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Impact Case Studies

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, the Royal College of Art was ranked as the most research-intensive institution in UK art and design, submitting the highest proportion of research-active staff (65%), and achieving 100% 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent) ratings for its research environment and impact. This high-quality, research intensive environment attracts interest from global companies keen to collaborate with the RCA’s staff and postgraduate students. In 2015 and 2016 the RCA was ranked number one art and design institution in the world in the global QS rankings, in recognition of its excellent research and research impact and its reputation with employers.

The range of areas in which our world-leading research achieves high levels of impact – economic, social and cultural – is exemplified by the seven impact case studies submitted to REF2014. Four of these originated in the School of Design, as listed below.

School of Design Case Studies

Critical design at the RCA and its impact on design and the public understanding of science

What If... Exhibition, Dublin
What If... Exhibition, Dublin, 2009
Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby and their colleagues’ research into Critical Design at the Royal College of Art (RCA) since 1997 has influenced the methods and ideas of design practice through inclusion in major design exhibitions, conferences, expert collaboration with companies, and coverage in the press, TV and film. Moreover, it has had impact on cultural life and public discourse, by enhancing public understanding of major issues and challenges posed by science and technology for individuals and society, through design research and exhibitions in major international museums, and inclusion in public museum collections. 

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Design for patient safety: creating significant professional, cultural and commercial impact through innovative design in a range of healthcare settings

Hospital Gown concept with several models wearing design
Design for Patient Dignity
Design research at the Royal College of Art (RCA) has pioneered projects and studies developing a design-led, systems-based approach to improve patient safety in hospital and mobile healthcare. It has led a multidisciplinary culture in which designers, clinicians, psychologists and business specialists collaborate in development projects. This new approach to Design for Patient Safety has had a profound impact on understanding public service provision, on practice and policy, and has realised commercial benefit.

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Enhancing industrial capability to innovate in vehicle and transport design, nationally and internationally

HVLC Flow Diagram
HVLC Flow Diagram, Matteo Conti
Vehicle and mobility design research carried out at the Royal College of Art (RCA) since 1993 has resulted in industrial innovation in vehicles and transport, both nationally and internationally, enhancing industry's ability to provide commercial, societal and environmental benefits between 2008 and 2013. The areas in which the Vehicle Design programme claimed impact included accessible, user-centred transport (Impact 1); future visions of public service vehicles and systems (Impact 2); and innovation in vehicle design for changing technologies (Impact 3). These impacts are produced through design and consultancy. Corroboration of impact takes the form of public records of achievements, and authentication by manufacturers.

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Inclusive design: RCA research creates significant, far-reaching impact in design, industry and education

RCA Alumnus Andrew Walker Leads A Workshop Team in Zagreb
RCA Alumnus Andrew Walker Leads A Workshop Team in Zagreb
A sustained programme of research at the Royal College of Art (RCA) since 1994, led by Professor Roger Coleman, Professor Jeremy Myerson and Dr Jo-Anne Bichard, has played a leading role in the emergence of Inclusive Design within design, industry and education, defining its theoretical principles and developing relevant real-world practice tools and business case studies. This research had made an impact in four key areas: it has influenced the public discourse and the ethics and methods of the design profession; contributed to national policymaking for older and disabled people; enabled economic prosperity through development of new products and services; and supported advances in design education.

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