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.1700. Full use will be made of the incomparable manuscript and facsimile resources of the Palaeography Collection, Senate House Library. At least one visit will be to the British Library. In the second term English documents and manuscripts will be studied. There is usually an expedition in the third term.

Course details


Some Latin is required for the first term. For term 1 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). Students without Latin are welcome to apply for the second term.

Introductory Reading

C. de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, 2nd. edn. (London, 1994) L. C. Hector, The Handwriting of English Documents, 2nd edn (London 1966; repr. 1979), out of print, but available in large libraries.

Dr Jenny Stratford is a Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research. In her earlier career she was a curator in the Department of Manuscripts at 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.

Class information

Classes run from 11:00-13:00 on a Tuesday in the Seng T Lee seminar room (attached to the Palaeography and Rare Books reading room) on the 4th floor of Senate House Library.

Term 1: 8 October - 10 December 2019
Term 2: January - May 2020 (with a break over Easter).

Please note that although this course takes place at the Institute of Historical Research, it is organised by Queen Mary, University of London. Fees are £250 per term for each of the first two terms; there is no fee in term three. Applications and enquiries should be addressed directly to Dr Stratford at