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Communication, Show RCA 2019


Situated at the forefront of critical experimentation

Key details

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

School or Centre

Application deadline

  • Still accepting applications

Creating transformative movements that invite activism and change.

At the heart of your experience with us in Visual Communication is the shared commitment to ‘conversational practice’. By this we mean a practical and discursive approach to making. We see communication as essentially, a conversation to form bridges, to connect people and to exchange ideas.

You will be joining our community of critical thinkers and makers, leading the way in social, cultural and political practices. We have a long history of approaching the making of work through the collaborative, cooperative and compassionate ethos of listening, respecting and (un)learning. You will be introduced to a rich dialogic learning experience, where the conversation takes place between us, you, your peers and your audiences. Together, through a discursive inquiry and exchange, we will explore what it means to both speak and listen.

Our students may come to Visual Communication from specific disciplines, such as Graphic Design and Illustration, but you will develop the critical and conceptual tools to enable communication and connections across disciplinary boundaries. Our interdisciplinary environment will offer you a comprehensive understanding drawn from diverse geographies, rich cultural contexts and multiple intellectual and creative fields of study, enabling you to adapt to new subject areas and to situate your work in environments beyond the studio.

Still accepting applications for 2023 entry. See the Eligibility and key dates webpage for round 3 details.

Explore further

Visit http://content-free.net to explore current work and happenings by Visual Communication students, or visit 2022.rca.ac.uk to view our latest graduate exhibition.

Catch the replays from our November 2022 online Open Day.



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

View all facilities

Our mixed-use studios encourage collaborative working, thought, awareness and action. In addition, you have access to craft and technical workshop areas and excellent technical support in the College.

  • White City studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    White City studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • School of Communication studio

    School of Communication studio (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Computer room, White City

    Computer room, White City

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

You will become well practiced in interpreting ideas, events, complex data, knowledge and experiences, translating these into artefacts, narratives or connections that might manifest across or between the physical, digital or the virtual. Through language, storytelling, tools & materiality you will learn to elicit new knowledge and in turn create new insights. Your role as a communicator of such experiences is to form a bridge; to create forms of communication that can connect people and connect ideas. Referring to these exchanges as ‘conversations’ expands the possibilities for social accountability and creative consciousness.

As a student on the programme you are given the creative agency to explore the ideas that drive your practice. Recent work has been as diverse as: the body in digital space, gentrification of communities, immigration rights, intangible cultural heritage, feminist and LGBTQ+ histories, media archaeology, the living archive, material labour, the privatisation of public space, protest, racial justice, visions of utopia and more.

Our open and inclusive vision of the practice of communication produces work that is every bit as divergent in form as in content, embracing multidisciplinary approaches including sound, type-design,, performance, publishing, moving image, workshops, fieldwork, documentary, radio, virtual reality, comics, ceramics, happenings, drawing, walking and writing.

We invite you to join a conversation based on our shared belief in humankind and the power of art and design to empower and transform.

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

Term 1

In term 1, you will study the Encounters unit. Together we will develop ‘conversations’ within a critical framework that aims to question existing ideas and models of knowledge production. By staging encounters with other disciplines, communities, and sites, we will examine and expand on lived experience, motivation and practice. We will formulate inquiries that unsettle the familiar and ask — What if?

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in AcrossRCA, the College-wide unit. See below for more details.

Term 2

Following on from Encounters, you will begin testing the series of critical questions you’ve emerged with in the unit Affinities. You will identify which discussions you want to participate in and practice listening and connecting with others on a non-individualistic level. You will start a dialogue with the people, objects and ideas you want to engage with and be expected to connect to them with care and purpose. You will consider new modes and methods relevant to your research, and focus on making, exchanging and experimenting with this knowledge by working collectively.

You'll also take the School-wide unit Making Worlds with Others. This unit Will allow you to work alongside students within and across the School. Working from the perspective of your individual practices and disciplines, you will develop a project that engages with others and/or creates mutual exchanges of ideas and understandings, with the intention to create critically engaged situations and/or outcomes resulting in convivial knowledge exchange. Through collaborative learning and making the unit will support you in understanding knowledge exchange and public engagement and how you are to situate your own practice in these territories. The unit will also ask you to question how socially engaged practice can contribute to cultural understanding, co-researching and co-creating methods for knowing with, not knowing about.

Term 3

Independent Research Project. Here we ask you to focus on locating and establishing yourself and your work in the external contexts in which you seek to engage and connect your practice to emerging critical discourses. You will enact the critical frameworks, methods and tools you have developed through the programme.

