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About

The RSA Student Design Awards is a global competition that challenges students to apply their skills and creativity to tackle today’s most pressing social and environmental issues. 

Design for social impact 

We challenge students to think about the role their design thinking can have in society. And we ask them to think of themselves as the instigators of change. 

Each year we’re blown away by the creativity and ingenuity that students bring to the competition and we’re reminded of the power of design as a tool for real change.   

How it works 

Working closely with partners from across a range of industries we have developed a series of eight design briefs for students to set their minds on for the 2020/21 programme. 

Each brief puts a real world social problem in the hands of the next generation of designers - and today there is no shortage of complex and systemic challenges that desperately need creative  approaches. 

Alongside this the RSA team helps colleges, universities and educators embed the briefs into their curricula, and provides support for participants through workshops. 

Who can enter? 

The competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at any higher education institution, college or university anywhere in the world. New graduates can also enter within a year of graduating, and we accept entries from individuals and teams.  

Responses can come from any discipline or combination of disciplines, and can take any form – from product, communication and service proposals to spatial, environmental and experience solutions. 

Our goal is to empower a generation of savvy, employable designers who realise the potential of design to benefit society.

History of the SDAs

The RSA Student Design Awards was established in 1924, making it the world’s longest-running student competition and the premier programme focused on design for social change.  

Learn more about the history of the RSA Student Design Awards from our Design for Good report, which charts the transformation of design education and the design industry from a collection of arts and crafts artisans in the early 20th century to today’s generation of creative and socially-responsive problem solvers.

Key facts


109,978 projects have been entered since the Awards began in 1924 

2,095 briefs issued over the last 95 years 

£22,500 cash prizes and paid industry placements awarded in 2019/20 

 
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