Royal College of Art

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Royal College of Art
Established 1967 - gained University Status by Royal Charter
1896 - Royal College of Art
1837 - Government School of Design
Type Public
Provost Sir James Dyson
Rector Paul Thompson
Students 920[1]
Postgraduates 920[1]
Location London, England, U.K.
Campus Urban
The Darwin Building at Kensington Gore

The Royal College of Art (informally the RCA) is a public research university specializing in art and design located in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's only wholly postgraduate art and design institution offering Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). It was founded in 1837 as the Government School of Design. The Royal College of Art is widely considered to be the world's most influential art and design institution.


The RCA was founded in 1837 as the Government School of Design. In 1853, it became the National Art Training School with the Female School of Art in separate buildings; and, in 1896, it received the name Royal College of Art. During the 19th century, it was often referred to as the South Kensington Schools. See Richard Burchett, an early Headmaster, for more details on this period. After 130 years in operation, the Royal College of Art was granted its Royal Charter in 1967, which gave it the status of an independent university with the power to grant its own degrees.

Its Royal Charter specifies that the objects of the College are "to advance learning, knowledge and professional competence particularly in the field of fine arts, in the principles and practice of art and design in their relation to industrial and commercial processes and social developments and other subjects relating thereto through teaching, research and collaboration with industry and commerce".


The RCA is based in the South Kensington and Battersea areas of Central London.

The main building in Kensington Gore dates from the 1960s and is a Grade II listed building. It was designed by a team of RCA staff members, H. T. Cadbury-Brown, Hugh Casson and Robert Goodden.[2]


The most recent Research Assessment Exercise (December 2008) confirmed the Royal College of Art as a leading specialist art and design institution in the United Kingdom, with 40% of its research output judged to be of quality that is World-Leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigor. A further 25% was considered Internationally Excellent.

Rankings and reputation[edit]

The RCA has an international reputation for its teaching in the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, automotive design, curating, photography, industrial design, communication design, interaction design, textiles, fashion, ceramics and silversmithing. An M.A. in design history is offered in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, while an M.A./M.Sc. in Innovation Design Engineering is offered jointly with Imperial College London.

In 2013, the RCA and Imperial also began offering the first transnational design program: a dual-masters, joint program in Global Innovation Design, where students also spend significant time studying at Pratt's graduate industrial design department in Brooklyn, New York and Keio University's graduate school of media design in Tokyo, Japan.

According to the latest statistics (2002–07) on all graduate destinations from the RCA, an average of 93% gained work in directly related employment and at the right level. The current enrolment tally measures roughly 900 students, all taking fine art, applied art, design, communication design and humanities courses.

In April 2011, Modern Painters surveyed art world professionals to create a list of the top 10 UK art schools which ranked them: 1. Royal College of Art; 2. Royal Academy Schools; 3. City and Guilds of London Art School; 4. Slade School of Art; and 5. Goldsmiths College, University of London.[3]

The Royal College of Art played a major role in the birth of the modern school of British sculpture in the 1920s and in the development of Pop Art in the 1960s.

Notable alumni[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

21st century[edit]



  • Dunnet James, 2006, "The Royal College of Art: a Study in Modern Architecture and Urbanism" Architectural Research Quarterley supplement

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′05″N 0°10′44″W / 51.50139°N 0.17889°W / 51.50139; -0.17889