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ADS4 field trip to Iceland, 2016


We inspire design innovation

Key details

  • 240 credits
  • 2 year programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre


  • Kensington

Application deadline

  • 14 Aug 2024

Expand the possibilities of your practice by developing a speculative, independent and critical ethos

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) part II and Architects Registration Board (ARB) validated since 1983.

  • Previous RIBA validation: 2019
  • Previous ARB validation: 2016

This research-driven, studio-based post-graduate programme offers a unique opportunity to critically test architecture and spatial practice.

As part of our curriculum, we tackle pressing political, social and ecological questions, empowering you to redefine your practice and contribute to positive change in the world. Together, we'll explore global imbalances, inequalities and environmental challenges, allowing you to shape a future where architecture is pivotal in creating sustainable and meaningful spaces.

We offer a vibrant platform to discuss contemporary architectural issues, strongly focusing on real-world dynamics. Engage in inspiring tutorials, thought-provoking lectures, and hands-on workshops. Embrace reflective research to deepen your understanding and transform your approach to architecture. A teaching team of diverse practitioners will guide your studies, each offering unique perspectives and valuable industry connections.

Applications for the September 2024 intake are open and will be assessed on a rolling basis. Programmes will close for applications when the maximum number of places have been awarded, or at the final deadline on 14 August, 12 noon (UK time).

Explore our graduate work

In July 2023, students presented RCA2023, a series of exhibitions of their work and events. Explore online at the RCA2023 website.

Explore previous events and exhibitions online at Showcase.

Find out more about this programme

Catch the replays from our latest Online Open Day.



We are the only UK art and design university where all academics are research active – meaning everything we teach is related to cutting-edge research. Teaching staff are subject to change.


The School of Architecture is currently based at our historic Kensington site.

View all facilities

Our studios are the heart of day-to-day activity for the School. Studios are purpose-designed for inspiration and interaction between students of different design disciplines. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to wood, metal, plastic and resin workshop facilities, as well as contemporary digital fabrication equipment and a suite of bookable project and making spaces.

  • Architecture Studios

    Architecture studios

  • Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

Year 1

Studio I, Studio II & Studio III

In your first year, you'll work on a live project and a studio project within a pedagogical framework established by the Architectural Design Studio (ADS) tutors. Once briefed on the nature of each ADS, each student is invited to nominate their order of preference. Places are allocated based on a synoptic portfolio and entrance interview.

The ‘Live’ project introduces you to forms of external engagement, industry practice and the role of fieldwork in a design process. The ‘Live’ project brief is set by the ADS tutors and is integrated into the overarching studio brief.

Studio I forms the basis for the briefing and strategy for the Studio II & Studio III project. Studio II develops the project of Studio I. Studio III is the final development of the individual design project initiated in Studio I and developed over terms 2 and 3. The final project should be developed and communicated by producing drawings, models, digital models, moving images, and making processes.

Technical Studies I & Technical Studies II

This unit provides first-year students with a comprehensive understanding and working knowledge of the technologies and innovations in construction, engineering, environment, and energy associated with the built environment. Technical Studies is an integral part of the studio design project and essential in the advanced development of the design. As such, it complements ADS project work.

The Technical Studies unit equips you with an understanding of contemporary challenges in the engineering and construction industries. Doing so challenges you to engage with larger global questions inherent in contemporary practice. You will explore broader ideas of sustainability that extend beyond the detailed design of the building envelope and services. You will also acknowledge larger environmental and contextual developments alongside an important focus on human comfort, whole life carbon impact and integrate fire and life safety strategies. You will physically explore a technical aspect of their building through a physical (and or digital) one-to-one scale test. This one-to-one material or detail test of the project tests a portion of your design through actual fabrication. As part of any design development, it is essential to research, test and design through physical prototypes. This unit emphasises the importance of integrating technical knowledge and effective partnership between architects and related engineering disciplines in fostering design excellence.

Elective unit

All Architecture students will be offered an Elective unit.

Download the MA Architecture Programme Specifications 2023/24 (PDF)

Professional Practice Studies

Professional Practice Studies gives you an understanding of the professional duties and responsibilities of the Architect and the pathway to registration for UK architectural practice. It introduces the planning, policy, procurement processes, legal frameworks relevant to the profession, and business management principles. You are encouraged to examine the agency afforded by these frameworks to shape their chosen forms of practice and career path and your ethical responsibility in practice concerning social and environmental sustainability, health and life safety.

