- 240 credits
- 2 year programme
- Full-time study
- 3 Feb 2021
- Graduates are creative catalysts and visionaries who go on to lead in design consultancies, join large established companies, and to set up their own design studios and start-ups. Our graduates are change makers driven by their vision of tackling and redefining industries.
Responding to and creating design discourses.
Design Products MA develops students to be creative, innovative design thinkers supporting them on the journey to develop their own design identities. The programme embraces a pluralistic approach to design across a number of design cultures, through which students develop their design identity.
These cultures represent current discourse and practice within the discipline. These span design through making and experimentation; design for manufacture; designing interactions; using design as a catalyst for change or a means to explore emergent scenarios.
The programme enables students to conceptualise and validate ideas by canvassing, provoking, challenging, and questioning people, places, technology, things and systems.
Design Products MA educates students to be design-thinkers who can address real world challenges through balancing high levels of creativity and technical capability with contextual insight and empathy for people, as well as understanding and shaping contemporary and future discourse.
Through team and individual projects tutored by practising designers, design researchers and through engaging with external partners, students develop their own design culture whilst building a portfolio of work that will locate them in their desired professional context.
Watch replays from our last online open day at rca.onlineopendays.com/replays
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.
Our alumni form an international network of creative individuals who have shaped and continue to shape the world.
- Tomoko Azumi
- Paul Cocksedge
- Simon Hasan
- Thomas Heatherwick
- Alex Hulme
- Roland Lamb
- Peter Marigold
- Florian Ortkrass
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
When applying for this programme, you select one of these specialist pathways.
The capacity of imagining the future is crucial to any society; it is not so much about looking forward, but about understanding ourselves and our place in history. In Design Futures we imagine, build, critique and deliver possible futures. Students deconstruct the past and break down the present to build worlds, objects and creatures waiting to come into existence. Design Futures encourages wild speculation alongside rigorous research. We embrace wonder and terror; we draw from science fiction as well as science fact; we seek ritual alongside experiment and we seek both plausibility and magic.
The pathway uses a combination of approaches and tools, ranging from design fiction, extrapolation, scenario planning, speculative and critical design, co-design and participatory engagement. You’ll be challenged to provoke discourses and design for significant future issues, be they technological, social, cultural, values, political, economic or environmental.
The pathway is integrated in the second year of the Design Products programme. By joining Design Futures you will be able to apply the knowledge you acquire across a multitude of design cultures.
What you'll cover
The MA programme provides students who have already acquired knowledge and skills in various areas of design with an academic framework in which to continue to develop their own professional direction. The programme supports the students in gaining independence, developing their design identity and to tackle problems with increasingly level of uncertainty and ambiguity as they progress. The programme takes a pluralistic view of the students’ ideas and interests and encourages experimental, ground breaking work, encouraging a critical approach and a questioning of accepted practices to address real world problems, develop new innovative and global challenges.
The MA programme builds briefs, projects and opportunities that aid students to encompass their visions as they are student led, underpinned by world leading experts. Students develop their specialisms with input through tutorials, workshops, lectures, seminars and peer led opportunities. This is underpinned with principles, tools and techniques, that are relevant to the current or future practice of design, for example, design research methods, systems thinking, advanced ideation techniques, visualisation and prototyping in physical and digital environments and; issues of design for sustainability, the circular economy and commercial viability. The School of Design has created a unique environment for interdisciplinary design led innovation. It attracts students from a highly diverse set of global disciplines, experience and industries. This provides the opportunity to not only reshape their own design practice, but to reshape the discipline of design itself.
The Design Products programme consists of five programme-specific units that provide the core learning, these units are complemented by the cross-School unit addressing a Grand Challenge, and a College-wide unit, Critical and Historical Studies, culminating in a dissertation where students are encouraged to research their design interests to inform their future projects. The cross-School programme fosters collaboration and interdisciplinary skills, providing an opportunity to network and work closely across different disciplines within the school.
The progression of the units is designed to increase the level of ambiguity and uncertainty of the projects as we move from the first year (Unit 1 and Unit 2), to supporting the students in developing their emerging specialisms (Unit 3 and Unit 4) in the second year, and an increasing level of independence leading to the final unit (Unit 5), the student final self-directed project. Second year students are expected to produce a minimum of two graduation projects, or one large graduation project.
The units are led by a world leading cross-disciplinary tutors, visiting tutors, visiting professors, practicing designers, research professionals and experts in their fields and are supported by the Head of Programme.
Critical & Historical Studies (CHS)
All studio-based MA students follow a weekly schedule of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a College-wide initiative that provides you with the intellectual framework to build a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
CHS delivers exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures by experts within the programme and high-profile visiting lecturers. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the theoretical background and aspects of your chosen discipline through a tutored dissertation process, as well as receiving individual tutorial support from our team of expert tutors.
What you need to know before you apply
Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process considers creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.
For MA Design Products, you should have a good undergraduate degree or equivalent in an area of design, or related background and proficient written and spoken English. Several years of professional experience, either before or after a first degree, is a benefit, and you must be able to demonstrate critical and innovative thinking, a design curiosity and the ability to thrive in student led projects.
Applications are welcomed from candidates from related backgrounds, such as engineering, architecture, communication, sports science, medical/health, international development/NGO, economics/business, material science, technology development and user experience.
Design Products develops students to be creative, innovative design thinkers supporting them on the journey to develop their own design identities. Design Products embraces a pluralistic approach to design through a number of design cultures through which students develop their design identify and own design culture. These cultures represent current discourses within the discipline and can be, for example through Making or understanding Design for Manufacture, Object Mediated Interactions, understanding Design as a Catalyst, Exploring Emergent Scenarios through design or, addressing and shaping future discourses.
Design Products enables students to conceptualise and validate ideas by canvassing, provoking, challenging, and questioning people, places, technology, things and systems. Design Products is educating students to be design-thinkers who can address real world challenges through balancing high levels of creativity and technical capability with contextual insight and empathy for people and, understanding and shaping future discourse. Through team and individual projects tutored by practising designers and design researchers and engaging with external partners, students develop their own design culture whilst building a portfolio of work that will locate them in their desired professional context.
For the portfolio, there are 5 slots, each can hold multiple files - the overall limit for the portfolio is 20 pages, you do not need to fill all 5 slots. Please show different aspects of your work and capability, whether from your professional, education or personal practice and with at least one individual project. Remember to consider how your uploaded work will appear to the viewer. We would be looking for the criteria below, please make it clear what we are looking at by labelling the work accurately. We would suggest 1 PDF per slot, rather than individual pages, it makes it easier for the staff team to review the work.
- Evidence the ability to envision projects; realisation, making, coding, physical or digital. Evidence of good communication skills, to represent concepts and insights.
- Evidence of intellectual content and conceptualisation. Demonstrate High levels of creativity.
- Evidence of innovative and critical thinking, this can be through system, artefact, insight or product.
- Evidence your working practice, i.e. the process in which you make work.
- Demonstrate high quality work in documentation of applicant’s process and reflection on what was learned or could be better.
- (Desired) Industry or professional experience in the field, this can include internships, business outputs or learning from parallel industries.
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
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.
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
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.