Taught course

Communication Design: Book Design pathway

University of Reading · Department of Typography and Graphic Communication

Entry requirements

Please note that entry requirements for 2024/25 have not yet been confirmed. The entry requirements for 2023/24 were:

IELTS: 6.5 overall with no element less than 6.0 (or equivalent).

Normally a good undergraduate honours degree (2.1 or above), or equivalent from a university outside the UK, in a design-related subject. For exceptional candidates without such a degree, you will need convincing evidence of relevant professional experience. In most cases, a relevant practice portfolio and an example of academic writing are also required. Shortlisted applicants are usually invited for interview.

The personal statement needs to demonstrate:

  • an ability to articulate clear career goals and interests that align with the programme and pathway applied for
  • the relevance of the applicants’ previous studies, professional experience, portfolio and skills to the programme and pathway applied for.

The portfolio needs to demonstrate that applicants can:

  • conceptualise, develop and evaluate projects in response to design briefs
  • incorporate relevant research into project work
  • use text and images effectively in page layout design
  • use typography to articulate and organise text (familiarity with text using the Latin or Roman alphabet must be demonstrated)
  • demonstrate engagement with appropriate communication design genres and contexts. These might include branding and marketing, editorial design, exhibition design, information design, packaging, social media, and/or user interface design
  • use Adobe InDesign for typesetting, layout and prepress design work
  • use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create and edit images (such as diagrams, illustrations, photographs).

It is advantageous if the portfolio also shows:

  • a strong foundation in complex typographic work
  • experience using digital prototyping tools (such as: Sketch, Adobe HD, Invision, etc.)
  • evidence of any complementary skills, such as: copyrighting, data journalism, illustration, marketing, motion graphics, project management, or technical communication.

The interview needs to demonstrate:

  • how the applicant’s career goals and interests align with the programme and pathway applied for
  • the relevance of the applicants’ previous studies, professional experience, portfolio and skills to the programme and pathway applied for
  • an ability to articulate research interests and/or skills relevant to the programme and pathway applied for.

Please see the Department’s advice for a successful application.

Pre-sessional English language programme

If you need to improve your English language score, you can take a pre-sessional English course prior to entry onto your degree.

Months of entry


Course content

MA Communication Design: Book Design combines the development of practical skills with the study of historical and theoretical issues, in a world-class research-intensive environment*.

This course integrates shared elements of study and pathway-specific elements. This Book Design pathway allows for specialisation and a deeper engagement with Communication Design.

The Book Design pathway combines practical design for printed books and digital publishing platforms with related theory and history of typographic design and visual culture. A lively studio environment is fostered through practical projects set by practising designers, and access to traditional and digital printing facilities.

In the practice of book design, you will develop your work through briefed and self-directed projects that engage with emerging experimental publishing strategies as well as the current demands of professional practice. You will develop both your design skills and your ability to write reports and evaluate designs in relation to audience/user needs and production practicalities.

A research-based approach

As well as working with our own extensive special collections, we make visits to archives and libraries in Oxford and elsewhere, ensuring a truly hands-on experience of book history. Through our collaboration with the London Centre for Book Arts, we also have excellent venues for London-based activities.

You will develop your knowledge and analytical skills through lectures, seminars, and directed reading. Supported by workshops on research-based writing, your dissertation will allow you to focus on a specific aspect of historical or contemporary book design, through consideration of both practice and critical discourse.

Visiting academics, researchers and award-winning professional designers ensure that you are challenged by a wide range of genres and approaches. Whenever possible, you can join students on our other MA pathways for taught elements, enhancement activities and to hear visiting speakers.

* The Department of Typography & Graphic Design is internationally renowned, with 100% of our research judged to be of international standing^ and 100% of our research impact classed as ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’†.

For more information, please visit the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication website.

^REF 2021, combining 4*, 3* and 2* submissions – Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory; Typography and Graphic Communication

†REF 2021, combining 4* and 3* submissions – Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory; Typography and Graphic Communication

Fees and funding

New UK/Republic of Ireland students: £10,800

New international students: £22,350

Tuition fee information

The fees listed are for full-time study, unless otherwise stated. Fee information will be confirmed in offer letters sent out to successful applicants. You can find further information, including information for part-time study, through our dedicated fees and funding page.

EU student fees

With effect from 1 August 2021, new EU students will pay international tuition fees. For exceptions, please read the UK government's guidance for EU students.

Additional costs

Some courses will require additional payments for field trips and extra resources. You will also need to budget for your accommodation and living costs. See our information on living costs for more details.

Financial support for your studies

You may be eligible for a scholarship or bursary to help pay for your study. Students from the UK may also be eligible for a student loan to help cover these costs. See our fees and funding information for more information on what's available.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Global Recruitment Team