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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Events and Outreach

Online School: Palaeography and Latin

7th December 2020, 09:00 to 18th December 2020, 17:00

Please note that spaces are limited and we will be assessing applications on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage you to *apply early* as we expect demand to be high. The closing date for all applications is Friday 13 November.

If we have more suitable applicants than we can offer places to this time, we will place you on a waiting list and – subject to sufficient demand – run the School again in 2021.

Why Study with Us?

Among the most exhilarating experiences available to scholars of any time prior to the wide availability of the printing press, holding a hand-made and hand-written text or document in one’s own hand as a direct and physical link to the past is perhaps the most exciting of all. Exciting, but also perhaps daunting; releasing the many kinds of information a manuscript contains requires a specialised set of skills, drawing on several disciplines. This course uses the unique range and depth of medieval studies at Durham to offer a basis for approaching medieval manuscripts with confidence. We invite students to look at form, function, and content of manuscripts under one and the same broad outlook, in particular by emphasising the importance of considering language and content in order to describe and transcribe a manuscript correctly. Our dedicated tutors are looking forward to communicating their own delight at studying medieval manuscripts and texts, and to share their continuing journey of exploration with you.

Programme Directors: Dr Ana de Oliveira Dias; Dr Sigbjørn Sønnesyn
School Director: Professor Giles Gasper

What we offer

  • Ten work packages comprising four core lectures and exercises; each work package will include:
    • A selection of manuscript plates for transcription, palaeographical analysis and translation
    • Compilation of the most common medieval abbreviation
    • Latin grammar materials
    • Recommended Bibliography
    • Selection of online resources
  • Real-time online tuition (Meet with the tutors)
  • Optional modules on manuscript and archival studies and textual criticism
  • Talks with period experts on historical manuscripts (Meeting with a Manuscript)
  • Interactive experiences with Durham collections


  • To introduce students to the origins and evolution of Western scripts and their historical contexts (c. AD 100- AD1500).
  • To train students in modern conventions and methods for reading, transcribing and editing Latin texts
  • To introduce students to the principles of codicology and manuscript cataloguing
  • To expose students to collections, digital resources and projects in the field of history and manuscript studies
  • Learning Outcomes
  • To develop skills in reading, transcribing and editing Latin manuscript text.
  • To gain knowledge of the evolution of the Latin language and scripts c. AD 100- AD1500.
  • To develop an ability to date and place manuscripts sources
  • To obtain working knowledge of production techniques and writing practices.
  • To obtain an understanding of modern approaches to manuscript studies
  • To develop an awareness of Durham’s manuscript collections and digital resources

What our students say

  • The instructors were amazing and I learned so much from them! They were both very helpful and responsive over email, and made the zoom sessions interesting and enjoyable.
  • The videos were very informative, and simply packed with information.
  • Both the quality and the range of videos was exceptional.
  • I cannot praise this course highly enough; the last two weeks have been amazing, stimulating, and thought provoking.

Course Fee:

Full Price: £650


Given the particularly difficult circumstances that we know many are facing currently, the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) is extending its bursary offer of £300 to all applicants without access to other sources of funding.

To apply for your place please complete this form*.

*Please note that some knowledge of Latin is highly desirable, but it is not essential. However, this is a course about Palaeography and not ab initio Latin training. If you would like to discuss your application please contact the School Director, Professor Giles Gasper at

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