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Service Design at the Royal College of Art

Overview

A new frontier for designers

Key details

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

Application deadline

  • 28 Oct 2020

Transform customer and citizen experiences.

Service Design is the application of design practice to services and experiences. Service design solves problems and transforms the human experience of businesses and industry as well as developing impactful solutions for complex social issues, better public services and citizen centric policy.

The RCA Service Design MA programme is internationally renowned as a pioneer in the development of service design with graduating students leaving to work inside transport, telecommunications, financial services and retail companies, leading consultancies, government departments and international organisations. The course examines the complex cultural, technological and systemic issues facing businesses and governments to create new services for now and the future.

The programme traverses 3 themes:

  1. The creation of new consumer services, with a focus on identifying human needs, transformational services and delivery in complex organisations, for example in retail, banking and hospitality.
  2. The development of public service and policy innovation on topics such as transportation, health and education
  3. Speculative futures to envision radically new services and user experiences driven by technological, environmental and social challenges.

Students work on their projects with an exceptional number of industry and public sector partners to develop innovative solutions that reframe and redesign the world around us.

The curriculum works across the RCA and their partner establishments blending design expertise across all departments with technology and business management from Imperial College’s MBA and Department of Computing.

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

Gallery

  • Andrea Diaz

    Andrea Diaz

  • Charlotte Fountaine

    Charlotte Fountaine

  • Mattia Gobbo

    Mattia Gobbo

  • Hsin Yi Lo

    Hsin Yi Lo

Facilities

The School of Design is based at our historic Kensington site.

View all facilities

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.

  • Service Design studio

    Service Design studio

  • Service Design seminar

    Service Design seminar

  • Service Design studio (detail)

    Service Design studio (detail)

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

Service Design combines an experiential component, involving group and individual projects, with structured learning and related assignments that reinforce what you’ve learnt. The lectures, masterclasses and workshops develop the knowledge, skills and practices that you will apply in your final year projects. In addition to academics from the RCA, we invite prominent designers as well as our industry partners to present on professional practice of service design, exemplar projects and challenges associated with the practice of service design.

The structured learning programmes are spread throughout Terms 1 – 5 and all modules are delivered as half or full day session, the first year being more intensive. Classroom modules are made available electronically for student self-study.

Programme Units

  • Unit 1: Service Design Foundation Programme – Term 1 (20 Credits)
  • Unit 2: Design Entrepreneurship - Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 (20 Credits)
  • Unit 3: Design Research and Advanced Methods – Term 2 Term 3 (20 Credits)
  • Unit 4: Design Management and Platform Design - Term 2 Term 3 (20 Credits)
  • Unit 5: Social Innovation and Future Services – Terms 1/2/4/5 (20 Credits)
  • Unit 6: Implementing and deploying Services at scale including the materiality of experience and services – Term 4 Term 5 (20 Credits)

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

Requirements

What you need to know before you apply

We invite candidates from around the world who have a passion for design as a transformational tool and wish to take that to a Masters level. Our selection process looks for a desire to take on challenging issues, to be curious in uncovering reality and bring creativity to finding and delivering new solutions.

The Service Design MA programme takes students with and without a design background who show the right qualities and the intellectual ability and desire for creative innovation as demonstrated through your portfolio. 

Students may come from product, communication, digital and user experience design who wish to expand to their capabilities, be recent high performing graduates from other design disciplines as well as from computing and other technical disciplines, be budding entrepreneurs interested in launching new service-led business ventures and mid and senior professionals from industry and the public sector, with evidence of their creative talents as demonstrated by leadership of innovative projects.

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 Tier 4 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

Below are indicative fees for 2021 entry, which may be subject to an inflationary increase, and will be confirmed in December 2020. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

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

Deposit

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.

Home
£500
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 2021

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