Research Policy & Strategy
The Royal College of Art is a wholly postgraduate institution, aiming to advance art & design education, foster innovation, enhance knowledge exchange and create new knowledge in art & design through research and scholarship. Research has long been considered vital to the RCA’s aim to achieve international standards of excellence in postgraduate and pre-/mid-professional education. Relationships with partner institutions, industries and technologies are of critical importance to the RCA’s institutional strategy, underpinning and complementing research, teaching and practice. The RCA is comprised of four Schools: Architecture; Communication; Design, Arts & Humanities and staff pursue individual research interests within them.
RCA Staff and students are competitively recruited to work in an environment that encourages and supports their individual creativity, and research.
Key research themes
Degrees are validated by the institution itself.
Thesis or Thesis and Presentation of practice
Doctoral submissions are examined by 2 External Examiners with disciplinary expertise and an Internal Chair to advise on regulations.
Forms of Output
Exhibitions; Displays of practice; Portfolio; Practice-based thesis (25,000 – 40,000 words); Thesis (50,000 – 80,000 words); Design Projects; Industry Implementation Projects
Fulltime – 3 years study + 1 year writing up
Part-time – 6 years study + 1 year writing up
Doctoral candidates may pursue research projects by practice, through industry placements, by thesis and as collaborations. The RCA has a department supporting ‘start-ups’ and four research centres which link to industry.
Individual supervision is supported by 3 intensive Doctoral Training weeks per year for all years of study.
General research methodologies and ethics training is introduced to candidates in their first year of study and developed through annual top-up sessions as well as through individual supervision.
Each of the RCA’s constituent Schools runs discrete training days and seminars.
Undergraduate & Masters Research
Research is embedded in all the RCA’s postgraduate programmes and evidenced in an MA Dissertation Unit.
Quality Assurance & Enhancement
These are built into the RCA’s strategic goals and determine assessment criteria.
Students are supervised by 2 academics.
Primary supervisors are expected to have at least one completion.
There are 3rdcycle leads for each School working with a Head of Research Programmes.
Multiple cross-College support agencies exist.
At the RCA, all staff are research active and have a minimum of 20% of their contract allocated to research activities. Staff engaged in research supervision are expected to have a relevant PhD and/or equivalent supervisory experience. Training, updates and discussions of best practice are demonstrate the RCA’s commitment to developing supervisory capacity. The Teaching Fellowship Scheme leads to PGCert qualification or an HEA Fellowship.
In the first instance, all applications are reviewed by 2 academic staff. Subsequently, potential candidates are interviewed by 2 academic staff.
Students may make unsolicited applications.
The total student population at the RCA is in the region of 2300 – 3000 students, of whom approx. 300 are 3rdcycle candidates.
Approximately 100 students have graduated in the last 5 years.
Scholarships, studentships, bursaries, grants
UKRI funding, state scholarships, industry sponsorship
Research at the RCA is supported by a large team across technical and professional services. Students benefit from a modest Conference Fund to support dissemination activities; gallery activities; industry visits; guest speakers and workshops; placements; residencies; publications; symposia, exhibitions and events.
The RCA is one of the leading international research institutions in Art & Design with a large staff and student population.