MA Programme Description

Textiles

The Textiles Programme offers five specialisms:  Printed, Knitted, Woven, Mixed Media Textiles and Soft Systems. Students base their study within one of the specialisms. 

Across the specialisms, the Programme endeavours to extend the students’ knowledge and experience of the breadth of Textiles throughout the first year using both individual and team project activities. These can be delivered in conjunction with external industry partners to offer opportunities for professional engagement and practice. Collaborative work is strongly encouraged in the School and across the College.

The second year is devoted to independent study and the self-driven creation of work which challenges the boundaries of the discipline and builds on the individual’s creative identity. Collaborative work across the Programme, School and College is encouraged and supported.


The Programme is comprised of six studio units over the two years, as follows:

Studio Unit One (20 Credits)
Thinking through making: Materials, Tools + Narratives

This unit of study places the student within their Textiles specialism (Knit, Weave, Print, Mixed Media, Soft Systems) and asks the student to critically engage with the processes and methods of making/production. This includes aspects of materials, tools and models of practice. The students undertake a series of technical challenges associated with the craft foundation and making aspects of their Textiles specialism.

The student is expected to demonstrate understanding and competency with regard to these specialist skills in the production of the body of work for assessment.

As the unit progresses the student is required to develop a unique and individual response to the project brief that goes beyond technical competency and demonstrates their creative capability to challenge the accepted boundaries of Textiles practice. Students will develop their own conceptual frameworks for the development of their individual work. This is evidenced in a body of work that has an individual and unique expression in the use of colour and materials and demonstrates technical competency. The body of work will be presented and assessed towards the end of Term 1. 

Studio Unit 2 (30 Credits)
Contextual Application + Location.

This unit of study mixes the students across their Textiles specialisms (Knit, Weave, Print, Mixed Media, Soft Systems) and asks the student to elect a contextual platform to explore and challenge the location of their practice.

Elective platforms are offered that broadly reflect significant areas of Textile practice (Currently they are Colour, Materials and Finish or CMF , Body, Space, Gallery & Futures). There are both common and distinct approaches across the different platforms. Students need to recognise where there are overlaps  between the platforms and where distinct understanding and approaches are required.

Elective project briefs are set for the contextual platforms that may be delivered in conjunction with another Programme,  industry or external partner.

The student is expected to demonstrate appropriate understanding and competency with regard to their elected area of practice in the appropriate development of ideas and production of a body of work for assessment that responds to the given brief. 

The context project work will be presented and assessed at group critiques either at the end of Term 2 or early in Term 3, depending on Easter dates.

Studio Unit 3 (10 credits)
Individual Creative Identity

This unit of study builds on the knowledge, skills and experiences learnt through Studio Units 1 & 2 and asks the students to develop their individual creative identity through a period of independent study.

This will include the development of new research, proposals for the innovative development of the ideas and the ability to critically analyse their own work and that of others.

The students are asked to present their work at group critiques in Term 3. During these crits the work will be assessed and students will be asked to comment on their overall progression during year 1.

Studio Unit 4 (40 Credits)

Evolution and Resolution

Studio Unit 4 asks the students to design their own creative brief and define a set of outcomes for presentation at the end of the term 4. This can be an individual or collaborative programme of work. The parameters of the brief are set by the individual student(s), with the support of their personal tutor, but must include the following:

  • Original visual research.
  • Contemporary and relevant conceptual, contextual and cultural questions pertinent to the discipline of Textiles.
  • A strategy for creative risk taking.
  • A methodology for the development of the work.
  • Bibliography.
  • The location of their work in relation to Textiles practice.

The work will be assessed at the Individual Progress Review at the end of the Term 4. The Progress Review panel will include the personal tutor and at least one other member of staff. The panel must have one member at Senior Tutor level or above.

Studio Unit 5 (20 Credits)
Breaking Boundaries Part 1: Challenge + Innovate

Studio Unit 5 is a project that asks the students to identify their potential point of difference and/or potential area for innovation that challenges both themselves and the discipline. It is a period for risk taking before consolidation of the work in the final Studio Unit.

The students are responsible for setting their own scope of work, managing their time and resources effectively.

They must be able to articulate their point of difference and/or innovation at the end of the Studio Unit. This will take the form of an individual presentation at a progress review in Term 5.

Studio Unit 6 (60 Credits)
Breaking Boundaries Part 2: Create, Critique + Consolidate

Studio Unit 6 is the final Masters project and asks the students to identify, develop and present a cohesive body of work that encapsulates and demonstrates their Masters level expertise.

