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The History of the Book


The MA and the MRes in the History of the Book gives students a broad understanding and experience of the chronological range of book history from c. 3000 BCE to 2000 CE and introduces students to a range of disciplines that make up the subject, including bibliography, palaeography, codicology, history of printing, bibliometrics, history of publishing, history of reading and library history.

MA/MRes in the History of the Book
The programme provides outstanding research training and equips students with the skills to undertake independent research with confidence and success.

The history of the book is a subject that encompasses the history of literate culture as a whole. Its focus includes not only books, but also newspapers, magazines, chapbooks, and ephemera. The book is a material object. One way to study it, therefore, is to study its physical attributes. We can ask what form the book took in different periods, and how that form developed over time. Because it is a manufactured object, we can also investigate the processes by which it was made.

Because the book did not begin with the invention of printing, the programme will also consider the manuscript book in all its forms from the pre-classical, classical, and medieval periods.

The Institute of English Studies’ location in the centre of London, with its unrivalled resources for all aspects of book history within easy reach, together with the expertise which exists in its many colleges and institutes, makes it an ideal place in which to carry out research of an interdisciplinary nature. During the course, students can opt to substitute a module for a London book trade internship.

Many of our alumni go on to establish successful careers in related fields, including academic librarianship, museum curatorship, publishing, art, and the print and antiquarian book trade, as well as progressing to PhD study at the Institute and elsewhere.

Visit the School of Advanced Study website to find out more about the course structure, teaching and assessments, available funding opportunities and more information on applying.

Application links