Update you browser

For the best experience, we recommend you update your browser. Visit our accessibility page for a list of supported browsers. Alternatively, you can continue using your current browser by closing this message.

Campus in a Forest


Design practice for just transition

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 45 week programme
  • Full-time or part-time study

School or Centre


  • Kensington

Application deadline

  • 14 Aug 2024

A new MArch in the RCA's School of Architecture

The MArch Design Practice is a one-year programme that supports architects, designers, and spatial practitioners’ creative and critical engagement with the design of the built environment. The MArch is not a RIBA/ARB validated part II programme; instead, it addresses spatial practice in a broader sense.

The programme invites you to transition your work and practice to fully engage with the planetary implications of construction.

You should apply if you want to:

  • engage the ethical considerations of materials, globalised labour chains, carbon economies and policy contexts in which our built environment is forged
  • learn how to rigorously integrate carbon modelling into your design processes
  • make bold, rigorous and informed design propositions through which a world otherwise can be built.

With climate as a central focus, you will consider how reuse, materials, waste and embodied carbon intersect with economics, politics and identity to produce new opportunities for design practice in the just transition toward a fair and flourishing world. The programme introduces you to a range of methods and theories, drawn from around the world, which will equip you with the tools to deliver renewable and equitable futures.

The MArch is offered as a one-year programme, studying full-time, or a two-year programme, studying part-time.

Applications for the September 2024 intake are open and will be assessed on a rolling basis. Programmes will close for applications when the maximum number of places have been awarded, or at the final deadline on 14 August, 12 noon (UK time).

Explore further

Catch the replays from our online Open Day.

Listen to the RCA Podcast Series 1 Episode 4, Doing, undoing and imagining futures with Senior Tutor Thandi Loewenson.

In this episode, we take you on an enlightening journey through the Venice Biennale, where the theme of "The Laboratory of the Future" spotlights Africa as a pivotal force in decolonisation and decarbonisation. We explore how architecture has historically shaped colonialism, racial capitalism and carbon economies.



We are the only UK art and design university where all academics are research active – meaning everything we teach is related to cutting-edge research. Teaching staff are subject to change.


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

View all facilities

Students are encouraged to situate their practice within the wider public and will have access to a ‘Live Room’ to support research, development and dissemination of their work. You will also have access to College-wide workshops on an individually planned and negotiated basis, and in dialogue with programme tutors

What you'll study

Flexibility and choice are at the heart of the offer, with a combination of Core and Elective units enabling you to create a bespoke programme of studies that best suits your approach, context and interests.

What you'll cover

The programme's core units will be mainly delivered on campus, with some electives available online. Online resources will further contribute to students' learning.

Download the Design Practice 2023/24 programme specification (PDF)

Material Processes: This unit critically engages with the materiality of the built environment. The unit builds on physical, aesthetic and structural understandings of materials toward a deeper examination of their complex climatic, cultural, and political properties

Carbon Economies: Through this unit, you will examine the role of carbon within a globalised building industry. You will explore methods of carbon modelling and accounting, campaigns for divestment and energy reform, and the potential of alternative, renewable energy sources to radically reconfigure practice.

Detailing Risk: The design detail is a site of connection and mediation between different aesthetic, legal, material, structural and energetic requirements. This unit inverts the normative study of design detailing by turning to breakdowns and catastrophes where details, joints and connections have failed, because those failures illuminate problems that may have otherwise remained obscure or badly formulated.

Just Transition: This unit requires you to project into possible, just futures and rigorously develop the means of realising the transition to those futures.

In addition to the programme’s Core units, you can choose from Electives which are offered by all four RCA schools. This enables you to develop particular expertise, for example, communication and storytelling skills, and frame your individual ‘specialism’, for example as a Materials Consultant, Carbon Auditor, Material Curator, etc.

Housing and Social Reproduction: Through this unit, histories of struggles for housing are critically examined alongside ideas of security, safety, and hospitality. Students will understand how the provision and politics of housing figure within a just transition, and engage with how ideas of the home are mobilised through cultural production and media.

Mobility and Debility (The Global Climate Ghetto): In this unit, students will draw on crip and dis/ability theories and scholarship on maiming and mass debilitation to analyse the institutionalisation of social inequality as it materialises through bodies and movement in relation to the city.

Capital’s Shadow: In this unit, students examine the concept of waste as a central product of capitalist and colonial systems, exploring the spatial and material implications of globalised economies of excess and scarcity.

Milieu Milieu Me (The Ecology): This unit examines the history of different concepts of environments and ecosystems through the spatial and artistic practices of social movements.

