The Critical Writing in Art & Design MA programme in the School of Humanities provides unique opportunities for postgraduate students to develop high-level writing, research and analytical skills in the setting of one of the world’s most dynamic art schools. Combining workshop models of teaching and learning, and ‘live’ projects with leading arts organisations, the MA provides the skills required for a successful career in the arts or a research degree. For 2017/8, we are introducing some exciting new areas of specialisation within the programme.
The programme is committed to the idea that writing – of all kinds – is a creative practice that requires imagination as well as good literary skills and expert knowledge. Students on the MA are presented with many opportunities to develop and apply the skills required by various writing formats from the review and catalogue essay, to fiction and other forms of speculation. The unique structure of the programme allows for specialisation and the freedom to explore novel approaches to writing.
The Critical Writing in Art & Design programme combines lectures, specialist writing workshops and ‘crits’ as well as live projects with external partners. Previous partners have included the Royal Opera House, Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge and Turner Contemporary in Margate. Recognising that the media is undergoing considerable change, the MA also offers opportunities to work with professionals working print and online publishing, broadcasting and podcasting. Students on the programme enjoy opportunities to share classes and to work on shared projects with other students across the RCA including our sister programme, the Critical Practice pathway in the Contemporary Art Practice programme in the School of Fine Art.
Founded in 2010, the Critical Writing in Art & Design programme will launch a set of new specialisms in autumn 2017: Publishing and New Media; Creative Writing; and Art Theory. Students follow a shared, core programme as well as their chosen specialism. This will enable students to develop focused and expert skills within the RCA’s new 15-month MA framework. The specialisms allow a close focus on the particular needs of individual students, delivered through small group seminar teaching and one-to-one tutorials.
Graduates of the Critical Writing in Art & Design programme have published their MA work as books for publishers around the world including MIT Press, China Machine Press, and Zero Books. Others write regularly for the art press (including titles such as Art Monthly, Frieze and Eye Magazine). Some graduates of the programme have gone on to doctoral study at the University of Oxford, the University of Manchester and Goldsmiths. Others work in editorial positions in art and design magazines, or as curators and programmers in galleries and museums and other arts organisations in Europe, China and North America.
Critical Writing in Art & Design students have a strong track record of producing ‘live’ publications with the support of the programme. These include the Albertopolis Companion produced by the graduating class of 2015 or ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950–1978, an anthology from 2014. Other live projects include Of and For Turner Contemporary, a series of texts exploring a remarkable building on the Kent coast. Students on the programme are encouraged to publish their writing on a dedicated Critical Writing in Art & Design website during their studies.
From 2017, the programme is primarily located in the RCA's newest facilities in White City.
The Animation programme is a world leader in practice and research, with a commitment to broadening the understanding of our complex discipline. Established over 30 years ago, the programme has an international reputation that places it at the forefront of the discipline. Within the programme there are three distinct pathways: Documentary Animation, Experimental Animation and Narrative Animation, one of which students select as part of their application.
The programme’s location within a visually sophisticated, multidisciplinary art and design school, rather than a film school, is crucial in the development of creative and critical thinking, research skills and expanded discipline expertise that’s applied to ideas, styles, genres and technological approaches. Both the MA and research degrees attract artists and makers from a broad background of disciplines: science, maths, architecture, literature, art history, computing and fine art, as well as communication.
We offer a unique learning and teaching environment, developing the creativity and skills required in an age of rapid cultural and technological change. Our students contribute to this expanding and maturing field of moving image, with core skills centred around directing, narrative and production. We offer an exceptionally stimulating multidisciplinary environment, complemented by the College’s award-winning programmes in art and design. The curriculum allows students to explore the creative slip between diverse forms of moving image: animation, documentary, fiction, process and interactivity. Through innovative, practical research and an understanding of different contexts, traditions and histories, students learn through a potent combination of workshops, lectures and tutorials, while developing their own practice, individually and collaboratively.
Leading practitioners on the programme bring a wide range of practice and research, their excellence of teaching supported by a wide variety of visiting established filmmakers/artists of international reputation. Recent visiting artists have included Stephen Quay, Suzan Pitt, David O’Reilly, John Smith, Nina Sabnani, Hiraki Sawa, Peter Blegvad, Asif Kapadia, Philip Hunt, Nick Park and Jonathan Hodgson.
