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The history of the book is concerned with the making, manufacturing, distribution and reading of books, and thus offers a unique way of understanding different literary, cultural, social, intellectual, and technological processes in history. The subject extends to include newspapers, magazines, chapbooks, ephemera, digital text, and all kinds of printed or written media. It also includes the manuscript book in all its forms from the pre-classical, classical, and medieval periods.

The University of London’s MA degree in the History of the Book is the oldest postgraduate programme in this growing area in the humanities. Each year the Institute of English Studies (IES) welcomes a range of students from varied educational and professional backgrounds and from many different countries.

Students can take modules from the MA programme and work towards a Postgraduate Certificate (three modules; 60 credits) or a Postgraduate Diploma in the History of the Book (six modules; 120 credits). Modules can also be taken via the London Rare Books School.

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Key Information

Modules and structure

If you cannot commit to a full MA, you can take modules from the MA programme or the London Rare Books School to gain either a Postgraduate Certificate or a Postgraduate Diploma in the History of the Book. To enrol, you'll still be required to meet all the School of Advanced Study’s standard entry requirements.

For the Postgraduate Certificate, you must successfully complete three modules. For the Postgraduate Diploma, you must successfully complete six modules.

For information on the modules offered, see the MA/MRes page.

About the Institute

The Institute of English Studies is an internationally renowned research centre specialising in the history of the book, manuscript and print studies, and textual scholarship. Our activities include providing postgraduate studies, hosting major collaborative research projects, providing essential research training in book history and palaeography, and facilitating scholarly communities in all areas of English studies.

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. 

Find out more about our entry requirements here.

How to apply

For more information on how to apply, including deadlines and the documentation you will need to provide on the application form, visit our How to Apply page.