MA Book Design

Course Director: Ruth Blacksell

Postgraduate students working in TypographyThis course combines practical project work with exploration of related theory and history. We emphasize the needs of the reader, and relate these to design principles and production issues.

Projects range in scale from typographic detail through to the design of complete books and series, integrating text with illustrations. A real-life environment is fostered through assignments for actual clients, prepress and printing facilities in the Department and links between staff and UK publishers.

Course structure

MA Book DesignThere are three main components:

  • Practice of book design
  • Core module
  • Dissertation

Practice of book design

You develop your practical abilities in typography and book design through briefed projects, a personally directed project, and a professional assignment. The aims are to achieve a high level of competence in design work and understand the demands of professional practice.

Core module

You develop your knowledge and analytical skills through lectures, seminars, directed reading, and student presentations, looking at topics such decision-making about design, the history of book design, and the evaluation of design. Our history teaching includes hands-on sessions looking at important books from 1500 to the 1960s in our own collections and at specialist libraries in Oxford and elsewhere.


You choose a topic in consultation with staff that focuses on an aspect of book design, leading to a written study of between 10,000 and 13,000 words.

Teaching and learning

You are taught by Ruth Blacksell, Paul Luna, James Mosley and Mary Dyson who cover the history, theory, practice and evaluation of design. Recent visiting teachers and lecturers have included John Morgan, Fraser Muggeridge, David Pearson, Bryn Walls and Ana Gomes.

We are proud of our small-group teaching and our informal but productive environment. There is studio space for all MAs, and the Department is fully wifi-equipped. We also have an Affiliate Partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, which gives us a central London location for studio sessions with our London-based clients and tutors. As part of this partnership, all MA students receive a free membership of the ICA.

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Find out more 

Ruth Blacksell
Programme Director

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