; field trips and study visits; industry contact and networking; library research; self-evaluation and peer assessment. Weblearn provides a blended learning approach that includes additional reading, exercises and correspondence as a support to independent learning.

Activity Weeks
Activity weeks will be used to stimulate ideas and activities for students from different subject groups, taking this module towards PDP and to stimulate learning.  These complementary activities allow for students to further develop creativity, critical thinking and problem solving abilities in a resourced environment with a unique set of objectives and inventiveness.  Some of the activities aim to raise social awareness and improve networking skills, e. g. off-campus visits, guest speakers from industry and professional bodies, field trips, career opportunities speeches, work placements and introduction to entrepreneurship.  The module team also aims to create opportunities for students to learn how to design and create an academic project with innovative learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students will be able to:

  1. Describe the various structures that comprise the modern fashion industry with reference to  historical and theoretical perspectives.
  2. Understand the multiplicity of different market levels and how consumer behaviours/changing lifestyles impact on the fashion industry.
  3. Identify important geographical/creative sites and demonstrate awareness of how key players influence local and global economies through their economic contributions and cultural roles.
  4. Define the inter-relationships between different fashion cycles, production processes, job functions and associated disciplinary practices involved in the global fashion system
  5. Demonstrate creative thinking to suggest how the fashion business can become a more responsible and sustainable industry through commercial and creative innovation.

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy consists of three components, which aims to assess the module’s learning outcomes.  These require students to think critically and apply the knowledge and skills gained during the module.  The components are:

  1. Group visual/video presentation presentation of 5-10 minutes duration (weighting 20%, due week 12).
  2. Group report of 3,000 words (weighting 40%, due week 24).
  3. Individual assignment of 1,500 (words weighing 40%. due week 26).

1)  Using historical and theoretical knowledge gained during the first ten weeks, students in groups of 2-3 are to compile a video/visual presentation comprising of imagery of fashion styles shot at selected locations. Students are to discuss the international cultural influences that impact on similarities and differences between these outfits, identifying established or newly formed trends. They should then apply theory and marketing data to suggest a creative/commercial rationale behind the presence of the looks found on London’s streets. (LO1-3)

2) The second component builds upon the findings of the first assessment; the same student groups are required to submit a detailed portfolio featuring an external macro-environmental analysis. The following items are to be researched and discussed: key target markets for the identified products and trends, the value of the respective sector to the UK economy (facts & figures), recent changes/issues affecting consumers of the product(s), key players in the sector, the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors surrounding the particular product(s)/product category(ies). Students are expected to complement their market research by consulting a substantial array of secondary sources in order to provide an informed picture of how external factors impacting on the chosen sector can be used in future innovative practice. (LO2-5)

3) The third assignment requires that students focus on micro-processes of fashion production and consider the multiple steps involved in manufacturing and distribution. This assignment must link to the previous two through the selection of the product(s)/product category(ies) investigated. Students are asked to consider the multiple stages a fashion product goes through from conception as sketch/fabric swatch to realisation as desirable artefact of merchandisable quality. Student must also identify and discuss the main aspects of the micro-external environment with respect to the theory taught in class. This assignment should be an analytical in nature – using theoretical aspects in addition to material gathered from practitioner sources and appropriately referenced. (LO1-5)


Fashion History:
Breward, C. (2003), Fashion, Oxford University Press
Mendes, V. & de la Haye, A. (2010), Fashion since 1900, Thames & Hudson
Steele, V. (2010), The Berg Companion to Fashion, Berg

Fashion Theory:
Barnard, M. (2007), Fashion Theory: A Reader, Routledge
Breward, C. & Gilbert, D. (2006), Fashion’s World Cities, Fairchild
Church Gibson, P. (2011), Fashion and Celebrity Culture, Berg
Kawamura, Y. (2005), Fashion-ology: An introduction to Fashion Studies, Berg
Knox, K. (2012), Culture to Catwalk: How World Cultures Influence Fashion, A & C Black

Fashion Practice:
Black, S. (2011), Eco Chic:  The Fashion Paradox (2nd ed.), Black Dog Publishing
Fletcher, K. (2008), Sustainable Fashion and Textiles, Earthscan
Klein, N. (2000), No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, Picador
Paulins, V. & Hillery, J. (2009), Ethics in the Fashion Industry, Fairchild Books
Ross, R. (2004), Slaves to Fashion: Poverty & Abuse in the New Sweatshops, University of Michigan Press

Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture
Fashion Practice: The Journal of Design, Creative Process & the Fashion Industry

Websites:;;;;;;;;;;; (accessible via library services)