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Programme Description

Graduate Diploma Art & Design

The Graduate Diploma consists of two blocks of 15-week study, with the first block including an introduction to specialist study at Master’s level in art and design and leading towards further and more in-depth study, practice and portfolio development in the second block.

The first part offers a theme-based introduction to the specialist study of art and design, and the various study options available in the field together with an introduction to the kinds of learning methods that students are likely to encounter in the study of art and design.

The second part of the programme will enable students to focus in more depth on the preparation of a body of work and portfolio.

The curriculum outline is as follows:

Unit 1: Learning, 20 credits

This unit runs throughout the programme and is intended to enhance students’ critical and analytical skills and to support the development of English language skills to the requisite level for Master’s study.

Unit 2: Art & Design Practice, 40 credits

This unit introduces students to advanced practices of art and design. Students will have the opportunity to work around structured project briefs or in self-directed study mode, depending on their prior learning and future course of study. The unit fosters discursive learning and engagement with topics and issues that do not necessarily have right or wrong outcomes.

Unit 3: Independent Art & Design Practice, 40 credits

In the second 15-week block, students move to a more independently determined and focussed mode of learning. Working from a negotiated brief, students will be expected to participate in critiques and exhibit their works in progress. The unit will help students to make self-determined judgements about their practice, to display their work and to speak about it clearly and cogently.

Unit 4: Portfolio, 20 credits

The Portfolio unit runs throughout the programme and culminates in the production of a digital portfolio that students will be able to use to seek admission to further study at Master’s level. Students will be supported in selecting materials and presenting work which fully articulates their abilities and contextual awareness.

All students passing the programme with a Distinction will be guaranteed entry to an RCA MA programme that reflects their specialism of study on the Graduate Diploma (subject to availability of places). All other students passing the programme will be guaranteed an interview to the RCA MA programme of their choice. Entry to the RCA programmes is of course conditional on students meeting postgraduate English language requirements demonstrated by an additional IELTS test or equivalent.

In instances where students would like to progress to RCA dual awards (MA programmes offered with collaborative partners), or accredited programmes, applicants will be considered but they will be required to satisfy entry requirements of the partner institution or accrediting body as well as the minimum RCA entry requirements.

Teaching on the Graduate Diploma in Art & Design is split over two 15-week blocks. There are two intakes per year, with students able to begin in either July or January. 

We are accepting applications for entry in January 2020.

Please note that if you have previously studied in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, the possibility of progression to an MA programme after the Graduate Diploma might depend on the length of your previous visa(s). Please contact our Student Support Office for further information. 

This programme description is taken from the 2018/19 Programme Specifications. While we try to ensure that all Programme information is correct, some things may be subject to change and/or outside of our control. 

RCA Ranked World’s Top Art & Design University for Fifth Year

In February, the RCA was named the world’s leading art and design university for the fifth consecutive year.  

The RCA leads the table of 200 of the world’s top universities for the study of art and design in the 2019 QS World University Subject Rankings, ahead of much larger institutions around the globe.


120 credits
30-week programme (two blocks of 15 weeks)
Full-time study



+44 (0)20 7590 4483