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.


In the traditional hierarchy of British and other Commonwealth universities, reader is an academic rank above senior lecturer (or principal lecturer in the new universities) and below Professor, recognising a distinguished record of original research. 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]

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][7]

The Scandinavian title docent, as used in Sweden today and in Norway prior to 1985, is commonly translated into English as reader, for example by Lund University.[8] The title ranks above associate professor (in the North American sense) and below full 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.

Associate professor in place of reader

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, and similarly ranks above senior lecturer and below professor. This associate professor title should not be confused with the associate professor title used in the American system; like the reader title it ranks higher than an associate professor under the American system, as the American associate professor corresponds to the senior lecturer rank in the Commonwealth.


The table presents a broad overview of the traditional main systems, but there are universities which use a combination of those systems or other titles. Note that some universities in Commonwealth countries have adopted the American system in place of the Commonwealth system.

Commonwealth system American system German system
Professor (Chair) Distinguished Professor or equivalent Direktor (at Max Planck Society or equivalent)
Reader (mainly UK)/Associate Professor (Australia, NZ, Southeast Asia, South Africa) Professor ("full professor") Professor (W3, C4)
Senior Lecturer Associate professor Professor (W2, W3 without chair, C3)
Lecturer Assistant professor Juniorprofessor (W1, C1/C2)

Notable examples

This rank was the highest academic rank reached by Alan Turing, Chaim Weizmann,[9] and Marny 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. Edinburgh University Promotion to Reader, read Oct 2016
  3. Promotion to Reader on the web-site of Newcastle University, read May 13, 2014.
  4. University of London
  5. Lancaster University
  6. ASPC Procedures 2010 for promotion of Chairs and Readerships on the website of the Open University, read May 13, 2014.
  7. University for the Creative Arts
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