About This Masters Degree
Students are introduced to the philosophy and ethos of the programme through a series of seminars and presentations by staff and visiting speakers. Initial curricular project work is designed to enable students to benefit from the wide range of approaches and backgrounds represented within the programme; students also make presentations of their work to each other and to tutors.
Following these first communal assignments students are required to choose from a series of project options – electives – which cover a range of issues and approaches, managed and critiqued by specialist tutors. Each project will have been set for quite specific reasons – these will be clearly stated in the briefing document accompanying them and will provide the criteria by which your work on the project is assessed.
The electives will occupy the whole of the first and second terms, culminating in a series of crits, presentations and discussions. In the third term students have the opportunity of proposing a project of their own, in consultation with their Personal Tutor. These self-proposed projects must also have the approval of the appropriate Senior Tutor.
One of the primary functions of these elective projects is to enable students who wish to focus on a comparatively narrow area of communications to do so – alternatively they may choose to experiment in what is for them a new area of work. Both of these approaches are valid and are encouraged, though in the case of the second approach it should be made clear that we shall expect the same level of commitment and rigour – experimenting in a new area is demanding, and should be a carefully considered option.
VR: Visual Research
VR: Visual Research is a programme requirement for all year one students. It is a dynamic series of drawing based briefs which explores materials/subject matter/working methods and platforms, while reconsidering the art of looking.
This pattern of presentations, practical work and critiques leads to the formal Interim Examination in April/May, which students must pass in order to enter the second year of the programme. Students are expected to begin planning the second phase of their programme immediately after the Examination, and to continue researching and writing their dissertation – a College requirement – which must be submitted at the beginning of the second year. Students in Visual Communication are encouraged to view this as an opportunity to research some aspect of communications in preparation for their studio work in year two.
During the second year, students will continue to work on individual projects, which may include projects arising from first-year work or which make use of the wide number of competitions and commissions mentioned earlier. Many students also take the opportunity to work in collaboration with others, often from other areas of the College. These projects conclude with a publication and/or other output.
Students will also be expected to take a full part in the programme of seminars, discussions and debates which will be provided to address issues relating to contemporary culture.
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.
You will normally have a BA, or an equivalent overseas qualification or sufficient work experience to demonstrate the appropriate intellectual, creative and personal qualities to engage with the demands of the programme.