Course Details

This course offers you the opportunity to study the two QQI level 5 minor awards for Fashion Buying & Merchandising and Visual Retail Display. Delivered with interactive webinars throughout, this is an excellent foundation to explore the business of fashion.

Start Date
27th September 2023
QQI Level 5
Portobello Institute
Course Duration
5 months


Whether your interest is in designing product displays and shopping experiences or understanding the key functions of a buyer, this programme offers you the opportunity to experience and delve into both worlds.

A comprehensive overview of the business of fashion

Portobello Institute’s QQI Level 5 Minor awards in Visual Retail Display  and Fashion Buying & Merchandising gives a comprehensive overview of the practical techniques and methods used in industry today. This course is part of our popular Business of Fashion portfolio of courses and is available to study as a booking package offering you the opportunity to save on tuition fees when both are booked together.

Apply the core skills of visual merchandising

Each module of this course is delivered over 10 weeks. There is a break during August, you will attend a total of 8 interactive webinars scheduled at different points during the programme. You will learn to apply all the core skills of visual merchandising, from using colour and arrangement to capture attention, lighting techniques, use of graphics, styling mannequins, point of sale displays, seasonal displays, and sale and clearance promotions.

Learn the factors impacting the fashion cycle

You will also learn the key characteristics, processes and terms involved in fashion merchandising including the role and impact of customer profiling. You will explore a broad range of current factors and influences which affect the fashion cycle. You will learn how to develop seasonal calendars, range plans, and financial range plans and create boards which illustrate customer profiles and/or factors which are influencing the cycle of fashion.

Progress to the next level

Once completed, you can choose to progress onto one of our many other courses in the business of fashion. Or you can choose to complement the skills you will acquire during this course with the business skills of fashion buying and merchandising which is available as part of a booking package.

Why should I study this course?

This course is ideal if you have an interest in the business skills of buying and merchandising and want to combine this with the creative skills needed to deliver imaginative visual retail displays.

Acquire new skills for a new career

The awards you will achieve upon completing this course, can form the academic basis for continuing your learning journey to a degree or if you already hold a degree, to a postgraduate certificate in Fashion Buying and Merchandising. This course is also an excellent choice if you are interested in adding new skills to your existing role. It is also suited to you if or you are interested in exploring a possible career change and would like to gain more insight before committing to a longer programme of study.

Here are some reasons to choose to study with Portobello Institute:

  • Accelerated programme completing your two QQI level 5 awards in 14 weeks, getting you out into the world of work faster.
  • Career focused qualifications – our courses lead to awards that offer you the opportunity of immediate employment upon graduation.
  • Individualised support – we fit your learning model with support available when you need it throughout your learning journey.
  • SMART assessments – we use a range of assessments for each module designed to support a broad range of learning styles, giving you the opportunity to excel.
  • Industry expert tutors – our tutors are all industry practitioners connecting research and theory with industry practice throughout their lectures.
  • Flexible delivery – we deliver theory sessions online whilst also recording the session simultaneously offering you a choice of when and how you learn.

Who will recognise my qualification?

Upon completion of this course you will be awarded the following;

  • A QQI Level 5 minor award in Visual Retail Display (5N1861).
  • A QQI Level 5 minor award in Fashion Buying and Merchandising (5N1445)

What will I study during this Fashion Buying & Visual Display – Booking Package – Starts September ’23 course?

During the Fashion Buying module you will learn the skills essential that underpin becoming a fashion buyer and merchandiser. This module examines the roles and relationships between retailers, buyers, manufacturers and customers.

Develop Seasonal calendars and range plans

You will learn the key characteristics, processes and terms involved in fashion merchandising including the role and impact of customer profiling. You will explore a broad range of current factors and influences which affect the fashion cycle. You will learn how to develop seasonal calendars, range plans, and financial range plans and create boards which illustrate customer profiles and/or factors which are influencing the cycle of fashion.

This module also investigates the purpose and activities of promotion in the fashion industry and you will develop a market analysis and promotional plan for a fashion retailer.

