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Air-It-Yourself, Jihee Moon 2019 Photographer: Stephen Pover

Developing design discourse

Key details

Programme details

  • 240 credits
  • 2 year programme
  • Full-time study

Next open day

Career opportunities

  • Graduates are creative catalysts and visionaries who go on to lead in design consultancies, join large established companies, and to set up their own design studios and start-ups. Our graduates are change makers driven by their vision of tackling and redefining industries.

Responding to and creating design discourses.

Design Products MA develops students to be creative, innovative design thinkers supporting them on the journey to develop their own design identities. The programme embraces a pluralistic approach to design across a number of design cultures, through which students develop their design identity.

These cultures represent current discourse and practice within the discipline. These span design through making and experimentation; design for manufacture; designing interactions; using design as a catalyst for change or a means to explore emergent scenarios.

The programme enables students to conceptualise and validate ideas by canvassing, provoking, challenging, and questioning people, places, technology, things and systems.

Design Products MA educates students to be design-thinkers who can address real world challenges through balancing high levels of creativity and technical capability with contextual insight and empathy for people, as well as understanding and shaping contemporary and future discourse.

Through team and individual projects tutored by practising designers, design researchers and through engaging with external partners, students develop their own design culture whilst building a portfolio of work that will locate them in their desired professional context.


When applying for this programme, you select one of these specialist pathways.

Design Futures

The Design Futures pathway consists of 60 tailored units and the possibility to continue into the independent final project.

Visit the Curriculum tab for more information.


  • Design Products_Jihee_Moon_soap_.JPG

    Soap, 2019

    Jihee Moon

  • Design Products HeleenSintobin_Digi-VasCollection_10.jpg

    Digital vase collection, 2019

    Heleen Sintobin

  • Design Products_Tomi Laukkanen_Worthy_electronic pieces_£.jpg

    Worthy, 2019

    Tomi Laukkanen

  • Design Products Show 2019 Richard Haughton.jpg


Professor Saeema Ahmed-Kristensen

Professor Saeema Ahmed-Kristensen

Head of Programme

Saeema applies approaches from computer science, engineering and psychology to tackle product-based projects.

View full profile
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The School of Design is based at our historic Kensington site.

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Students have access to the College’s workshops, with traditional facilities for woodworking, metalworking, plastics and resins, including bookable bench spaces. Computer-driven subtractive milling equipment is available, as well as additive rapid prototyping.

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    Kensington workshop. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • Design products metalwork.jpg

    Kensington metal workshop. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • Design Products lending library.jpg

    Design Products lending library. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • Design Products studio.jpg

    Design Products studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton


More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.


When applying for this programme, you select one of these specialist pathways.

You’ll be challenged to provoke discourses and design for significant future issues, be they technological, social, cultural, values, political, economic or environmental.

These will run in parallel to (and integrate partially with) Unit 3 and 4 (Year 2), thus enabling you to apply the knowledge learnt on the Design Futures pathway across a multitude of design cultures.

What you'll cover

The programme provides students who have already acquired knowledge and skills in various areas of design with an academic framework in which to continue to develop their own professional direction.

We support students in gaining independence, developing their design identity in order to tackle problems with increasingly level of uncertainty and ambiguity as they progress. We take a pluralistic view of the students’ ideas and interests and encourages experimental, groundbreaking work, encouraging a critical approach to address real world problemsUnderpinned by research from world-leading experts, the programme builds briefs, projects and opportunities that will aid you to realise your visions.

You’ll develop your specialisms through tutorials, workshops, lectures, seminars and peer-led opportunities. This is underpinned with principles, tools and techniques, that are relevant to the current or future practice of design, for example: design research methods, systems thinking, advanced ideation techniques, visualisation and prototyping in physical and digital environments and; issues of design for sustainability, the circular economy and commercial viability.

The School of Design has created a unique environment for interdisciplinary design led innovation. It attracts students from a highly diverse set of global disciplines, experience and industries. This provides the opportunity to not only reshape their own design practice, but to reshape the discipline of design itself.

All studio-based MA students follow a weekly schedule of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a College-wide initiative that provides you with the intellectual framework to build a coherent relationship between theory and practice.

CHS delivers exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures by experts within the programme and high-profile visiting lecturers. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the theoretical background and aspects of your chosen discipline through a tutored dissertation process, as well as receiving individual tutorial support from our team of expert tutors.

View more CHS information


What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process considers creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.

For MA Design Products, you should have a good undergraduate degree or equivalent in an area of design, or related background and proficient written and spoken English. Several years of professional experience, either before or after a first degree, is a benefit, and you must be able to demonstrate critical and innovative thinking, a design curiosity and the ability to thrive in student led projects.

Applications are welcomed from candidates from related backgrounds, such as engineering, architecture, communication, sports science, medical/health, international development/NGO, economics/business, material science, technology development and user experience.

What's needed from you

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.

Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
  • Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
  • Technical skills appropriate to the work
  • Potential to benefit from the programme

Each programme is looking for different things in a portfolio. Each Head of Programme provides specific advice on portfolio requirements in the online application system. We advise you to consider these requirements carefully before submitting your application.

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE). Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Tier 4 visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

You'll find tuition fees for 2019/20 entry below. These are likely to go up roughly in line with inflation for 2020/21 entry. Fees will be confirmed by 1 December 2019.

Home and EU
£9,500 per year
£19,000 total cost*
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
£14,200 per year
£28,400 total cost*
£28,400 per year
£56,800 total cost*


New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.

Home and EU

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.



Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.


Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

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