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MA Programme Description

Interior Design

First Year

The first year emphasises experimentation and innovation through a foundational approach to the study of the interior. In the first year, students will examine and develop ideas in response to what are considered to be some of the fundamental elements and principles of the interior. These have been developed into three key areas of work: Proximities, Inhabitation and Identities. 

In term one, students undertake a series of short introductory projects often undertaken with the second-year students. Following this diagnostic introductory period, the whole of the programme undertakes a field study visit. The Proximities phase of the project then proceeds. 

In the second term Inhabitations introduces projects based around different forms of the use of the interior.

Work-in-progress is a School-wide exhibition that is used to show the College what the Programme is undertaking. 

The third term consolidates the previous learning into a project entitled Identities, where students are required to construct design projects that examine the manifestations of particular atmospheres, surfaces, rooms and conditions that convey the aspects of a particular site, communities, clients and stakeholders. It will foreground and subsequently develop all aspects of the student learning to date and will be realised at the end of the year in a portfolio submitted for the interim examination. 

All of the first year is underpinned by a School-wide elective. A year-long dissertation is undertaken in the Critical & Historical Studies module. 

Second Year

At the start of the second year, students integrate with the first year through undertaking a series of collaborative short projects in mixed groups. After the study trip, students join a particular platform in order to pursue their personal thesis project. 

The focus of the work is concerned with developing an innovative project that explores an aspect of interior design at a level appropriate for a Master’s project.

This work may be a single interior design project, involve an extended piece of research, a series of smaller exploratory projects or a combination of these approaches. This work is formed and developed in the platform and assessed in the Work-in-progress Show. The project culminates in the material developed for the Independent Research Project, assessed in the final examination and then exhibited at the degree show. 

The second year of the Programme is organised around a number of Platforms and the Exhibition Design Pathway. Each Platform will begin around the middle of term one and be based around emergent or current issues in the subject of interiors and in other built environment/design led contexts. Each platform is configured in order to respond to a particular overall provocation and location. 

Exhibition Design is a pathway that students join the Programme to pursue or can opt to undertake at the end of  the first year. It is a research-informed, practice-led approach to the making of exhibitions. Participants engage in the development of a specialised approach to making exhibition environments. 

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, 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 not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.

For more information see Critical & Historical Studies College-wide Programme.

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.


240 credits
Two-year programme