During this element of the course you will cover the following topics;

  • Examine the roles and relationships between retailers, buyers, manufacturers and customers.
  • Interpret the key characteristics, processes and terms involved in fashion merchandising.
  • Examine the role and impact of customer profiling.
  • Explore a broad range of current factors and influences which affect the fashion cycle.
  • Examine different types of retailing organisations.
  • Develop organisation charts which illustrate roles and staffing within a retail store.
  • Develop seasonal calendars, range plans, and financial range plans.
  • Create boards which illustrate customer profiles and/or factors which are influencing the cycle of fashion.
  • Investigate the purpose and activities of promotion in the fashion industry.
  • Develop a market analysis and promotional plan for a fashion retailer.
  • Analyse the importance of visual, technical and aesthetic qualities when presenting work.

Develop the skills of a visual merchandiser

During this Visual Display element of the course you will learn the skills essential that underpin required as a visual merchandiser.

You will learn the key characteristics, processes and terms involved in visual merchandising and display.

This module also investigates the purpose and activities of promotion in the fashion industry and you will develop a promotional display for a fashion retailer.

During this course you will cover the following topics;

  • Interpret key terminology and features in relation to display and presentation of products for sale in the retail environment
  • Examine the key principles and theories relating to merchandising and product display design.
  • Analyse the characteristics of a range of materials and retail display components available to the retail sector.
  • Analyse the impact of a range of factors on the design of a retail display to include customer needs, retail ethics, location, type of goods, stock rotation and retail environment.
  • Analyse key legislation in relation to retail display to include public liability, sale of goods and consumer rights.
  • Evaluate the use of lighting and background colour in merchandising.
  • Discuss the impact of marketing and branding on retail display.
  • Analyse the health and safety implications of a retail display.
  • Suggest health and safety initiatives aimed at improving safety in relation to a retail display.
  • Design a retail display to include appropriate materials and construction.
  • Create a thematic display relevant to a specific retail context and product.
  • Employ the use of a range of graphics to communicate pricing and offers to customers of a retail outlet.
  • Assess the impact of security considerations on the design of a retail display.
  • Assess the suitability of various locations within a retail unit for positioning of product displays.
  • Suggest suitable display types for a range of retail contexts to include self service, self selection and personal service.

Who will I learn from?

Programme Manager

Anne Marie McAuley

‘I absolutely love what I do and genuinely embrace supporting a person to develop and grow. I encourage and promote people at all levels to maximise their potential and hopefully instill a sense of purpose.

The are many careers one can pursue when completing a Portobello Institute fashion course. Part of my role is to help and support you to find the best path.’


After graduating from college in the USA with degrees in Business and Psychology, I initially worked as a milieu counsellor with young adults presenting with social and developmental difficulties – I was all about saving the world and think I still can – which was fantastic and the insights I gained in that role have helped me through my own journey to this day.

I always loved fashion, when I was small and then through my teenage years. I always wanted the latest trendy gear, constantly adapting my clothes myself to be a bit different. I was the first of my friends to have a pair of drainpipe jeans (known as skinnies these days!). I always had a part-time job in retail through school and in college at stores like Macy’s and Lord and Taylor.

My first job in a department store was at Christmas time and I was tasked with selling cashmere sweaters, the only section that the full time and staff with tenure would allow me to work in as I was the ‘blown in college student’. I soon figured out that my best customer demographic was the panicked husband looking to purchase a gift for his wife and willing to spend ‘whatever to make her happy’ and of course who does not love cashmere – Cha-Ching! I did more in sales than anyone in the department and as we were commission-based, I was a very happy student. I was destined for a career in retail and fashion and I never forgot the importance of knowing your customer.

I then secured a job in Saks Fifth Ave as an assistant – really just running around New York picking up samples for photos, answering telephones, dressing mannequins, and doing whatever I was told to do, all the time absorbing and learning as much as I could. Back then being around designers like Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Ralph Lauren was an everyday occurrence.

I worked hard and soon became a junior buyer and then senior buyer, I loved my job. I move into the retail operations at Saks as I wanted to develop my skills and I found that leading, coaching, and developing people to also do well was one of my favourite parts of the job. I soon was heading up new store opening teams and one of my greatest achievements was the opening of the San Fran Store. It takes a huge team effort to train several hundred new staff and merchandising the store for opening. I travelled all over the country and enjoyed every day at Saks.

