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MA/MSc Programme Description

Innovation Design Engineering

First Year

In the first year, students embark on a range of units (modules) to develop skills and experience. Each of these focuses on a particular aspect of innovation, design and engineering and involves practising design skills, as well as research activities within development of products, services, systems, and experiences, and in exploring user and broader social issues. 

In each unit, students will undertake a design-led project to a brief sometimes set and sometimes of their own devising. The work periods vary in length, and students practise the transferability of the core skills in different design settings. Emphasis is placed on generating imaginative ideas, development and validation through testing prototypes, simulation; and gaining feedback from various stakeholders including potential end users, designers, engineering engineers, entrepreneurs and other experts. 

During the first year students are introduced to two learning strands:

  1. Disruptive Market Innovation (DMI) is core IDE territory and centres on delivering innovative products to the market that work.
  2. Experimental Design (EXP) is for design innovation at a fundamental level, which may incorporate the exploration of new technologies, new product categories or new contexts.

Second Year

The programme of work in the second year consists of two projects:
  1. Group project, which is a team based activity
  2. Solo project, which is conducted on an individual basis.
Students choose the theme of these project themselves. The group project runs during the autumn term and is assessed before the winter recess and exhibited at the Work-in-progress Show early in the spring term. The solo project is assessed at the end of the academic year, with work being exhibited in the RCA graduate Show and Imperial Design Engineering Show.

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.


420 credits
Two-year programme
Full-time study