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Tamsin Ogilvie – University of Reading

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  • Tamsin Ogilvie

    An inspiring experience as a part-time design student

Tamsin Ogilvie

The drama of design

Tamsin Ogilvie 2 smallFollowing an undergraduate degree in Theatre Design, Tamsin Ogilvie forged an exciting career in film set and exhibition design. She worked on projects requiring a combination of graphic and 3-dimensional design for clients such as the Royal Opera House, Warner Bros., the BBC, and the National Trust. But Tamsin wanted to expand her skills and enhance her opportunities.

"While I had a good grounding in structural design, my graphic design was self-taught, so I wanted to formalise and expand my practice. It was through a particularly inspiring typography evening class led by Catherine Dixon that the MA Book Design course at University of Reading's Department of Typography & Graphic Communication was recommended to me."

Juggling act

As well as finding a master's course that matched her passion, Tamsin needed to find one that was flexible enough to allow her to juggle her studies with family life and working for her existing clients.

"I researched several MA options, but Reading offered something special. As a mature student with a family I benefited enormously from being able to study part time. It gave me the opportunity to spread the workload over two years, which reduced the disruption to family life. It also allowed me to continue to work with my established clients. The course was so well structured with clearly defined deadlines, that with a bit of organisation, it was possible to balance submission dates with other commitments."

The right fit

Tamsin realised that she'd found the course that was right for her as soon as she set foot in the Department. Not only does the Department have a long-established reputation, but the quality of the teaching and the warm sense of community were a real draw.

"The tutors are the backbone of the course. They each bring vast knowledge and a specialist perspective to all their teaching. What stands out is how personally invested they are in each student, encouraging them and making time to address concerns."

But it wasn't just the tutors that inspired Tamsin. The other students were a significant aspect of her experience at Reading, expanding her outlook and influencing the way she worked.

"The course attracts high quality students from around the world. This international reach enriched the learning environment substantially. Working with other students, of all ages and experiences, introduced new perspectives which inspired me to extend myself further."

Mastering new skills

So how does Tamsin think the course will benefit her career?

"My master's has refined my ability to articulate complex materials and enriched my approach to design projects. The specialisation in book design is already leading to new opportunities within publishing leading out of my dissertation research. The process of studying requires challenging oneself to master new skills. This process has given me greater confidence to tackle new challenges. I am even considering pursuing a PhD."

But learning these new skills hasn't been the best part of the journey for Tamsin - it's the way she's been able to inspire her young family.

"Best of all, my daughter is thrilled about my graduation. I hope she recognises that it is possible to work, study and be a supportive mother."

Our master's courses

MA Book Design is now a pathway within the wider MA Communication Design course. Tamsin says, "The Department's specialism in typography offers a rigorous and specialist approach underlying all work across the range of MA pathways."

Visit Tamsin's website:

Learn more

Discover all our master's courses in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication.

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