I moved back to Ireland where I secured the role of Retail Operations Manager of The Body Shop Ireland. I had always loved the product and admired their business ethos and not testing on animals. It soon became clear that there were huge challenges within the group around staff training and development which I embraced and was thrilled to be able to use my American experience to influence major decisions in changing the direction of The Body Shop. I also attended any training sessions that the company had for senior management to consistently develop my own skills in leadership and management. While at The Body Shop, I looked at how we could develop the business and came up with a body shop concession concept for pharmacies. We started with one and now there are 150 and the concept has been copied across Europe.

I decided to step away from the role when we were adopting my beautiful girl from Vietnam. For the next few years, I worked as a consultant in retail, so my schedule was flexible, and partnered with companies like Claire’s Accessories, New Look, The Health Store Group, I also became a qualified trainer as helping, teaching, and supporting people were always top of my list.

I applied for the role of a tutor at Portobello Institute and started with delivering QQI level 6 business planning and then an opening came up in the fashion department to teach the buying and merchandising module. Wow, to be able to combine my qualifications, my fashion and business experience with my love of helping people to become successful while still being there for my daughter – fantastic. Of course, because it is in my nature to be a leader, yet still embrace inclusivity, I became the programme manager and have developed the fashion programme to be the number one course in the country. I am also on the panel of mentors of Enterprise Ireland, on the panel of trainers with the Education Training Board.

Why did you choose to work in education?

I understand that to be a teacher is truly a calling of not just the mind, but the heart as well. I believe that great teachers are good at explaining content, are patient, yet firm with students, are always fair, set high expectations, know how to motivate, and use humour appropriately. Being an excellent communicator who has a command of the subject matter is really important. I have forged my own style of teaching that draws on my strengths, knowledge, skills, values, and experiences yet fully realising I still have much to learn and develop and I am always learning from my peers and my students.

I have chosen education as a career because I believe that education is perhaps the most important function performed in our culture, or for that matter, any culture. I believe that teachers individually and collectively can not only change the world, but improve it, and in the process find personal and professional renewal. I love being to be part of this noble profession and hope to continue to inspire all the students I meet.

Empathy is of huge importance to me and understanding that no matter how someone presents themselves to you there are always things going on behind the scenes. I know this from experience and have learned the importance of understanding that everyone learns differently while at the same time a tutor must balance that with the demands of the professional industry that the students want a career in.

The fashion industry is demanding and challenging. It is my role to fully prepare students for the reality of those challenges.

Your experience as a Programme Manager

As a Programme Manager, I can develop the course content, so that it remains up to date and relevant. I can utilise my connections in the industry to connect our students with the best companies to fulfill their dreams of a career in fashion. I can ensure we have the best team of tutors who are all on board with our philosophies, and I can share my experience and learn from everyone on the team. I get to inspire and I enjoy every day that I am part of Portobello.

Why Portobello?

I have chosen to work at Portobello because I am afforded the opportunity to bring my unique style to the classroom. I get to work with a super team of individuals. I am respected and valued for my input. Yes, we have policies and procedures like any strong organisation has but I get to have fun at work.

We have smaller classes in Portobello which allows us to connect with each student as an individual. We have a holistic approach to education and can balance the academic content required while putting our students’ emotional and psychological needs to the fore.

We have a team of people here at Portobello who all want our student base to succeed, from the academic team to the support team in the office. We are always thrilled to share great news stories about our students especially those who have overcome many obstacles before they arrived at Portobello and during their time with us.

A student should choose to study with us because they will have the journey of their lives while being supported the whole way through and beyond.

Check out our Business of Fashion department here.

Follow @fashionportobello on Instagram to watch Anne Marie McAuley Instagram Live interviews with tutors and students.

What Students Say

Stephanie Burns – Fashion Buying & Merchandising

“Anne Marie has the rare ability to make learning both interesting and enjoyable. Through the amazing stories of her first-hand experience in international business and her unique and fun teaching methods, she was able to inspire me in a way of wanting to be the best student that I could be. I was scared of going back to education after a long absence, but Anne Marie made the transition so easy.  She encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, helped me recognize my strengths, and gave me the confidence that I needed to go forward and pursue my dream career in the fashion industry. She is both encouraging and inspiring, and I feel so lucky to have been one of her students. She truly changed my life.

