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Computer room, White City

Overview

Research in computer science

Key details

Next open day

Career opportunities

  • PhD study leads to a range of opportunities. You might become a researcher in industry or government or an academic in an international institution. It is an opportunity for you to investigate a research question or issue in depth, enabling you to take a more reflective, more innovative role in design.

From theory to practice, increase the impact of research in industry and society.

The Computer Science Research Centre welcomes postgraduate students (MPhil/PhD) from a wide range of cross-disciplinary backgrounds to address strategic needs in priority research areas such as Computer Graphics and Visualisations, Smart and Interactive Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, and Information Systems.

Interdisciplinary projects that try innovative techniques and approaches and industry partners that can provide real-world impact and evaluation opportunities are highly encouraged.

The Computer Science Research Centre at the RCA launched January 2020, part of the RCA ambition to bring Art and Design and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) together to solve the global challenges of today.

Our researchers will actively engage in national and international research activities to promote the UK as a world leader, and will participate in exciting industry-led research projects.

Programme details

  • PhD: 3–4 years (full time), 6–7 years (part time)
  • MPhil: 2–3 years (full time), 4–6 years (part time)

Gallery

  • RCA Robotics Lab

    RCA Robotics Lab

  • Innovation Design Engineering studio

    Innovation Design Engineering studio

    Richard Haughton

  • The Haptic Illusion

    The Haptic Illusion

  • Hexo Touch

    Hexo Touch

  • Jiachen Du

    Jiachen Du

  • Untitled, 2019

    Untitled, 2019

    Milda Samsonaite

  • Virtual Reality Game, 2018

    Virtual Reality Game, 2018

    Cara Mills

  • Turbulent Protein

    Turbulent Protein

    Kit Mead

Facilities

In 2021, the RCA will open a purpose-built research facility in Battersea, including brand new Computer Science facilities.

Find out more about the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design

The centre provides access to world class expertise in a cross college research collaboration with our centres and schools as well as cutting-edge facilities such as the visualisation laboratory, the RCA’s advanced robotics research space.

  • LG Monitors in the Smart Zone RCA White City

    LG Monitors in the Smart Zone RCA White City

  • School of Design Workshops. Photography by Richard Haughton

    School of Design Workshops. Photography by Richard Haughton

  • School of Design Workshops. Photography by Richard Haughton

    School of Design Workshops. Photography by Richard Haughton

  • School of Design Workshops. Photography by Richard Haughton

    School of Design Workshops. Photography by Richard Haughton

  • LG Monitors in the Smart Zone RCA White City

    LG Monitors in the Smart Zone RCA White City

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

A postgraduate research degree challenges you to complete a research project that pushes the boundaries of our understanding.

Unlike a taught degree, a research degree emphasises independence of learning and increased specialisation. You will manage your own research project in order to investigate your topic in depth and to produce new ideas, arguments and solutions.

A research degree will give you the subject matter expertise and transferable skills necessary for a wide range of senior roles in research and academia, as well as in business, industry and the cultural and creative sectors.

A PhD is awarded to students who produce a substantial piece of original research that makes a contribution to research in the field. This can take the form of a thesis (60,000-80,000 words) or by project (a body of work and thesis 25,000-40,000 words). If you’re a PhD candidate you’ll normally registered for three years full-time, with submission within four years, or four to seven years part-time. You must remain registered and pay an appropriate fee until submission.

An MPhil is awarded for original research and submission of a thesis. If you’re an MPhil candidate you’ll normally be registered for two years (full-time) or four years (part-time).

We have more than 250 PhD students pursuing cutting-edge research and undertaking advanced training across all four RCA Schools and Research Centres.

The Royal College of Art is a world-leading postgraduate university and is ranked the most research-intensive university of art and design in the UK since 2014. Both our students and staff are drawn from countries across the globe. Overseas students play a vital role in ensuring that our College community benefits from a diversity of experience and skills.

At the RCA, research students undertake training both at a cross-College level and within their Schools, offering rich and robust preparation and learning opportunities for their research degree progression. Many of these also offer opportunities to build a portfolio of experience for future careers.

First year doctoral students attend compulsory training courses in a range of research methods and methodologies in the first term of study. You’ll attend Doctoral Training Weeks in September, February and July. These are opportunities to participate in the broader research community at the RCA, but also to undertake timely training to support research progression. These intensive weeks include a range of professional development seminars, training and advice in writing, getting published, achieving impact, entering the academic job market and more, and opportunities for you to develop and present your research to your peers and staff.

We are committed to ensuring that you are well equipped, not only to complete your studies but also to develop your future careers.

Our list of current supervisors includes links to their research profiles. These give an idea of the key areas of research that are covered at the RCA.

If there is a particular member of staff that you are interested in working with, then please email the relevant School Administrator.

View the list of supervisors

Research students have Annual Progress Reviews, which they must pass in order to progress into the next year of study.

There is a formal Confirmation Exam that takes place midway through the period of study to ascertain your readiness for PhD submission; if you who do not meet the requirements at this stage then you’ll usually be recommended to submit for MPhil examination.

Requirements

What you need to know before you apply

The programme welcomes applications from candidates from across the world and of all ages, including those with academic and professional backgrounds.

Applications are considered in terms of quality of proposal, quality of practice (where appropriate), readiness to undertake a research degree at this level and supervisory capacity.

What's needed from you

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.

Visit our application portal to view more portfolio requirements

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country, MPhil candidates will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.5 in the Test of Written English (TWE). PhD candidates will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a 7.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE).

If you need a Tier 4 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

Below are indicative fees for 2021 entry, which may be subject to an inflationary increase, and will be confirmed in December 2020. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Home
(subsidised)
£9,750 per year
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
(subsidised)
£14,500 per year
Overseas and EU
£29,000 per year

Deposit

New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.

Home
£500
Overseas and EU
£2,000

Scholarships

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

With the Government's introduction of the new Doctoral Loan and the continued support available via the Arts and Humanities Research Council, there are more financial support options than ever before.

Payments

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

RCA students at work (photo: Richard Haughton)

Change your life and be here in 2021

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

Before you begin

1.
Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements
More information about entrance requirements
2.
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
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.

Email us at
[email protected]
RCA Kensington cafe