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Reader (academic rank)

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 Commonwealth countries 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 some Commonwealth countries are 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]

An incompatibility of ranking systems between different English-speaking countries makes the position of reader difficult to place outside the context of the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth countries. A similar title used in some countries, for instance in Sweden, is docent, which is officially translated in English as reader.[7]

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
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.


  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

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