Mpho Morwaeng – Business Planning

“Being a student of Anne Marie’s has been the best experience in my tertiary education. I enjoyed each and every single class with her. Being an international student, coming all the way from Botswana to be in her class was worth it and it’s an experience I will cherish forever. She was always supportive, positive, and patient with me, in and out of class she was available to assist me with my studies. She did not criticize, she encouraged. She motivated and inspired me to do my best. She treated us equally in class and it made me feel free to ask questions and participate in class. Not only did she teach theory, but she was also very practical and demonstrated how everything applies in the real world. I will carry with me the knowledge and skills I gained from her forever.”


  • Bachelor’s Degree Psychology
  • Bachelors Degree Business
  • QQI Level 6 Train the Trainer
  • QQI level 6 Supervisor
  • Currently completing MA in Counselling

Research / Industry Participation

  • Developed the Student Internship Programme partnered with Industry leaders Primark, Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Pamela Scott, Lifestyle Sports, Diesel etc.
  • Mentor for Enterprise Ireland
  • Mentor for Meath Partnership
  • Panelist of Trainers for ETB


Personal Academic Tutor

Each student is assigned a personal academic tutor to support you throughout your learning journey. They are available to offer you telephone and email support at any time. You can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance at a time convenient to you.

Many of our past graduates have found it is the opportunity to ask a simple question, seek direction and submit a draft of their assessment that supported them most to successful completion. Emailing your tutor at any stage during your programme to ask a query or submit a draft of your assessment supports you to achieve your personal best throughout your studies with Portobello.

This level of one to one support is a particular benefit to choosing Portobello as your Institute of choice to complete your studies.

Sinead Kelly

Position: Fashion tutor

About Sinead

I am a fashion creative based in Dublin. Having graduated from Dublin City University with a BA in Journalism and Irish, I immediately pursued my fashion instincts by doing internships with RTE Fashion online, followed by Stellar Magazine.

I began working with Folkster, in its infancy, where I spent four years working across all areas of the development of the independent retail store and online shopping website, specifically in terms of press and marketing, and fashion styling.

Four years later, countless photo shoots, kilo sale events, buying trips and business adventures, the Kilkenny store grew to encompass a second store in Dublin, a growing online business, and the start of a successful venture into the Bridal world, all of which I was actively involved in.

In 2014 I returned to DCU where she achieved a Masters in Marketing. All the while, I have steadily grown my freelance work through assisting other stylists, and taking on projects of my own. I host my portfolio on

I began my current role as Personal Shopper in Arnotts, Ireland’s oldest and largest department store, shortly after. Each day is filled with appointments encompassing wardrobe overhauls, capsule corporate wear, formal and occasion wear, and menswear. Each client experiences a personable and relaxed service while being provided with an array of choices tailored to their personal tastes and requirements.

Alongside the coordination of daily appointments, my responsibilities and duties also span to include working/hosting in store events, styling photo shoots and commercial opportunities (ie. TV appearances, dressing notable public figures etc.), contributing to Arnotts social media pages, organising, styling and speaking at corporate events and attending seasonal press events. I was delighted to style and Rosie Fortescue (Made in Chelsea) for irish Tatler, in conjunction with Arnotts. Working with Aaron Hurley, the shoot was published in December 2016.

At the same time, I teamed up with now business partner, Tobi Balogun, and launched Selfmade Clothing. Selfmade is a concept clothing brand encompassing reworked vintage into its range of product. Whereby we both saw a gap in the market to exude individuality through dressing, Selfmade’s mission is to inspire ‘You being the best version of you, no matter what!’

Whereby high street clothing was replicated, and somewhat uninspiring, we took the leap and created the brand to bring something new to the fashion scene. A typically urban, street wear brand, Selfmade has customers worldwide, including Irish model and DJ Daniella Moyles, and an array of international dance choreographers such as Tony Tzar (LA), Kerrie Milne (Dublin/LA). The brand has been featured in the Irish Examiner, and MFI magazine. Working with emerging artists and creatives, we ensure unique, raw authenticity in their work. With myself as Creative Director and Stylist, the brand has produced many campaigns over the past few years, and house their works on

In October 2018, I assumed yet another role, this time as a Fashion Tutor at Portobello Institute in Dublin. With my creative experience and academic background, I am tutor of Fashion Styling, Digital Marketing, and Retail Administrations.

