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Campus in a Forest


Design practice for just transition

Key details

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

School or Centre

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This new MArch in the RCA's School of Architecture launches in September 2023

This information is subject to validation.

The MArch Design Practice is a 1 year programme that supports architects, designers, and spatial practitioners’ creative and critical engagement with the design of the built environment. With climate as a central focus, students 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.

Students will critically engage with the planetary implications of construction and make bold, rigorous and informed design propositions through which a world otherwise can be built.

Students will be introduced to a range of methods and theories drawn from around the world which aim to deliver renewable and equitable futures. Students are encouraged to draw on their existing practices and experiences, and to use the skills and exposure of the programme to propose interventions into existing architectural models or develop new forms of practice entirely.



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.

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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

You'll benefit from the opportunity to study in the School of Architecture, while taking electives from across the College. This enables you to craft a programme tailored to your own goals and aspirations for developing your professional practice.

What you'll cover

This information is subject to validation.

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.

This information is subject to validation.

Elective units offered within the School and available to students across the College include:

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.

This information is subject to validation.

The Research Project comprises a substantial student-led investigation. You will be tutored towards the formulation of a 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.

The MArch in 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.


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 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.

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: £14,175*
Part time: £8,500 per year
Overseas and EU
Full time: £33,600*
Part time: £20,150 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 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

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Amanda Dolga, Campus in a Forest, 2022