- 180 credits
- 1 year programme
- Full-time study
School or Centre
- MRes RCA supports the development of research careers in academia and industry-based research groups. All students develop an individual research project, which prepares graduates for further studies at PhD level or careers within an emerging field of practice-led and practice-based research.
Interdisciplinary research from across the School of Design and RCA Research Centres.
The MRes RCA Design Pathway builds design research skills that can be deployed within academic and professional careers. We foster innovation and tackle complex systems and social challenges, from the future of work to the circular economy, climate change, AI and healthcare.
We offer interdisciplinary learning; you'll be exposed to the full range of programmes across the School of Design, including our MAs, research centres and networks. Experienced researchers run seminars and workshops on design research across topics that include cybernetics, ethnography, ethics, future forecasting, speculative design, participatory design, action research, reflective practice, robotics and coding.
The pathway's curriculum offers a transformational experience and gives you the opportunity to construct your own area of expertise through a solo research project. You'll develop knowledge in design research through experimentation in theory and practice, interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and peer-to-peer review.
Catch the replays from our March 2021 Virtual Day.
Students have access to the College’s workshops, with traditional facilities for woodworking, metalworking, plastics and resins, including bookable bench spaces. Computer-driven subtractive milling equipment is available, as well as additive rapid prototyping.
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
What you'll cover
Our programmes are delivered through a combination of structured learning, comprised of lectures and master-classes; workshop classes based around a set task; tutor-led seminar classes where students will be asked to reflect on material that they have read or studied in advance and project assignments that support the structured teaching programme.
Unit 1: Research Methods and Individual Research Proposal
This unit will enable discussion and exploration of key concepts in art and design research. The workshops will introduce you to key methods and methodologies in art and design, based around the areas of specialisms of each of the contributing schools. You’ll also develop an individual research proposal.
Unit 2: Research Cultures
This College-wide unit focus on knowledge exchange and communicating your research effectively to an interdisciplinary audience. This will involve developing an understanding of the contexts in which research is practised, and engaging different research cultures and communities.
Unit 3: Research in Practice (Pathway specific)
This unit focuses on the process of research. It will connect you with practicing researchers and research teams and encourage you to reflect on how research projects are developed, managed, evaluated and communicated.
Unit 4: Group Research Project (Pathway specific)
This unit builds upon learning undertaken in unit 1 by exploring the nexus between research methods and the ways in which they might be applied to independent and collaborative research projects.
Unit 5: Research Identities
This college-wide unit will focus on further development of your personal research project and professional development. It will enable you to develop your research projects and define your professional identity as a researcher.
Unit 6: Personal Research Project
The Personal Research Project will enable your to apply the skills, knowledge and understanding developed through units 1 and 2 within a complex personal research project.
You will submit a 12,000–15,000 word thesis that defines a research question, outlines the research methodology and theoretical context, presents and discusses the results and offers robust conclusions.
You will submit:
- An original work of art, design or communication (including critical and curatorial works)
- A visual portfolio of practice with clear documentation in PDF form
- A 4,000–6,000 word thesis that defines the purpose of the work, outlines its theoretical and technical context, and articulates the contribution it has made to advancing knowledge.
What you need to know before you apply
Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications. The course welcomes candidates from all over the world and ages both prior academic and professional experience.
The selection process considers creativity, imagination, curiosity and the capability to reflect, criticise and innovate as demonstrated in the research statement and portfolio; it also assessed the potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high standards overall.
While it is not necessary to hold a relevant design degree, we welcome applicants interested in design research.
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
Please upload a max 10 pages portfolio that best evidences and represents your skills (intellectual and practical) and experience in relation to the research proposal. The portfolio is not limited to images; please upload any other format that can effectively represent your work (e.g. sounds, videos, etc). Please describe why you are applying to the programme and why the RCA; how the MRes Design Pathway will help transform your technical and/or intellectual skills, what expectations you have and how you imagine the Pathway will help build and develop future career opportunities. Please describe what technical skills would like to develop whilst a the RCA.
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). 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.
For this programme
Fees for new students
Fees for September 2021 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.
Overseas and EU
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.
Overseas and EU
* 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.
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.
Change your life and be here in 2021
The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.