Materials Science Research Centre

In 2017 the Burberry Foundation awarded £3 million to the Royal College of Art to establish the Burberry Material Futures Research Group – the first of its kind in the world. 

The new Group is intended to be the first explicit ‘STEAM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) research centre at a traditional art and design university, and will promote a design-led disruptive research environment for the development of new approaches to innovation in materials and applications.

The aim of the Group is to 'inspire creativity and pioneer more sustainable materials and techniques in the UK creative industries through researching the future of sustainable future materials, consumer experience and manufacturing', through taking a systems approach materials research to propose new realities that effect a new re-coupling of materials resources use to human wellbeing and economic development, in order to help society transition to a sustainable existence.

The Group will bring together world-leading researchers in design-led material futures to investigate the major challenges of new and sustainable materials, new and sustainable approaches to manufacturing and supply chain processes, and design-led innovations in consumer experience and product interaction. The Group will comprise of three Research Fellows, and marks the first phase of the RCA Material Science Research Centre, which will undertake pure and applied research that addresses industry and real-world challenges. It will do this by combining the RCA’s world-leading research strengths in design-led innovation, creativity and craft, with expertise from science disciplines, to create an interdisciplinary research team of Research Fellows from both design and materials science and manufacturing engineering disciplines. Our real-world challenges relating to sustainability necessitate such an interdisciplinary ‘STEAM’ approach in order to produce holistic technical–social–human–economic innovations.

PhD Studentship

The Burberry Material Futures Research Group is offering a 3-year fully funded PhD studentship covering tuition fees, stipend and training allowance to undertake research in one of these areas: distributed manufacture for local production ecosystems; distributed manufacture for a circular economy; materials circularity for design and manufacturing for a circular economy; digital materials experience; consumer experience and design and customisation environments. We would welcome applications from candidates who have design, materials science or manufacturing engineering backgrounds. The PhD studentship will commence in September 2019. Further information is available here.



  • Materials Science Research Centre
    Royal College of Art
    4 Hester Road
    London SW11 4AN

  • 020 7590 4464