MA in the History of the Book
Degree code (MA): NTEHB
Credit value: 180 (ECTS equivalent: 90)
The MA provides students with a broad understanding and experience of the chronological range of book history from the medieval period to the present day. It introduces students to the range of disciplines that make up the subject, including bibliography, palaeography, codicology, bookbinding, history of printing, bibliometrics, history of publishing, history of reading and library history. The course provides frequent opportunities to handle archaeological and historical objects relating to the subject. Teachers are globally recognised experts in their fields.
The MA consists of one compulsory Research Methodologies module, a series of five taught modules (including two core courses) plus a dissertation of 15,000 words. Each taught module is worth 20 credits and consists of ten formal teaching sessions (each session is not less than 90 minutes and not more than 120 minutes duration) in a seminar format, plus one piece of written coursework. The dissertation is worth 60 credits.
Teaching takes places at the Institute of English Studies, in Senate House (University of London). All core and optional modules are taught on Wednesdays.
- Research Methodologies and Resources for the History of the Book
All students must complete the 'Research Methodologies and Resources for the History of the Book' module (20 credits). The course is divided over the autumn and spring terms. Part-time students must take this module in the first year.
In addition, students must also complete at least two of the three core modules (20 credits each). Part-time students will normally take the core modules in their first year.
- The Medieval Book (core) [Autumn term]
- The Book in Early Modern Europe (core) [Spring term]
- The Book in the Industrial Age (core) [Spring term]
Students select a further three modules chosen from an approved list of options. Option modules vary from year to year. Students may take the third core module as an option. They may also pursue the book trade/library internship module as one of their options (see below). Find all core and current option module descriptions here.
London Rare Books School
With approval from the Course Director, students may select as one of their options a course taught on the London Rare Books School. LRBS is a series of five-day intensive courses on a wide variety of book-related topics taught by internationally renowned experts. Module descriptions are available here.
Accredited prior learning from the London Rare Books School can be transferred to the MA programme subject to approval of the Course Director.
The Institute hosts a series of induction sessions to book history and London libraries in the week before classes begin (usually the final week of September).
The MA in the History of the Book is assessed on the basis of course essays and a dissertation.
The Research Methodologies course is assessed by a series of short exercises.
Each core and option module is examined by one essay of c.5,000 words or a coursework project of a similar scale. In addition, all students will complete a mandatory diagnostic essay of c.1,500 due at the end of October in the first term. This will be marked but does not constitute part of the assessment. It is designed to enable the teaching faculty to evaluate each student's progress and to provide help and advice as necessary.
The dissertation is 15,000 words and is due at the end of September. The research and writing of the dissertation is undertaken under the guidance of a supervisor who will help structure the research programme, suggested reading, and respond to written work.
The MA programme in the History of the Book has had a long and fruitful relationship with the rare book trade and with many different libraries in London. Several of our graduates have gone on to careers in these sectors of the book world. The book trade/library internship module gives students the opportunity of undertaking a placement in a bookshop or bookselling business, or a library or archive, to link their academic study to the world of books outside the university. The module can be taken for credit as one of a student’s option modules, or it can be pursued as an extra-curricular activity. Internships take place during the summer term and require around 100 hours of in-office contact time, in addition to independent learning.
Mode of Study
The MA can be taken one-year full-time, to be completed within 12 months, or two-years part-time, to be completed within 24 months. Part-time students normally complete the two core modules and two option modules in the first year, the third and fourth modules 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 modules to be taught on one day in the week (Wednesday).
MA Full-time study (one year)
180 credits required (120 module credits + 60 dissertation credits)
MA Part-time study (two years)
180 credits required (120 module credits + 60 dissertation credits)
The normal minimum entrance requirement for the MA is an Upper Second Class Honours degree, in any subject, from a university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard (for further information please see the School's list of international qualifications).
Applications may also be considered from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements, but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience.
All students whose first language is not English must be able to provide recent evidence (gained in the last two years) that their written and spoken English language is adequate for postgraduate study. This requirement is specified in order to ensure that the academic progress of students is not hindered by language difficulties and that students are able to integrate socially while studying and living in the UK.
Further information can be found on the English language competency section of the School's Entry Requirements page.
Fees and Funding
We provide a world-class masters education at the most affordable cost possible, and far below rates for similar programmes within the UK and elsewhere. Please note that if you have successfully taken courses for credit on the London Rare Books School, your total tuition fee will be reduced by the amount you paid to the LRBS.
Applicants are eligible to apply for studentships through the School of Advanced Study.
Many of our alumni establish successful careers in fields including academic librarianship, museum curatorship, publishing, and art. We have particular success placing students in the print and antiquarian book trade. Some students aim to progress to study at PhD level for a career in academia. Our programmes provide outstanding training in research skills and equip students with the intellectual framework and language proficiency to undertake independent research with confidence and success. Former students have progressed to PhD study (including AHRC studentships) at the Institute and elsewhere.
...gaining my master’s degree and having archival experience helped me to get my foot in the door at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. Since then, I have achieved the role of Archivist at the George W.
Virginia Butler - MA student
[What made you choose the University of London?] Probably the fact that the lecturers that we had came from such a wide variety of fields in the history of the book. I got taught by some of the biggest names in book history which is a really amazing opportunity...
Laura Blair - MA student
The Institute of English Studies is located in Senate House, in the heart of Bloomsbury. We are located moments away from the British LIbrary, the British Museum and of course its own Senate House Library. As part of the MA/MRes in the History of the Book, students have classes in St Bride Foundation, Senate House Library, the National Art Library at the V&A, Lambeth Palace Library, the National Gallery. There are more opportunities to explore other libraries and the book trade with the integrated internship module.