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Air-It-Yourself, Jihee Moon 2019 (photo: Stephen Pover)


Developing design discourse

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 1 year programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre

Career opportunities

  • 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.

Still accepting applications for 2022 entry. See the Key Dates webpage for round 4 details.

This programme is subject to validation

Design Products explores new terrain for designing products aiming to evolve new design disciplines and practices. We question ‘what is a product?’ and the assumption of adding products to uncover critical questioning to inform cutting edge creative practices for designing better futures. Our programme ethos focuses on a range of ideas for exploring these new areas for product design practice including: design subtraction, multi-species design, circularity, questions for action, products delimited, design doing, design justice and decolonising design. We anticipate that these areas will evolve and adapt year to year.

We work in collaboration with industry but also explore new locations and relationships for designing products: the experiences and impacts they generate whether these are design interventions or working with start-ups, governments, or global agencies. We measure the success of our design impacts against the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal’s and the design territory of products within systems.

Explore further

Visit 2022.rca.ac.uk to view recent Work in Progress by our students, visit 2021.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work from the class of 2021

Catch the replays from our November 2021 online Open Day.



The School of Design is based across our Battersea and Kensington sites.

View all facilities

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.

  • Design Products workshop

    Darwin workshop

  • Design products metalwork

    Kensington metal workshop. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • Design Products lending library. Photograph: Richard Haughton

    Design Products lending library. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • School of Design Workshops (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Design Products studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

This programme is subject to validation

The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College units. Learning will develop during the programme through terms 1 and 2 via a series of short projects focussed on experimentation and developing a strong and adaptive personal creative process, building a portfolio of projects culminating in the independent research project in term 3.

Term 1

In the Locating Practice unit, we help you locate your own practice at the forefront of the design products landscape. This is supported by enhancing research skills and identifying additional technical and intellectual skills to develop new and improved design methods and approaches connecting research and making. The Experimental Design unit allows you to expand the range and ambition of your design practice through various forms of experimentation to uncover new skills, methods and ideas. This unit covers a broad spectrum of experimentation from methods to materials, technology, making, manufacturing, futures, social and participatory.

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in the College-wide unit. This unit aims to support students to meet the challenges of a complex, uncertain and changing world by bringing them together to work collaboratively on a series of themed projects informed by expertise within and beyond the College. These projects will challenge you to use your intellect and imagination to address key cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges. In doing so, you will develop and reflect on the abilities required to translate knowledge into action, and help demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world.

Term 2

The second term engages with the Advanced Practice unit, by deepening your own creative methods through specialist focus via elective programme platform options based on programme ethos themes and School-wide electives. Programme specialist design input is delivered via platform electives in the Advanced Practice unit. There are also opportunities to take part in commercially sponsored projects in terms 2 and 3 depending on availability.

In term 2 all School of Design students will participate in the Grand Challenge, School-wide unit. The aim of this unit is to connect and challenge all students in the School through the introduction of a ‘wicked’ design problem that requires a cross disciplinary approach to problem solving involving an external international scientific or industry partner (or both). This unit and lecture series has been hugely successful in connecting and disrupting disciplines, people, philosophies and approaches to design thinking whilst providing our student body with very unique networking opportunities.

Term 3

In the third term you will demonstrate that you can draw together learning from terms 1 and 2 by independently developing, managing and delivering a high-resolution advanced Design Products project for the final Independent Research Project unit. The emphasis here is showing how you have brought together skills, learning and design practices from across terms 1 and 2 to design and deliver a project that sits at the forefront of the design products landscape, and enables the delivery of a design discourse that argues for the new design space within which it sits. The Independent Research Project (IRP) will be delivered through a supervision model and it is expected that you will spend the majority of your time on personal study and making. We anticipate that you will have the option of completing term 3 (IRP) remotely or in your own studio/ employment/ designer in residence subject to a satisfactory IRP proposal agreed in advance.


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.

What's needed from you

For the portfolio, there are five slots, each can hold multiple files. The overall limit for the portfolio is 20 pages; you do not need to fill all five 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 one PDF per slot, rather than individual pages, as it makes it easier for the staff team to review the work, and your projects should provide the following:.

  1. Evidence the ability to envision projects; realisation, making, coding, physical or digital. Evidence of good communication skills, to represent concepts and insights.
  2. Evidence of intellectual content and conceptualisation. Demonstrate high levels of creativity.
  3. Evidence of innovative and critical thinking, this can be through system, artefact, insight or product.
  4. Evidence your working practice, i.e. the process in which you make work.
  5. Demonstrate high quality work in documentation of applicant’s process and reflection on what was learned or could be better.
  6. (Desired) Industry or professional experience in the field, this can include internships, business outputs or learning from parallel industries.

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 new students

Fees for September 2022 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 will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees.

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.

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.


Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

RCA students at work (photo: Richard Haughton)

Change your life and be here in 2022

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
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.

Email us at
[email protected]
RCA Kensington cafe