Sara studied the MRes in History of the Book and shortly after continued her studies with a PhD at the Institute. Her PhD is focused on researching the use of Usuard martyrologies in England between 900–1250.


Sara Charles - IES(1)

Why did you choose to study the MRes in History of the Book?

I had completed an MA in Library and Information Studies, where I did a module on Manuscript Studies. I knew that I wanted to research this area further, so the MRes in the History of the Book provided an excellent opportunity for me to gain more knowledge of manuscripts and rare books through the taught modules. Studying original sources for my dissertation also allowed me to acquire essential research skills. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit to a PhD, so the MRes provided an excellent stepping-stone.


Why did you decide to progress on to PhD study at the Institute?

The research I did for my dissertation for the MRes led naturally into a wider research project (although originally I had another topic in mind!).


What aspect of the MRes course did you most enjoy?

The camaraderie between the students. Although we came from various different backgrounds and career stages, there was a real feeling of togetherness. Also, there were some fabulous educational visits. I also found the Institute to be an excellent place to study, with a real passion for advancing the study of the field of book history.


What aspect of your PhD are you most enjoying?

The regular meetings with my supervisors. They both give me such great advice and guidance, and it’s reassuring to know they are supporting me.


What was your experience of the teaching and teaching practices at the Institute?

The teaching is excellent. In my experience, all tutors were approachable and helpful and the modules were well structured. It was a real privilege to be taught by such knowledgeable and accomplished book historians.


How has your experience of studying the MRes course helped you in your current research?

Writing the long dissertation for the MRes has equipped me with the skills for independent research and time-management needed for my PhD studies.


How do you think your PhD studies will assist you in the future?

By studying a period of manuscript production that saw significant changes in script and decoration, I feel like I am gaining significant knowledge in medieval manuscripts, which will be enormously helpful in furthering my academic career in book history.


What would you say to someone who is considering studying the MRes course?

If you have an interest in the history of books, this course will give you a real grounding in the field. It is immensely useful for anyone who works in libraries, the book trade or anyone interested in the development of writing and communication. It is a supportive environment and you will have the chance to go on educational visits and meet lots of people active in the book world.


What would you say to someone who is considering studying the PhD course?

Studying at the Institute means you have access to the excellent Senate House library and its Special Collections, which is enormously beneficial. The Institute offers a fabulous range of seminars and workshops (as well as summer schools), which are great at cementing collegiate relationships and opening up new lines of research.