Graduates from the MSc in Book History and Material Culture go on to work in a variety of fields, including curation, conservation, and academia.
I chose to take the course on a part-time basis so I could fit my studies around my job. Completing the coursework and dissertation improved my confidence as a writer and researcher and the interaction with CHB staff has given me good connections within the world of book history.
The MSc in Book History and Material Culture helped me gain the work experience and research background necessary to work in a major collection of early printed books and medieval manuscripts. Through the collections management coursework and an internship in the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections, I learned the core skills required of a rare books and manuscripts librarian. The more academic option courses and dissertation helped me develop specialist knowledge in the area of book history that most interested me: the very beginning of printing. The degree also prepared me to answer the questions of historical bibliography that I encounter in my current post.
I really appreciated the MSc programme’s focus on hands-on learning in Edinburgh – visiting local libraries and private collections and using Special Collections resources during seminars. Engaging with these primary documents and archival objects provided a sense of immediacy to the past, which inspired my research. Through the work placement and internship and volunteering opportunities, I also gained valuable experience in libraries and archives, and I am excited to begin a postgraduate diploma programme in Information Management and Preservation (Digital) at the University of Glasgow in September 2017.
As a professional bookbinder it was a pleasure to contextualize the different types of bindings, papers, and design styles of printed matter in a way that was both academic and hands on. Focusing much of my research on children's books and books in film, this course emphasized the impressive scope and importance of print history, and the influence of printed material on other culturally significant mediums of expression and development. Currently I am furthering my studies of book history by cataloging a broad history of print in Southeast Asia during the height of British imperialism, a joint-PhD between Kings College London and the National University of Singapore. I cannot express my gratitude for all I've learned during my MSc at the University of Edinburgh. My time there inspired the research I am doing today.
I chose the Book History programme at the University of Edinburgh for the university's excellent academic reputation and for the opportunity to study books in a city with so many wonderful libraries and archives. The MSc programme introduced me to a range of approaches for studying books; I particularly appreciated the combination of theory and practical handling of books and archival material. Carrying out independent research during the MSc programme gave me the skills and confidence to go on to study for a PhD at Edinburgh afterwards.
The MSc in Book History and Material Culture was enjoyably challenging and provided me with several unique opportunities throughout the course of my studies. The course’s varied contents provided an excellent overview of what is a rapidly growing field of study, while the opportunity to undertake a work placement in the second semester was of great value in terms of gaining experience in the libraries and heritage sector. Pursuing independent research in a number of archives in order to complete my dissertation has given me the confidence to move on to studying at the doctoral level.
The History of the Book course was a wonderful and informative introduction to the field of rare book librarianship. Focusing my studies on the history and conservation of illuminated manuscripts, as well as the digitization of rare materials, I was able to gain valuable hands-on experience not only with books and manuscripts, but with the tools and methods used to preserve and protect them. I enjoy employing the skills and knowledge that I gained from the course both in the professional world as the Library Technician of the Smithsonian's Cullman Library, which holds the rare book collection of the Museum of Natural History, and as an individual, sharing bibliographical facts and images on social media.
The MSc program was a great mix of hands-on training and a strong academic curriculum. The resources available in Edinburgh are terrific: I learned about special collections librarianship through a placement with the university’s Centre for Research Collections and made extensive use of the National Library of Scotland's archival collections during my dissertation research.
I'm now working on a PhD in historical geography at Edinburgh, studying an archive I first encountered through the MSc. I would recommend the History of the Book program to anyone with an interest in book history or special collections librarianship.
The research skills and theoretical knowledge I gained from the MSc were a very important foundation for my career in book and paper conservation. After completing the MSc, I went on to practical training. I now work as a book and paper conservator at Q Framing Group in Singapore.