Programme Welcome

MRes RCA: Design Pathway

The School of Design offers a practice-based MRes Pathway built on the wide range of our design research, which explores the space between society and technology supported by expertise spanning across Innovation Design Engineering, Global Innovation Design, Design Products, Healthcare Design, Service Design, Vehicle Design and Intelligent Mobility, Fashion and Textiles.

Design Research Methods

The Programme welcomes a broad approach to design research and encourages experimentation in design methods, supported by experienced researchers. Approaches can range from user-centred design to ethnographic and anthropological methods, action research, participatory design research, cybernetics, grounded theory, to Transformation Design, Speculative, and Critical Design. We encourage diverse candidates who want to focus on commercial research, prepare for doctoral studies and a future career in academic research or use the Programme for career change to develop new skills and identify new research interests. 

Students will be introduced to relevant design research tools, methods, methodologies, theories and epistemologies aimed at supporting the development of a personal research approach. The Pathway welcomes interdisciplinary. We foster ideas that impact social systems – the economy, culture and politics – through design-driven technologies that emerge from critical observation, design thinking and experimentation; we promote sustainable innovation through the understanding of human behaviour. The cultural and knowledge exchange supported by the Pathway enables the development of a unique professional profile, which enhances each student’s existing background of the individual experience the pathway offers.

Applicants to the MRes Design pathway will benefit from the advanced design research culture in the School of Design and enjoy the freedom and autonomy that a self-directed research journey allows.

Commercial Networks

The School of Design has a long history of design research that can be traced back to Bruce Archer and the NHS hospital bed design in the 1960s, through to today’s researchers who are internationally engaged in a broad range of areas from intelligent mobility through to citizen science, the future of making, socio-cultural design, materials, experimental design, design for safety, design policy, service design and artificial intelligence and robotics as well as providing strategic advice to government and agencies. Recent commercial research funding partners have included Huawei, Tata, Airbus, Microsoft, Brioni, Adidas Swarovski and Intel amongst others with grant-maintained funding from the AHRC, EPSRC and the Lloyds Register Foundation. 

Interdisciplinary Expertise

We also have a diverse set of visiting experts from a range of disciplines and a global network of research collaborators that we draw on in our integrated School-wide research culture, which includes mobility, healthcare, the future of making, ethics and robotics. These also bring strong synergies with the other RCA Schools and expertise areas including the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design combined with a strong local set of collaborations with the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Design Museum and Imperial College London with whom we share three of our master’s programmes. 

The training we provide through designing research and researching through design will be suitable for both commercial and academic careers in a variety of disciplines as a stand-alone qualification and act as an accelerator to prepare for doctoral studies.

The programme offers: 

  • Multidisciplinary teaching inputs from School of Design staff (Intelligent Mobility, Fashion, Textile, Service Design, Design Product, Global Design Innovation and Innovation Design Engineering)
  • Seminars and workshops taught by leading practitioners and researchers visiting or based in the School of Design
  • Shape an individuals’ critical, lateral, entrepreneurial and innovation thinking through research methodologies applied to design
  • Support transformative experiences that aim to implement existing careers
  • Exposure to the RCA's cross-College research culture and approach, across the Schools of Architecture, Communication, Fine Art and History of Design, experienced in interdisciplinary workshops
  • Exposure to leading institutions, design centre and business incubator – like the Helen Hamlyn Design Centre, Innovation RCA, Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Design Museum and Imperial College London – through seminars and workshops
  • The opportunity to work and collaborate with students of different backgrounds, disciplines and cultures
  • Being an active member of the School of Design research community by participating in MPhil/PhD seminars, workshops and current research projects (for example Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Huawei, Tata, Airbus, Brioni, Adidas Swarovski, Fashion Fragance, Microsoft etc).


For further information or to arrange a conversation about the MRes degree, email design-mres@rca.ac.uk