Research course

School of Communication

Royal College of Art · School of Communication

Entry requirements

Applicants must normally have obtained a good relevant undergraduate degree or an equivalent qualification.

Months of entry

January, December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February

Course content

The School welcomes applications for research degree study for MRes (Communication Design), MPhil and PhD from all areas of art, design and related disciplines that demonstrate the potential for advanced research and critical practice in the field of communication. Projects that explore topical issues through both practice and theory are particularly encouraged.

We look for critical engagement, originality and proven skills in both practice and writing, and encourage questioning and experimental research approaches. Individual research topics normally relate to the ethos and expertise of the School’s programmes and research areas, so that we can provide appropriate supervision and resources.

We support research students through direct registration to the School. This facilitates any student working across our programme areas, while allowing students working in specific disciplines to develop subject homes in our programmes, according to the individual requirements of their research.

Students are encouraged to develop their own methodologies relevant to their individual programmes of research. In recent years, the School’s research students have developed enquiries in areas including the manifestation of digital space, the mediation of cognitive and sensory experience, and the augmentation of design practice and knowledge.

MPhil and PhD students follow their own bespoke research route within the School, supported by expertise from staff within the School and the wider College. Students on our new MRes (Communication Design) are guided through a well-planned curriculum and are supported through both local and College-wide expertise.

Many of the School’s research students develop collaborative research initiatives during the course of their studies, drawing on the expertise of partner organisations, including creative businesses, cultural and academic institutions. Our current research students’ topics interface with a wide range of subjects including biology, geography, English language and literature, psychology, architecture, social and computer sciences.

The School has an established track record of securing funding for individual research projects, and seven of our students are currently in receipt of AHRC Doctoral awards. We also support individual student applications to external funding schemes.

Students attend a stimulating Research Methods Course, delivered alongside other research students from across the College, in order to support development of their research expertise and methods of investigating. Each Research student is guided by one or more supervisors and, in some cases, additional specialist advisers.

The School of Communication provides a weekly seminar series ‘Methods of Intent’ where interdisciplinary and specialist methods and methodologies are introduced. In addition the series draws upon research expertise of those outside the RCA, but also from our own student and staff. At the end of each year, the School also holds an intensive two-day programme of research workshops bringing the research community together.

MPhil and PhD students share a multi-disciplinary, ‘hot-desking’ studio, which provides a quiet space for students to develop their ideas. Research students use the facilities at the College, while also accessing specialist facilities, archives and resources further afield related to their research. Students have full use of the School’s specialist workshops (digital print, animation, moving image, sound, letterpress) and labs (information experience design, animation, visual communication) to produce and present their practical work.

Annual programmes of research seminars, workshops and events are organised for staff and students at both School and programme levels. Featuring visiting speakers alongside staff and student presentations, the School’s Methods of Intent programme provides a weekly forum for discussing research methods, approaches, contexts and work in progress. Each year we also hold a summer term research student symposium, to bring the School’s research students together to discuss topical issues in communication research and to plan new approaches and developments.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36+ months

Course contact details