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

Overview

Developing design discourse

Key details

  • 240 credits
  • 2 year programme
  • Full-time study

Application deadline

  • 27 Jan 2021

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.

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.

Explore further

Watch replays from our last online open day at rca.onlineopendays.com/replays

Visit 2020.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work from the class of 2020

Pathways

When applying for this programme, you select one of these specialist pathways.

Design Futures

The Design Futures pathway consists of 60 tailored units and the possibility to continue into the independent final project.

Visit the Curriculum tab for more information.

Gallery

  • Soap, 2019

    Soap, 2019

    Jihee Moon

  • Digital vase collection, 2019

    Digital vase collection, 2019

    Heleen Sintobin

  • Worthy, 2019

    Worthy, 2019

    Tomi Laukkanen

Facilities

The School of Design is based at our historic Kensington site.

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

    Design Products 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.

Pathways

When applying for this programme, you select one of these specialist pathways.

You’ll be challenged to provoke discourses and design for significant future issues, be they technological, social, cultural, values, political, economic or environmental.

These will run in parallel to (and integrate partially with) Unit 3 and 4 (Year 2), thus enabling you to apply the knowledge learnt on the Design Futures pathway 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.

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.

View more CHS information

Requirements

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.

  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.

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 Tier 4 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

Below are indicative fees for 2021 entry, which may be subject to an inflationary increase, and will be confirmed in December 2020. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Home
(subsidised)
£9,750 per year
£19,500 total cost*
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
(subsidised)
£14,500 per year
£29,000 total cost*
Overseas and EU
£29,000 per year
£58,000 total cost*

Deposit

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.

Home
£500
Overseas and EU
£2,000

* 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

Scholarships

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.

Payments

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 2021

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

1.
Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements
More information about entrance requirements
2.
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