- 180 credits
- 1 year programme
- Full-time study
School or Centre
- Applications closed. Please check back soon.
- Transmedia content creators
- Digital designers
- Experience designers
- Speculative storytellers
- VR developers
- Sound artists
Develop a deep understanding of critical and experimental media production, creation and design practice.
Applications of the 2022 intake are now closed. To register for updates on applications for a 2023 start please complete an Enquiry to Study form.
This programme is subject to validation
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. Our course 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.
In a climate of continually shifting social, political, cultural and technological contexts, global challenges, pervasive and systemic inequalities, new communication paradigms are emerging that require bold, imaginative and critically informed concepts, processes and practitioners. Entangled with the social and material implications of digital technologies, contemporary media platforms such as VR, mobile apps, web environments and the time-based narrative content they host are ubiquitous in contemporary life. They have the potential to be accessible to us all and to support individual and shared forms of authorship, expression and curation, yet they can also be exclusive, inextricably linked with technological innovation and the politics of control.
Visit the Gravitational Wave Memory to see graduate work from the 2021 Digital Direction cohort.
Our mixed-discipline studios encourage cross-disciplinary thought, awareness and action. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to craft and technical workshop areas and excellent technical support in the College. These include well-equipped computer studios for print and digital moving-image production, sound editing, a letterpress and book-binding workshop.
Our alumni form an international network of creative individuals who have shaped and continue to shape the world.
- Yunxiang Bian
- Lena Dobrowolska
- David Glueck
- Saleh Kayyali
- Myung Jun Lee
- Vivien Mason
- Paul Mortimore
- Tongzhou Yu
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
What you'll cover
What will I learn?
This programme is subject to validation
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.
This programme is subject to validation
The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College Units.
In the term 1 unit Critical Stories, we will explore the foundational approaches of the programme, focusing on critical, cooperative and experimental storytelling methods, media ecologies and artefacts. You will be introduced to diverse concepts and practices relevant to contemporary media and communication. Working with others, you’ll be asked to assemble a project that proposes, tests and evaluates social and sustainable digital storytelling practice, using responsive methods to explore contexts and/or raise the visibility of stories that have been marginalised in contemporary culture.
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.
In Term 2, the Exchange and Engage School-wide unit allows you to work alongside students within and across the School.
You will also study the Immersive Adventures unit that focuses on working critically and experimentally with immersive environments, mobile platforms, and emerging areas of media practice to conceptualise, test and evaluate future directions. You will be asked to produce a prototype for an immersive storytelling environment and/or mobile platform, looking critically at the shape of the near future, and to collaborate with others to explore the emerging effects of interactive time-based media on human communication, behaviour and experience.
In the Term 3, 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’ve developed during the course and to define, contextualise, produce and evaluate a substantial body of creative practice.
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.
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.
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.