The School of Visual Communication supports an active community of researchers whose work engages with a wide range of areas including: photography, illustration, film, performance, typography, drawing, digital media and cross-cultural studies of visual communication. Some of the work is historical or theoretical, while others take a practice-based approach to research.

Centre for Printing History and Culture

CPHC is a joint initiative with membership from universities and heritage organisations around the UK and beyond.
Centre for Printing History and Culture >>

Birmingham Transmedia Hub

‘Transmedia’ is an emerging and contested taxonomy, with tension between an understanding around a range of different disciplines.
Birmingham Transmedia Hub >>

Research Clusters

The School of Visual Communication is home to the Centre for Printing History and Culture (CPHC), which is led by Prof Caroline Archer-Parré. CPHC is a joint initiative between Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham with membership from universities and heritage organisations around the UK and beyond. CPHC encourages research into all aspects and periods of printing history and culture, as well as providing education and training into the art and practice of printing.

Read more about CPHC

In addition the Birmingham Transmedia Hub is a constituent part of the Performance Research Hub which is an interdisciplinary cluster working across the faculty of Art Design and Media with concentrations in Art and Design and at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. It produces world-leading work in three strands, each led by a co- director: Jonathan Day (trans/multimedia arts), Aleksandar Dundjerovic (performing arts) and Jamie Savan (music performance research). Post-doctoral researchers work alongside a large research student community in areas contingent to performance.

Read more about the Performance Research Hub

Research events

The School hosts numerous conferences, talks and exhibitions throughout the year, including the popular series of Type Talks whose previous speakers have included David Carson, Neville Brody and Rick Poyner, In addition, there are a series of seminars and colloquium to assist with researcher education and development which are open to students across the Faculty.


  • Professor Caroline Archer-Parré: printing history and print culture
  • Dr Jonathan Day: trans/multimedia arts
  • Professor Ravi Deeprees: moving image and photography
  • Dr John Hillman: photography
  • Professor Andrew Kulman: illustration

Visiting Researchers

  • Professor Phil Cleaver: graphic design
  • Dr Malcolm Dick: social, cultural history
  • Dr John Hinks: printing history and print culture
  • Professor Clive Richards: information design

Current doctoral research students

  • Sahar Afshar: Punjabi printing: an historical analysis of the design, production and consumption in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries;
  • Joanne Berry-Firth: What role can playful creative visual methodologies have on scientific discourse and how can this knowledge be utilized to reassemble and reconstruct data;
  • Steven Chamberlain
  • Sue Cook: Women’s involvement in printing and its allied trades in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: a Birmingham case-study;
  • Lara Furniss: Beyond Discipline: design practice and education in the twenty-first century;
  • Jessica Glaser: Beatrice Warde: ‘First Lady of Typography’?
  • Rebecca Howson: Against the grain: from printing apprentice to design student: the evolution of typographic pedagogy;
  • Joanna Jarvis: Performance of the self in the theatre of the elite: the King’s Theatre, 1760- The opera house as a political and social nexus for women;
  • Colette Jeffrey: Wayfinding, waylosing and wayguiding: a study of human navigation of buildings;
  • Jeff Leak: Projection/Suggestion/Intervention: projected typographic messages;
  • Geraldine Marshall: Graphic DNA: towards a taxonomy of environmental lettering;
  • David Osbaldestin: The sans serif in nineteenth century printed ephemera: a Midland’s case-study.

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

AHRC funding for UK/EU doctoral students

The Midlands4Cities DTP will include at least 40 Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs) co-designed with non-university partners.

The partnership will give students access across all eight institutions to a customised programme of research and employability training, which will enable students to gain vital arts and humanities skills.

Learn more