The School of Architecture currently provides research specialism in the areas of Architecture & Media, City Design, Social Movements and Future of Work, which are seen as essential to contemporary architectural and urban research. However, the programme welcomes strong applications for other fields of interest as well as traditional academic research.
The Master’s of Research (MRes) RCA is a full-time, one-year programme that offers early-career research students the opportunity to develop and demonstrate mastery in the theory, methods and practice of research within an art and design environment. MRes RCA degrees are offered in four Schools (Communication, Design, Fine Art and Humanities) and are designed to provide early-career researchers with the intellectual, technical and professional tools with which to complete high-quality research projects, whether at doctoral level or within the cultural and creative industries, working across traditional sociocultural, disciplinary and sectoral boundaries.
MRes RCA programmes are delivered through a combination of: structured learning, comprising of lectures and master-classes by practitioners and senior academics; workshop classes based around a set task (a ‘brief’); tutorled seminar classes where students will be asked to reflect on material that they have read or studied in advance; and project assignments that support the structured teaching programme.
The programme provides students with the intellectual, technical and professional tools to pursue their own independent research within academia or industry, drawing on the experience and expertise of world-leading researchers across the College. The ethos of the programme will be collaborative, so students should be prepared to engage fully within their peer group, and with established and emerging research communities throughout the College.
In the development of intellectual engagement, students will be encouraged to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the principles of scholarly research within art, design and the humanities; identify robust research questions that interrogate fundamental questions of knowledge creation and exchange; critically analyse and evaluate complex research data; and situate their own research questions in the wider academic context of their field, understanding how their own research builds on and contributes to existing knowledge.
In the development of technical skills, students will be encouraged to: demonstrate an advanced understanding of the tools, methods, theories and techniques of research in Art and Design; experiment in the development, evaluation and presentation of complex research projects; effectively communicate the aims, methodologies and outcomes of their research to a range of different audiences; and effectively explore and articulate the potential of their research to achieve impact beyond the academic sphere.
For professional development, students will be encouraged to: take responsibility for directing their studies through setting goals and managing time and resources effectively; participate as an active, thoughtful and responsible member of a research community; demonstrate an understanding of and sensitivity to the principles and policies of ethical research; effectively plan and manage a complex research project; define their professional identity through self-reflection informed by theoretical, social and cultural awareness; engage constructively with research partners in order to form collaborations that benefit both their research and the partner organisation
Design Informatics combines Data Science with Design Thinking in a context of critical enquiry and speculation. We build a value-aware, reflective practice at the interface between data and society by combining theory and research with an open-ended process of making and hacking.
Human activity is being constantly shaped by the flow of data and the intelligences that process it, moving towards an algorithmically mediated society. Design Informatics asks how we can create products and services within this world, that learn and evolve, that are contextualised and humane. Beyond that, it asks questions about what things we should create, speculating about the different futures we might be building and the values behind them.
The central premise is that data is a medium for design: by shaping data, we shape the world around us. Data Science provides the groundwork for this, with Design Thinking underpinning reflective research through design. You will use this in working with the internet of things and physical computing, machine learning, speech and language technology, usable privacy and security, data ethics, blockchain technologies. You will connect technology with society, health, architecture, fashion, bio-design, craft, finance, tourism, and a host of other real world contexts, through case studies, individual, and collaborative projects. You will understand user experience in the wider socio-cultural context, through an agile programme of hacking, making and materialising new products and services.
Please be aware that the structure of the programme may change.
Throughout the programme, you will be working both individually and in teams of designers and computer scientists. Everyone will have to write code during the course, and everyone will have to make physical objects. Several courses, including the dissertation, will involve presenting the artefact, product, service, or interactive experience that you have created to the general public in a show.
In the first year, you will study:
In Design with Data and Design Informatics Project, you are likely to work with an external partner, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Amazon, Edinburgh City Council, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh or the National Museum of Scotland.
MSc and MA students then undertake a dissertation in the summer before graduation.
MFA and Advanced MSc students take a summer placement with a relevant digital organisation then return for a second year of study, comprising:
Elective courses are drawn from the Masters Programmes of the School of Informatics, Edinburgh College of Art, and Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences. Courses are typically 10 or 20 credits.
This degree will put you at the cutting edge of the intersection between data science, design, and information technology, opening a host of opportunities in working with companies, charities, and the public sector. We encourage entrepreneurship. For those who wish to stay in academia, the course provides a solid foundation for a PhD in related areas.