Medieval Palaeography: An Introduction to Reading Medieval Documents HIST5142

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Palaeography, diplomatics and sigillography are fundamental to the study of medieval documents. This introductory course provides the opportunity to practice the transcription of a variety of medieval scripts and a basic grounding in diplomatics, sigillography and medieval dating systems.


10 two hour workshops including one in the University Special Collections, one in the University Archives, and one at the Glasgow Life Resource centre.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses





Weekly transcription and description assignments, weeks 2-9, (c. 300 words each). Each assignment is a homework task which follows on from the script or artefact worked on in class that week. - 50%

1 end of course take home exercise including transcription and description, dating and script symbol identification tasks covering the whole course period (2,500 words) - 50%

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Engage with core technical skills in research work in medieval studies

■ Practice transcription of a variety of medieval scripts, diplomatic analysis of medieval documents, and sigillography.

■ Develop an understanding of dating methods used in the middle ages

■ Work with original documents in University collections

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Transcribe and describe a variety of medieval scripts.

■ Make appropriate use of core technical vocabulary in medieval palaeography, diplomatics and sigillography

■ Interpret a variety of medieval dating systems

■ Approach unfamiliar scripts with a 'toolkit' of skills to aid in transcription and understanding

■ Work with original manuscripts with confidence

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.