As an independent research project, the students are responsible for setting their own scope of work, managing their time and resources effectively.

The body of work can be an individual or collaborative project, or series of mini-projects within a defined, overarching theme. 

Students must be able to demonstrate a sustained trajectory of progression through the unit that encompasses creativity, critical analysis, consolidation and resolution of their ideas.

The parameters of the final major project are set by the individual student(s), with the support of their personal tutor, but must include the following:

  • A formative personal statement.
  • Original visual research.
  • Contemporary and relevant conceptual, contextual and cultural questions pertinent to the discipline of Textiles.
  • A strategy for creative risk taking.
  • A methodology for the development of the work.
  • A defined outcome or deliverable demonstrating an individual creative identity.
  • A summative, reflective, self-evaluation statement.

The work will be assessed at the final examination in Term 6. The examinations will be conducted in line with the College’s regulations. Verbal feedback will be given after the exam with an overall comment of level achieved (Very poor, poor, satisfactory, good, very good, excellent).

Each of the specialisms have unique and specific curricula content in Studio Unit 1 and are described below:

Knitted Textiles Specialism

Knitted Textiles is the exploration of textiles through an engagement with the structural, conceptual and technical possibilities offered by knitting and the use of soft, linked structures. Knitting is a process laden with cultural preconceptions and industrial expectations, students are expected to challenge these perceived boundaries alongside challenging themselves, their current knowledge, creativity and skills. Students are encouraged to take creative risks and are expected to be innovators in their field. Students are free to determine the context of their work; there are no limitations and no boundaries.

The specialism encompasses all forms of knitting processes and production spanning the range from hand-knitting and crochet, through to domestic and dubied machines to digital automated industrial machinery (Shima Seiki). The first year commences with technical projects covering hand, machine and digital knitting. Students learn how to undertake shaping and 3D knitted construction. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.

Woven Textiles Specialism

Woven textiles is one of the largest and most vibrant textile industries globally, spanning the handmade to cutting edge new materials and manufacturing techniques and systems. 

Within the Textiles Programme, the woven textiles specialism explores dynamic and varied methods of woven technique from handloom to industrial jacquard. The first year begins with an advanced technical project covering both hand and jacquard weaving. During the firstyear students explore, research and innovate in terms of yarn, materials, dying techniques and finishing processes. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.

Mixed Media Specialism

Mixed Media represents an experimental and interdisciplinary approach to Textiles that links a broad range of practices, techniques, materials and methods of working. The history of the specialism lies with embroidery and stitched textiles and core technical skills in these areas continue to provide a valuable foundation in the first year of the programme. Students are introduced to hand, machine and digital processes alongside 3D modelling, sculptural and digital fabrication techniques. 

As a specialism we focus on radical experimentation, material testing and transformation. We encourage an exploratory, non-linear approach that embraces the conceptual and the magical, allowing a space for the incidental and accidental processes of discovery that foster a culture of research through making. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.

Printed Textiles Specialism

Printed Textiles at the RCA captures a vast and varied cross-section of creativity within the design Industry. It is a method of thinking, making and manufacture that questions the notion of surface; its identity and purpose. This constant negotiation of the surface nurtures the breadth and exploration of both process and materials and students are encouraged to question and challenge the possibilities and pre-conceptions of print and textiles and redefine these by pushing these boundaries through experimentation. 

The first year includes building the skills and knowledge associated with the discipline including advanced making techniques, theories around colour, perception and line, alongside industry linked collaborations and continued development of personal lines of enquiry. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.

Soft Systems Specialism

Soft systems focuses on smart textiles and the developments in soft materials (fibres, filaments, yarns, gels, liquids, coatings, moldable materials and flexible films, virtual materials) and digital assemblies and places creative practice at the forefront of the innovation ecosystem to question the materiality of our lives and pioneer new ways of thinking and new ways of

making that transcend digital and physical boundaries informed by a robust background in material knowledge and emerging fabrication technologies. 

Students use a creative experimental approach to propose and prototype new architectures for responsive and adaptive textiles. 

During the first year, students develop their knowledge of the classes and characterisation of materials through technical projects.  Digital fabrication of and new technologies for processing materials are explored both theoretically and practically, alongside traditional textile processing platforms. Material experimentation focuses on aspects of e-textiles, physical computing, responsive properties and self-assembly with biomaterials. Students are encouraged to explore the opportunities offered by collaborative practice and are expected to make links with the appropriate audiences and industries for their work.

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.

KEY DETAILS

240 credits
Two-year programme
Full-time study