A global creative cohort preparing for Master’s study
- 120 credits at FHEQ Level 6
- 30 week programme
- Full-time study
School or Centre
Next open day
- 20 Mar 2023
- Book or view all open days
- 3 Apr 2023
Interdisciplinary with flexible modes of study
The Graduate Diploma Art & Design prepares you for Master’s study at the RCA. We focus on developing proficiency in the independent learning methods and practices of art and design, and on introducing you to the role and influence of art and design in the world today.
The programme offers:
- January, May and September start dates
- On-campus, online or dual-learning modes of study
- Progression opportunities to our Master’s programmes.
The programme is interdisciplinary in nature, mirroring the experience of Master’s study at the RCA, however on the Graduate Diploma you’ll be invited to select a specialism when you apply from the following areas:
- Fashion & Textiles
- Fine Art
One global community
On-campus and online students study together as one combined, collaborative and diverse community of creative practitioners, regardless of whether they choose online, on-campus or dual-learning modes of study.
The Graduate Diploma is supported by a dedicated team of technicians and local facilitators for online students. All teaching staff are practising artists and designers, as well as being experienced educators.
The best route to RCA Master’s study
We aim to make you better informed about the study options available to you, as well as the possible career paths that you might follow beyond graduation.
Gaining a Distinction on the Graduate Diploma guarantees you entry to MA and MRes programmes that reflect their specialism of study on the Graduate Diploma. This is subject to availability of places. All other students passing the programme will be guaranteed consideration for MA and MRes programmes of their choice.
Entry to programmes is conditional on students meeting postgraduate English-language requirements demonstrated by an additional IELTS test or equivalent.
Hear from our graduates how the Graduate Diploma enabled them to join a Master’s programme and succeed.
Catch the replays from our November 2022 online Open Day.
Now accepting applications for the May 2023 intake, which commences on 2 May. Deadline to apply: 12 noon on 3 April 2023.
Head of Programme
Gary has over 25 years’ experience in the higher education sector, with a specialist focus in international and transnational education.View full profile
The Graduate Diploma is located in White City, London’s newest research and creative quarter.
Our mixed-discipline studios encourage cross-disciplinary thought, awareness and action.
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
What you'll cover
Modes of study
Learn fully on-campus and benefit from everything our facilities have to offer as well as studying in a culturally rich global city.
- Stage 1 (15 weeks on-campus)
- Stage 2 (15 weeks on-campus)
Demand is high. Apply early to secure your place.
Like on-campus learning there is a set schedule of UK time zone classes, but with the cost-saving and study/life benefits that come with online learning.
- Stage 1 (15 weeks online)
- Stage 2 (15 weeks online)
We expect online students to participate with a webcam.
Get the best of both on-campus and online study when you combine them together.
- Stage 1 (15 weeks online)
- Stage 2 (15 weeks on-campus)
We expect online students to participate with a webcam during the online section of the programme.
The Graduate Diploma consists of two blocks of 15-week study, with the first block including an introduction to specialist study at Master’s level in art and design and leading towards further and more in-depth study, practice and portfolio development in the second block.
The first part is a theme-based introduction to the specialist study of art and design, and the various study options available in the field. You’ll also be introduced to the kinds of learning methods that students are likely to encounter in the study of art and design.
The second part of the programme will enable you to focus in more depth on the preparation of a body of work and a portfolio.
Unit 1: Learning
This unit runs throughout the programme and is intended to enhance your critical and analytical skills and to support the development of English language skills to the requisite level for Master’s study.
Unit 2: Art & Design Practice
This unit introduces you to advanced practices of art and design. You’ll have the opportunity to work around structured project briefs or in self-directed study mode, depending on their prior learning and future course of study. The unit fosters discursive learning and engagement with topics and issues that do not necessarily have right or wrong outcomes.
Unit 3: Independent Art & Design Practice
In the second 15-week block, you’ll move to a more independently determined and focussed mode of learning. Working from a brief, you will be expected to participate in critiques and exhibit their works in progress. The unit will help you to make self-determined judgements about your practice, to display your work and to speak about it clearly and cogently.
Unit 4: Portfolio
The Portfolio unit runs throughout the programme and culminates in the production of a digital portfolio that you will be able to use to seek admission to further study at Master’s level. We will support you in selecting materials which fully articulate your abilities and contextual awareness.
What you need to know before you apply
Prospective Diploma in Art & Design applicants are likely to be:
- Those who have the required educational background to go on to Master’s study, but who require greater proficiency in the English language.
- Those who do not have an undergraduate background in art and design, but who can demonstrate potential in their chosen discipline of study.
- Those for whom their undergraduate studies did not adequately prepare them for Master’s study at the RCA
- Those who would like to use the programme as a diagnostic experience to help them decide which area to specialise in at Master’s level.
What's needed from you
Choose when you start
- 30 weeks
- Graduate in August
- Start a Master's in September with no break
- 30 weeks
- Graudate in December
- Start a Master’s in September following a 9-month break
- 30 weeks
- Graudate in April
- Start a Master’s in September following a 5-month break
Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.
Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:
- Creativity, imagination and innovation
- Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
- Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
- Technical skills appropriate to the work
- Potential to benefit from the programme
Each programme is looking for different things in a portfolio. Each Head of Programme provides specific advice on portfolio requirements in the online application system. We advise you to consider these requirements carefully before submitting your application.
Grad Dip portfolio requirements
We would like you to upload a range of work into the five slots available; consider each slot as a body of work or research focus. This could either be five projects, or five groupings of work.
If you choose the project route, ensure in each project you demonstrate the whole journey: include primary and secondary research, material experimentation, preparity drawings and/or models. Consider the following: what did you look at or start with, what did you do with it, and what was the end result?
If you decide to focus on grouping your work, consider different focuses like Drawing, Making, Still Image, Moving Image, Idea Development, Sketchbooks, Work Based Projects, Group Projects or Written Outcomes. Ensure you try to relate this to your current specialist interest and prior educational background.
Slots can include as many images as you wish just ensure you focus on showing us the journey and not just the outcome. Please include text where appropriate to outline the projects and the details of the work, size, date and dimensions.
If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country, you will need the equivalent of an overall IELTS score of 5.5 with a minimum 5.5 across each area.
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.
Fees & funding
For this programme
Fees for new students
You'll find tuition fees for 2023 entry below.
Home (distance learning)
Home (blended learning)
Home (On campus learning)
Overseas and EU (distance learning)
Overseas and EU (blended learning)
Overseas and EU (on campus learning)
New entrants to the College for the Graduate Diploma will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. The deposit is £2,000 for all Graduate Diploma entrants. Fees for the Graduate Diploma can either be paid in advance or on the day of registration.
* 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.
Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.
Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payment can be made in advance or on registration.
Start your application
Change your life and be here in 2023. Applications now open.
The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.
Before you begin
Check you have all the information you need to apply.Read our application process guide
Ask a question
Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.