Design Research Methods for Professional Spatial Designers

Use design research to advance your business, spatial product or service, increasing your competitive edge and relatability with clients and end-users

This three-day, intensive programme will give professional designers from across disciplines a framework to use design research methods to develop their practice or product line.

Participants will explore how research can improve the quality of their projects, raise the profile of their work, better define their brand, and generate innovative spaces, spatial products and services.  

Taught by leading School of Architecture research academics and industry professionals, the course will combine lectures, seminars, practical sessions, one-on-one consultations, an intensive live project, and an industry-facing design research 'crit' (critical presentation).

Individual and collaborative activities will allow participants to identify which design research methods are most suited to their business/project.

The robust daily schedule at the RCA’s Kensington campus will include visits to archives and a leading design research practice.

New dates coming this autumn

Duration:  3 days

Location: Royal College of Art, Kensington

Fee: £1,000

What will I learn?

The three-day course has been carefully designed to stimulate both conceptual and practical thinking, helping you gain practical knowledge, provoking discussion and inspiration, and developing practical research skills within a supportive and creative learning environment.

In particular, you will learn:

  • how to formulate a research question and design a research project
  • the principles of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches
  • how to critically appraise academic and specialist literature
  • the significance and application of interdisciplinary approaches
  • exploratory vs targeted research; research for design vs research as design; the pragmatics of resources (time, money, staff) for research
  • research ethics and how to use them
  • the power of interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary research approaches.
How will I learn?

The course will deliver the following:

  • access to global best practice in design research methods for industry
  • skills and knowledge to return to your workplace with greater ability to initiate or advance design research projects
  • experience of critical, creative and insightful thinking
  • learning and working within a network of professional peers.
The learning will be delivered through:
  • action-based practical tasks
  • a 1:1 bespoke tutorial
  • collaborative, iterative teamwork
  • lectures, seminars
  • intensive workshop/hackathon
  • an industry-facing design research crit.
Who should attend?

The course is designed for design professionals who:

  • are from leading global firms whose work increasingly requires understanding and deploying advanced research methods from the spatial and social sciences.
  • recognise the value of design research to the USP of their spatial practice, but have yet to adopt it within their work.
  • are considering a career shift, and would like a ‘soft’ re-introduction to current and contemporary research practice in the academic environment, with a view to joining a PGR research programme in future
  • would like to expand their network through participation in executive education training at the RCA in London.

Programme team

This course will be delivered by staff from the RCA's School of Architecture: MRes Architecture and Postgraduate Research Programmes.

Dr Harriet Harriss is a Senior Tutor in Interior Design, leads the MPhil/PhD Postgraduate Research Programmes in the School of Architecture and was awarded a Clore Fellowship for 2016/17. Harriet has won a range of awards for teaching, research and practice including a NESTA Pioneer Creative Start Up Award.

Dr Adam Kaasa is an interdisciplinary scholar who specialises in the politics of the city, foregrounding the role of architecture and design. He completed his PhD as a SSHRC Scholar at the London School of Economics and leads the MRes Architecture Programme at the Royal College of Art.

Participants will also be taught by Amica Dall. Amica is a founding member of Assemble, a non-hierarchical collective whose work focuses on the social and material processes through which cities are made, producing architecture, art, urban design and research. They were awarded the 2015 Turner Prize and were part of the curator's selection at Biennale di Architettura di Venezia in 2016 and 2018. Amica leads on much of Assemble's research focused work, and works across the practice on project initiation, brief development and concept design.

Amica has acted as guest tutor and external critic at Cambridge University, University of Gothenburg, Royal Danish Academy of Art and HEAD Genève. As well as wide participation in conferences and panels, Amica has given keynote and guest lectures on the political economy of architecture and the social role of design at ENSA Paris-Belleville, Yale School of Architecture, MIT School of Architecture + Planning, ETH Zurich, EPFL Lausanne, TU Berlin, Glasgow School of Art and Y-GSA Yokohama, among others. She has been teaching history and theory and supervising graduate thesis projects at the Bartlett School of Architecture since 2014.

Amica was a juror for the 2016 RIBA President's Medal for Research, is a trustee of Baltic Street Adventure Playground and of Theatrum Mundi, an independent research foundation initiated in LSE Cities and. Currently, Amica is working with Canada based Shorefast Foundation and is co-producing a documentary for BBC Radio 4 on the role of hand-making in the contemporary production landscape.

Admission criteria


  • a design degree (e.g. architecture, product design, planning, social science, geography, fine art) OR related professional experience (i.e. working in a design consultancy or a creative team)
  • advanced level English.

Desirable but not essential:

  • Professional experience in a design practice.

Application deadlines

Register your interest to download the full course description.

Our short courses are very popular and places fill quickly. We particularly advise early application if you will need a tourist visa to enter the UK. 


School of Architecture Executive Education
T: +44 (0)20 7590 4538


Register your interest to download the full course description.

Our short courses are very popular and places fill quickly. We particularly advise early application if you will need a tourist visa to enter the UK.