Reader (academic rank)

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The title of reader in the United Kingdom and some universities in the Commonwealth of Nations, for example India, Australia and New Zealand, denotes an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research or scholarship. It is an academic rank above senior lecturer/associate professor (or principal lecturer in the new universities), recognising a distinguished record of original research. In the British ranking, a reader could be seen as a professor without a chair, similar to the distinction between professor extraordinarius and professor ordinarius at some European universities, professor and chaired professor in Hong Kong and "professor name" (or associate professor) and chaired professor in Ireland. Both readers and professors in the UK would correspond to full professors in the US.[1] At some universities in countries with historically similar university systems, such as Ireland, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Malaysia, the title associate professor is used in place of reader, ranking above senior lecturer.

The promotion criteria applied to a readership in the United Kingdom or to an associate professorship in many countries is similar to those applied to a professorship: advancing from senior lecturer to reader or associate professor generally requires evidence of a distinguished record of original research.[2][3][4][5][6]

Scandinavian or German derivatives of docent are often erroneously translated into English as reader. Lunds University uses the term reader in its translations to refer to a post which contains both teaching and research.[7] Such a post does not satisfy the requirements for distinction in original research required of a reader and would be more appropriately translated as senior lecturer, principal lecturer, or associate professor.

Several UK universities (e.g. the University of Leeds; the University of Oxford) have recently dispensed with the reader grade (those currently holding readerships retain the title, but no new readers will be appointed). In the few UK universities that have adopted North American academic titles (i.e. assistant professor; associate professor; full professor) readerships have become assimilated with professorships.


North America Commonwealth
Named/distinguished professor Professor
Professor Reader
or associate professor
Associate professor Senior lecturer
Assistant professor Lecturer

Notable examples

This rank was the highest academic rank reached by Alan Turing and Mary Cartwright.[clarification needed]


  1. Graham Webb, Making the most of appraisal: career and professional development planning for lecturers, Routledge, 1994 (page 30) ISBN 0-7494-1256-9
  2. Promotion to Reader on the web-site of Newcastle University, read May 13, 2014.
  3. University of London
  4. Lancaster University
  5. ASPC Procedures 2010 for promotion of Chairs and Readerships on the website of the Open University, read May 13, 2014.
  6. University for the Creative Arts