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Impact Case Studies

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, the Royal College of Art was ranked as the most research-intensive institution in UK art and design, submitting the highest proportion of research-active staff (65%), and achieving 100% 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent) ratings for its research environment and impact. This high-quality, research intensive environment attracts interest from global companies keen to collaborate with the RCA’s staff and postgraduate students. In 2015 and 2016 the RCA was ranked number one art and design institution in the world in the global QS rankings, in recognition of its excellent research and research impact and its reputation with employers.

The range of areas in which our world-leading research achieves high levels of impact – economic, social and cultural – is exemplified by the seven impact case studies submitted to REF2014, one of which was the School of Fine Art submission detailed below.



Media critique:  the impact of Peter Kennard’s artistic research into the representation of war and conflict

@earth, pages 34–5, Peter Kennard
@earth, pages 34–5, Peter Kennard

Peter Kennard at the Royal College of Art (RCA) is a leading exponent of the art of photomontage. An avowedly political artist, his research since the 1970s has explored and critiqued the circulation of mass-media images, particularly those produced in relation to war and conflict. This case study shows that Kennard’s research has achieved significant impact on public opinion and sustained impact on the operations of the media in representing war and conflict.

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Expanding scale and surface in contemporary ceramics

Still Life with Three Chinese Vases
Still Life with Three Chinese Vases, Felicity Aylieff

Research into properties of scale and surface undertaken by ceramicist Felicity Aylieff has achieved substantial national and international impact in cultural life and education since 1996. The research leads to significant innovations in ceramics, especially in the areas of monumental sculptures and translation of traditional techniques to contemporary use. These are realised in a body of work and dissemination by public speaking, exhibitions and publications. Through innovative international collaborative projects, the established separation between studio ceramics and industry has been bridged globally.


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Cold War Modern: the international impact of an exhibition on modern design on public understanding and curatorial practice

Cold War modern exhibition at the V&A
Vostok model displayed at Cold War Modern, V&A (2008)

Cold War Modern. Design 1945–1970  was a four-year research project exploring the impact of the cold war on modern art, architecture and design. Conceived, researched and curated as a major exhibition by Professors David Crowley and Jane Pavitt, it provided new interpretations of the history of design in the second half of the 20th century for a wide public, international audience. The exhibition was reviewed around the world and was acquired – as a ‘package’ of concept, exhibits and publications – by venues abroad. The School of Humanities evidenced impact in the fields of public and media understanding of post-Second World War cultural history and on the curatorial and collecting activities of museums around the world.

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