Imperial College London logo
  • Tuition Fee:
  • Local: $ 12k / 2015/16 academic year
  • Foreign: $ 35.9k / 2015/16 academic year
  • Languages of instruction:
  • English

    Please therefore ensure that you make your application for these courses as early as possible, particularly if you are intending to apply for funding, and preferably by 30 July (overseas/EU applicants) or 1 September (UK applicants) to avoid disappointment.

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    The Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) programme is a leading-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 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).

    YEAR 1

    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.

    YEAR 2

    The programme of work in the second year (IDE2) 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 project 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 of 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 Solo project 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.

    UK requirements for international applications

    Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).

    Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.

    All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.

    University requirements

    Program requirements

    The application process and entrance examination is administered by the RCA.

    1. Applicants need to have a degree at 2:1 level or higher (or the equivalent). The subject(s) of that first degree can be any subject however the individual needs to show aptitude or great potential in the area of design or technology-led innovation. In exceptional circumstances applicants without this degree qualification will be considered (for example, excellent professional experience or outstanding creative or technical abilities).
    2. Candidates whose first language is not English (including those who attended an English-speaking university for their undergraduate studies) must also have achieved English Language proficiency requirements of or equivalent to an IELTS score of 7 with a 6.5 in the Test of Written English (TWE). Or the following equivalencies: TOEFL IBT:  100 overall with 24 in the TWE; or Pearson:  68 overall with 62 in the TWE.
    3. The GID programme starts earlier then other RCA MA programmes. 

    In addition, the IDE course would suit people from a creative or design background with a strong interest and aptitude in innovation.

    Some applicants with business or other commercial backgrounds are also considered. Mature candidates with industrial experience are particularly welcome.

    Entrance exam part 1: All candidates are required to submit a portfolio of work to be assessed by the programme team. 

    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).


    The RCA administers a bursary scheme for full-time students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and other EU countries.

    Alternative funding assistance to students may also be provided by the Royal Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851.

    There are some additional grants and bursaries administered by the department for enrolled students.

    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 courses 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.    

    Guidance on the portfolio

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