Situated at the core of your RCA student experience, this ambitious interdisciplinary College- wide AcrossRCA unit supports how you respond to the challenges of complex, uncertain and changing physical and digital worlds by engaging you in a global creative network that draws on expertise within and beyond the institution. It provides an extraordinary opportunity for you to:

  • make connections across disciplines
  • think critically about your creative practice
  • develop creative networks within and beyond the College
  • generate innovative responses to complex problems
  • reflect on how to propose ideas for positive change in local and/or global contexts.

AcrossRCA launches with a series of presentations from internationally acclaimed speakers that will encourage you to think beyond the discourses of art, architecture, communication, and design, and extend into other territories such as economics, ethics, science, engineering, medicine or astrophysics.

In interdisciplinary teams you will be challenged to use your intellect and imagination to respond to urgent contemporary themes, providing you with an opportunity to develop innovative and disruptive thinking, critically reflect on your responsibilities as a creative practitioner and demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world. This engagement with interdisciplinary perspectives and practices is designed both to complement your disciplinary studies and provide you with a platform to thrive beyond graduation.

Visit the AcrossRCA website


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 a first-degree undergraduate qualification in a related subject or be able to evidence equivalent professional experience in related fields.

All candidates are required to submit an online portfolio of work to be assessed by the programme’s senior staff team. Candidates should create an online portfolio that best reflects their abilities, experience and interests. The portfolio must follow College guidelines for uploading work such as using the College application site and giving a brief description for each piece of work.

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 want enthusiasm for your practice, commitment and a strong sense of personal responsibility for your own learning and development.

What's needed from you

We would like you to submit no more than five projects. Each project should be uploaded as a landscape PDF to include no more than ten pages.

Please provide a short statement about each piece of work to be included in the PDF. We would like to see the stages of development of the project from brief, to process, experimentation to the final outcome.

Please note: Do not include reference material of other practitioners – we are more interested in your development work. If you have worked with collaborators, please tell us your role in the work submitted. Any video work submitted should be no longer than two mins in duration.

Please provide a verbal presentation about yourself and your creative practical work.

We want to find out about your creative journey and the context of your work; social, cultural, political etc. Please tell us about the concepts and ideas you are interested in, the processes you use to make work and the technologies you employ.

You can do this by showing or describing a project you have made outlining the creative stages of research and development that you used or by talking more broadly. Lastly, tell us why and how your work and interests relate to your chosen pathway at the RCA.

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 2023 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

Progression discount

For alumni and students who have completed an RCA Graduate Diploma and progress onto an RCA Master's programme – MA, MA/MSc, MFA, MDes, MArch, MEd or MRes – within 10 years, a progression discount of £1,000 is available.

* 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.

Scholarships targeted to students enrolling onto a number of RCA MA programmes to enable students to unlock full potential regardless of their financial circumstances. Preference will be given to students from underrepresented communities.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Students from under-represented communities

Eligible fee status: UK fee status, full-time

Value: Up to seven full-fee tuition fee scholarships

Supporting students on any MA programme from the UK (Preferably is a Scottish national), experiencing financial hardship.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Student preferably of Scottish origin

Eligible fee status: UK fee status, full-time

Value: £10,000

The Scholarship supports 21 UK MA, MRes and PhD students every year from across all RCA MA, MRes and PhD disciplines.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Students with Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage, or mixed Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: £21,000

The RCA Cost of Living Bursary supports living costs for home students across all MA programmes.

Value: Bursaries of £5,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The RCA Disabled Students Bursary supports living costs for home students with a declared disability across all MA programmes, recognising the contribution that UK students with disabilities make to the RCA

Value: Bursaries of £6,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Students with a diagnosed physical or sensory disability, or specific learning difficulties.

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship supports academic excellence by rewarding talented home applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA, with a partial fee scholarship

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each, to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship - International supports academic excellence by rewarding talented applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA at Round 1 and Round 2 of applications, with a partial fee scholarship.

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: International fee status

Supporting MA Visual Communication students from the UK, experiencing financial hardship

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship

Eligible fee status: UK fee status, full-time

Value: £10,000

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 2023. Applications now open.

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 and key dates
More information about eligibility and key dates
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Consider attending an Open Day, or one of our portfolio or application advice sessions
See upcoming sessions
Please note, all applications must be submitted by 12 noon on the given deadline.
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.

Register your interest with us here
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