The MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading, UK, was the first MA programme in the field, and still the only one operating in a research-intensive university environment.
Students enrol every October for a full twelve months, balancing practical and academic work to produce both a substantial typeface design project, and written work. The core staff (Gerry Leonidas, James Mosley, Fiona Ross, Michael Twyman, and Gerard Unger) are supplemented by a wide range of visitors every year. Work is structured around frequent studio sessions, staff- and student-led seminars, and informal sessions with archival material. The programme collaborates closely with St Bride Library and Monotype for research, and run a field trip to the Netherlands every spring.
The research focus of the Department is evident in all aspects of teaching and learning on the course: from weekly hands-on sessions with original material from world-class Collections & Archives, to user-centred experiments for testing and evaluation, we aim to develop the full potential of students to be think- ing designers, with a solid under- standing of the typographical context, and a wide set of skills that will serve them in the long run, throughout their careers.
The department has letterpress, hot metal, offset, and digital presses on site, as well as an unparalleled collection of material on newspaper and book typography, printing history, ephemera, and typeface design. Of particular relevance to the MATD are the type specimen collection, and the non-Latin typeface drawing collection, which holds original drawings, technical material, and correspondence on key designs. We work with the collections drawing on the world-class staff expertise, and substantial research engagement with the scripts. The focus on non-Latin typeface design is therefore supported both by the necessary material, and the knowledge to build a deeper understanding in students.
The work of staff and graduates of the course has been fundamentally influential to the explosion in non-Latin typography in recent years, and is setting the benchmark for international education in the field. MATD student projects are regularly published commercially, and graduates find employment in the most active type foundries internationally. (At the moment of writing Adobe, Microsoft, Hoefler & Frere-Jones, DaltonMaag, FontSmith and others employ Reading graduates. Many of the graduates run their own foundries (most notably Type-Together and Rosetta Foundry) and go into teaching themselves—a career for which the academic work done here is an essential prerequisite.)