Inside

MPhil/PhD History of Design

V&A/RCA

We embrace and encourage a broad range of interests in research across the history, theory and practice of art, design, curating and critical writing and criticism as creative practices. Our disciplinary interests span the fine arts, architecture, design (including fashion, graphics, interior and product design), craft, communication, film, photography, performance and digital media. We nurture the historians, theorists, curators, writers, journalists and critics of the future.

Our MPhil/PhD Programme

The School provides expert supervision across the spectrum of art and design history, curating and criticism, and we are also keen to support inter- and trans-disciplinary work. Public engagement with arts and humanities communities is a vital part of our practice.

Research students present their work in progress on a regular basis to specialist staff and student audiences through seminars. Research students present their work to their peers in the School regularly, to ensure they acquire the skills and feedback necessary to their ongoing research and development as scholars in the Humanities. The wider community of RCA research students also come together on an annual basis to convene an interdisciplinary conference or exhibition, to foster greater exchange and experimentation across their diversity of interests. 

Research training is a vital part of our programme, in areas that include archival and oral history research methods, writing practices, historiographies, critical thinking and methodologies and reflections on philosophy. Support for language training is also offered where necessary, following consultation with supervisors.

In addition to critical support from world-leading academics, historians, theorists, curators and critics, the School’s MPhil/PhD community has access to stimulating opportunities including College-wide Research Methods course (mandatory for all first-year research students), the Humanities Forum, and ongoing student-led projects including Unmaking Things (an online design history platform) and Prova (an annual Humanities journal).

Funding

General information regarding RCA fees, studentships and scholarships can be found in Fees & Funding. The RCA offers a number of funded research scholarships in collaboration with national funding bodies, which are announced on an annual basis. The School of Humanities has an established track record of securing funding for individual research projects, via schemes such as the TECHNE Doctoral Programme, the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award Programme with museums such as Tate, V&A and Science Museum). 

Please submit your particular research enquiry, with draft proposal to history-of-design@rca.ac.uk

mailto:humanities-research@rca.ac.uk

. Further details about the RCA application process can be accessed at MPhil/PhD Application Process.

Applying for MPhil and PhD

We welcome applications to undertake original research by thesis (c. 40,000 words for an MPhil and 80,000 words for a PhD) or by project (students explore aspects of practice such as publishing or curating) within the unique environment provided by the RCA. You must have a clearly defined research project and be able to demonstrate your ability to engage in research at the appropriate level. You are encouraged to develop your proposal by considering these three questions:

  • What is your particular research question, hypothesis or area?
  • How do you propose to address this question or to develop the field: what is your methodology?
  • How do you see your work in the wider context of the discipline? How does it relate to existing work in the area?
If applying for an MPhil/PhD by project, please include an outline of the proposed project and information about relevant professional experience. If the project fits within the School’s research expertise you will be encouraged to develop it further and submit a formal application. We welcome year-round applications and are happy to work with potential applicants to develop their research proposal as necessary. We also welcome enquiries from students who wish to work with Humanities in a cross-disciplinary capacity between Schools at the RCA, on a case-by-case basis. A College-wide Open Day for research students in held in November each year. However, we are happy to arrange a meeting with a relevant tutor to discuss your project at any time.


For further details or to discuss a potential research project, please contact humanities-research@rca.ac.uk. You will then be put in touch with an appropriate research tutor within the School.


General information regarding RCA fees, studentships and scholarships can be found in Fees & Funding. The RCA offers a number of funded research scholarships in collaboration with national funding bodies, which are announced on an annual basis. The School of Humanities has an established track record of securing funding for individual research projects, via schemes such as the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award Programme. We will also support individual student applications to external funding schemes as appropriate. For further information, contact humanities-research@rca.ac.uk.

Please submit your particular research enquiry, with draft proposal to humanities-research@rca.ac.uk.