The Animation programme has a world-leading research environment, attracting funding from, among others, the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the Medical Research Council.
Students are encouraged to develop a critical discourse around their subject, as well as building on and challenging notions within their own personal areas of interest or specialism. The programme has an ongoing relationship with the most successful and innovative sectors of the UK animation industry – Blink, Nexus, Studio AKA, Passion Pictures and Hornet – which allows students’ work to be placed within a wider professional context.
The programme offers excellent facilities supported by knowledgeable technical staff, including shooting studios for stop-frame/green screen, sound recording/mixing, digital and film cameras/editing, Cintiqs and an individual desk space for each student in mixed studios within the School of Communication.
The MA programme and research degrees offer a holistic environment that prepares animation artists for a number of roles within gallery- and industry-based animated filmmaking, and provides innovators to the animation professions.
Current students and graduates continue to have a ‘real-world’ impact on animation, pushing the forefront of the practice and producing innovative and highly accomplished work. Much of this has been demonstrated through the accolades bestowed on the programme, as well as by individual student achievement through winning awards such as 5 BAFTAs, the Royal Television Society, the Adobe Achievement Award, and Jerwood Moving Image Drawing Prizes. Exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide, together with film screenings at festivals and broadcast licenses with television and Internet channels, allow students to increases their professional profile.
Jewellery & Metal (J&M) forms part of the School of Material. Within this context we are committed to exploring the rich and diverse field of adornment and object culture. We encourage an open-minded approach that in principle embraces all materials. But it is metal that constitutes the technological core of our subject and we believe that a deepening understanding of the metal elements is key in these developments; the Periodic Table is our reference in expanding our activity within the subjects of jewellery and metalwork.
The attitude of Jewellery & Metal has shifted from a purely object-centred focus to a wider scope, questioning and exploring issues centred on the human condition. We are responsive to the rapidly changing social and cultural landscape, and draw on history and technology in nurturing intellectual and creative skills directed at understanding and pushing forward jewellery and objects of human making. The rich and extensive bodies of knowledge associated with object-making and jewellery underpin an approach that is outward-looking, open to the wider discourse on commodity objects, connecting to contemporary life.
As applied artists, being in control of the making process either by using our hands or through digital technologies is very important, it is our way of making sense of the world. As individuals we are fascinated with the rich and diverse materials and resources the world has to offer, and through the individuality of our personal visions we make our contribution to the bigger picture.
Jewellery & Metal provides an environment for exploring, in practical and theoretical ways, what it means to be an applied artist today. We see our role as challenging norms and questioning conventions, interrogating the role and purpose of objects and adornment through the development of a personal approach to researching, experimenting, designing and making in the context of an increasingly complex object culture.
The growing importance and interdisciplinary character of our distinctive discipline within material culture gives the applied arts an added vibrancy and relevance. We believe the physical act of making has an essential role to play in an increasingly virtual world, but we also embrace digital technologies and the virtual and believe that creating a dialogue between these worlds provides the applied arts with one of its most fertile testing grounds at this time.
Design projects form the core learning and teaching element of the programme. Projects are a mix of both set and self-generated. They will vary in duration and format. In the first term of years one and two of the course, students will work together as mixed vertical groups to enhance peer-to-peer learning. In the second and third terms of the course students work in year specific groups but with timetabled reviews of each others work at key points in their respective curriculum. In the second half of term one, second year students work independently as their final year thesis project is developed. It is expected that individual students will pursue projects of a particular personal interest in relation to their Interior Design studio ‘provocation’.
Design projects will always be concerned with issues in and around the design of interior environments, exploring issues such as proximities, inhabitation and the construction of a range of spatial identities. The context for design projects will vary, but will often include existing buildings, urban spaces, the analysis of site and human occupation and inhabitation, material and spatial identity and so on. Where applicable live briefs will be included in the curriculum where students work with commercial or industry partners. In some cases design projects will take the form of competitions that may be set within the programme or by organisations outside of the College.
The second year of the programme is organised around a number of Interior Design Platforms (IDPs). Their number will depend upon the number of students on the programme at any given time. Each platform will begin around the middle of term one and be based around emergent or current issues in the subject of Interiors and in other built environment/design led contexts. The tutors who run them will position the content of the studios. The studios will be configured in order to respond to a particular overall provocation and location, a site and context that will be set by the Head of Programme and the teaching team.
