Royal College of Art Photographic Record of Student Work

Scope and Content

Photographic record of student work completed at the Royal College of Art, 1949-ongoing, including c5000 prints, 1949-1980s, c25,000 slides, 1961-2002, and upwards of 25,000 digital images, 2003-ongoing. The majority of images are installation shots of individual student works across all departments, including Painting, Printmaking, Photography, Sculpture, Ceramics and Glass, GoldsmithingSilversmithing Metalwork and Jewellery, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Furniture, Design Products, Architecture, Vehicle Design and Textiles. Work exhibited in the Fashion (catwalk and static) shows and final-year exhibitions staged by Curating Contemporary Art students are also included.

Administrative / Biographical History

Student activity at the Royal College of Art is reflected in the development of projects within individual departments, culminating in the exhibition of work in the annual graduate shows. Since the mid 20th century, when teaching of product, graphical and technical design began, a comprehensive pictorial record has been kept of student work. Work from the annual degree shows has been photographed as comprehensively as possible since the 1960s; in 1979 this effort was centralised with the RCA's slide library assuming responsibility for photography and cataloguing. Images are stored as prints and slides covering the years up to and including 2002, after which a move to born-digital photography, cataloguing and delivery was effected.


Prints are kept in the Library Archive Room; slides are kept within the Digitisation and Image Services room. Digital images are stored on a local server and access is available across the College intranet. All are arranged by chronologically within folders or sections divided by course.

Access Information

The Library's Special Collections and Archives room and Digitisation and Image Services room are open to researchers; access is by appointment. Digital images are available on the College intranet and access can be provided for researchers during their visit.

Acquisition Information

Internal accumulation.

Other Finding Aids

Born-digital images are available to search on the College intranet. A project is under way to digitise selections from the slides and make them searchable in the same way.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Janet Foster as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Revised by Neil Parkinson for inclusion on the Archives Hub.

Conditions Governing Use

Items are made available for the purpose of private study and personal research only. A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Special Collections Manager, Royal College of Art, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner. A majority of born-digital material within the Photographic Record of Student Work is made available under the terms of a Creative Commons licence which permits reproduction in non-commercial contexts, with full attribution. Derivative works are not permitted.

Custodial History

Created and maintained in situ in the College.


Annual accruals of born-digital images are expected.

Related Material

The Royal College of Art Archive includes printed material such as prospectuses, degree-show catalogues, Convocation lists and departmental publications which reflect the activities of students in a given year and at the time of the graduation shows.

Corporate Names