A monochromatic piece of graphic design

Graphic and communication design research

Researching graphic and communication design, one of our areas of expertise in Art and Design: Practice, Theory and History

Graphic design research covers the theories, practice and process in relation to solving problems through visual communication. This includes text – typically typography – and images, such as illustration, photography, and pictogram. The term is often used as an umbrella to cover visual communication and communication design generally.

Graphic designers create and combine symbols, images and text to form visual representations of concepts and messages. Forms of graphic design commonly include identity design, such as logos and branding, publication and editorial design, for example magazines. It also includes wayfinding or environmental design, advertising, web design, packaging, and signage.

In this emerging research field, we're looking at the history of design, ethnographic studies in relation to design, design usability, legibility studies, design knowledge, and epistemology.

We have presented at numerous conferences including ATypI – Association Typographique Internationale, Design Research Society, and the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST).

Our research covers the following topics

  • Graphic design
  • Communication design
  • Typographic design
  • Information design
  • Data visualisation
  • Branding and identity
  • Typeface design
  • Publication design
  • Wayfinding
  • Web design
  • Motion graphic design
  • User centred design
  • Design epistemology
  • Design thinking


Graphic interface development

Helping to improve aspects of the visual language and design consistency with the BedView software system and knowledge of design processes within the development of stakeholder input.

Dr Michael Harkins, 2020-2021

Research outputs

Contemporary Processes of Text Typeface Design

Harkins, M. (2020). "Contemporary Processes of Text Typeface Design" (First ed.) (Routledge Research in Design Studies), Routledge.

Visions of the past: the graphic design student as historian

Gruner, O., and McCabe, D. (2021). "Visions of the past: the graphic design student as historian" In L. Sanderson, and S. Stone (Eds.), AMPS Conference Proceedings Series (pp. 198-204). (AMPS Conference Proceedings Series). Architecture Media Politics Society.

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Podcast | Life Solved: How tech is changing employment and women's work lives

Dr Victoria Hooton and Dr Emily Yarrow discuss how the pandemic has contributed to a regression in opportunities for women. 

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Our members

Michael Harkins Portrait

Media ready expert

Dr Michael Harkins

Senior Lecturer


PhD Supervisor

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Daniel McCabe Portrait

Mr Dan McCabe

Senior Lecturer


School of Art, Design, and Performance

Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

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Discover our areas of expertise

Graphic and communication design is one of 5 areas of expertise within our Art and Design: Practice, Theory and History – explore the other 4 below.

Fashion, textiles and material futures

Our fashion, textiles and material futures research is addressing important issues around fashion and textile design and its associated industries.

17/05/2021.B-Roll - day 3 ..All Rights Reserved - Helen Yates- T: +44 (0)7790805960.Local copyright law applies to all print & online usage. Fees charged will comply with standard space rates and usage for that country, region or state.
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Illustration, Drawing, Artists Books and Zines

Our research explores how self-publishing can allow a more diverse range of authors to communicate with an audience and investigates authorial illustration as an emerging genre.

illustrator drawing in sketch book, close-up
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We're using the photographic image in its expanded field as an investigative tool. Our research explores photography as a medium, and investigates how photographic practices shape individual subjectivity and modernity.

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Histories and Theories of Art, Design, Visual and Material Culture

Our research locates the historical and contemporary production and consumption of art, design, visual and material culture in wider social, cultural, political and economic contexts.

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Interested in a PhD in Art and Design?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Art and Design postgraduate research degrees page.