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Digital directionx


Media and storytelling in the digital era

Key details

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

School or Centre

Application deadline

  • Still accepting applications

Career opportunities

  • Transmedia content creators
  • Digital designers
  • Activists
  • Experience designers
  • Speculative storytellers
  • VR developers
  • Educators
  • Sound artists

Develop a deep understanding of critical and experimental media production, creation and design practice.

Digital Direction addresses our urgent need for inclusive and relevant storytelling. Our programme examines the emergence of new technologies for telling stories, such as VR, AR and mobile platforms, alongside the future of storytelling itself. Our purpose is to inspire communication practitioners to approach contemporary communication critically, and to discover new and meaningful ways to tell stories in our world today.

This programme is not just open to practitioners from the arts but aimed at journalists, writers, musicians, theatre makers and anyone who wants to experiment creatively and collectively with new narrative approaches driven by ethical, environmental, epistemological and social imperatives. It’s for students who want to use emerging storytelling tools and technologies critically, working with others to assemble and amplify stories that should be told and heard.

Visit ReEmergence to see graduate work from the 2022 Digital Direction cohort.

Catch the replays from our November 2022 online Open Day.

Still accepting applications for 2023 entry. See the Eligibility and key dates webpage for round 3 details.



The School of Communication is currently located on our White City site.

View all facilities

Our mixed-use studios encourage collaborative working, thought, awareness and action. In addition, you have access to craft and technical workshop areas and excellent technical support in the College.

  • Sound studio

    Sound studio

  • School of Communication studio

    School of Communication studio

  • Computer room, White City

    Computer room, White City

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

Digital Direction sets out to enhance our understanding of the role that digital culture can play within these broader contexts, looking at how media and storytelling in a post-digital era can help to positively change the terms and means of global communication. We look at ways to rethink what storytelling can be and what it can achieve, we invite new perspectives, we explore the ethics of technology and the politics and poetics of storytelling from diverse intellectual and practical standpoints. As our relationships with species, our planet and technologies evolve we look at ways of rethinking and reframing storytelling itself, at parallel human and nonhuman realities, other futures, at sensuous modes of storytelling experience, at new forms of narrative intelligences and subjectivities. Our approach is informed by critically reflexive, situated, cooperative and exploratory forms of research, and we expect students to continuously interrogate emerging storytelling knowledge and practice in and across relevant disciplines.

In Digital Direction you might set out to develop research-led social and sustainable communication strategies responding to urgent needs for urban housing, responsive and accessible production methods to raise awareness of environmental threats, or explore new storytelling questions, contexts or challenges. You might work with families to create augmented documentaries, develop an open-source storytelling platform with a local community, design accessible social VR experiences, or experiment with performance to examine the implications of narratives created with or by machines. You could collaborate with others to tell stories that have been marginalised in contemporary culture, investigate distributed forms of human and nonhuman intelligence, or explore what it means to tell stories with frogs, ponds, plants and trees. You might engage with political or intercultural issues, material and intangible heritages, explore ways to leverage the power of contemporary media platforms to instigate positive social or cultural change, deconstruct (post)colonial storytelling practices, narratives and tropes, or experiment with forms of storytelling guided by nature to speculate on our comprehension of the world or to ask questions about who we understand ourselves to be.

Appealing to creative and critical practitioners from a diverse range of backgrounds and with a passion for exploring how storytelling can inform positive change, our programme addresses the need for creative leaders, makers and critical thinkers who can engage with fast changing social and professional contexts, develop inclusive and impactful practices that leverage the power of emerging media, and open up new storytelling possibilities for the benefit of us all.

The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College Units.

Term 1

During unit 1, Critical Stories, we will explore the foundational approaches of the programme, focusing on critical, co-operative and experimental storytelling methods, media ecologies and artefacts. During the unit you will be introduced to diverse concepts and practices relevant to contemporary storytelling, media and communication. Working with others, you will be asked to assemble a project that proposes, tests and evaluates inclusive forms of digital storytelling practice, using responsive methods to explore contexts and/or raise the visibility of urgent concerns in contemporary culture.

