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MRes RCA: Architecture Pathway

The MRes Pathway in the School of Architecture offers training in practice-led and practice-based research methods for critical studies of spatial design, complementing the shared arts and humanities research methods taught across the College as part of the MRes RCA. Situated within the Royal College of Art, a world-leading art and design institution, the programme encourages interdisciplinary research projects in collaboration with other Schools within the RCA and external partners. The pathway has a strong emphasis on practice-led and experimental research, preparing graduates for diverse careers in academia, architectural and urban design practices, human rights organisations, and social and environmental coalitions.

The MRes Architecture Pathway recognises a demand for a new type of graduate and a new type of research training, acknowledging that – in the last decade – architectural practice has become increasingly research-led with a proliferation of industry-based research departments. In the context of large-scale social and environmental concerns, professional innovation and spatial research acquires a profound importance, suggesting new models of collaboration between academic and non-academic institutions. This has led to a growing need for architectural knowledge outside traditional disciplinary domains.

The School of Architecture currently provides research specialism in the areas of Architecture & Media, City Design, Social Movements, and Future of Work, 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.

Architecture & Media explores the use of new forms of media and data to interpret, represent and produce the built environment, including remote sensing, scientific visualisation, social media aggregation and planetary photography. Students will learn to deploy new analytical research methods based on live case studies of environmental transformation such as climate change, urban conflict and migration.

City Design undertakes research examining a set of interrelated enquiries that, although defined by questions arising from the design of the city, are always understood in terms of their architectural, social, political, territorial, cultural and economic contexts and implications. Challenging some prevailing disciplinary assumptions of urbanism and urban design, City Design sets out to explore new methods for urban, architectural and spatial research, and to critically understand the increasing role of computation with respect to design, fabrication and practice.

Architecture & Social Movements is an alternative to the traditional opposition between bottom-up and top-down approaches in architecture. Recognising social movements as manifestations of social innovation, Social Movements proposes to challenge existing practices of state planning or community-based activism. Through a focus on militant research methods and live projects, this specialism sets out to catalyse the architectural, urban and territorial creativity of social movements.

Future of Work looks at the architectural implications of fast-changing patterns of work, which are disrupting established norms around the planning and design of the workplace. As the buildings, systems, settings and spaces for work are transformed by new technologies, cultures and networks, this research specialism – presented in partnership with WORKTECH Academy – gives students the opportunity to investigate contemporary questions surrounding how architects and designers can reshape working life.   

Key features of the programme:

  • The only MRes in Architecture offered within a world-leading art and design university, providing knowledge of interdisciplinary research methods within the arts, design, and humanities, delivered across faculties.
  • A range of specialisms that focus on the interface of research and practice, supporting the development of research careers in academia and industry-based research groups, as well as working with NGOs and cultural enterprises.
  • Development of advanced research skills and support of an individual research project that prepares graduates for further studies at PhD level or careers within an emerging field of practice-led and practice-based research.
  • Training in practice-led and practice-based research by working on ‘live’ case studies and projects within the field with respected external partners.
  • Students become part of a vibrant research community at the RCA and within London.