Critical Writing in Art & Design Research

Critical Writing in Art & Design welcomes applications to develop critical perspectives on contemporary art and design (including fashion, graphic design, applied arts and architecture) at MPhil or PhD level. Research students undertake an individual programme of studies which will generally result in the production of a thesis. Other kinds of written works can also be considered if they fit within the College's definitions of 'research by project'. Within these broad parameters, we are particularly interested in encouraging new thinking into aspects of the history and contemporary practice of criticism; critical theory and its relations to contemporary art and design; the changing face and content of the media; and word and image relations. We are also keen to support interdisciplinary work (in, for instance, the borderlands between art and anthropology or between graphic design and journalism).

As a leading art school, the RCA provides a stimulating environment in which to undertake a research degree. It provides many direct opportunities to exchange ideas and views with artists, designers, curators, critics, and art and design historians. Moreover, research students here often explore the exhibition as a format for the dissemination of their ideas. 

As a relatively small programme, research students in Critical Writing in Art & Design work alongside their peers in the School of Arts & Humanities (programmes of Fine Art, History of Design, Curating Contemporary Art and Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a college-wide provider of critical and historical discourse to all MA students at the RCA). This arrangement also extends the pool of expertise of supervisors.

Current or Recent Areas of Research

PhD and MPhil research students in Critical Writing in Art & Design are working on the following themes:

  • the phenomenon of Art Writing in Britain since c. 2000
  • a critical examination of Open Source design processes
  • the essay
  • the non-philosophy of François Laruelle and contemporary art 
  • bad art, bad writing: Towards a critical aesthetics of disruption
  • utopianism and communist visions in new media art