Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Working with Manuscripts as Historians HIST5147

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • 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
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will give students a deeper understanding of the issues and opportunities which manuscripts present to historians. Before the digital age every text had a physical form-for example as a book, as a piece of paper or parchment, or as a scroll. Scholars are becoming increasingly aware of the significance of this for understanding text. Manuscripts offer an immediate way of studying and appreciating this important dimension of surviving sources. In this course, students will learn methodologies for analysing manuscripts and placing text in its 'material context'.  


10 x two-hour workshops as scheduled in mycampus

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level


Recommended: a basic understanding of key concepts in the study of Latin language and familiarity with basic features of Latin grammar and syntax. For students with no prior Latin experience before undertaking their programme of study this would require: Latin 5003: Basic Latin for Postgraduates 1 (semester 1).

Excluded Courses





Essay (2000 words) -  40%

Oral presentation (10 minutes) -  20%

Written report A (1000 words) -  20%

Written report B (1000 words)-  20%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Introduce the field of manuscript studies and some of its core themes

■ Explore the challenges and opportunities for historians working with manuscripts, with a particular focus on the materiality of text

■ Understand the challenges of working with modern editions and digital images of manuscripts

■ Explore methodologies that allow students to engage with manuscripts with confidence (including palaeography and codicology), and to undertake their own analysis of them

■ Gain the practical and intellectual training essential for setting out on doctoral research involving manuscripts, particularly in analysing and presenting manuscripts (in both oral and written formats)

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Critically evaluate key aspects within the field of manuscript studies and articulate the importance of the materiality of manuscripts (via essay)

■ Assess and present the key challenges and opportunities for working with particular kinds of manuscript (via oral presentation)

■ Assess and present the key issues for working with modern editions or digital images of manuscripts (via written report A)

■ Apply methodologies to manuscripts that integrate analytical skills such as palaeography and codicology(via written report B)

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.