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Blue Ephemera

Overview

At the forefront of practice

Key details

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

School or Centre

Next open day

Application deadline

  • 12 Jan 2022
  • Still accepting applications

Career opportunities

  • IED graduates are skilled in developing careers bespoke to them, and rarely follow a standard career pathway. They go on to work as curators, artists, designers and art directors, to launch their own studios and production companies, to write books and run start-ups. Most work fluidly across art, design and research, in a variety of combinations.

Create multi-media experiences that transform individuals and society.

This programme is subject to validation

Information Experience Design is the creative practice of intervening in, designing and generating experiences of complexity, that communicate human, nonhuman and more-than-human perspectives and realities. Our medium of practice includes ‘warm’ data—information about interrelationship—as well as ‘cold’ data points, and we work actively with living, computational and speculative systems. The pieces we make include large-scale installations, immersive digital experiences, radical performances, and living artefacts and ecosystems. Our purpose on the MA in Information Experience Design (IED) is to inspire experimental works that generate transformation, seek better futures through the generation of compelling experiences, compose better questions and new ways of relating to and being in the world.

The intellectual content of the programme is cutting-edge and challenging, with our staff and students continually working in ways that are research-led and self-critical, never content with superficial responses or easy answers. Complexity and deep structure often feature in IED approaches, as these lend themselves to interrogations of media-cultural interchange and processes of modelling futures. Students of IED engage deeply with society and the environment, where rigorous experimentation is integrated with forms of activism, empathy, and good ancestry. Our approach to theory is wide-ranging and transdisciplinary, involving technologists, ecologists and quantum physicists alongside those working in the arts, and IED practices have a wide range. Throughout, the programme aims for a criticality that does not take an objective or purist tone, but rather situates the artist and thinker as always already complicit in ongoing social and environmental processes, and we frequently leave the ivory tower and test ideas in the wild. Your work will be evaluated on technical construction as well as logical and ethical soundness, aesthetic dimensions as well as critical and philosophical ones.

In IED you might design a large-scale light installation in a forest, a distributed museum spanning the globe, a serial podcast fiction, a chair that breathes, a VR adventure in a microbiome, an emotionally responsive game for dogs, or a wearable that senses deep time. IED projects are human(e) but not only for humans, and move beyond the personal and individual, reaching toward perspectives and approaches that are collective, transindividual, superpersonal, and have more-than-human value.

Technical instruction in IED is based on a plan that you design and our technicians support, thus you leave the programme with a composite technical skill set generated by and unique to your body of work. This may involve technical skills as diverse as ceramics and VR, botany and blockchain. You’ll have a core aim of experimenting with a diversity of methods and approaches that cross boundaries between digital and analogue, toward composing a distinctive body of work that coheres by intention: what you aim to achieve in the world. You’ll be encouraged to work playfully, with experts providing guidance as you stretch your abilities and explore the multisensory, material and immaterial, digital and analogue, “high” and “low” art forms.

Human civilization is learning, or attempting to learn, to operate more effectively within expanded temporal and spatial structures, to think holistically about the planet and more long-term about our role as ‘good ancestors’. For this reason, you’ll be challenged to conceive ideas, speculatively or not, that might operate at multiple scales, from the micro to the planetary. Societies are now actively questioning the ways in which we define value and conceptualise human and nonhuman relations—a paradigm shift in which artists and philosophers are leading. To solve increasingly intense complex challenges, the world needs creative visionaries who can generate systems shifts. In IED this is by designing interventions that interrupt entrenched multilateral processes, and engage us with reality differently through disruptive experiences.

We promote an active community who are thoroughly ambitious in practice and research. Throughout the programme we will encourage you to be adventurous, to pose new or uncomfortable questions and answers through your work. In IED you’ll be part of an environment that is inclusive and postdisciplinary in nature, where there is plenty to read but no theoretical ‘canon’ and no correct way of thinking about creative practice, except to use whatever is available as creatively as possible. For this reason, we require no specific skill set or disciplinary background to join the programme, with students arriving from many different backgrounds.

Explore further

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

Catch the replays from our November 2021 virtual open day.

Gallery

Facilities

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

View all facilities

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.

  • White City facilities (photo: Richard Haughton)

    White City facilities (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • White City studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    White City studios. 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

Through the programme, you’ll gain a working knowledge of experimental postdigital and cultural systems theory and practice, and its influence in society at a variety of scales, and from a variety of perspectives. You’ll use this context to build your own conceptual tools and framings, illustrate and test these tools through creative practice. You’ll continually refine your approach, and select technical skills to develop that suit the precise pieces and experiences you wish to create. This will allow you to generate a body of work that has conceptual depth as well as technical skill.

You’ll develop a rich transdisciplinary knowledge base, including language and terminologies for engaging with critical intellectual and practical discussions, leading-edge theory, and influential and foundational works in postdigital and systems theory and practice, with emphasis in a chosen area. Throughout the programme you’ll be discouraged from looking for a ‘correct’ way of thinking about or generating meaningful work, or of doing the course, but rather you’ll be encouraged to cross boundaries and design your own way. Likewise, your intellectual work will not draw from textbook’ readings, as this programme does not have a disciplinary boundary. Instead, with the input of your tutors and Field Collective, you’ll select many of your core texts yourself, and you might draw on readings and approaches from games, interaction design, critical theory, anthropology, speculative design, posthumanities, philosophy, ecology, literary studies, environmental communication, and more. You will also be encouraged to engage with relevant contexts such as emergent technologies and platforms, media convergence, play, emerging forms of and views on intelligence, and experimentation in relation to social justice and change.

This programme is subject to validation

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

Term 1

In Form & Method, you’ll be immersed in foundational and state-of-the-art practice and theory in experience design and intervention. This unit launches you into the programme with an outward-looking orientation, where understanding of cultural needs, social challenges, and technological possibilities are central. Experimentation in this unit should be bold, playful and undirected, with the guiding aim of building understanding of the affordances of many conceptual and technical tools and reflecting on outcomes. Alongside practical experiments, through the unit, you will be working in and out of sessions on a description of emphasis and drafts of a Technical Plan and Conceptual Framework that will support you in developing your practice.

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

In Systemic Phenomena, you’ll be challenged to situate your practice conceptually and culturally, focusing on skills related to analysis, audience awareness and collaboration. Your focus in this unit will be experimentation that is more specific and directed than in the previous term, now adapting what you have learned from broad experimentation to develop your practice in intentional ways. Where Form & Method was outward-oriented, Systemic Phenomena is more inward-facing, requiring you to apply continuous critical analysis to your processes, to evaluate them with the support of your tutors, and to refine your practice and conceptual framing so that these taken together are stable, coherent, and distinctive.

In Term 2, the Exchange and Engage School-wide unit allows you to work alongside students within and across the School.

Term 3

Your Independent Research Project will enable you to integrate your practice into a larger critical discourse, to reflect on its significance and to generate knowledge through a research piece and presentation. This unit challenges you to integrate your technical and conceptual processes into a single research project. It also requires you to reflect on the outcomes of your work in the first two terms, to trace its trajectory and consider the direction of your work in the future. Where earlier programme units focused on exploration and experimentation, this unit focuses on transformation: emphasising the wider relevance of your practice, drawing out its strengths, and exploring how it can generate evolution or revolution in the world.

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 will consider 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.

Students come from a wide range of backgrounds. While you may come directly from first-degree programmes across art and design, you may have also joined the programme with professional experience in industry, or from a background such as science, technology and the humanities.

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 2022 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Home
(subsidised)
£13,500*
Overseas and EU
£32,000*

Deposit

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.

Home
£1,000
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 2022

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