During the first year emphasis is placed on set projects which explore different design approaches, contexts and roles in relation to emerging technologies. The first project of the year is for both first and second years. The first project is designed to open up a space for discussion, experimentation and debate about the relationship between design and technology. It is also an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other, and to make clear how the programme and College work.
The next few projects are designed to expose students to different design roles, contexts and approaches in relation to new technology. Most of these projects will be led by either a member of the core teaching team or a visiting tutor. They will last between one to five weeks.
Guests with specialist knowledge and skills will plug-in to each project, giving tutorials, talks, or crits. Guest lecturers and course staff will also give talks about their work and ideas as part of the weekly evening talk series.
There will be short workshops throughout the first year exploring different technical skills such as software and electronics prototyping, model-making and film production. Students also undertake the mandatory Critical & Historical Studies programme in their first year (see below), in which a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials culminates in the submission of a dissertation at the start of the second year.
Besides gaining experience as an Intern, the summer is an ideal time for students to reflect on what they have learnt during the first year and to think about their design focus for the second year.
During the second year students are expected to initiate their own projects and build up a body of work that reflects the professional context they wish to practice in.
At the start of the second year, students participate in a three to four-week project set for the whole programme. After that they are assigned a personal tutor and will begin to negotiate their areas of interest and final projects.
Throughout the second year, students are expected to become progressively independent. The emphasis is on developing a body of work that reflects the intellectual and creative requirements of the context they wish to work within on graduation. Students will meet with their tutor on a weekly basis either individually or in small groups and will present their work to the whole programme and visiting critics at least twice a term. They will also be able to discuss their work with other staff and visiting tutors.
Critical & Historical Studies
The RCA provides a unique environment for postgraduate art and design students to reflect upon their own practice, and to engage with students from their own and other disciplines. The role of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) is to support the studio programmes in enabling these critical engagements to take place. The courses offered by CHS to first year studio-based MA students propose an intellectual framework within which they can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
In the autumn and spring terms there are a series of College-wide seminars and lectures. The autumn term series will relate to your particular discipline (though it is possible to elect to join a series being offered to students on other programmes) whereas the spring term series will be more broad-based and cross-disciplinary in nature.
In the spring and summer terms, a CHS tutor will give you individual tutorials to support the development of a dissertation which is submitted at the start of the second year. The dissertation should be between 6,000–10,000 words in length – this is a major piece of work and you will be not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.