Taught course

The History of the Book

School of Advanced Study · Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement would be a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard (for example a grade-point-average of 3.0 or higher).

We will consider applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience.

English is the language of instruction and applicants are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency.

Months of entry


Course content

What does this course cover?

The programme aims to:

  • Give students a broad understanding of book history from c. 3000 BCE to 2000 CE
  • Introduce students to the range of disciplines that make up the subject, including historical bibliography, palaeography, codicology, history of printing, bibliometrics, history of publishing, history of reading, and library history
  • Provide frequent opportunities to handle archaeological and historical objects relating to the subject
  • Give students the ability and confidence to deal with primary sources for book history (both manuscript and printed)

In addition, the MRes will:

  • Provide selected students with a foundation of three appropriately specialised taught courses (60 points in all), which will equip them to undertake a more extensive programme of master’s level research than that offered by the MA
  • Provide the opportunity for able students to write an extended dissertation (30,000 words) on a subject that requires treatment at a much greater length and depth than the usual MA topic
  • Offer students a degree programme that satisfies the needs of those who wish to undertake more extensive research or go on to do an MPhil or PhD

For a full course description please visit our website...

The University of London’s postgraduate degree in the History of the Book was inaugurated in 1995 and each year attracts a range of students from many countries. The University’s location in the centre of London, with its unrivalled resources for all aspects of book history within easy reach, together with the expertise that exists in its many colleges and institutes, makes it an ideal place in which to carry out research of an interdisciplinary nature. The history of the book has developed rapidly over the last 40 years as its power to clarify problems in many other disciplines has become evident. Scholars have come to see the study of the book as an aid to understanding literary and other texts and, more recently, as a way of understanding broader social, cultural, and intellectual processes in history.


The MA consists of a series of six taught courses (including two core courses) plus a dissertation of 15,000 words.

The MRes consists of a series of three taught courses and a 30,000 word dissertation.

Students may also choose courses from the London Rare Books School programme under the guidance of the Course Director and Course Tutor.

For module details and descriptions please visit our website...

London Book Trade Internship

Students have the option to substitute one of the modules with an internship at a London bookselling firm. The internships offer a key opportunity for students to experience life in a bookselling firm, to undertake projects for the company (everything from stocktaking to cataloguing to running a book stall at a fair), and to make connections in the book trade. In the past, students have been placed in Maggs Bros., Jarndyce Booksellers, Robert Frew Ltd., and Ash Rare Books.

Teaching and Supervision

Teachers are recognised experts drawn from the Institute, the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Lambeth Palace Library, and other institutions, at which some of the teaching takes place.

Information for international students

Find out more information for international students.

Fees and funding

UK students
£6,430 (2018/19 fees)
International students
£14,900 (2018/19 fees)

The School of Advanced Study has a range of funding opportunities for home, EU and international applicants. Find out more about funding opportunities here. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

The Sambrook Fund Studentship seeks to support an excellent student who wishes to study on the MA in the History of the Book, but whose circumstances might make it difficult to access the programme. The award covers fees in full at the Home/EU rate. The studentship will be funded through the Institute’s Sambrook Fund, established when Keith Sambrook, a fellow at the IES, generously donated his teaching fees from the Institute’s MA course. More information on the Sambrook Fund.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • MRes
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

School of Advanced Study Enquiries
+44 (0) 207 862 8835