Research at the Royal College of Art

The RCA leads in the development of high-level interdisciplinary research in art and design.

Research at the RCA is undertaken across the range of art and design disciplines of the six Schools: Architecture, Communication, Design, Fine Art, Humanities and Material. Academic staff and research students contribute to the research culture of individual programmes and Schools, pioneering research that realises the particular insights that art and design can offer.

A School Research Leader is responsible for the promotion and enhancement of research excellence in each School. The belief that knowledge can be generated, and questions answered, through experimentation, creative enquiry, analytical scholarship and development of innovative artefacts and designs, underpins our research projects and outcomes. Together, research at the RCA carries important implications for art, design and society and the enrichment of cultural life.

The College is home to the The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, which is a pioneering multidisciplinary centre for people-centred design research. The Centre leads research worldwide through three labs: Age & Ability; Health & Patient Safety; and Work & City.

Funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund, the Healthcare Innovation Exchange (Helix) Centre will establish multi-disciplinary approaches to design-led innovation embedded in a clinical environment, including providing facilities and the training and development of design-focused health and business leaders. The Centre aims to transform healthcare, with a focus on improved patient care and making the UK a global business hub for healthcare innovation.

The RCA School of Communication and Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design jointly lead the Digital Research Lab, the College’s contribution to the major AHRC-funded Creative Exchange Hub (CX), in collaboration with Lancaster University and Newcastle University. The Hub brings together creative sector businesses and connects them with digital designers, major corporations and leading researchers in the arts and humanities to explore the potential of the digital public space.

Of the seven UK research councils, current RCA projects receive major finding support from the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) and MRC (Medical Research Council). Public-sector and trust sponsors include the Arts Council England, NHS, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme and NESTA. Collaboration with business is a vital component of the College’s contribution to the creative economy. Business partnerships include projects with Microsoft, Philips, Intel, Research in Motion and Ford.

"The College’s academic environment is enhanced by extensive partnerships with other world-class institutions – universities, cultural organisations, government and industry. Our partners include Tsinghua University, Imperial College London, Politecnico di Milano, University of Sao Paulo, the Victoria and Albert Museum, TATE, British Film Institute, Cambridge University and the Science Museum."