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Whether you have a clear research direction or just some emerging ideas, we can help you shape, strengthen and refine a PhD proposal and connect you with relevant academic expertise. We have many areas of expertise and specialism, and can support research in other areas as well. We have strong interests in the material history of our field and we also encourage practice-informed research.

Our areas of expertise and specialism

Typography and typeface design


We supervise research in: 

  • history and technology of printing, typefounding and type composition
  • history of letterforms and type
  • history and design of non-Latin typefaces (including Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Indian, South-east Asian)
  • influence of composing technologies and practices on typeforms
  • type design for cross-media use.

Information design and graphic communication


We supervise research in: 

  • history and practice of information visualisation and graphic explanation
  • design for communication and decision-making, including in health, nutrition, environment, legal, and technical contexts
  • design for digital media and multi-channel communications
  • graphic support for wayfinding and representations of spatial experience. 

Communication design


We supervise research in: 

  • design history and theory in many contexts
  • design, politics and culture
  • design education
  • book design and publishing, including in art practice contexts.



 We have a depth of expertise in the material history of our field, and supervise projects that engage with designed artefacts to define new histories through analysis and interpretation. 

Practice-informed research


While many students develop research proposals whose outcome will be a fully written thesis, we also support research that incorporates elements of design practice combined with critical reflection. 

For examples of research topics that our students are currently working on, and the titles of completed theses, read about our student research topics. 

Get in touch with the Department so we can help you develop your proposal. Visit the How to apply for a PhD page for more information.

Our research

Example of illustrated ideas map as part of research project in the Department of Typography

Our Department has an international reputation for research in the history, theory and practice of typography and graphic communication. 

Our doctoral students, academic researchers, research fellows and post-doctoral research assistants work on design research and knowledge transfer with everyday relevance. 

Learn more about our research areas, and current and past projects  

PhD supervision

Through the expert PhD supervision we offer, we seek to ensure that the time you spend with us as a doctoral student is as rewarding as possible. 

Our academic staff are leaders in their areas of research and many have extensive experience as design practitioners. 

Find out more about our staff and the areas of postgraduate research that they supervise

Student using her laptop sitting outside a cafe

PhD by Distance

Our PhD by Distance programme allows you to benefit from the expertise of a Reading-based supervisor, while conducting your research in a different location.

Female student sitting in library making notes at a desk with a pile of books next to her

Part-time study

Part-time PhDs are available as well as full-time, so you can choose a mode of study that suits your circumstances.

Student at a cafe drinking tea and using tablet

Types of doctoral degree

We offer several routes to a doctoral qualification, so you can find the one that suits you and the topic you wish to study.