Design Strategy

The unit provides the intellectual, technical, and professional foundation for the Independent Research Project. You will define a research area and research question, then outline a clear design strategy and a working methodology that translates these questions into a design response.

History & Theory Studies

The History Theory Studies (HTS) unit enables you to identify a personal position through engagement with a broader cultural framework in support of the independent research project. The unit helps you build a systematic understanding of the history of modern architecture, constructing a shared knowledge, methodology and vocabulary so that you can define your position and lines of research enquiry.

Media Studies

The unit is subdivided into multiple sections led by tutors with diverse media experience. Lectures are delivered by staff and invited guests and introduce various media and spatial practice methodologies. In the tutorials, you will learn specific skills related to your section and deploy your research through the execution of new media-based projects. The unit’s mission is twofold: to encourage you and your peers from disparate programmes to increase your cross-disciplinary communication and to challenge you to expand your media practice beyond architecture’s reliance on media as purely representational.

Studio IV & Independent Research Project

In this unit, you will independently develop a design response to the research question identified in the Design Strategy unit.

The thesis project builds on your skills, knowledge and experience, developed throughout the programme, to develop a mature and sophisticated design project that identifies your practice within the field.

Successful projects will develop a spatial proposition in response to a straightforward research question you identified, developed, and tested against a context and set of parameters you've specified.

Projects are to be presented and represented in the most effective means to communicate project intent and agency within the field, capitalising on the diverse resources of the College.

Download the MA Architecture Programme Specifications 2023/24 (PDF)

AcrossRCA is a compulsory 30-credit unit which is delivered as part of all MA programmes.

Situated at the core of your RCA experience, this ambitious interdisciplinary College-wide unit supports you in responding to the challenges of complex, uncertain and changing physical and digital worlds. Developed in response to student feedback, AcrossRCA creates an exciting opportunity for you to collaborate meaningfully across programmes.

Challenging you to use your imagination and intellect to respond to urgent contemporary themes, this ambitious unit will provide you with the opportunity to:

  • make connections across disciplines
  • think critically about your creative practice
  • develop creative networks within and beyond the College
  • generate innovative responses to complex problems
  • reflect on how to propose ideas for positive change in local and/or global contexts

AcrossRCA launches with a series of presentations and panel discussions from acclaimed speakers who will introduce the themes and act as inspirational starting points for your collaborative team response.

Delivered online and in-person across two terms, the unit has been designed to complement your disciplinary studies and to provide you with a platform to thrive beyond graduation.


The core of learning on the MA Architecture programme is project-based and structured around Architectural Design Studios (ADS), with each offering you a unique set of concerns, methods and critical frameworks. Each ADS has approximately 14 students, with first- and second-year students working alongside each other.

Find out more about ADS themes 2023/24

In your second year, you will be offered the opportunity to engage with practice mentors. This enables you to map shared research themes as well as developing a greater understanding of the diverse range of industry activity.

Exposure to and understanding of the working methods, approach and environment of each practice supports you in being reflective on their own emerging practice methods.

The mentoring scheme offers you another voice on your student work but can also offer guidance on professional development and industry engagement.

This initiative recognises the value of the collaborative networks that drive our students and continues the tradition of linking architectural education with industry as first established by the Royal College of Art, as a direct descendant of the Government School of Design, in 1837.


What you need to know before you apply

The MA Architecture programme prioritises innovation and experimentation and we are looking for students with a strong sense of curiosity, independence and agenda who want to be challenged. The majority of our students come from undergraduate studies in architecture, but this is not essential and we enjoy a diverse community of students. We also strongly encourage a minimum of one year’s work experience (in a related field) before entering into Master’s studies.

You should have achieved a high quality first degree in architecture (RIBA Part I) or an international equivalent degree or higher and should have at least one year’s work experience in a design office. Alternative undergraduate qualifications will be considered based on portfolio and personal statement.

You are required to submit a completed RCA MA application form, a digital portfolio of completed student projects together with any relevant supporting design material, and a brief video setting out your motivations and personal interests. If you wish to gain exemption from RIBA Part II, you must have completed their RIBA Part I satisfactorily. Design and critical thinking are prioritised in the selection of candidates.

