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Blue Ephemera


At the forefront of practice

Key details

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

School or Centre

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.

We are accepting new applications on the Sound Design and Moving Image Design pathways only.

In Information Experience Design (IED) you’ll meet complex realities with bold adaptation, creating boundary-crossing experiences that immerse audiences in big ideas and experimental worlds.

You’ll be instructed in practical skills and a systematic approach for building your own bespoke methods and toolkits. Generating new ways of working will be part of your practice, and you’ll work ambitiously at the cutting edge of emerging arts and technology, drawing from multiple sources and from across disciplines.

You will never be tied to a single medium; instead you’ll be challenged to consider the potentials of diverse and unexpected forms, both digital and analogue. You’ll invent not just new experiences, but new kinds of experiences, engaging with data in unexpected ways.

The only programme of its kind, IED moves beyond binaries such as human and nonhuman, natural and artificial, using everything at its disposal to critique, reimagine and transform society.

Explore further

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


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

Experimental Design

Question, critique and create, pushing the boundaries of form.

Moving Image Design

Reimagine reality using film, TV and video, where these are likely to intersect with other forms.

Sound Design

Combine sound with other media in applied and experimental ways.

Visit the Curriculum tab for more information.



The School of Communication is located in White City, London’s newest research and creative quarter.

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.


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

Experimental Design embraces cross-disciplinary practice across art, design, science and storytelling, founded on a challenged and remodelled idea of what experience and interaction can do.

The pathway is about intersection and multiplication – a multiplicity of methods, modes, materials and perspectives. We work across time, space and form, designing activities, events, systems and contexts.

You should be prepared to take risks, test new methods, tools and materials, push boundaries of thinking and making, and gather all this into new forms of practice. The current professional and political climate demands radical new approaches to question, critique, push and provoke notions of information, experience, design and what it means to be human.

Students in this pathway come from a wide range of backgrounds within and outside art and design. You can expect to engage with exhibition designers, installation artists, computer scientists, architects, physicists and biologists – not to explore the overlaps between these areas, but to engage in the outer boundaries of each, in order to stimulate new areas of practice.

Experimental Design is not the place for superficially aesthetic outcomes or the use of technology for its own sake, but instead aims to deepen your intellectual capacity, research and design methods, and professional confidence.

The Moving Image Design pathway is not a traditional film programme, nor is it merely about technology. Freed from commercial constraints and set within the world’s foremost art and design university, Moving Image Design unleashes the best skilled, dangerous minds to re-imagine future forms and content of moving image, taking a critical methodology from within communication design practice.

Graduates will identify themselves as leading moving image practitioners, working fluidly across new technologies as well as 16mm film, pioneering new forms, contexts and business models aimed at communication, narrative and experience. As IED graduates, they will balance knowledge and expertise in digital and physical tools, materials and technologies with contextual, critical, historical and theoretical knowledge.

Not restricted to film or sound art, Sound Design is for sound engineers, musicians, journalists, artists and other practitioners who want to expand into new modes and media; and for anyone who wants to explore sound as a fundamental force for communication and experience – through data sonification and notification, sonic narratives, interventions and installations – always grounded in research and theory.

The pathway departs from other Sound Design or Sound Art courses with our focus on sound as a social phenomenon in theory and practice,. Sound Design is unique in de-coupling and re-imagining sound and design – contextualising sound within the practice of experimental design. It aims to work across modes and disciplines to affect individual, social and political transformation.

What you'll cover

Year One is split into three units:

Unit 1 is Informed Practice. This runs in term one and provides a grounding in relevant theory and methods, which are put into practice in projects that are grouped in themes. The informed practice options related specifically to each of the pathways of Sound Design, Moving Image Design and Experimental Design. Core IED theory is taught by a lecture series linked to this unit. Core IED research methods are similarly taught by a research methods series linked to this unit.

Units 2A & 2B relate to School Electives, which run across the School. Students choose from a range of School-wide elective options. For IED students, electives run in term 2 and term 3.

Unit 3 is focussed on dissertation. It is run by Critical and Historical Studies, and takes place in terms 1 and 2.

You will have a personal tutor with whom you have two in-depth individual tutorials per term.

Unit 4 is the Experiential Research unit, where you explore a chosen topic in depth, to propel yourself into your self-directed design project which takes place in Unit 5. Work in Progress show sits at the intersection between Unit 4 and 5 and becomes a key part of considering the relationship between your work and the audience.

In Unit 5 is the Independent Research Project (Design Project). You set your own brief and timetable with your Personal Tutor, presenting your project in the Final Examination. You will have a personal tutor for the year, and have regular tutorials. A series of professional practice lectures are offered to support the transition from graduation to employment. As well as additional workshops such as advanced research methods, and exhibition design.

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


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

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


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.

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 2021

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. We are accepting new applications on the Sound Design and Moving Image Design pathways only.
More information about entrance requirements
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