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Course content

Book History is a dynamic and rapidly growing area of interdisciplinary study that examines the book as an artefact in material culture. This programme brings together theory and practice in new and innovative ways. We study the production, circulation and reception of books from manuscript to e-books, paying attention to the histories of reading and authorship.

The programme integrates traditional bibliography, advanced theoretical approaches, training in special collections, and hands-on experience. You will be taught by leading experts at the University’s renowned Centre for the History of the Book. Field trips and work placements will allow you to take advantage of the exceptional collections in Edinburgh.

The programme attracts outstanding students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. The degree is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Programme structure

You will complete two core and two option courses, along with training in research methods. You will then complete a supervised, independently-researched dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Compulsory courses:

  • Cultures of the Book
  • Working with Collections

Option courses may include:

  • Critical Theory: Issues and Debates
  • Shakespeare's Sister: Archival Research and the Politics of the Canon
  • Sex and God in Victorian Poetry
  • Exploring the Novel
  • Censorship

Work placement/internship opportunities

Work placements allow students to take advantage of the exceptional resources in Edinburgh for the study of books in order to gain hands-on experience that will be beneficial in their future careers.

Placements may take place internally, for example in the Centre for Research Collections at the University Library, or externally with several partner organisations.

You will receive training from the placement supervisor, and will undertake well-defined projects in the course of your placement, such as cataloguing, conservation, collation, digitisation and other kinds of work.

You will reflect on your placement in a poster presentation, and it will provide material for an academic essay. Regular academic oversight of the work placement will be provided by the Course Organiser.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme, you will have a firm grasp of:

  • the extensive range of media forms and technologies, from manuscript to electronic text
  • the issues surrounding conservation, cataloguing, digitisation, and the display and management of collections
  • advanced archival research methodologies in manuscript and print

Career opportunities

This programme will equip you with the detailed knowledge and research skills you need to progress to a research degree and continue a career in academia; or you may pursue a career in publishing, libraries, and the cultural heritage sector. You will graduate with a number of highly transferable skills in communication, project management and analysis that will give you an advantage, whatever your chosen career.

Visit the Book History and Material Culture (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!




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