What's needed from you

  • We would like you to submit a one single compiled PDF portfolio with no more than 5 projects of maximum ten pages per project – this should be a carefully considered document.
  • Video/media files can be embedded. The portfolio can be evidenced through any media from drawings, images and models to film and writing, but the work must be succinct, dense and well-curated and clearly articulate your interest in and intentions for the MA Architecture programme.
  • Remember, we will be viewing the document on screen so consider your layout to suit this. In curating your portfolio it is important to prioritise student and independently-led work; professional work is only of interest if it was an exceptional experience.
  • All projects should be accompanied by a concise written description and images and content carefully selected to both communicate a coherent project trajectory and also demonstrate skills and aptitude.
  • Your portfolio should communicate who you are and your potential. It is important to choose the best projects that truly represent your interests, that unpack issues that are important to you or that you may wish to pursue in your Master's education. Work should be well presented visually and also in depth of content and communication.
  • Fundamental to any work included in the portfolio should be research, rigour, invention and visually and materially rich design exploration and representation. Impress us!

We ask that you upload a two-minute video recorded on your phone or laptop, speaking to us directly. High production qualities are not needed. We will review the work in your portfolio, so keep your video simple.

  • It is important to hear about your work in your own words and to understand the process and intentions of the project, along with critical reflections on the work, but the format and content are up to you.
  • We want to understand what you hope to achieve at the RCA and your potential contribution, and the unique perspective that you can bring to the programme.
  • While the video can be personal in character, the content should always be centred on the work.
  • Remember, this is your key moment to communicate to us who you are and what you can bring to the programme – make it count!

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic or UKVI score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE) and at least 5.5 in other skills. Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

Fees for UK for September 2024 entry are given below.

£9,000 per year
Overseas and EU
£26,950 per year


New overseas and EU entrants to the College will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees.

Overseas and EU

Progression discount

For alumni and students who have completed an RCA Graduate Diploma and progress onto an RCA Master's programme – MA, MA/MSc, MFA, MDes, MArch, MEd or MRes – within 10 years, a progression discount of £1,000 is available.

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.



The RCA scholarship programme is growing, with hundreds of financial awards planned for the 2024/5 academic year. Examples of financial awards offered in 2023/24 are given below.

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, USA

Eligible fee status: Overseas fee status

Value: £7,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey

Eligible fee status: Overseas fee status

Value: £7,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £5,000 towards fees

For: MA Architecture

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £5,000 for living costs

For: MA Architecture, MA Writing, MA Animation, MA Product Design

Eligibility criteria: Home fee status

Value: Full fees & maintenance

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students who identify as D/deaf or disabled

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £6,000 for living costs

For: All programmes excluding PhD & short courses

Eligibility criteria: Black or Black British Caribbean, Black or Black British African, Other Black Background, Mixed - White and Black Caribbean, Mixed - White and Black African

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: Full fees & maintenance

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £5,000 for living costs

For: Any MA programme

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £10,000 towards fees

Applying for a scholarship

You must hold an offer to study on an RCA programme in order to make a scholarship application in Spring 2024. A selection of RCA merit scholarships will also be awarded with programme offers. 

We strongly recommend that you apply for your programme as early as possible to stand the best chance of receiving a scholarship. You do not apply directly for individual awards; instead, you will be invited to apply once you have received an offer.

More information

Additional fees

In addition to your programme fees, please be aware that you may incur other additional costs associated with your study during your time at RCA. Additional costs can include purchases and services (without limitation): costs related to the purchase of books, paints, textiles, wood, metal, plastics and/or other materials in connection with your programme, services related to the use of printing and photocopying, lasercutting, 3D printing and CNC. Costs related to attending compulsory field trips, joining student and sport societies, and your Convocation (graduation) ceremony. 

If you wish to find out more about what type of additional costs you may incur while studying on your programme, please contact the Head of your Programme to discuss or ask at an online or in person Open Day.   

We provide the RCASHOP online, and at our Kensington and Battersea Campuses – this is open to students and staff of the Royal College of Art only to provide paid for materials to support your studies. 

We also provide support to our students who require financial assistance whilst studying, including a dedicated Materials Fund.

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.


Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

Change your life and be here in 2024. Applications now open.

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements and key dates
More information about eligibility and key dates
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Consider attending an Open Day, or one of our portfolio or application advice sessions
See upcoming sessions
Please note, all applications must be submitted by 12 noon on the given deadline.
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

Register your interest with us here
RCA Kensington cafe