Postgraduate study

Book History and Material Culture MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time


Funding opportunities

Book History is a dynamic and rapidly growing area of interdisciplinary study that examines the book as an artefact in material culture. This programme brings together theory and practice in new and innovative ways. We study the production, circulation and reception of books from manuscript to e-books, paying attention to the histories of reading and authorship.

The programme integrates traditional bibliography, advanced theoretical approaches, training in special collections, and hands-on experience. You will be taught by leading experts at the University’s renowned Centre for the History of the Book.

The programme attracts outstanding students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds.


This programme is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

You will complete two core and two option courses, along with training in research methods.

You will then complete a supervised, independently-researched dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Compulsory courses:

  • Cultures of the Book
  • Working with Collections

Option courses may include:

  • Critical Theory: Issues and Debates
  • Shakespeare's Sister: Archival Research and the Politics of the Canon
  • Sex and God in Victorian Poetry
  • Exploring the Novel
  • Censorship

Work placement/internship opportunities

Work placements, if approved, 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.

If you are approved for a placement, these may take place internally, for example in the Centre for Research Collections at the University Library, or externally with several partner organisations.

You will receive training from the placement supervisor, and will undertake well-defined projects in the course of your placement, such as cataloguing, conservation, collation, digitisation and other kinds of work.

You will reflect on your placement in a poster presentation, and it will provide material for an academic essay. Regular academic oversight of the work placement will be provided by the Course Organiser.

By the end of the programme, you will have a firm grasp of:

  • the extensive range of media forms and technologies, from manuscript to electronic text
  • the issues surrounding conservation, cataloguing, digitisation, and the display and management of collections
  • advanced archival research methodologies in manuscript and print

This programme will equip you with the detailed knowledge and research skills you need to progress to a research degree and continue a career in academia.

You may also pursue a career in:

  • libraries
  • archives
  • the cultural heritage sector

You will graduate with a number of highly transferable skills in communication, project management and analysis that will give you an advantage, whatever your chosen career.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant discipline.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your residency status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH

If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

*(Revised 13 November to remove contradictory deadline information.)

The online application process involves the completion of a web form and the submission of supporting documents.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH