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MA Programme Description

Visual Communication

The core curriculum is delivered through projects, workshops, lectures and individual and group tutorials. In the current Programme structure, School-wide electives form the foundation of teaching in the first year and often inspire final year independent projects. Electives run for two terms and are open to students across the School. Alongside this, students undertake projects situated within the Programme or pathway specialism. Visual Communication has offered a mix of six electives in the past year. The Bright Labyrinth lecture series informs the practice investigations of the first year. In the third term, students focus on completing their dissertations. 

The second year is largely self-directed, with teaching delivered primarily via personal tutorials or group tutorials, accessed by students based on individual need. Prior to the Work-in-progress Show (WIP), students choose to take one of a series of project frameworks which enables them to situate their practice within a pathway. Further to the WIP, students (in discussion with their personal tutors), submit a plan for an independent research project. There are interdisciplinary activities such as Critical Forum which support the critical making across all the pathways. 

Additionally, there are skills- and thinking-based workshops offered that are cross-year. These are situated in each pathway: Graphic Design (type design and letterpress); Illustration (publishing and book-binding); and Experimental Communication (digital aesthetics, processing and experimental film). Students work within technical areas across the College. 

Critical & Historical Studies

The RCA provides a unique environment for postgraduate art and design students to reflect upon their own practice, and to engage with students from their own and other disciplines. The role of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) is to support the studio programmes in enabling these critical engagements to take place. The courses offered by CHS to first-year, studio-based MA students propose an intellectual framework within which they can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.

In the autumn and spring terms there are a series of College-wide seminars and lectures. The autumn term series will relate to your particular discipline, whereas the spring term series will be more broad-based and cross-disciplinary in nature.

In the spring and summer terms, a CHS tutor will give you individual tutorials to support the development of a dissertation which is submitted at the end of the summer term. The dissertation should be between 6,000–10,000 words in length – this is a major piece of work and you will not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.

For more information see Critical & Historical Studies College-wide Programme.

This programme description is taken from the 2018/19 Programme Specifications. While we try to ensure that all Programme information is correct, some things may be subject to change and/or outside of our control. 

RCA Ranked World’s Top Art & Design University for Fifth Year

In February, the RCA was named the world’s leading art and design university for the fifth consecutive year.  

The RCA leads the table of 200 of the world’s top universities for the study of art and design in the 2019 QS World University Subject Rankings, ahead of much larger institutions around the globe.


240 credits
Two-year programme

Visual Communication Studio
Visual Communication Studio
Photographer: Richard Haughton