The programme employs a variety of different learning and teaching methods to help you achieve your individual aims and objectives, as well as those of the programme.
In addition to the core Interior Design programme content all students at the RCA undertake the Critical & Historical Studies component independently of their studio work. This work culminates in the submission of the dissertation, a 6,000 – 10,000 word essay, at the start of the second year.
IED is set within the vibrant mixed studios of the RCA’s School of Communication, each of its pathways with a specialist Lab as its hub. Professor Neville Brody, who provides inspiration and instigation, calls IED an interface between information and experience, and a platform for exploring post-screen, post-digital and post-disciplinary practice. Our students and researchers work alongside the School’s graphic designers, animators and illustrators, and in interdisciplinary teams with other RCA programmes as well as external scientists, companies, architects and academics.
IED develops a mindset as well as a skillset. No specific technical skills are required; applicants come from diverse backgrounds in design, science, fine art, engineering and technology, with a common critical interest in data, design and making. Graduates may go on to work in visualisation, data science, advanced design practice, cultural and educational institutions, research labs or studio practice.
The three distinct pathways offered by the IED programme of Sound Design, Moving Image Design, and Experimental Design, one of which students select as part of their application, are interrelated, focused around different ways of approaching IED’s core aim of transforming information into experiences.
The Design Products programme is about creativity for purpose – educating students to be design leaders who address real-world challenges through balancing high levels of creativity and technical capability with contextual insight and empathy for people. The Design Products identity is characterised by a pluralistic approach to designing for purpose through a number of design cultures – ‘Design through Making’, ‘Design for Manufacture’, ‘Object Mediated Interactions’, ‘Design as Catalyst’, ‘Exploring Emergent Futures’ – which are underpinned by a set of contextual and real-world themes. This structure provides a platform for students to conceptualise and validate ideas by canvassing, provoking, challenging and questioning people, places, things and systems through crafted artefacts. Through team and individual projects involving external partners and tutored by practising designers and design researchers, students determine their own design culture whilst building a portfolio of work that will locate them in their desired professional context. Graduates are creative catalysts and visionaries who go on to become leaders in their respective fields.
The programme offers:
Global Innovation Design (GID) is a joint Master's programme between the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. It is a unique, transnational Master’s design initiative that brings together three major centres of design, culture, enterprise and industry: Europe, North America and Asia.
GID is a multidisciplinary, multicultural and multinational design programme awarding both an MA from the Royal College of Art and an MSc from Imperial College London to graduates. GID offers an engaging global curriculum and provides powerful cultural experiences crafted to nurture innovators and designers who are prepared to take on the changing needs of enterprise in the twenty-first century.
GID international partners include Pratt Institute (New York), Keio University (Tokyo), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and Tsinghua University (Beijing). Each of these distinctive institutions brings unique expertise and complementary approaches to design, engineering, business and cultural sensitivity, within the context of internationally oriented design innovation.
The GID vision is to foster a transformative postgraduate experience that is unparalleled in the world, one that cultivates internationally oriented innovation and design leaders who can tackle complex problems and deliver positive social, environmental, economic and cultural change.
The GID ethos is to cultivate activated people, designers and leaders who are capable of making change in the world. Designers on the Global Innovation Design Master's programme will be expected to generate creative directions that other designers and innovators will follow.
The programme is full time and runs over a period of two calendar years. GID Master's candidates on the joint RCA/Imperial College programme begin their course in London for two terms developing their visions and a body of work which will be thematically and regionally developed throughout the next year and a half.
They have the opportunity to study on the New York/Tokyo route or the Beijing/Singapore route during their first and second years. They then return to London for the final two terms of their graduation year. Graduates from the programme are expected to be central to innovation leadership in the twenty-first century.
Philosophically, GID challenges designers to ask who they are and what is most important to them; as authors of material culture they are asked what kind of world do they wish to create, and what contributions will they make. Global Innovation Designers create transformational culture. At the centre of the programme is the knowledge that transformational culture is engendered by objects and experiences that are the embodiment of the robustly beautiful and the exquisitely functional combined.
The GID Master's programme offers:
Study on the Tokyo/New York route route gives access to Keio University, well known for physical computing and social design interventions, as well as Pratt Institute, renowned for a tradition of excellence in industrial design.
