The Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading is a small design school within a traditional, research-intensive university. Typeface design has been a teaching and research theme since the late 1960s. Today the Department hosts the preeminent Masters programme in the field, a high-end summer course, and a range of PhD and post-Doc researchers in typeface design. We are also setting up a distance-learning MA focusing on academic aspects in typeface design.
The MA Typeface Design (MATD, for short) was the first MA programme in the field, and the only one operating in a research-intensive university environment. Central to the programme is the idea that typeface design does not exist solely as an area of practice, isolated from its context, but is a quintessentially interdisciplinary field. The main activities of the typeface designer are easy to define: designing typeforms, and specifying typefaces. But these rely on a deep web or of historical, cultural, and technical understanding, as well as plain-old form-making skills. From the impact of traditional forms of writing, the developments in the technologies of type-making and typesetting, the typeface designer needs to be aware of how texts are transmitted and shared in each society, and respond to the editorial practices and conventions of each market. Some may even engage with the sprinkling of usability and human perception discourse (although, the impact of such studies on typeface design is probably minimal).
The MRes TD is a new programme, targeted specifically at experienced, practicing typeface designers who want to develop a deeper understanding of the historical and theoretical aspects of their field, and gain a research-intensive qualification that allows them to teach a postgraduate level. The programme is structured on a hybrid model, over two years of part-time study. This structure extends the core seminars of the residential MATD programme, and integrates intensive sessions modelled on the TDi short course.