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Design & Material Culture Pathway

V&A/RCA History of Design MA

Design & Material Culture is one of three pathways, alongside Performance and Photography, that students follow on the V&A/RCA History of Design programme. All students develop specialist knowledge and techniques through pathway teaching, while also studying on a common core programme.

Students on the Design and Material Culture pathway explore how the close analysis of designed artefacts – objects and environments, but also digital and physical services, interactions, policies, institutions and legal and technical systems can offer new perspectives on pressing questions, from the early modern period to today. As a student on this pathway, you will work closely with collections and curators in the V&A, and as part of the creative community of the RCA. You will tailor a route through pathway teaching and independent work that allows you to best further your own research and professional interests, in consultation with tutors. 

As work in our graduate Show demonstrates, some students on the pathway study the history of design practices and professions, ranging from fashion and textiles, product, industrial, furniture and interior design, digital design and everyday life, making/craft and the politics of design practice. Others take on questions in architecture and construction, the history of the body and emotions, history of science and technology, labour and economic history, and global history through material culture.

The pathway provides exceptional geographic diversity, with area expertise in the UK/Europe, North and South America and Asia and a commitment to multiple perspectives on global historical issues. What we share is a critical perspective, experimental spirit, commitment to sound historical analysis and attentiveness to the role that interaction with our environment plays in shaping history.

To apply for the Design & Material Culture Pathway pathway, please select 'History of Design: Design & Material Culture Pathway' as your programme on the online applications