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IMDC

Overview

Creating desirable future mobility

Key details

Career opportunities

  • PhD study leads to a range of opportunities. You might become a researcher in industry or government or an academic in an international institution. It is an opportunity for you to investigate a research question or issue in depth, enabling you to take a more reflective, more innovative role in design.

The Intelligent Mobility research programme explores novel vehicle types, services, and integrated city solutions.

Building on the RCA’s world-leading Intelligent Mobility MA programme (formerly Vehicle Design MA), the Intelligent Mobility MPhil/PhD programme promotes critical and thoughtful research and design in the development of future mobility. 

It provides a design-led disruptive research environment focussing on new ways of designing vehicles, experiences, spaces and infrastructure that address societal issues. 

Whilst always open for suggestions, we welcome in particular proposals aligned to one or more of our Intelligent Mobility Design Centre studios, approaching mobility distinct yet complementary perspectives. 

The Automotive Transitions Studio focus is on vehicle design, exploring the paradigm shifts in the car industry, its transition to sustainability and its connection with car design heritage, material culture, fashion, and people’s aspirations.

The People and Places Studio approaches mobility from an integrated systems perspective and explores future urban mobility services; the design of mobility environments, experiences and the development of mass transport within our urban and extended environments.

Finally, the Humanising Technology Studio focuses on user experience and human factors that have been formed and transformed through trends in new mobility solutions and technologies. Topics include the creation of meaningful experiences; understanding fears, hopes and aspirations; and designing for experiential changes in current and future mobility.

Programme details

  • PhD: 3–4 years (full time), 6–7 years (part time)
  • MPhil: 2–3 years (full time), 4–6 years (part time)

Gallery

  • Playful in-vehicle actions

    Playful in-vehicle actions

  • Motion sickness and HMI design in future vehicles

    Motion sickness and HMI design in future vehicles

  • Designing movement-based frameworks

    Designing movement-based frameworks

  • Emotional tech user trials

    Emotional tech user trials

  • GATEway 2018

    GATEway 2018

Staff

Dr Catherine Dormor

Dr Catherine Dormor

Head of Research Programmes

Catherine is a practising artist and researcher. Her research is concerned with bringing together the materiality, imagery and language of cloth.

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Professor Dale Harrow

Professor Dale Harrow

Chair and Director, Intelligent Mobility

Professor Dale Harrow is Chair of the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC) and Head of the Intelligent Mobility Design Programme recognised as a global centre of excellence in automotive and design education.

View full profile
View research student supervisors

Facilities

The Intelligent Mobility Design Centre is moving to the RCA’s new Battersea South building in 2021.

View all facilities

The building will feature purpose-built facilities including workshop and presentation spaces, visualisation and mixed reality labs, as well as a prototyping workshop. Shared workspaces are provided for all research students. In addition, you have access to wood, metal, plastic and resin workshop facilities, as well as contemporary digital fabrication equipment and a suite of bookable project and making spaces.

  • Intelligent Mobility Design Centre - Battersea South

    Intelligent Mobility Design Centre - Battersea South

  • Hyundai-Kia Innovation Laboratory

    Hyundai-Kia Innovation Laboratory

  • Virtual and Mixed Reality facilities

    Virtual and Mixed Reality facilities

Curriculum

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

A postgraduate research degree challenges you to complete a research project that pushes the boundaries of our understanding.

Unlike a taught degree, a research degree emphasises independence of learning and increased specialisation. You will manage your own research project in order to investigate your topic in depth and to produce new ideas, arguments and solutions.

A research degree will give you the subject matter expertise and transferable skills necessary for a wide range of senior roles in research and academia, as well as in business, industry and the cultural and creative sectors.

A PhD is awarded to students who produce a substantial piece of original research that makes a contribution to research in the field. This can take the form of a thesis (60,000-80,000 words) or by project (a body of work and thesis 25,000-40,000 words). If you’re a PhD candidate you’ll normally registered for three years full-time, with submission within four years, or four to seven years part-time. You must remain registered and pay an appropriate fee until submission.

An MPhil is awarded for original research and submission of a thesis. If you’re an MPhil candidate you’ll normally be registered for two years (full-time) or four years (part-time).

We have more than 250 PhD students pursuing cutting-edge research and undertaking advanced training across all four RCA Schools and Research Centres.

The Royal College of Art is a world-leading postgraduate university and is ranked the most research-intensive university of art and design in the UK since 2014. Both our students and staff are drawn from countries across the globe. Overseas students play a vital role in ensuring that our College community benefits from a diversity of experience and skills.

At the RCA, research students undertake training both at a cross-College level and within their Schools, offering rich and robust preparation and learning opportunities for their research degree progression. Many of these also offer opportunities to build a portfolio of experience for future careers.

First year doctoral students attend compulsory training courses in a range of research methods and methodologies in the first term of study. You’ll attend Doctoral Training Weeks in September, February and July. These are opportunities to participate in the broader research community at the RCA, but also to undertake timely training to support research progression. These intensive weeks include a range of professional development seminars, training and advice in writing, getting published, achieving impact, entering the academic job market and more, and opportunities for you to develop and present your research to your peers and staff.

We are committed to ensuring that you are well equipped, not only to complete your studies but also to develop your future careers.

Our list of current supervisors includes links to their research profiles. These give an idea of the key areas of research that are covered at the RCA.

If there is a particular member of staff that you are interested in working with, then please email the relevant School Administrator.

View the list of supervisors

Research students have Annual Progress Reviews, which they must pass in order to progress into the next year of study.

There is a formal Confirmation Exam that takes place midway through the period of study to ascertain your readiness for PhD submission; if you who do not meet the requirements at this stage then you’ll usually be recommended to submit for MPhil examination.

Requirements

What you need to know before you apply

The programme welcomes applications from candidates from across the world and of all ages, including those with academic and professional backgrounds.

Applications are considered in terms of quality of proposal, quality of practice (where appropriate), readiness to undertake a research degree at this level and supervisory capacity.

What's needed from you

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.

Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
  • Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
  • Technical skills appropriate to the work
  • Potential to benefit from the programme

Each programme is looking for different things in a portfolio. Each Head of Programme provides specific advice on portfolio requirements in the online application system. We advise you to consider these requirements carefully before submitting your application.

Visit our application portal to view more portfolio requirements

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country, MPhil candidates will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.5 in the Test of Written English (TWE). PhD candidates will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a 7.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE).

If you need a Tier 4 visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

You'll find full time tuition fees for 2020/21 entry below. Full-time Home, EU and overseas students who have completed a Master’s degree at the College will be eligible for a £1,000 discount on tuition fees for up to three years of study, when starting a Research degree within five years of graduation. Students who opt for the part-time option will be charged half the full time cost per year. PhD students who have completed the minimum 3 years of study (or 6 years for part-time students) will be eligible to apply for Continuation Status, during which a student will be focused upon revising and editing their thesis. Continuation Status does not extend the maximum registration period and is 1 year for both part-time and full-time students. Continuation Fees are charged at £750 per term.

Home and EU
(subsidised)
£9,750 per year
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
(subsidised)
£14,500 per year
Overseas
£29,000 per year

Deposit

New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.

Home and EU
£500
Overseas
£2,000

Scholarships

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

With the Government's introduction of the new Doctoral Loan and the continued support available via the Arts and Humanities Research Council, there are more financial support options than ever before.

Payments

Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

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Change your life and be here in 2020

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

1.
Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements
More information about entrance requirements
2.
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

Email us at
[email protected]
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