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MA/MRes in the History of the Book

Course Description

The MA in the History of the Book at the Institute of English Studies http://ies.sas.ac.uk/) provides an unrivalled base for the study of a subject that has been the focus of increasing scholarly attention over the past 30 years. Originally considering mainly physical aspects of the book and the details of its manufacture and trade, scholars have come to see the study of the book as an aid to understanding literary texts and as a focus for insight into social, cultural and intellectual processes in history. This interdisciplinary programme aims to provide a stimulating range of courses in this new but rapidly growing subject, encompassing the history of literate western culture and focusing not only on books, but also newspapers, magazines, chapbooks, and broadsides. This course will also consider the manuscript of the period before print and enable students to ask what form the book takes in different periods, and how that form develops over time. As a man-made object, the course will further investigate the processes by which it is made. By considering conditions of manufacture, students are lead not only into discussion of the book as physical object, but also the social, economic and cultural relations entailed in a book's production.

Building on the success of the established MA in the History of the book, the Institute introduced a Master of Research. One third coursework, two-thirds research, this distinguished degree will permit an even greater degree of specialism for those who already drawn to a particular period or topic, and assist them in acquiring research skills suitable for progression to MPhil/PhD study.

The opportunities provided for the study of the History of the Book in London under the aegis of the School of Advanced Study and with the participation of so many of London's major institutions are without parallel. By bringing together the expertise which exists in the University of London and the staff of The British Library, the British Museum, The Public Record Office, Lambeth Palace Library, St Bride Printing Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the University of Reading and Stationers' Hall, students will enjoy benefits difficult to achieve anywhere else.


Credit value: 180

Required courses:

The Medieval Book
Printed Texts 1450-2010
Research Methodology
Optional courses:

Digital Publishing and Book Studies
The Book in the Ancient World
The Book in Renaissance Italy
Textual Scholarship and Contemporary Editorial Theory
The Historical Reader: The Practice and Representation of Reading 1400–1900
The Serial and the Book
Western Book Structures
The Look of the Book
Structure (MA): Six taught courses (the Medieval Book and Pinted Texts 1450-2010 and four option courses) plus a dissertation of 15,000 words.
Structure (MRes): Three taught courses selected from those available on the MA or the London Rare Books School programmes under the guidance of the Course Director and Course Tutor, plus a dissertation of 30,000 words.


Each required course is examined by one essay of c.5,000 words. In addition, all students will complete a mandatory diagnostic essay of c.1,500 due at the end of October in the first term, which will be marked but does not constitute part of the assessment. Each option course is examined by one essay of c.5,000 words, or a coursework project of a similar scale. The dissertation is between 10,000 and 15,000 words and is due at the end of September.

Mode of study

1 year full-time and 2 years part-time. Part-time students normally complete the two Required courses and two Option courses in the first year, the third and fourth Option courses and the dissertation being taken in the second year. However, it is assumed that some preliminary work on the dissertation will be undertaken during the first year. In order to accommodate part-time study for students on day-release we try to arrange for most courses to be taught on one day in the week (usually Wednesday).

Visit the MA/MRes in the History of the Book page on the School of Advanced Study website for more details!

Student Profiles

Arts and Humanities Research Council (LAHP) studentships - No. of awards TBC

The LAHP studentship competition will open for applications on 1 December 2015, and the closing date is Friday 15 January 2016. Studentship candidates are advised to apply for a place to study well in advance of the closing deadline for LAHP studentship applications to ensure that they have the opportunity to consult with proposed supervisors in preparing the LAHP studentship application form. It is suggested that candidates make their applications for a place to study in the School by 29 January 2016. AHRC scholarships cover fees and, in all but exceptional circumstances, maintenance allowance (stipend). Overseas students are not normally eligible for AHRC funding. The primary criterion on which applications are judged is academic merit.The 2015 maintenance rates for doctoral students are £15,863 (full-time). Rates may be subject to change.

Value of Scholarship(s)

£15,863 (full-time)


To be eligible to apply for a LAHP studentship in the forthcoming round, candidates must either be applying to start a programme of postgraduate study in the 2016-17 academic year, which starts in October 2016; or, if they have already commenced doctoral study, they may apply for funding for the remainder, provided that, at the start of the AHRC award, they have at least 50% of the period of study remaining.

Application Procedure

The closing date for applications is Friday 15 January 2016.

Further Information



SAS Studentships (Coffin Fund for Promising Students) - 2 Awards

The School is able to provide two SAS Studentships via the Coffin Fund for Promising Students. In 2015-16, the awards are £12,500 to cover tuition fees and contribute towards maintenance costs (where applicable) and will be awarded to two students who have demonstrably excelled in their undergraduate degree.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The primary criterion on which applications are judged is academic merit. The successful applicant will be of exceptional quality, evidenced by previous academic achievement at undergraduate level, with an outstanding mark achieved in the final-year project/dissertation. Successful applicants will have a genuine and demonstrable interest in undertaking a master’s degree at the School of Advanced Study. In addition, awards are open to students who are:
• self-funded and domiciled in the UK, European Union (EU) or overseas;
• studying full-time or part-time for a maximum of two years;
• undertaking masters courses in any subject (excluding MRes, Distance Learning, PGDip and PGCert)

Application Procedure

In order to apply for a SAS studentship (Coffin Fund) at the School, you must have applied to study here. For further information on SAS postgraduate studies, please see Master’s degrees or the Institute websites, and then the information on how to apply. The SAS studentship (Coffin Fund for Promising Students) competition for 2016-17 closes spring 2016.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A good second-class honours degree froma British university, or an equivalent qualification from a foreign institution, in any discipline.

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