MA Programme Description
- RIBA Part 2 credited since 1983
As MA students, the programme encourages you to pursue a personal line of enquiry during your time here. First-year students work on a live project in term 1, and a studio project in terms 2 & 3 that also forms the basis for the technical studies course. The first-year projects respond to the ADS thematic through their own brief developed out of their research, but within
a defined scope established by the ADS tutors. Throughout the term, tutors provide support and criticism as the projects develop.
In addition to the ADS design teaching, students have complementary studies. First- year students will take media studies, which is part of the School-wide offer, which exposes students to a diverse range of contemporary and historical design and representation methods spanning architecture, visual arts and science.
First-year students also engage in the technical stream of courses to understand the integral relationship between technical innovation and design experiment. Students will develop a working knowledge of and technical skills required to engage with the construction and engineering challenges associated with building design, structural systems, thermal comfort and issues of sustainability. This is through the technical development and resolution of the independent studio project and is extended into a full technical study resulting in the Comprehensive Design Project (CDP) demonstrated in the Technical Studies Journal.
In the second year, students take a number of units in the autumn term in preparation for the Independent Research Project. Second- year students work within the thematic and contextual frame of the ADS briefs, to develop a design brief from their research, a clear research question, and a design response in their thesis project.
The Strategic Design unit includes a synopsis of student research, a clearly identifiable research question and methodology, and a project brief and thesis that supports a strategic outline design and plan.
The History & Theory Studies (HTS) unit offers the MA students a cultural framework aimed at helping them to find a personal position with respect to the field. The lectures alternate between sessions held by the course tutor and sessions held by invited guests.
The unit builds a systematic understanding of the history of modern architecture, providing a methodology for students to investigate their own individual research themes. The lectures construct a shared vocabulary able to provide the school’s diverse student body with a common critical background.
The other assessable component of second-year studies is Professional Practice, which is delivered through a series of lectures along with supporting tutorials and preparation of a case study.
The final two terms of study in the MA programme are dedicated to the Independent Research Project, which is tutored through the ADS. Students are required to develop a sophisticated, innovative and creative design response to the thesis question as established in Strategic Design.
Critical & Historical Studies
The RCA provides a unique environment for postgraduate art and design students to reflect upon their own practice, and to engage with students from their own and other disciplines. The role of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) is to support the studio programmes in enabling these critical engagements to take place. The courses offered by CHS to first year studio-based MA students propose an intellectual framework within which they can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
In the autumn and spring terms there are a series of College-wide seminars and lectures. The autumn term series will relate to your particular discipline (though it is possible to elect to join a series being offered to students on other programmes) whereas the spring term series will be more broad-based and cross-disciplinary in nature.
In the spring and summer terms, a CHS tutor will give you individual tutorials to support the development of a dissertation which is submitted *at the end of the Summer Term.* The dissertation should be between 6,000–10,000 words in length – this is a major piece of work and you will be not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.