MA Programme Description

Exhibition Design

Exhibition Design is a new 15-month MA programme starting in September 2017, offered as an enhanced RCA MA (240 credits as opposed to the standard UK MA of 180 credits). The programme is run jointly by the Schools of Architecture and Humanities, and is based in the RCA’s newest site within London’s newest creative quarter at White City.

Taught by a team of specialists from the Schools of Architecture and Humanities, and co-directed by Dr Adrian Lahoud (Architecture) and Professor Jane Pavitt (Humanities), the programme takes a research-informed, experimental and practice-based approach to the making and understanding of exhibitions in the twenty-first century. It invites students from a wide range of creative, design-led and curatorial backgrounds and interests.  

The central ethos of the programme is that exhibition-making is a collaborative practice, demanding a symbiotic understanding of both design-led and curatorial intentions and knowledge, which can be delivered through an increasingly wide range of cultural, commercial and institutional interactions and partnerships.

This ethos responds to the development of the exhibition, which has become a significant form of cultural production, public engagement and interaction in the knowledge economy. It recognises that exhibitions assume increasingly diverse forms; as event, spectacle, performance or installation.

Exhibition production now demands a specialised knowledge of spatial, digital, graphical and experience design, which are required to work in tandem with curatorial and audience-based expectations.  The programme regards exhibitions as a process of co-creation, shaping as well as showcasing research-led enquiry for public interest.

Exhibition Design equips students with the design-led skills and knowledge to deliver high-quality exhibition design in a variety of public settings. The programme engages with the multidisciplinary demands of exhibition making, not only from a design perspective, but through engagement with a co-creation process that involves artists and designers, curators, commissioning bodies, clients and publics.

Students are expected to explore the creative potential of the exhibition as a research process, not only as showcase, but as a distinctive form of cultural production in its own right, and to generate new knowledge in the areas of exhibition design, theory and history, in ways that can inform current and future practice.

The programme will provide the skills and training required in order to progress to specialised careers in exhibition design in the cultural or commercial sectors internationally; and to respond to the significant expansion of museum-building world-wide, and the diverse design and curatorial needs of this growing sector. In addition, the programme is designed to foster research-led and practice-based experimentation in the making of exhibitions for independent practice.

The programme offers:

  • Studio-based practice in the knowledge, processes and skills required for exhibition design
  • Spatial exploration combined with exhibit or object-based organisation strategies
  • Innovation in digital and physical fabrication, 3D and 4D media, visualisation and prototyping at 1:1 scale
  • Developing spatial strategies for the incorporation of narrative instruments for sensory, mediated and physical environments
  • Theory and history of exhibition practices, including case-study analysis
  • Site-based studies
  • Curatorial strategies and dialogues
  • The generation of an independent research project, which may take the form of a practice-based or theoretical enquiry
  • Interaction with leading professionals in the field, including with the RCA’s wide range of museum and gallery partners

We are currently inviting expressions of interest in the programme, with the anticipation of interviewing candidates in March to May 2017. The programme is offered as a 15-month, enhanced RCA MA (240 credits as opposed to the standard UK MA of 180 credits). It will provide an intensively taught first year, followed with a tutored, independent research project as part of the final award. Those interested in the programme should contact, with brief detail on their background and reasons for applying.  

Subject to validation in 2017.


240 credits
15-month programme
Full-time study