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Map of gravity acceleration values over the entire surface of Earth's Moon. Taken from Lunar Gravity Model 2011


Take your career and practice to the next level

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 45 week programme
  • Full-time study with part-time option

School or Centre

Next open day

Career opportunities

  • Design Futures graduates will be creating and leading new design futures that provide strategic and fundamental change for a safer and better world. Graduates are expecting to go on to work in a range of fields, including NGO’s, government, think tanks, futures groups, advanced consultancy roles, ‘X’ labs and start-ups.

Transform the world and your career through the potential of Design

The RCA will be launching a new MDes Design Futures programme for the start of the 2023/24 academic year – the information on these pages is subject to validation.

In an era of turbulence for people, planet and nature, how we navigate our future is more critical than ever.

The Design Futures programme is designed to enable you to work across all the disciplines and beyond, to build future-shaping knowledge and skills, address the challenges we face, envision and then navigate towards a preferred future through design-led interventions. It will allow you to ask the ‘big questions’ about disruptive innovation, ethics for design, design resilience, shared values, future forecasting and design for safety.

Design Futures is focused on professional development and action, identified and implemented through research methods and strategies.

The programme is aimed both at postgraduate students and career changers, and offers a balance between core knowledge, elective and collaborative work and a self-defined research project – enabling you to choose your own areas of interest, while developing the skills to implement your ideas. It will take a ‘burst-mode’ approach to teaching and learning.

Within the overall credits of electives on offer, you'll have the opportunity to further define your learning journey by choosing electives in areas such as Design Safety, Design Resilience, Design Ethics or Design Innovation.

If you would like to be contacted once applications are open, please complete our enquire to study form.



The RCA has facilities at Kensington, Battersea and White City. MDes students will benefit from being supervised by world-leading academics at the forefront of research and practice.

View all facilities

You will also have access to College-wide workshops on an individually planned and negotiated basis. Please note, this programme isn’t for those who want to try out a range of bespoke technical resources.

  • RCA Studios

    Group discussion

  • Workshop


  • Service Design masterclass

    User journey mapping

What you'll study

The teaching will be delivered by a combination of core and elective areas of study, which will include an extended independent research project, and may also include work-based learning such as placements or action research projects.

What you'll cover

The information on these pages is subject to validation.

Design Futures will engage students in a ‘burst-mode’ approach to teaching and learning. 'Bursts' are intensive, campus-based periods that bring students and educators together to engage, discuss and challenge key concepts and ideas. It also enables your to experience a concentrated advanced combination of theory and applied practice.

Following the ‘burst mode’ delivery, you'll be supported in your studies through a combination of tutorials, group tutorials, seminars and peer-led learning opportunities. These will be supported by online learning materials and a dynamic and interactive digital learning environment.

The information on these pages is subject to validation.

Term 1

You'll begin by taking Design Research Methods, which provides a toolkit for tackling diverse and challenging issues delivered through a series of ‘methods sprints’ that connect theory to creative practice.

You'll also take Complex Systems, which introduces a range of concepts allowing designers to build familiarity with cybernetics, leverage points, wicked problems, causal loops, theories of change and entanglement.

During this term you'll also choose two cross-College electives from options including Design Safety; Design Innovation: Models and Life Cycle; Design Ethics: Design for Good Practice; and Design Resilience: Future Forecasting.

Term 2

In term two you take Entrepreneurship, which examines the business, management, enterprise and entrepreneurial skills required to transform an innovative design or communication concept into a compelling value proposition.

Envisioning Futures combines futures methods with advanced digital and analogue envisioning methods bringing to life near and deep futures prospecting from a multi-species perspective.

You'll undertake the cross-College Mini Grand Challenge, which investigates social and societal challenges through the lenses of design. You'll explore urgent and complex issues by working in multidisciplinary teams.

You'll also choose a further cross-College elective, with options including Design Safety: Case Studies and Applications; Design Innovation: Venture Creation; Design Ethics: Design for Responsible Behaviour; and Design Resilience: Sustainability.

Term 3

The final term is devoted to your personal Research Project. You'll develop a research proposal to demonstrate the need for research on your chosen topic, articulate any gaps of knowledge and how your research proposal intends to address this.

You'll review any relevant literature, analyse data and plan the final steps required to conclude the research project. Finally you'll consolidate and finalise the research project, generating, developing and finalising a design solution as an implementation of the key findings.


What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit, and applications are welcomed from all over the world, as well as from mid-career designers and career changers. The selection criteria considers creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio or equivalent professional experience, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve the MDes standard overall.

Fees & funding

For this programme


Fees for this programme will be announced in early 2023



The RCA wants our programmes to be open to all talented students, from all backgrounds.

Some of our Scholarships are programme-specific, while others focus on ensuring people from a diverse range of backgrounds have the financial support they might need to study at the RCA.

Ask a question

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

Register your interest with us here
Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) Burning, September 2015: NASA Satellite Imagery.