MA(RCA)/MSc Innovation Design Engineering (IDE)
Duration: 21 months full-time
Start date: October 2021
Campus: South Kensington
ECTS: 180 credits
A cutting-edge, creative product development course, which involves experimentation, design, engineering and enterprise activities.
The degree programme has now been running for over 30 years, and has produced some of the world’s leading designers working in companies such as Philips, IDEO, Apple, Sony and Samsung.
A significant proportion of graduates go on to set up their own enterprises on leaving the programme. Recent examples include Omlet, Bare Conductive and Concrete Canvas.
In multidisciplinary teams or as individuals, participants work at the centre of complex and demanding projects with an emphasis on prototyping and proving design and enterprise propositions.
The course is managed jointly by the School of Design at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial.
Successful completion of the 21-month course leads to the award of the MA (Royal College of Art) and MSc (Imperial College London).
Modules shown are for the current academic year and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.
Please note that the curriculum of this programme is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.
Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.
In the first year, students embark on a range of taught modules, workshops and master classes to develop skills and experience.
Each of these focuses on a particular aspect of IDE and involves practising design skills, as well as research activities both within product development itself, and in exploring user and broader social issues. In each module you will undertake a design project to a brief, sometimes set and sometimes of your own devising.
The work periods become progressively longer as they deal with more complex problems, and you practice the transferability of the core skills in different design settings.
Students joining the programme have a diverse range of existing skills, and the tutor input ensures that the modules allow students to be challenged and learn whatever their backgrounds. As students find their feet as innovation designers, the intensity of taught skills is reduced and by the third term students are working on longer project modules.
Emphasis is placed on generating imaginative ideas, and on testing prototypes through three-dimensional modelling and feedback from potential users, design and other experts.
During the first year students elect into one of two learning strands:
- Disruptive Market Innovations: DMI is core IDE territory and is about delivering innovative products to the market that work.
- Experimental Design: EXP is for design innovation at a fundamental level, which may incorporate the exploration of new technologies, new product categories or new contexts.
The learning strands are to allow students to excel at a particular approach to design or to expand their abilities through exploring a way of working unfamiliar to them. The strands are lightly embedded into the programme, especially in the first year, and there is plenty of collaboration between these strands over two years.
The programme of work in the second year consists of two projects:
- Group project, which is a team based activity
- Solo project, which is conducted on an individual basis
Students choose the theme of these projects themselves. The Solo project runs throughout the year (albeit thin at first), and the Group project runs during the autumn term and a brief period in the spring term.
The Group project is assessed early in the spring term at the Work in Progress show, and the Solo project is assessed at the end of the year in the Degree Show as part of the Final Examination.
The Solo project also forms the subject of a report involving a full description of the project development and results – this is completed and handed in to be assessed towards the end of the summer term.
Critical and 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 modules 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.
We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis.
Applications are made via the Royal College of Art's online application system. You can read the full RCA entry requirements.
Minimum academic requirement
Our minimum requirement is a 2.1 degree.
You are required to have an aptitude for design or technology led-innovation.
Professional experience or outstanding creative or technical abilities may be accepted in place of a degree in exceptional circumstances.
Entrance exam part 1: All candidates are required to submit a portfolio of work to be assessed by the programme team. See the RCA's website for guidance on the portfolio.
Entrance exam part 2: Selected applicants are invited to the programme for an entrance examination which comprises of an interview (15 minutes in duration, with staff and a student representative) and a creative exercise (one hour).
English language requirement (all applicants)
All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.
For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.
How to apply
Making an application
An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.
Tuition fees and funding
The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.
For more information on the funding opportunities that are available, please visit our Fees and Funding website.
Tuition fees and funding
Postgraduate Master's loan
If you're a UK national, or EU national with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you may be able to apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan from the UK government, if you meet certain criteria.
For 2020-21 entry, the maximum amount was of £11,222. The loan is not means-tested and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs.
We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies. Find out more about our scholarships to see what you might be eligible for.
There are a number of external organisations also offer awards for Imperial students, find out more about non-Imperial scholarships.
Accommodation and living costs
Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.
You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.
A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.
Studying at Imperial
Terms and conditions
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Read our terms and conditions for these areas: