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Academic Routes

Technical Routes

Whatdo I need?

Interior Designers map out the internal space of a buildings .

Depending on which occupation within Interior Design you get into, there are standard qualifications you can enrol in. Otherwise, you can become an apprentice. There are usually no prerequisites to this career at entry level, but it would be great to have design knowledge to boost your creativity.

Academic Routes

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Further Education

Higher Education

Further Education

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BTEC Diploma, City & Guilds and NVQ

Further Education is considered Level 3 education in the UK (England, Northern Ireland, and Wales). The most common further education route is A-Levels, but it is not the only option. There are coursework based alternatives like BTEC. To pursue a Bachelors degree (Level 4) or any other undergraduate qualification, you must complete this level of education first.


A-Levels are exam based courses taken post-secondary education. Usually, people take 3-4 A-Level subjects as the standard university courses requires at least 3. A-Levels will come in handy if you intend to study at university level but you should note that A-Levels are not practical courses.

If you do not intend on attending university, you should be building experience in your field while studying. Useful A-Levels to Interior Design could be in Art or IT.

Find out about technical routes into Interior Design here >>

What qualifications do I need for A-Levels?

A-level courses will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are usually mandatory to possess. It is best to check the tailored requirements of the university or college you intend to go to, as the entry requirements may differ.

To find A-Level courses search online or Contact us for help.

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BTEC Diploma, City & Guilds and NVQ

The process of obtaining these qualifications are more practical, in comparison to the theory-based A-Level. You are assessed solely with coursework. These qualifications are available at different levels from Levels 1-3. At Level 3, the diploma can be equivalent to up to three (3) A-Levels. You can get a BTEC in Art & Design or Architecture.

For City & Guilds, there are practical courses on offer in Interior Design or Construction at Levels 1-3.

What qualifications do I need?

At Level 1, some courses require no qualifications and others start from 2 iGCEs (D-G)/CSEC (1-6). At Level 2, at least 3 IGCSEs (A*-D)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). For Level 3 BTEC diplomas, these will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3).

Additionally, Mathematics and English Language passes are sometimes mandatory to possess. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

To find BTEC courses search online or Contact Us for assistance.

Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education aka Access to HE is tailored for students aged 19+ who intend to apply for an undergraduate course. These courses take one year, performing as a fast track to higher education.

Universities will typically be looking for students with a creative-based or construction background. Access to Higher Education courses in Construction or Art & Design among good options for subjects related to Architecture.

What qualifications do I need for Access to HE?

Access to HE diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

To find Access to Higher Education courses search online or Contact Us for assistance.

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Higher Education

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Undergraduate Degrees

Postgraduate Degrees

Undergraduate Degrees

Foundation Degrees

All applications to undergraduate courses are accessible via UCAS. Undergraduate courses can come in the form of foundation degrees, HND or Bachelors level. 

Foundation Degrees & Foundation Years

Foundation courses can be taken if your results/tariff points accumulated in a Level 3 qualification were not high enough to allow entry to a standard three-year Bachelors course.

There are two foundation options:

  • Foundation Degree – a standalone qualification (1-2 years) equivalent to one or two years of a Bachelors degree. A top-up degree can be taken afterwards to get the full Bachelors degree.
  • Foundation Year – this is the first year of a four year degree consisting of = 1 foundation year + 3 years of a standard Bachelors degree. At the end of the four-year course, you will receive the same qualification as a three-year Bachelors degree student.

Birmingham City University offers a BA Interior Architecture and Design with a Foundation Year which would require at least 88 tariff points as opposed to 120 tariff points at the standard three-year route.

After you complete a Foundation degree qualification (instead of an integrated Foundation Year) you can complete a top-up which takes one year to achieve the full Bachelor’s degree.

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What qualifications do I need?

It often varies per university and course so you should check the entry requirements per course on UCAS.

To find Foundation courses, enter your area of study and search Foundation degrees here. In the filters select Foundation to only view Foundation courses.

HND and Bachelors Degrees

The Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate (HNC) are undergraduate qualifications in a tier below Bachelors degrees spanning at 1-2 years.

At Bachelors, there are more varied degree choices, whether in Single or Combined/Joint Honours courses. Combined Honours courses are offered as a mix of subjects in one degree. For example a BA Interior Design and Decoration.

Searching “Interior Design” or “Architecture” courses on UCAS throws a wealthy bunch of options for you to choose from.

How do I choose which degree?

With the copious choices given, it may make it difficult to decipher which is best for you.

To start narrowing it down, we suggest you first look at the entry requirements to the course and assess your existing or prospective exam/coursework results.

Next, have a look at the modules done by the university and assess if those are relevant to your career if you’ve already chosen. Also view the teaching quality at the university.

Finally, use comparative websites like Discover Uni or the Complete University Guide to compare course satisfaction and other statistics to make informed decisions.

If you have sports or other extracurricular interests you can research universities which offer these to keep your hobbies alive.

Tip: Some university courses offer an integrated placement year (otherwise known as a sandwich) where you get the option to work in your industry. This provides you with at least one year of experience in your field before graduation.

To view all higher education options and courses, enter your area of study and search courses here.

What qualifications do I need?

It varies per university but largely universities require at least 112 tariff points (for 3 year courses). Grades in A-Level tend to be at least BBC-AAA for Interior Design related courses. BTEC diploma grades required tend to be at least a MMM-DDD. Check the entry requirements per course on UCAS.

Don’t forget, some courses have foundation entry options which allow you to gain the Foundation qualification and continue to the full Bachelor’s course with lower entry requirements.

Postgraduate Degree

If you already have an undergraduate degree and would like to make a career swap, or you would like to pursue even further education we’ve got options for you.

To progress in your career, specialisation is key and a good method of doing this is through postgraduate study. Postgraduate options can be found in Project Management, Construction Management and more.

Similar to applying for an undergraduate degree, click here to view options and courses, enter your area of study and search courses. Filter options to Postgraduate. (Some postgraduate courses may not be listed on UCAS so do independent searches online).

Technical Routes

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Apprenticeships, Internships & Work

Apprenticeships are jobs where you work towards a qualification and usually at a lower wage. In the UK Interior Design apprenticeships are on offer at intermediate level and usually last about two years.

You can also pursue degree apprenticeships, where you work with a company to obtain a qualification at the end (typically 3-4 years). For example at the University of Portsmouth offers a Architecture Degree apprenticeship.

Have a browse of some apprenticeships in the UK here >>

Independent Research

Use online resources to build knowledge in your field. Doing research like reading this blog is a good start. YouTube is your best friend. There are many videos available teaching you more designing. Find your niche and the information will be easier to research.

To find out what immigration hurdles you must pass to pursue education in the UK click here. For financial 411s click here >>

Unsure about what Interior Design is? Read our explanatory post here.

Need help applying for school in the UK? Click here >>
Posted by:Nandina Hislop

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