Study at the World's number one ranked art and design university for five consecutive years (2015-2019) in the QS World University Subject Rankings.

About the Programme

Service Design has become the new frontier for designers who want to make a difference at scale, and in so doing advance the discipline of design. The service sector represents almost 80 percent of the advanced economies, and in recent years the role of design in transforming both public and private sector services has become widely recognised. The programme at the Royal College of Art is the leading specialist service design programme worldwide and with around 80 students and researchers and 10–12 live projects at any time, it’s almost certainly the largest dedicated service design studio globally.

Students emerging from the programme are finding immediate employment as service designers as industry and governments seek to transform their customer and citizen experience. We’ve just enhanced our programme by creating three new platforms for service design. The first is Service Innovation, which focuses on developing citizen and customer-centric solutions to address immediate social, cultural and economic challenges. The second, Envision, not only speculates on the future of healthcare, education, retail, banking, transportation, but uses future forecasting techniques for society, culture and technology to design service experiences for the next decade and beyond. The final platform, Public Service and Policy, brings together social and political science with design to transform public service provision as well as government policy

The RCA Service Design programme offers a two-year MA in Service Design as well as opportunities for MPhil and PhD research. Right from the start, students are immersed in the unique interdisciplinary environment of the RCA, enabling them to become specialists in service design while participating in the exciting design education environment of the School of Design. Students are taught by the leading practitioners of the discipline, as well as by pioneers of service design from industry and academia.

To ensure the programme teaches the complete skills required for service design, it is delivered in association with Imperial College London, enabling students to complement their skills in service design by participating in Imperial’s MBA programme, as well developing their competence in digital technology with Imperial’s department of computing.

The programme combines lectures, workshops and projects grounded in empirical evidence drawn from ‘real world’ practice as well as theory. Students undertake group and individual projects that tackle the different domains of public service provision, consumer and business services, in partnership with leading service sector companies and public sector organisations.

As a result alumni graduating from the programme are joining leading design firms such as Engine, Fjord, IDEO and Livework, professional services firms including McKinsey and IBM Business Consulting Services, government departments including UK Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet Office, as well as multinational corporations such as Jaguar, Barclay’s, Royal Bank of Scotland and Tesco.

MA Entrance Requirements

Service Design students will have an eclectic mix of design disciplines, experience and expertise from the worlds of business, technology and creative industries. The linking factor is intellectual curiosity, personal drive and a capacity to work as a creative team while inspiring rather than diminishing each individual’s own creativity.

The Service Design MA is designed for:

Experienced designers, especially communications and product designers seeking to significantly expand their capabilities with services and service systems design and engage higher up the value chain in terms of strategic design and delivery. This may include the coordination and leadership of a project involving several other design disciplines.

Recent high-performing graduates from design disciplines as well as from computing and other technical disciplines, seeking to develop their design capabilities and create higher value-added services for their clients. It is also designed for budding designer entrepreneurs interested in launching new service led business ventures through the multiple award-winning RCA business incubator.

Mid and senior professionals from industry and the public sector, with evidence of their creative talents as demonstrated by leadership of innovative projects, who are seeking to enhance their capabilities and apply a design-led approach to the transformation of consumer, business to business, and public sector services e.g. health service or home office professionals, service designers from telecommunications and hospitality sector.

Candidates for all MA courses are assessed on their existing qualities as demonstrated in their work and in their interview, as well as on their potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve MA standards overall. The assessment will consider creativity, imagination and innovation evident in the work; ability to articulate the intentions of the work; intellectual engagement in relevant areas; appropriate technical skills; overall interview performance, including the oral use of English.

Digital Portfolio

Portfolios will only be accepted online using the RCA Online Application Form and Online Portfolio Submission process. Please ensure that:

your online portfolio submission can be viewed in any standard browser

you have reviewed and checked that your submission works in the way you intend it to be seen in a web browser (preferably Firefox) on a different computer (ie, not the computer you made the submission on, to check that your files have uploaded correctly to our server)

you pace your work so the examiners will be able to judge your submission in the way you wish to present yourself – they will look at your work for a maximum of 15 minutes only.

Program taught in:

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Last updated March 12, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 23, 2019
2 years
19,000 GBP
Tuition fees in 2018/19 - Overseas: £28,400 per annum (£56,800 total fee); UK/EU: £9,500 per annum (£19,000 total fee); Channel Islands and Isle of Man £14,200 (£28,400 total fee).
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Start Date
Sep 23, 2019
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