- 360 credits
- 2 year programme
- Full-time study
School or Centre
- Applications closed. Please check back soon.
- IDE graduates head into diverse creative careers as consultants, innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, freelancers or within corporations.
Innovation through synergy between creativity, science and technology to create value for society.
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.
The MA/ MSc Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) programme is a unique double Master’s Programme that has been run jointly with Imperial College London for 40 years.
The programme aims to create a new type of innovator, one who will be a global leader in the integration of design, engineering, science and enterprise, and distinctively positioned to tackle the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous challenges society and the planet face. IDE is about transformation: transformation of the individual into a fiercely curious, open-minded, empathic, analytical and motivated individual who can lead teams to produce transformative results; transformation of the practices that transcend disciplinary boundaries through the utilisation of highly creative, practical and iterative processes; and transformation of the understanding of how past, present and future contextual factors can help identify issues and opportunities as a basis for generating outputs that will create lasting impact for humanity and the planet.
We foster a collaborative approach involving transdisciplinary team-working and encourage collaboration with industry and a wide range of stakeholders in innovation ecosystems. IDE is also about nurturing a supportive, empathic culture – the IDE family – not only while you study, but through our extensive alumni network.
Visit 2022.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work by our students.
Catch the replays from our November 2021 online Open Day.
Professor Gareth Loudon
Head of Programme
Gareth’s interest is creativity, combining ideas from anthropology, psychology, engineering and design, and has led international transdisciplinary research projects both in academia and industry.
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.
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
What you'll cover
The two-year IDE programme consists of three phases, each characterising the overall nature of the content and learning at each phase. Phase 1: Foundations (Terms 1 & 2) is concerned with students gaining confidence and exploring the IDE transdisciplinary landscape and toolbox building. Phase 2: Consolidation (Terms 3 & 4) is during the summer and the transition period with students working independently, developing their individual and professional agency. Phase 3: Mastery (Terms 5 & 6) is the final period for students to develop significant agency in their own areas of interest and emerging professional pathways, creating a substantial springboard into next steps for ventures, research and careers – and lasting impact.
Phase 1: Terms 1 & 2
Phase 1 is made up of a series of units: IDE Fundamentals; Transdisciplinary Practices; Cyber Physical Systems; Regenerative Materials; Structures & Aesthetics; and Impact.
Each of these units focuses on a particular aspect of innovation, design and engineering and involves practice, as well as research activities within the development of products, services, systems, campaigns and experiences, and in exploring broader societal challenges.
In each unit, you will undertake a design-led project to a brief - sometimes set and sometimes of your own devising. Emphasis is placed on generating imaginative ideas, development and validation through testing prototypes, simulation and gaining feedback from expert stakeholders such as potential end users, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs
Phase 2: Terms 3 & 4
Phase 2 comprises two units, Sustainable Systems and Agency & Implementation, and is about professional consolidation. During phase 2 you will develop your individual and professional agency, identity and pathways through engagement with organisations, your own ventures or within research fields. Phase 2 culminates in you defining and planning your team and individual projects for Phase 3.
Phase 3: Terms 5 & 6
Phase 3 includes a series of units to strengthen your professional agency, leadership, knowledge and skills. Phase 3 includes a team-based project, individual projects and an elective module. The elective modules enable you to develop specialisms in particular areas of interest to you. The thematic areas you choose to explore in your team and individual projects can be diverse and are supported by a broad range of expert tutors.
What you need to know before you apply
The programme accepts a wide range of applicants – we want diversity of expertise, culture and experience and we welcome applicants from fields such as business, social science, and the arts in addition to engineering, science and design. Candidates who can demonstrate outstanding potential to develop creative, technical and innovation qualities.
Generally, we are looking for pioneering applicants to demonstrate their:
- creativity, imagination and innovation;
- ability to clearly display and articulate the intentions of your work;
- intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work and subjects that matter to you;
- technical skills appropriate to IDE and rigour in your approach;
- potential to direct and navigate their learning journey within the structure of the programme, and achieve MA and MSc standards overall.
IDE is a double Master's programme run jointly between the RCA and Imperial College London, and consequently, applicants need to meet the requirements of both institutions. Candidates for IDE are normally required to have at least a UK honours degree at 2:1 level (or the equivalent) in any subject relevant to innovation. It is desirable for candidates to have some relevant work experience.
In exceptional circumstances applicants without the required degree qualification will be considered, for example, excellent professional experience or outstanding creative or technical abilities. Special cases for admissions require unanimous approval from the IDE Entrance Examination Board, then approval by the RCA’s Academic Board for Concessions and Discipline (ABCD) and Imperial’s Programme’s Committee.
What's needed from you
Please upload a single pdf format (maximum 20 pages) compilation of work from your previous studies, professional work and personal interests. This should aim to show:
- the excellence of your current expertise, study area or professional activity
- evidence of your interests and ability in the fields of innovation, design and/or engineering
- samples of your creative abilities.
The portfolio content could include: projects and exercises from previous degree courses where relevant; examples of professional work; personal sketchbooks or working sketches; self-generated projects; evidence of an ability to make in 3D; as well as examples of creative work in any other areas.
Each piece of work or project should include clear information about the nature of the work and your role in it, for example if it is individual work, group work, commercial work in a team etc.
High production quality is not needed. We will review the work in your portfolio, so keep your video simple. We are interested in what you say, to find out about you, your thinking, background and ambitions. Respond to a minimum of three of the following prompts. Consider these as the types of questions you would be asked in a face-to-face interview.
- Who or what inspires you?
- How do you hope to incorporate this inspiration into your work?
- What are your aspirations for your future professional life and how will IDE help you get there?
- What unique skills or perspectives you will bring to the IDE student group?
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).
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
*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. Imperial fees, marked ** above, are subject to an inflationary uplift, calculated from the RPI for April 2023 and may vary slightly from the value published here; exact fees are to be confirmed in June 2023.
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
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.
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.
Change your life and be here in 2022
The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.