Palaeography and diplomatic

The course is designed to help students to work with medieval and early modern manuscripts. It will be tailored as far as possible to individual needs within the group. Besides practical training (transcription, editing, the physical aspects of manuscripts and documents including illumination), the course introduces the history of script and its intellectual context from Roman times to c.1650. In the second term English documents and manuscripts will be studied. 

Course details

The Palaeography and Diplomatic course runs weekly on Tuesdays in the first two terms, with two or three additional classes in the third term. The course usually ends with an expedition in the third term.

This year the course will begin online on 6 October at 11 am to 12.30 pm

Term Dates

  • Term 1: 6 October to 8 December 2020
  • Term 2: 12 January to 23 March 2021
  • Term 3: 4 May and 11 May 2021

Term 1 focuses on Latin palaeography. Everyone should own a Latin grammar such as B. H. Kennedy, Shorter Latin Primer and C. R. Cheney, Handbook of Dates for Students of British History, new edn. rev. by M. Jones (Cambridge, 2000), and later reprints. Students without any Latin are welcome to apply for the second term.

Introductory Reading
C. de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts (London, 1986); 2nd. edn. (London, 1994); L. C. Hector, The Handwriting of English Documents (London, 1958); 2nd edn (London 1966; repr. 1979), with minor changes to the introduction. Out of print, but available in large libraries.

Dr Jenny Stratford is a Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research. In her earlier career she was an Assistant Keeper (curator) in the Department of Manuscripts, The British Library. She has published extensively on medieval and modern manuscripts and on princely collections of the later Middle Ages in England and France.

Please note that while this course is administered by the Institute of Historical Research, it is organised through Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL). Fees are £250 per term for each of the first two terms; there is no fee in term three.

Applications should be made online only.

Enquiries about course fees and the application process should be made directly to the IHR Events Manager:

General enquiries about the course should be addressed directly to Dr Stratford at