English Literature


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.

The reception desk for the Centre for Research Collections


The City’s longstanding connection with the book trade has left it with a wealth of archival riches. Edinburgh is home to two world-class libraries, the Edinburgh University Library and the National Library of Scotland. These libraries hold the world’s largest collection of publishers’ archives, including the papers of historically important firms such as Blackwood, Chambers, Constable, John Murray, Smith & Elder, Thomas Nelson, Oliver & Boyd and many more.

The National Library of Scotland is one of five copyright deposit libraries in the UK, and so it has been entitled to receive a copy of every book published in Britain since 1710. The NLS holds the world’s largest collection of publishing archives and one of the most important collections for the study of bibliography in Europe.

The University Library’s collections are accessible in the newly refurbished Centre for Research Collections.

University of Edinburgh

Home to leading international specialists in Book History, bibliography and textual scholarship, the University of Edinburgh was ranked 13th in the world for Arts and Humanities, and 10th in the world for English, in the latest QS World University Rankings.

In the last UK University Research Exercise, the University of Edinburgh was recognised as the most outstanding Scottish university and among the best in the UK, 80% of the research assessed from the Department of English was classified ‘World Leading’ and ‘Internationally Excellent’.

The Centre for the History of the Book

The MSc in Book History and Material Culture is run by the Centre for the History of the Book (CHB), one of the longest established and best known research centres in the field.

The CHB is associated with several digital projects that apply new technologies to the study of Book History. We maintain close links with museums, libraries, galleries, publishers, booksellers and private collectors, providing MSc students with access to a wide range of resources and expertise, as well as opportunities for work placements.

The Centre organises lectures, seminars, and conferences throughout the year, and hosts visiting fellows from other universities. These activities bring students into contact with leading scholars and book historians from across the world.

We also run conferences and workshops to aid postgraduate students in their professional development and to encourage conversations with other early-career book historians. For example, in collaboration with the University of Stirling and the University of Dundee, the CHB organised and facilitated ‘The 21st Century Book Historian’, a series of 3 workshops for postgraduate students, culminating in a trip to Scotland’s oldest public lending library at Innerpeffray.

See the Events page on the CHB website for information on recent and upcoming events: