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Innovation Design Engineering Research

Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) has been offering doctoral research degrees since 1985 and traces its history and connections back to Bruce Archer’s Industrial Design (Engineering) research unit formed in the mid 1960s. Archer received his RCA PhD in 1965 and went on to become one of the leading design researchers of his day, with ideas and influences that continue to gain interest.

IDE research interests cover a wide range of domains and topics, from the industrial through to the conceptual and theoretical. We encourage research in design thinking, design practice, experimentation, exploration of new materials and cutting edge technologies, interdisciplinarity and the application of new design methods within the expansive remit of innovation.

Although IDE research expertise is currently focused on a practice-based approach, we will also consider thesis-based research proposals.

Our research programme is targeted towards inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary practice from a wide variety of disciplines. We have a particular expertise in supervising candidates from diverse disciplinary backgrounds who want to engage in design research. Recent candidates have entered IDE Research from architecture, biotechnology, engineering, product design engineering, virtual reality, industrial design, graphics and branding, programming, textiles, user centred design, education, medical research, animation and space studies. Our approach is characterised through researching design, researching through design and designing research, depending on the scope and demands of the research focus. Candidates are encouraged to build research methodologies in response to research in action rather than following pre-set methods. Some studentships may be available – recent funders include the AHRC, Microsoft Research, and the Ted Powers Award. More information on fees and funding is available; also check the LDoc Scholarships

Current Staff Research Projects

Current IDE staff research projects include:

MPhil/PhD Entrance Requirements

Prior to contacting the programme, please familiarise yourself with the ethos and work of IDE here Innovation Design Engineering research. If you feel your research topic fits then please contact Research IDE to discuss your ideas and how these may be developed as a formal application. When contacting us please include a 1,500-3,000 word research proposal which supplies an overview of the research topic, as well as demonstrating:

  • Why the proposed research should be carried out in the IDE programme, making references to specific staff and student projects if appropriate.
  • Your background and motivation for the research
  • What is the new knowledge it will investigate and who will benefit from this.
  • How it relates to and builds upon prior work in the proposed field of study.
  • Resources you require for the research
  • Potential design methodologies and approaches.
  • A bibliography of key texts in your research field.

Candidates' applications should include a portfolio of projects demonstrating previous work of relevance and a strong creative design ability and relevance to the proposed research.

On receiving your proposal, if the project fits within the programme’s research interests and supervisory capacity you will be encouraged to develop it further and submit a formal application.

Please submit a research proposal by the college deadline, although we can accept later submissions and welcome enquiries at any time. Please contact ashley.hall@rca.ac.uk to discuss. 

"Staff are engaged in a broad range of activities in a wide range of design fields and actively integrate them across the research and masters programmes."