Dr Maria Lonsdale

Dr Maria Lonsdale


In 1996 I received a 4-year degree (Licenciatura) in Visual Communication from ESAD, Matosinhos, Portugal. In 2006 I received my PhD from the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading, UK. I joined the School of Design at the University of Leeds in January 2015.

I am an Associate Professor in Graphic and Communication Design and have experience of teaching design theory and practice, and research methods for design in higher education, both in Portugal and in the UK since 1997.

My main areas of research are Information Design, Instructional Design, Typographic Design and Graphic Design, with specific interest in Design for Learning, Design for Security, Design for Healthcare and Design for Reading. My research is notable in the field of Design, as it involves user-centered research methods and experimental studies to test, evaluate and validate design solutions to particular problems encountered in real-life contexts and materials, with a focus on the effects of design on user performance and wellbeing.

I am the Associate Editor for the international peer-reviewed design journal Visible Language (University of Cincinnati, US) and Editor for the Special Student Issue in the same journal. I am a regular reviewer for international peer-reviewed journals such as Information Design Journal and Visible Language. I am also a regular manuscript reviewer for publishers such as SageRoutledge (Taylor & Francis) and Bloomsbury.


  • Deputy Head of School

Research interests

Design to Inform | the importance of design and visualisation to make information easy to access, simple to use and inclusive.

Design to Instruct | the importance of design to help people process, learn and retain information, and transfer it to specific situations.

Design for Healthcare | the importance of design to make health information clear and facilitate communication between health professionals and patients.

Design for Security | the importance of design to improve how security information is handled and communicated inside agencies, as well as the importance of design to inform and instruct the public about security issues (e.g. cyber security awareness, hygiene and good practice).

Design for Education | the importance of design to enhance and innovate teaching and learning materials, as well as to improve student experience and satisfaction in traditonal learning & virtual learning environments.

Design for Reading | the importance of typographic legibility for reading strategies such as search reading, skimming, and scanning.

Design for the user/people | the importance of designing with the user/people by employing methods such as co-design/participatory design, and for the user/people by employing methods such as usability testing, eye-tracking, performance testing.

Recent research projects

2019 | The impact of information design on recovery after bowel surgery. How can the design of patient information resources lead to improved comprehension and decreased anxiety? | Co-I | NIHR MIC – Surgical Technologies; Bowel Cancer UK; School of Design – University of Leeds

2019 | Information and instructional design principles to enhance accessibility and inclusivity of course material on Blackboard VLE | PI | LITE Teaching Excellence Project Leaders, University of Leeds.

2018 | The impact of information design on the quality of bowel preparation for colonoscopy screening II – Scoping study and initial design development | PI | School of Design, University of Leeds

2018 | Visualising the terror threat. The impact of information design on communicating security information to the British public | PI | School of Design, University of Leeds.

2018 | Handling and communicating intelligence information | PI | Government Communications and Planning Directorate (GCPD), UK

2017 | The impact of information design on the quality of bowel preparation for colonoscopy screening I – Public engagement | PI | Research Development Funding, University of Leeds

2017 | Cyber security communication campaigns. The effect of neglecting user-centred information design principles on the quality of cyber hygiene amongst the public | PI | School of Design, University of Leeds. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD | Typography and Graphic communication | University of Reading, UK
  • Licenciatura | Visual Communication Design | ESAD, Portugal

Professional memberships

  • SFHEA | Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • MISTD | Member of the International Society of Typographic Designers
  • Associate Editor | Visible Language Design Journal
  • Editor | Special Student Issue, Visible Language design journal
  • Academic Advisor for Luto (Health Communication company)
  • Member of the AHRC Peer Review College
  • WRoCAH | The White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities | Academic member of the Peer Review College and Subject Cluster Committee for┬áMedia, Creative & Performing Arts
  • Member of the Design Research Society
  • Member of the Information Design Association

Student education

I was the Programme Leader for the MA Design between the academic years 2015-16 and 2018-2019, and responsible for designing the new MA Design programme of study, which was fully implemented in 2017-18.

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>