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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

Application deadline

  • Still accepting applications

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 on this new Master of Design (MDes)

The RCA will be launching a new MDes Design Futures programme for the start of the 2023/24 academic year.

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

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.

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.

What's needed from you

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic 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 September 2023 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Full time: £15,750*
Part time: £9,450 per year
Overseas and EU
Full time: £36,750*
Part time: £22,050 per year


New 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 for the first year of study.

Overseas and EU

Progression discounts

For alumni and students who have completed an MA or MA/MSc at the RCA within the past 10 years, a progression discount is available for MFA, MDes, MArch and MEd study. This discount is £2,000 for full-time study, or £1,000 per year for two years of part-time study. This also applies if you have taken an MRes qualification between 2013 and 2023.



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

The RCA Career Progression Bursary supports UK mid-career applicants with no prior connection to the RCA applying with a partial fee bursary

Value: Bursaries of £3,500 each, awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Part-time students will receive the fee discount pro-rata over their two years of study.

Funding category: Mid-career applicants, with preference for those over 50; returning after a career break; career changes; parents returning to work after parental leave; applicants with a disability.

Eligible fee status: Home students, full or part time

More information

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.

Start your application

Sijia Xie

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

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
Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) Burning, September 2015: NASA Satellite Imagery.