English Literature

Book History and Material Culture

Study the theory and practice of this rapidly growing area in an innovative programme accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Book History is a dynamic and rapidly growing area of interdisciplinary study that explores the book as an artefact in material culture.

Helping us to understand the current communications revolution, it reminds us that ideas circulate through a material world of things, from medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-readers.

Our MSc in Book History and Material Culture will engage you in the latest theoretical debates in the field, while training you in sophisticated methods for studying the material production, circulation and reception of books and print, including rare books, manuscripts and special collections.

Undertaken over one-year (full-time) or two years (part-time), the programme attracts outstanding students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. Having studied with us, they go on to have successful careers in a variety of fields, from publishing to positions in libraries, archives, museums, galleries and academia.

Why study for an MSc in Book History and Material Culture in Edinburgh?

Our programme is based in the Centre for the History of the Book (CHB), one of the oldest and most highly regarded research centres in the field, located in UNESCO’s first City of Literature.

Bringing theory and practice together in new and innovative ways, the MSc is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Study with CHB and you’ll be part of an international community hosting lectures, seminars, conferences and workshops throughout the year, and with access to the extensive resources of one of the UK’s longest established centres of literary education. This includes the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections.

In addition to training, coursework and individual research, you’ll have the opportunity to benefit from hands-on experience of working in Edinburgh’s libraries, archives and museums.


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This one-year taught postgraduate degree brings together theory and practice in new and innovative ways. The programme is distinctive for its integration of traditional bibliography, advanced theoretical approaches, training in special collections, and hands-on work placements.

Aims and outcomes

Student and tutor examining books
The MSc is designed both for continuing students and those returning to higher education to further their careers with an advanced degree. We welcome students aiming to pursue doctoral research and an academic career, and students seeking to pursue a postgraduate degree related to their professional experience in publishing, libraries, archives, or museums.

Programme structure

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The MSc in Book History and Material Culture consists of two core courses, one course in research methods, two option courses, and a 15,000-word dissertation written under the supervision of a faculty member. Students have the option to complete a credit-bearing work placement as part of their degree.

Teaching and assessment

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This programme consists of taught elements and a dissertation.


The reception desk for the Centre for Research Collections
Edinburgh offers an unparalleled combination of resources and expertise for the study of Book History. Edinburgh was designated UNESCO's first World City of Literature, and is host to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, in addition to the world’s largest arts festival.

Past students

Graduating students
Graduates from the MSc in Book History and Material Culture go on to work in a variety of fields, including curation, conservation, and academia.

Fees and Funding

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Information on fees and funding opportunities.

Contact details and FAQ

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Have a question? Get in touch with us.

Entry requirements and apply online

Apply online for this MSc programme.

Entry requirements and apply online

Work placement

Optional work placements allow students to take advantage of the exceptional resources in Edinburgh for the study of books in order to gain hands-on experience that will be beneficial in their future careers.

Work placement

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

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