Study on the Beijing/Singapore route gives access to Tsinghua University, China's number one institution with world class design labs and studios, as well as Nanyang Technical University's School of Art, Design, and Media whose cutting edge programmes in new media and cultural and social design innovation situate it as a leader in emerging Asian and Global design.
At Tsinghua University, London-based students will benefit from studying at the top University in China, gaining first-hand experience of the culture of China and designing with both new and traditional materials in the context of emerging Asian design.
At Nanyang Technical University, London-based students will be exposed to a rich and varied Pan-Asian community. NTU offers world-class communication and video production instruction with cultural understanding at the core. NTU is expert in the practice of “value transmigration”, how to translate a culturally specific artefact into a viable product-service-system in a new cultural context.
Service Design has become the new frontier for designers who want to make a difference at scale, and in so doing advance the discipline of design. The service sector represents almost 80 per cent of the advanced economies, and in recent years the role of design in transforming both public and private sector services has become widely recognised. The programme at the Royal College of Art is the leading specialist service design programme worldwide and with around 80 students and researchers and 10–12 live projects at any time, it’s almost certainly the largest dedicated service design studio globally.
Students emerging from the programme are finding immediate employment as service designers as industry and governments seek to transform their customer and citizen experience. We’ve just enhanced our programme by creating three new platforms for service design. The first is Service Innovation, which focuses on developing citizen and customer centric solutions to address immediate social, cultural and economic challenges. The second, Envision, not only speculates on the future of healthcare, education, retail, banking, transportation, but uses future forecasting techniques for society, culture and technology to design service experiences for the next decade and beyond. The final platform, Public Service and Policy, brings together social and political science with design to transform public service provision as well as government policy
The RCA Service Design programme offers a two-year MA in Service Design as well as opportunities for MPhil and PhD research. Right from the start, students are immersed in the unique interdisciplinary environment of the RCA, enabling them to become specialists in service design while participating in the exciting design education environment of the School of Design. Students are taught by the leading practitioners of the discipline, as well as by pioneers of service design from industry and academia.
To ensure the programme teaches the complete skills required for service design, it is delivered in association with Imperial College London, enabling students to complement their skills in service design by participating in Imperial’s MBA programme, as well developing their competence in digital technology with Imperial’s department of computing.
The programme combines lectures, workshops and projects grounded in empirical evidence drawn from ‘real world’ practice as well as theory. Students undertake group and individual projects that tackle the different domains of public service provision, consumer and business services, in partnership with leading service sector companies and public sector organisations.
As a result alumni graduating from the programme are joining leading design firms such as Engine, Fjord, IDEO and Livework, professional services firms including McKinsey and IBM Business Consulting Services, government departments including UK Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet Office, as well as multinational corporations such as Jaguar, Barclay’s, Royal Bank of Scotland and Tesco.
The spirit of Ceramics & Glass at the RCA springs from the heart of those media, and a belief in the transformative power of material thinking, research and making to enrich our world in imaginative and meaningful ways. The programme is a site for contemporary discourse where personal concerns and global perspectives intersect. We seek those with passion to extend the possibilities and perspectives of ceramics and glass within and beyond traditional limitations, informed by their rich provenance of materials and practices.
The Ceramics & Glass MA at the RCA provides outstanding opportunities to develop a dynamic, informed and connected practice in a study environment that embraces diversity and depth. We believe in interrogating practices and challenging conventions.
Our hyper-material age presents exciting and critical opportunities to explore cultures of production; to ask questions about what, why and how we make; to express ideas through the symbolic modes of things and transformative character of substances, and to consider how our work can influence physical, personal and psycho-social environments. We challenge and encourage you to stretch your imagination, expand your potential and find your voice.
The MA spectrum of enquiry includes art and design works, design for manufacture and the built environment, emerging experimental practices and applications. Curiosity is nurtured through the imaginative exploration of concepts, the investigation of material properties and technologies, the potential of interdisciplinary practice and collaboration. Making, thinking and writing skills are integrated to develop critical perspectives of practice and purpose, and to foster new understandings of our interaction with ‘things’.
The exceptional ceramic and glass facilities at the Royal College underpin a dynamic study environment led by outstanding teachers and technical experts, supported by contributions from peers, acclaimed visiting lecturers and graduates, who have shaped the programme’s leading research and international standing over many years.