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in AcrossRCA, the College-wide unit. See below for more details.

Term 2

The Making Worlds with Others School-wide unit will allow you to work alongside students within and across the School. Working from the perspective of your individual practices and disciplines, you will develop a project that engages with others and/or creates mutual exchanges of ideas and understandings, with the intention to create critically engaged situations and/or outcomes resulting in convivial knowledge exchange. Through collaborative learning and making, the unit will support you in understanding knowledge exchange and public engagement and how you are to situate your own practice in these territories. The unit will also ask you to question how socially engaged practice can contribute to cultural understanding, co-researching and co-creating methods for knowing with, not knowing about.

Immersive Enquiries focuses on working critically and experimentally with immersive environments, mobile platforms, and emerging areas of media practice to conceptualise, test and evaluate future directions. During the unit you will be asked to produce a prototype for an immersive storytelling environment and/or mobile platform that looks critically and collectively at real-world concerns, and to collaborate with others to explore the changing effects of interactive time-based media on human communication, behaviour and experience.

Term 3

In the Term 3's Independent Research Project (IRP), you will have the opportunity to work independently to develop a comprehensive programme of research-led practice, critically exploring a topic of your own choosing through individual or collaborative approaches. The unit provides scope for you to bring together the core competencies, methods and processes you have developed during the course and to define, contextualise, produce and evaluate a substantial body of creative and critical research. During the unit you will be asked to engage responsibly with storytelling perspectives and research methods, and to address real-world concerns inclusively within your work. You will also be encouraged to hone your research, professional and leadership skills, articulate your future direction, and show how your practice contributes to debates that are at the forefront of the field.


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.

You will normally have completed an undergraduate qualification in a relevant subject or be able to evidence equivalent professional experience in fields such as filmmaking, broadcasting, media and communication, fine art, graphic design, sound, music, illustration, theatre, writing, HCI or digital production.

All candidates are required to submit an online portfolio of work to be assessed by the programme team; see below for more detail.

Candidates are selected on the basis of a body of work that demonstrates an advanced understanding of the subject and sufficient technical skill to realise intentions, evidence of commitment to the subject, intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, the ability to collaborate, to engage in debate and respond to criticism, and the ability to engage in sustained and consistent study. We also look for enthusiasm for your practice and a strong sense of personal responsibility for your own learning and development.

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) 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 2023 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

Progression discount

For alumni and students who have completed an RCA Graduate Diploma and progress onto an RCA Master's programme – MA, MA/MSc, MFA, MDes, MArch, MEd or MRes – within 10 years, a progression discount of £1,000 is available.

* 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.

Scholarships targeted to students enrolling onto a number of RCA MA programmes to enable students to unlock full potential regardless of their financial circumstances. Preference will be given to students from underrepresented communities.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Full time, Students from under-represented communities

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: Up to seven full-fee tuition fee scholarships

Supporting students on any MA programme from the UK (Preferably is a Scottish national), experiencing financial hardship.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Full time, Student preferably of Scottish origin

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: £10,000

The Scholarship supports 21 UK MA, MRes and PhD students every year from across all RCA MA, MRes and PhD disciplines.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Students with Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage, or mixed Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: £21,000

The RCA Cost of Living Bursary supports living costs for home students across all MA programmes.

Value: Bursaries of £5,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The RCA Disabled Students Bursary supports living costs for home students with a declared disability across all MA programmes, recognising the contribution that UK students with disabilities make to the RCA

Value: Bursaries of £6,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Students with a diagnosed physical or sensory disability, or specific learning difficulties.

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship supports academic excellence by rewarding talented home applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA, with a partial fee scholarship

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each, to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship is aimed at international students applicants from selected countries and territories, and on selected programmes

Value: Scholarships of £3,500 each, to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: If oversubscribed, this bursary is awarded on academic merit or financial need.

Eligible fee status: International fee status, from: Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, USA

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship - International supports academic excellence by rewarding talented applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA at Round 1 and Round 2 of applications, with a partial fee scholarship.

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: International fee status

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 2023. 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
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