MRes Programme Description

The School of Architecture currently provides research specialism in the areas of architecture and media, city design, social movements, future of work and cultural infrastructure, which are seen as essential to contemporary architectural and urban research. However, the programme welcomes strong applications for other fields of interest as well as traditional academic research.

The Master’s of Research (MRes) RCA is a full-time, one-year programme that offers early-career research students the opportunity to develop and demonstrate mastery in the theory, methods and practice of research within an art and design environment. MRes RCA degrees are offered in four Schools (Communication, Design, Fine Art and Humanities) and are designed to provide early-career researchers with the intellectual, technical and professional tools with which to complete high-quality research projects, whether at doctoral level or within the cultural and creative industries, working across traditional sociocultural, disciplinary and sectoral boundaries.

MRes RCA programmes are delivered through a combination of: structured learning, comprising of lectures and master-classes by practitioners and senior academics; workshop classes based around a set task (a ‘brief’); tutorled seminar classes where students will be asked to reflect on material that they have read or studied in advance; and project assignments that support the structured teaching programme.

The programme provides students with the intellectual, technical and professional tools to pursue their own independent research within academia or industry, drawing on the experience and expertise of world-leading researchers across the College. The ethos of the programme will be collaborative, so students should be prepared to engage fully within their peer group, and with established and emerging research communities throughout the College.

In the development of intellectual engagement, students will be encouraged to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the principles of scholarly research within art, design and the humanities; identify robust research questions that interrogate fundamental questions of knowledge creation and exchange; critically analyse and evaluate complex research data; and situate their own research questions in the wider academic context of their field, understanding how their own research builds on and contributes to existing knowledge.

In the development of technical skills, students will be encouraged to: demonstrate an advanced understanding of the tools, methods, theories and techniques of research in Art and Design; experiment in the development, evaluation and presentation of complex research projects; effectively communicate the aims, methodologies and outcomes of their research to a range of different audiences; and effectively explore and articulate the potential of their research to achieve impact beyond the academic sphere.

For professional development, students will be encouraged to: take responsibility for directing their studies through setting goals and managing time and resources effectively; participate as an active, thoughtful and responsible member of a research community; demonstrate an understanding of and sensitivity to the principles and policies of ethical research; effectively plan and manage a complex research project; define their professional identity through self-reflection informed by theoretical, social and cultural awareness; engage constructively with research partners in order to form collaborations that benefit both their research and the partner organisation.

Programme Structure

Part 1: Postgraduate Certificate
(60 credits / 600 hours)

MRes RCA students will share College-wide units on Research Methods, and Research Cultures, which will serve as the foundation to the programme, equipping students with the necessary intellectual framework and practical tools to progress through the award. They will also take a pathway-specific Research in Practice unit that will focus on the process of research from a disciplinary perspective. It will use a case study approach that connects students with practising researchers and research teams, and encourages them to reflect on how research projects are developed, managed, evaluated and communicated.

Part 2: Postgraduate Diploma
(60 credits / 600 hours)

Students undertake pathway-specific units in Advanced Research Methods, a Group Research Project and a College-wide module on Research Identities. 

Each pathway-specific unit enables students to extend the knowledge and understanding developed through the College-wide ‘Research Methods’ unit, enabling students to develop and demonstrate mastery of discipline-specific research methods. The pathway-specific Group Research Project will provide students with an opportunity to apply the intellectual and technical skills developed through prior units to a collaborative ‘live’ research project. This could take the form of a collaborative self-initiated project, participation in an existing research group, or a placement with one of the College’s network of research partners (such as a national museum).

The College-wide Research Identities unit will focus on professional development. It will enable students to define their professional identity as a researcher, and to develop the tools to establish and sustain their profile beyond graduation. This will encompass: confidence; leadership; negotiation; networking; communication and collaboration.

Part 3: MRes
(60 credits / 600 hours)

The MRes RCA concludes with a Personal Research Project, in which students apply the knowledge, skills and practices developed throughout the programme. The submission could take the form of an extended thesis or an original work of art, design or communication, along with a shorter thesis that defines the purpose, context and impact of the work.

Students will also complete a supporting statement that reflects on the process of developing, managing and communicating the outcomes of the research project, and provides an action plan that specifies on-going professional development goals.


180 credits
One-year programme
Full-time study