Architecture courses portfolio guide

How to put together a creative portfolio for your course

Please note

You'll need this guide if you're applying for one of the following courses:

Entry routes

Please choose your entry route to find the correct portfolio information:

Year 1 (standard entry)

What to expect

Your digital portfolio should showcase the depth and breadth of your creative ability, idea generation and development, while demonstrating an enthusiasm for the course and subject area. 

To supplement the images you submit, we’d recommend either including a supporting statement or annotations alongside each of your images.

Our preference would be for your portfolio to be presented as a PDF. If you create this as a powerpoint presentation, it allows you to add text boxes to annotate your work. This can then be converted easily into a PDF to reduce file size. We suggest 10 A3 pages minimum.

What to include in your portfolio

The work contained within your portfolio can be produced as part of a formal course of study or evening class, or anything you have produced independently. Your drawing ability is important, so try to achieve a balance between freehand drawing, life drawing and painting that employs a range of different mediums (such as pastel, gouache, charcoal or pencil). Please include photographs of any 3D projects (such as sculpture, ceramics or model making, construction or survey experience).

It is extremely useful to have worked on storyboard ideas or anything that is sequence based and tells a story of a design project or creative activity:

  • Drawings and sketches of the built environment.
  • Design ideas and the evidence of how these have developed.
  • Drawings of the human form
  • Observational colour studies.
  • Sketchbook pages the show visual research and development of ideas.
  • Construction or survey experience.

These should evidence visual experimentation, sketches, research into artists/designers and observations with accompanying notes reflecting on your development. Please add a short description with each image.

You should include notes on books, articles, relevant exhibitions or cultural visits that have influenced your work. We want to see images from your sketchbooks and sheets of developmental work.

The portfolio may also contain:

  • Storyboards
  • examples of photography
  • examples of sculptural forms
  • animations (these should be no more than 30 seconds)
  • Model photos.
  • Visual survey info.
  • Evidence of work experience.

What we’re looking for

We're looking for your portfolio to demonstrate your:

  • understanding of architecture or interior design as a subject and its wider social and global context
  • ability to express your creative process and decision making
  • ability to reflect on what is, and is not, successful about your work
  • interest in historical and contemporary visual culture
  • enthusiasm and commitment to study architecture or interior design at university

You will need experience of drawing, visual research and spatial thinking, as well as an ability to learn the technical and theoretical aspects of architecture & interior architecture & design . You will also need initiative, creative flair and an ability to learn in a creative environment.

Your portfolio should demonstrate evidence of:

  • original idea generation
  • conceptual development
  • experimental work
  • a good level of technical ability (both hand drawn and digital)
  • an ability to select and present a range of work to a high professional standard

Year 2/3 (direct entry)

As part of your application process to study with us, we would like you to provide a digital portfolio so that we can assess your suitability for the course.  In the portfolio, we are looking for a range of work that clearly demonstrates your enthusiasm, skill level, and visual communication skills.

    What to include in your portfolio

    The format of the portfolio should consist of no more than 15 pages and should include:

    • Artistic work, which shows drawing or ‘making’ skills.
    • Design work, showing an understanding of some or all of the following; design concepts, design process, experimentation through sketches and models, three-dimensional design. You should present this work in a way that shows your 2D and 3D representation and communication skills.

    If you only have limited evidence of a portfolio, you should also submit an example of your research or written work as an essay, report, site analysis report, or a building case study, which should be accompanied by illustrations/ images. This document should comprise no more than 15 pages

      Please note

      • Our preference would be for your portfolio to be presented as a PDF. If you create this as a PowerPoint presentation, it allows you to add text boxes to annotate your work. This can then be converted easily into a PDF to reduce file size.
      • Be selective in what you choose to show: think quality, not quantity. The portfolio should contain what you consider to be your best work.
      • Make sure that all the work displayed is your own. If it was a group project, then name the contributors. 
      • Evidencing that you have been involved in group work is positive and is seen as a good preparation for the higher education environment.
      • If you show an image of another designer’s work as a precedent (form of inspiration), label it with the designer’s or practice's name and title of the piece.

      Webinar: Portfolio preparation and design (Q&A)

      Don't miss our webinar on creating application design portfolios.

      Gain essential insights on creating compelling application portfolios for architecture and interior design courses at the Portsmouth School of Architecture.

      You’ll learn what to select and how to approach layout, graphics, and composition.

      Unlock top tips on how to tell the story of your experience graphically, using actual students’ application portfolios examples to support you in application success.

      Join us

      Our sessions run online, so be sure to drop in.

      Wednesday 6 December 2023

      Time: 4pm–5pm

      Join on Zoom

      Wednesday 10 January 2024

      Time: 4pm–5pm

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      Any questions? Contact the Faculty Student Recruitment Team.

      Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 2990