Work to date

  • Fashion Stylist: Arnotts SS18, Men’s Fashion Ireland (MFI),, Irish Tatler, Folkster Ltd, Folkster Bridal, RTE Guide – 2 Cover Shoots, RTE Ten, Xpose, Irish Independent Weekend Magazine, The Silver Factory, Fish Tail Soup Apparel, United Colors of Benetton for Fashion One TV
  • Fashion Styling Assistant: The Voice of Ireland 2014; Harvey Nichols Fashion Show S/S14, A/W14, Happy Closet Launch Night; Irish Independent Weekend Magazine; Irish Times Fashion Feature – Aviary Lane; Arnotts Menswear A/W14; Stena Line Commercial July 2014.

Press features/profiles

  • Stellar Magazine Streetstyle 2013
  • U Magazine Fashion Diary Feature 2014
  •  Irish Examiner Streets Ahead feature 2014
  •  U Magazine – So You Think You Want My Job – 2016
  • Stellar Magazine – A Day in the Life feature – 2018

How will I learn?

Delivery Mode

These QQI Level 5 awards have been specifically designed for delivery by blended learning. These programmes are very suited to you if you want to study from home whilst gaining these qualification.

The practical workshops are delivered by interactive online webinars delivered by our experienced tutors. These webinars are designed to support your practical skills development. There are eight webinars  in total, which take place on the dates detailed below. These are recorded should you miss a date, you can catch up later.

During the induction, you will be given your log-in details to the online portal,  “ePortobello”. Here you will find course notes, reading lists, articles of interest and assessment guidelines. The content is structured in an easy to “find and follow” format. You will need basic computer skills such as searching the internet and typing a word document.

There is one to one expert tutor support available to you throughout your learning journey. You can upload your assessments and your tutor will give you feedback on whether you are on the right track.

Blended learning allows you to study at your time, in a location convenient to you, with support available when you need it.

Course Structure

Portobello Institute’s Fashion Buying and Visual Display Booking Package course is a blended learning course, a mix between online learning and webinars. The content is all available on ePortobello and is in an easy to follow “week by week” format. The practical element of this course is delivered by interactive webinar.

What is a Webinar?

A webinar, in the context of online learning, is a lecturer delivering a presentation or class online to a group of students. We use specifically designed e-learning software so you can participate in the class just as if you were present in the same room. You can ask a question of the lecturer at any stage during the class. The software is designed with “break-out rooms” where you can discuss a topic or complete a group exercise with a smaller group from your class. You will need a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone that has an internet connection, an audio facility so you can hear and speak during the class and a camera so your lecturer and fellow class participants can see you. The webinar is a secure online environment and only those permitted entry by the lecturer can gain access to the “classroom”.

Visual Display Module Delivery Schedule

This course is delivered over 10 weeks starting 25th October ’23 until 17th January ’24, with classes held by interactive webinar from 6.45pm – 9.30pm on the following evenings.

  • 25th October ’23
  • 22nd November ’23
  • 13th December ’23
  • 17th January ’24

Webinars are recorded so you may catch up later if you are unable to attend.


Christmas break is from 15th December ’23 to 8th January ’24.

Fashion Buying Module Delivery Schedule

This course is delivered over 10 weeks starting 27th September ’23 until 29th November ’23, with classes held by interactive webinar from 6.45pm – 9.30pm on the following evenings.

  • 27th September ’23
  • 18th October ’23
  • 15th November ’23
  • 29th November ’23

Webinars are recorded so you may catch up later if you are unable to attend.

How will I be assessed?

A variety of assessment methods are used to support students with different learning styles. These vary from practical displays, skills demonstration and short reports.

Speak to an expert

Choosing a course that will lead you to your career of choice is a significant decision. Understanding the delivery modes, supports available, career opportunities and further study options are all key considerations when making your choice. Our course adviser team are experts in the courses Portobello offers, the employment prospects and possible progression routes to other programmes – they will guide you through the detail and support you with any queries you may have.

It is important you make the right choice for you and choose the Institute and course that will best suit your needs.

Your Consultant

How do I apply?

The process for applying for this programme is straight forward and direct to Portobello Institute.

Fees & Payment Options


Course Price

Per academic year.


Exam Body Reg. Fee

Per academic year.


Additional Fees

Protection for Learners


Full Payment

Total amount payable.


Easy Payment Plan

Deposit of 50%, instalment administration fee of €95 included in instalment payments.

Deposit + 1 Instalment

50% deposit payment, due on application of your course (€539.90).

Settle final balance (€539.90) by 1st October 2023.