The MA study experience integrates studio-based project learning with a formal dialogue in Critical & Historical Studies, scaffolded by the rigour of enquiry and reflective practice. Workshops, lectures, visiting experts and collaboration opportunities are supplemented by seminars and personal tutorials to provide guidance, foster critical reflection and encourage the development of individual trajectories and ambitions.
The programme offers:
Led by Dr Mel Jordan, Reader in Art & the Public Sphere, the Contemporary Art Practice programme has specialist pathway leaders in order to facilitate a distinct engagement with specific areas of contemporary art practice. The programme is delivered through four pathways: Critical Practice (led by Jeremy Millar), Moving Image (led by Jane Wilson), Performance (led by Professor Nigel Rolfe) and Public Sphere (led by Mel Jordan).
The Contemporary Art Practice programme enables us to incorporate practices that exceed the specificity of the well-established disciplines of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. Contemporary Art Practice engages with contemporary modes of art production, dissemination and debate. It facilitates specialisation through its pathway structure enabling students to engage with a particular approach to developing their own art practice. The teaching methodology we employ is not technologically or materially determined however students are expected to utilise appropriate and specific means in which to manifest their ideas. Contemporary Art Practice students have access to all facilities within the School of Fine Art.
Critical theory has emerged as an essential intellectual framework for art criticism but what is its potential as a tool within the production of contemporary art? Studio-based and primarily focused on supporting the development of the artistic practice of its students, the Critical Practice pathway offers regular seminars exploring emerging ideas and bodies of theory as well as opportunities to work with organised forms of knowledge such as public archives and institutions.
Moving Image is aimed at artists using film and video, and practitioners working in the areas of documentary film, film and fiction cinema as well as practitioners who wish to draw upon, challenge and re-map established realms of Moving Image based practices. The diversity of approaches employed in the Moving Image pathway reflects the new reality of contemporary moving image.
Performance happens in the ‘here and now’ and not the ‘there and then’. Unlike many practices, where time is historic, and the image presented is necessarily an archive or record, ‘being and doing’ are more immediately significant in live time, and the expectation is that – in the contemporary – artists are often presenting work that is not made in advance but rather happening now!
Public Sphere is a major research area in the School, and the pathway supports expanded engagement with art and its publics as well as art’s social function. Social art practices have featured as a key force in the rise of the global biennale as well as being utilized by the Occupy Movement. Therefore questions about public space, participation, collaboration and collective action are becoming essential principles within the production of contemporary art both in terms of practice and theory.
Your application should be for MA Contemporary Art Practice and you will have to specify in which Pathway you wish to study: Critical Practice, Moving Image, Performance or Public Sphere.
The programme offers:
Established 25 years ago and led by Professor Victoria Walsh, the MA Curating Contemporary Art (CCA) programme is recognised both as an international leader in its field and for its commitment to collaborative group project-based work that integrates theory and practice throughout the two years of the curriculum. For 2017/18, we are introducing new areas of focus in response to the expanded field of curating and the widening professional opportunities for curatorial practice and research in a global context. These will include:
Exhibitions and Programming practice focusses on curating, commissioning and programming within the physical and defined setting of the gallery/museum space providing critical, theoretical and practical understanding of the histories and opportunities within this form of curatorial practice.
Urban practice focuses on curating and commissioning within the urban context of the global city, with particular emphasis on the expanded role curators play bringing together architects, designers, urbanists, and public and private organisations with communities and artist practitioners to create new spaces of creative opportunity, encounter and public value.
Digital practice focuses on the expanded field of artistic and curatorial practice that is rooted in and defined by digital media, online production and networked distribution. It will examine the differences and commonalities between digital and analogue forms of artistic production and curating; and experiment with new curatorial models that bridge on and offline networked cultures and audiences.
The CCA programme approaches the field critically, theoretically and through best practice in commissioning, curating, and programming with London-based and national arts organisations and spaces ensuring that the knowledge and understanding of these practices is grounded in the context of public audiences, urbanisation and the digital. In the increasingly complex cultural environment in which curating takes place, our research-led and practice-led teaching by staff and visiting tutors ensures the curatorial and artistic significance, intellectual value and critical vitality of the MA programme.
Curating Contemporary Art is a two-year, full-time 240-credit ‘enhanced’ RCA MA that runs from September 2017 – June 2019. From 2017, the programme is primarily located in the RCA's newest facilities in White City.