Electives from other Schools may include:

Term 1

  • Interventions (School of Communication, on campus)
  • Digital Storytelling (School of Communication, online)
  • Education for Change (Academic Development Office, online & blended options with mix of online and on-campus sessions)
  • Collaboration and Inter-disciplinarity as Method (Academic Development Office, online & blended options with mix of online and on-campus sessions)
  • Design Innovation: Models and Life Cycle (School of Design, mix of online and on-campus sessions)
  • Design Ethics: Design for Good Practice (School of Design, online)
  • Performing Practice (School of Arts & Humanities, on campus)
  • Health and Care: Futures of Care (School of Arts & Humanities, online)
  • Material Engagements: Embodied Practice (School of Arts & Humanities, on campus)

Terms 1 and 2

AcrossRCA (30 credits) (Academic Development Office, majority online, but some on-campus sessions)

Term 2

  • Industry Embedded Project (School of Communication, online)
  • Sound (School of Communication, on campus)
  • Public Engagement as Method (Academic Development Office (MRes), mix of online and on-campus sessions)
  • Developing Research Proposals (Academic Development Office (MRes), mix of online
  • Making Pedagogies (Academic Development Office (MEd), mix of online and on-campus sessions)
  • Design Resilience: Sustainability (School of Design, mix of online and on campus sessions)
  • Design Innovation: Venture Creation (School of Design, mix of online and on campus sessions)
  • Sites and Situations: Spatial Feelings (School of Arts & Humanities, on campus)
  • Synthetic Encounters: Shapeshifting the Digital (School of Arts & Humanities, online)

Depending on demand and availability, not all electives will be available. Students will be asked for ranked preference and allocated to electives based on those preferences.

The Research Project comprises a substantial student-led investigation. Instead of being studio-based, you will be tutored towards the formulation of an individual research question and supported to find appropriate and innovative research methods and documentation. You will be encouraged to draw on your existing contexts and/or develop new sites of practice towards making meaningful contributions to knowledge on climate and the built environment.

MArch Design Practice offers you the opportunity to engage the social and political systems underlying the climate crisis by design. You will be equipped to understand, analyse and contend with these systems and supported to develop propositions, which seek to creatively and constructively bring about change.

There are different trajectories for your research project which could relate to your future practice in different ways, depending on where you want to specialise. For example, you could take your research project into policy development, material or carbon expertise, media and communication, or education.

The different formats of assessment for the core units are aligned to practice, e.g. a collective Materials Library, Case Study Report, Detail Package, Design Policy Proposal. These promote project stewardship to positively impact accreditation processes, policy fora, clients etc.

A Practice Mentor Network will support your studies. Students will meet with mentors at regular intervals during the programme to discuss their work and future trajectories for practice. The mentoring scheme offers you another voice on your student work, but can also offer guidance on professional development and industry engagement.

The research project is assessed via a colloquium and culminates with a conference/event which offers a vibrant platform to discuss your projects with our practice network.


What you need to know before you apply

The programme is aimed both at postgraduate students and mid-career professionals, 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.

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 MArch standard overall.

The programme welcomes architects, designers and spatial practitioners from a range of backgrounds, including those from other design disciplines such as sound, moving image or performance, with an interest in the built environment. Applicants from other backgrounds are also welcome, such as practitioners involved in local government, NGOs, journalism and activism.

What's needed from you

Applicants from art, design and architectural backgrounds

Please submit a 10-page PDF portfolio that showcases your skills and motivations as an artist and/or designer. Please include at least three different projects you have worked on, and clearly identify your contributions to any collective projects shown.

Applicants from non-portfolio disciplines (e.g. social sciences, sciences, humanities, politics, NGO/development work)

Please provide an illustrated 10-page document of previous work related to the MArch programme's themes. Clearly identify your role and contributions in the work.

You must also submit a short video introducing yourself, how you envisage the programme will allow you to develop as a spatial practitioner, and what contributions it will support you to make in the world.

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic or UKVI 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 2024 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Full time: £15,150*
Part time: £9,850 per year
Overseas and EU
Full time: £35,950*
Part time: £23,350 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 discount

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 MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd study. This discount is £5,000 for full-time study, or £2,500 per year for two years of part-time study



The RCA scholarship programme is growing, with hundreds of financial awards planned for the 2024/5 academic year. Examples of financial awards offered in 2023/24 are given below.

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, USA

Eligible fee status: Overseas fee status

Value: £7,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey

Eligible fee status: Overseas fee status

Value: £7,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £5,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students who identify as D/deaf or disabled

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £6,000 for living costs

For: All programmes excluding PhD & short courses

Eligibility criteria: Black or Black British Caribbean, Black or Black British African, Other Black Background, Mixed - White and Black Caribbean, Mixed - White and Black African

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: Full fees & maintenance

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £5,000 for living costs

Applying for a scholarship

You must hold an offer to study on an RCA programme in order to make a scholarship application in Spring 2024. A selection of RCA merit scholarships will also be awarded with programme offers. 

We strongly recommend that you apply for your programme as early as possible to stand the best chance of receiving a scholarship. You do not apply directly for individual awards; instead, you will be invited to apply once you have received an offer.

More information

Additional fees

In addition to your programme fees, please be aware that you may incur other additional costs associated with your study during your time at RCA. Additional costs can include purchases and services (without limitation): costs related to the purchase of books, paints, textiles, wood, metal, plastics and/or other materials in connection with your programme, services related to the use of printing and photocopying, lasercutting, 3D printing and CNC. Costs related to attending compulsory field trips, joining student and sport societies, and your Convocation (graduation) ceremony. 

If you wish to find out more about what type of additional costs you may incur while studying on your programme, please contact the Head of your Programme to discuss or ask at an online or in person Open Day.   

We provide the RCASHOP online, and at our Kensington and Battersea Campuses – this is open to students and staff of the Royal College of Art only to provide paid for materials to support your studies. 

We also provide support to our students who require financial assistance whilst studying, including a dedicated Materials Fund.

Start your application

Change your life and be here in 2024. 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
Amanda Dolga, Campus in a Forest, 2022