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PhD programmes – University of Reading

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PhD programmes

Join a thriving and vibrant community of committed and passionate researchers in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication.

The Department of Typography & Graphic Communication has an international reputation for research in history, theory and practice of "design for reading".

We supervise projects in the history and technology of printing (including lithography and stencilling), colour printing and printed ephemera; and in letterforms and type such as designing type for cross-media publication; history and design of non-Latin typefaces (including Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Indian and south-east Asian); and the Influence of composing practices on typeforms.

In the field of information design and graphic communication we welcome interest in Isotype/Vienna Method,1925-1971; graphic support for wayfinding and graphic representations of spatial experience; design of text for special settings (such as health communications, legal or technical communications and decision making); design for multichannel communications or interfaces; and the design of text-intensive documents in digital media.

Within the broader context of graphic design and book design, topics include the interplay of typography and politics; public sector communications; design education and training; and typography and book/publication design as art practice.

"I will remember my visits to the Department as an enriching personal and academic experience. I enjoyed a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, had interesting discussions with members of the staff, and was always welcomed to attend lectures either by the staff or other visitors at the department, experts in their field."

Niki Sioki

Mature, part-time student, now Assistant Professor at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, where she teaches print and screen typography, design for publishing, and design research.

World-leading research

95% of our research was judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest research excellence framework (2014), and we were ranked number 1 in the UK in our unit of assessment.

Our collections and archives have global recognition and include the Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection and the Non-Latin Type Collection. We pioneered collections-based PhD research and encourage projects concerned with the materiality of designed artefacts to define new histories, and that build understanding through analysis and interpretation. We have informal and formal links with libraries, museums, galleries and industry throughout the world, including the Musée de L'imprimerie in Lyon, the British Library and Tate.

Design Star

We are fortunate to have led the AHRC Design Star Doctoral Training Centre, which from 2015-18 offered studentship funding for innovative doctoral projects across a consortium of leading universities and external partners. As our Design Star researchers complete their studentships we continue offering research training opportunities, such as seminars and researcher development events, that are open to all PhD students in Typography, and which bring together world-class research in design for industry, interaction design, design process, communication design, design history, curation and creative practice. Find out more on the Design Star website.

Supervision and Support

Doctoral students have experienced and committed supervisors, and are welcome to attend lectures by visiting speakers and specialist summer schools and workshops. Our PhD students are encouraged to present their work to non-academic audiences, at conferences or meetings, through exhibitions and social media.

"I was lucky enough to begin my PhD at the same time as five other researchers, making for good company, the possibility of exchange about success and frustrations, and best of all, some good friends. Also the yearly rotation of MA students, and the chance to do some teaching, as well as socialise, contributed to a great experience that bore no resemblance to the proverbial ivory tower."

Titus Nemeth

PhD student 2014, now working as specialist in Arabic and multilingual type design & typography, custom fonts and logos, providing expert consultancy to international clients.

What we offer

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over three years and part-time over four to six years. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading or at a distance.


Further information

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