MA/MSc Programme Description
In the first year, students embark on a range of taught modules, workshops and master classes to develop skills and experience. Each of these focuses on a particular aspect of IDE and involves practising design skills, as well as research activities both within product development itself, and in exploring user and broader social issues. In each module you will undertake a design project to a brief sometimes set and sometimes of your own devising. The work periods become progressively longer as they deal with more complex problems, and you practice the transferability of the core skills in different design settings. Students joining the programme have a diverse range of existing skills, and the tutor input ensures that the modules allow students to be challenged and learn whatever their backgrounds. As students find their feet as innovation designers, the intensity of taught skills is reduced and by the third term students are working on longer project modules. During the first year students elect into one of two learning strands:
- Disruptive Market Innovations: DMI is core IDE territory and is about delivering innovative products to the market that work.
- 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.
The learning strands are to allow students to excel at a particular approach to design or to expand their abilities through exploring a way of working unfamiliar to them. The strands are lightly embedded into the programme, especially in the first year and there is plenty of collaboration between these strands over two years.
The programme of work in the second year (IDE2) consists of two projects:
- Group project, which is a team based activity
- Solo project, which is conducted on an individual basis.
Students choose the theme of these project themselves. The Solo project runs throughout the year (albeit thin at first), and the Group project runs during the autumn term and a brief period of the spring term. The Group project is assessed early in the spring term at the Work in Progress show and the Solo project is assessed at the end of the year in the Degree Show as part of the Final Examination. The Solo project also forms the subject of a Solo project report involving a full description of the project development and results – this is completed and handed in to be assessed towards the end of the summer term.
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 (though it is possible to elect to join a series being offered to students on other programmes) 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 be not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.