The V&A/RCA programme (MA, MPhil and PhD) is internationally recognised as a leading centre for postgraduate study in the history of design and material culture.
Combining ambitious, rigorous and cutting edge scholarly approaches with first-hand understanding of material and digital artefacts, the History of Design programme is ideally suited to prepare students for the increasingly diverse and flexible professional portfolio demanded today.
MA in the History of Design
The V&A/RCA History of Design programme is internationally known for our path-breaking teaching and research in the history of design and material culture. As jointly offered by two world-leading centres for scholarship and creativity, we explore cultural, social, economic, political and technological history through designed artefacts and our interactions with them. Students work closely with collections and curatorial expertise within the V&A, and as part of the creative community of the RCA.
Students on the Design and Material Culture pathway explore how the close analysis of designed artefacts – objects and environments, but also digital and physical services, interactions, policies, institutions and legal and technical systems –can offer new perspectives on pressing questions, from the early modern period to today. Some students develop critical histories of design practices, while others create new insight into pressing historical and current questions through the history of material culture.
By engaging with the National Collection of Performing Arts at the V&A, students on the Performance pathway explore how the material remains of performance inform our understanding of the performing arts, historically and today. Jointly offered with the V&A’s ground-breaking Theatre and Performance Department, the pathway offers collections-based teaching with the world’s most diverse collection of material documenting current practice and the history of performance.
The Photography pathway employs collections-based teaching to consider photography as both an expressive medium and a social practice. Students access the V&A’s world-leading collection of historic and contemporary photographs, photographic artefacts, books, archives and camera-related equipment and engage with leading photographic practitioners in the RCA.
Open days are held at the Royal College of Art between October and March of each academic year, to enable applicants to visit the College and meet staff and students.
The History of Design programme encourages applications for research degrees. We offer MPhil and PhD by practice and thesis. Potential applicants should email the programme administrator to arrange and discuss their possible subject area with an appropriate course tutor.
V&A/RCA Scholarship Awards
Information about V&A/RCA Scholarship opportunities can be found on the RCA website.
Selected Student Projects and News
The latest news about the V&A/RCA History of Design MA programme can be found on the V&A Blog.
For more details about the V&A/RCA History of Design research seminar series download the programme.