Unit of competency details

CUFCOS504A - Design costumes (Release 1)


ReleaseStatusRelease date
1 1 (this release)Current 11/Nov/2010

Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by and equivalent to CUACOS509 - Design costumesUpdated to meet Standards for Training Packages. Minor edits to performance criteria. 14/Jan/2016

Training packages that include this unit

CodeTitleSort Table listing Training packages that include this unit by the Title columnRelease
CUF07 - Screen and Media Training PackageScreen and Media Training Package 1.2 
CUE03 - Entertainment Training PackageEntertainment Training Package 3.1-3.2 
CUA - Creative Arts and Culture Training PackageCreative Arts and Culture Training Package 1.0 


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 030107 Garment Making  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 030107 Garment Making  25/Sep/2008 
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Modification History

Not applicable.

Unit Descriptor

Unit descriptor 

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to design costumes for the screen, media and entertainment industries.

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.

Application of the Unit

Application of the unit 

Costume designers in the screen, media and entertainment industries apply the skills and knowledge described in this unit. Their role is integral to defining the overall 'look' of productions, and their creative work ranges from designing original costumes, to overseeing the purchase and adaptation of ready-made outfits.

Costume designers must carry out research into the costume styles, designs and construction methods that are appropriate for the production's time period, using a number of resources, including libraries, museums and the internet.

They need creative flair, a strong sense of colour and design and the ability to draw. They should be confident in their knowledge of period costume, jewellery, corsetry, hosiery, millinery, footwear, costume accessories, etc. They must be experts on fabric qualities, clothing cuts, fits and techniques, pattern making and sewing. Creatively, they should know how to dress to particular faces or physiques to create characters.

Even though they work with a high degree of autonomy, costume designers are members of a creative production team and work closely with directors and other designers.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Not applicable.


Prerequisite units 

Employability Skills Information

Employability skills 

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria



Interpret creative briefs

1. Analyse performance outlines/scripts to determine overall production concepts

2. Participate in preliminary concept meetings with relevant personnel  to clarify understanding of costume  design requirements

3. Identify factors  that may have an impact on the design process

4. With reference to production documentation , itemise elements that need to be addressed during the design phase

Conduct research

5. Identify and source references  that may inform the design process

6. Critically analyse sources and references in the context of design projects

7. Consider the impact and potential of new and emerging technologies to inform the design process

8. Collect, collate and adapt materials to develop initial design concepts

9. Organise research material for ease of access by relevant personnel during the design development process

Generate and assess ideas

10. Generate a range of costume design ideas that respond sympathetically to the brief and provide creative solutions to design issues

11. Assess ideas and collaborate, as required, with relevant personnel to maximise contribution of ideas to initial concepts

12. Continuously reflect on and appraise ideas for implications on cost, technical feasibility and creative requirements

Develop and document designs

13. Hold ongoing discussions with relevant personnel so that additional requirements and new ideas are considered and incorporated during the development of designs

14. Ensure that agreement is reached with relevant personnel in relation to consistent artistic interpretation

15. Evaluate initial concepts and select the most appropriate approach, giving consideration to budget, research findings and ongoing reflection/discussion

16. Develop costume designs from initial concepts ensuring that all production and design factors are taken into account

17. Organise or undertake testing and experimentation with selected costume designs

18. Develop accurate records  of designs, including relevant information

Finalise designs

19. Present draft costume construction plans and specifications to relevant personnel in an appropriate format

20. Participate in initial and ongoing evaluation of presented designs

21. Negotiate and agree to modifications and amend designs as required

22. Produce accurate and comprehensive documentation to support implementation of designs

23. Present final designs, plans and specifications to relevant personnel and confirm that all production requirements have been met

24. Reflect on own role in design process and note areas for future improvement

Required Skills and Knowledge


This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • planning and organising skills sufficient to:
  • meet deadlines
  • undertake research to inform the design process and systematically organise research materials
  • problem solving skills in the context of ensuring that all costumes meet performers' requirements and specifications
  • communication, literacy and teamwork skills sufficient to:
  • interpret and clarify written proposals and/or creative briefs
  • work collaboratively in a team environment
  • present ideas for the design of costumes for discussion and feedback from team members
  • reach agreement with relevant personnel on final costume designs
  • consult with production personnel about costume design and construction issues to ensure creative and technical production requirements are met
  • produce detailed costume design and construction documentation
  • initiative, enterprise and creativity in the context of:
  • creating and refining costume design concepts
  • thinking laterally when developing concepts
  • undertaking background research to inform the design process
  • maintaining design integrity
  • technical skills sufficient to:
  • use the internet for research
  • use standard word processing packages
  • draw/sketch in the context of designing costumes
  • numeracy skills sufficient to interpret budgets
  • self-management skills sufficient to:
  • work under pressure
  • provide timely advice and documentation

