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Course content

The University of London’s postgraduate degree in the History of the Book was inaugurated in 1995 and each year attracts a range of students from many countries. The University’s location in the centre of London, with its unrivalled resources for all aspects of book history within easy reach, together with the expertise that exists in its many colleges and institutes, makes it an ideal place in which to carry out research of an interdisciplinary nature. The history of the book has developed rapidly over the last 40 years as its power to clarify problems in many other disciplines has become evident. Scholars have come to see the study of the book as an aid to understanding literary and other texts and, more recently, as a way of understanding broader social, cultural, and intellectual processes in history.

The programme aims to:

Give students a broad understanding of book history from c. 3000 BCE to 2000 CE

Introduce students to the range of disciplines that make up the subject, including historical bibliography, palaeography, codicology, history of printing, bibliometrics, history of publishing, history of reading, and library history

Provide frequent opportunities to handle archaeological and historical objects relating to the subject

Give students the ability and confidence to deal with primary sources for book history (both manuscript and printed)

In addition, the MRes will:

Provide selected students with a foundation of three appropriately specialised taught courses (60 points in all), which will equip them to undertake a more extensive programme of master’s level research than that offered by the MA

Provide the opportunity for able students to write an extended dissertation (30,000 words) on a subject that requires treatment at a much greater length and depth than the usual MA topic

Offer students a degree programme that satisfies the needs of those who wish to undertake more extensive research or go on to do an MPhil or PhD


The MA consists of a series of six taught courses (including two core courses) plus a dissertation of 15,000 words.

The MRes consists of a series of three taught courses and a 30,000 word dissertation.

Students may also choose courses from the London Rare Books School programme under the guidance of the Course Director and Course Tutor.

London Book Trade Internship

Students have the option to substitute one of the modules with an internship at a London bookselling firm. The internships offer a key opportunity for students to experience life in a bookselling firm, to undertake projects for the company (everything from stocktaking to cataloguing to running a book stall at a fair), and to make connections in the book trade. In the past, students have been placed in Maggs Bros., Jarndyce Booksellers, Robert Frew Ltd., and Ash Rare Books.

Teaching and Supervision

Teachers are recognised experts drawn from the Institute, the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Lambeth Palace Library, and other institutions, at which some of the teaching takes place.

Visit the The History of the Book (MA/MRes) page on the University of London, School of Advanced Study website for more details!





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