About This Masters Degree
The MA programme provides students who have already acquired knowledge and skills in various areas of design with an academic framework in which to continue to develop their own professional direction. The course takes a pluralistic view of the students’ ideas and interests and there is an atmosphere that encourages experimental, groundbreaking work, encouraging a critical approach and a questioning of accepted practices.
The programme has a matrix structure comprised of horizontal teaching units, called Platforms, and a set of vertical Themes, which cut across the Platforms. In the first year, students undergo a diagnostic period in the first two terms, experiencing the different design perspectives of the Platforms and the different Themes through a set of project briefs. In the summer term, students elect a Platform to follow for the remainder of their studies, underpinned by one of the Themes (or a theme of their own choosing). Each Platform is led by two Tutors (who are practicing designers), and each Theme is led by either a Senior Tutor or the Head of Programme, who work together to choose the content and area of focus they wish to concentrate on for the Autumn and Spring terms, and engage with the students through assigning briefs, and meeting with them on a weekly basis. In addition, students are taught a set of methods and tools, such a critical thinking, user-facing methods, that will underpin their work. Second-year students are expected to produce a minimum of two graduation projects. While the Tutors’ primary focus is the students in their Platform, their knowledge and expertise is available to the entire programme; the Head of Programme and Senior Tutors teach across the programme. In addition, students benefit from Visiting Professors and visiting lecturers who are practicing designers and experts in their fields.
Students are expected to use the programme’s Themes and their Platform’s approach to design as the basis for their work. There is a progress review at the end of the Autumn and Spring terms for second-year students.
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.
A good undergraduate degree or equivalent