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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Online Summer School: Palaeography and Latin

20th July 2020, 09:00 to 31st July 2020, 17:00

Update: 01 July 2020: Applications for the July Summer School have now closed. We shall be running a second Palaeography & Latin School in November (subject to sufficient demand). Further details and how to apply will be posted shortly.

Anyone who applied by the July Summer School application deadline of 30 June will automatically be considered for a place on the waiting list and/or a place on the Autumn/Winter School.

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 abbreviations
    • 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

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.