Required knowledge 

  • role of costume design within the overall artistic direction of productions
  • the production scheduling process and its interrelationship with the design process
  • role of costume designers and how this may differ depending upon the production, and relationship with other designers and production personnel
  • relationship between different design elements, e.g. costume, sets, lighting, props, sound
  • copyright, moral rights and intellectual property legislation in relation to costume design
  • ethical standards and protocols for designers working in the screen, media and entertainment industries
  • the formal principles and elements of design and their relevance to costume design
  • research skills in relation to costume design, including creative interpretation and adaptation
  • principles and techniques of design and script break-down
  • sources and availability of materials and equipment used in costume design
  • costing and budgeting techniques for costume design
  • current and emerging technologies available to costume designers
  • construction methods and implementation issues associated with the realisation of costume designs
  • issues and challenges that arise in the context of designing costumes
  • typical formats and techniques for documenting costume designs
  • OHS standards as they relate to the process of designing costumes

Evidence Guide


The Evidence Guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the following is essential:

  • documented costume designs that demonstrate an ability to:
  • take production environment and constraints into account
  • meet creative requirements of productions
  • undertake research to inform the design process
  • meet deadlines
  • effective communication and negotiation skills in the context of finalising costume designs
  • collaborative approach to work.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure:

  • practical demonstration of skills through a range of costume design assignments for at least two productions
  • access to productions that require the design of costumes
  • access to appropriate learning and assessment support when required
  • use of culturally appropriate processes and techniques appropriate to the language and literacy capacity of learners and the work being performed.

Method of assessment 

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

  • direct questioning combined with review of portfolios of evidence and third-party workplace reports of on-the-job performance
  • evaluation of costume design documentation prepared by the candidate to determine whether production requirements have been met
  • observation of the candidate presenting costume designs to colleagues for discussion to assess candidate's communication and negotiation skills
  • written or verbal questioning to test knowledge as listed in the required skills and knowledge section of this unit and to evaluate the processes used in developing and realising creative concepts
  • review of portfolios of evidence and third-party workplace reports of on-the-job performance.

Guidance information for assessment 

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

  • BSBDES402A Interpret and respond to a design brief
  • CUEIND02B Research and evaluate theatrical references to inform industry practice
  • CUFCOS505A Realise costumes.

Range Statement


The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Relevant personnel  may include:

  • costume production staff
  • director
  • director of photography
  • floor manager
  • make-up and hair personnel
  • other specialist staff
  • performers
  • producer
  • production designer
  • production manager
  • stage manager
  • wardrobe department personnel
  • wardrobe supervisor/manager.

Costumes  may include:

  • accessories
  • basic styles, e.g.:
  • pants
  • shorts
  • skirts
  • blouses
  • contemporary wear
  • corsetry
  • costume jewellery
  • dance wear
  • female, male, child and animal costumes
  • millinery
  • padding
  • pre-production toiles
  • tailored costumes
  • undergarments.

Factors  may include:

  • availability of personnel
  • availability of resources
  • available budget
  • effective use of resources
  • expectations of producers and/or directors
  • needs of other production areas
  • production schedule
  • production values
  • research findings
  • role of designer in the costume construction phase
  • space/venue specifications or restrictions
  • style/period/nature of production
  • timelines.

Documentation  may include:

  • call sheets
  • computer generated
  • costume break-down lists
  • costume patterns
  • costume plots
  • descriptive costume checklists
  • manually written
  • manufacture schedules
  • manufacturer specifications/instructions
  • measurement charts
  • memos of instruction
  • operational/project plan
  • production schedules
  • running sheets
  • scripts.

References  may include:

  • collages
  • digital images
  • film, video
  • internet
  • models
  • musical scores
  • paintings and illustrations
  • photographs
  • reference books/journals/texts
  • scripts
  • sketches
  • technical production drawings
  • writings of the period.

Records  may include:

  • mock-ups
  • plans, computer or manually generated
  • samples
  • specifications.

Unit Sector(s)

Unit sector 

Competency field

Competency field 

Visual communication - Costume

Co-requisite units

Co-requisite units 

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