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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MEDV5100M Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age

30 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: N. Kivilcim Yavuz

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides a holistic understanding of the medieval manuscript book in its material, cultural and historical contexts as well as situating the study of medieval manuscripts in the digital age. Each manuscript is important not only for understanding the processes of production, dissemination and reception of a given text but also for uncovering the cultural and historical circumstances in which it was copied, put together or manipulated. Many medieval manuscripts have reached modern times after different stages of physical reformatting in the form of additions, deletions and re-organisation of content, and sometimes in very fragmentary states. Examination of the physical make-up of the written artefact can provide significant information regarding the intended purpose and even the target audience of textual works contained in manuscripts as well as allow us to understand the origins and later histories of manuscripts. And considering that many medieval manuscripts include more than one text, engaging with the entirety of the manuscript in order to comprehend its multilayered nature is essential. Furthermore, advancements in the field of computing technologies especially since the turn of this century have been reshaping the field of manuscript studies. From high-resolution digital images to online databases and digital scholarly editions, digital approaches to manuscript studies are now an essential part of research. Working with medieval manuscripts in the digital context brings about many possibilities as well as challenges, which this module will address. The module will have at its centre the manuscript book in Latin scripts in the West, but there will be opportunities to engage with manuscript cultures of non-Western societies and non-Latin scripts, offering a comparative overview. Students will gain experience in working with medieval manuscripts both by using the manuscript resources housed at the Special Collections of the University of Leeds Libraries and by engaging with digital repositories.


The objective of the module is to provide students with an understanding of medieval bookmaking practices and book history and to enable students to gain hands-on experience in working with medieval manuscripts in the digital context.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of this module, students will have:

1. Understood key terms and concepts in medieval manuscript studies;

2. Acquired a deeper understanding of medieval manuscripts as cultural and historical artefacts;

3. Demonstrated skills to examine and describe medieval manuscripts according to current standards and practices;

4. Applied understanding of digital applications to manuscript studies.

5. Applied fundamental standards and practices of scholarly research, discussion, and assessed work.

Skills outcomes
Students on this module will learn a new computer language and will be trained to encode information about a manuscript.


Indicative topics may include: material philology; codicology; fragmentology; format, design and function of medieval manuscripts; bookbinding structures; provenance research; manuscript description and cataloguing; descriptive bibliography; digital manuscript repositories; authority files and linked data; text encoding; Text Encoding Initiative; manuscript digitization; digital scholarly editing.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours22.00
Private study hours256.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Preparation for seminars (55 hours); further reading and research around the subject (22 hours); preparation for and delivery of presentations and writing related components (67 hours); research and encoding for catalogue entry (107 hours); reflection on feedback (5 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students receive feedback via seminar discussions, questions in class following presentations, 1-2-1 feedback on a series of assignments, and office hour advice.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral PresentationTwo presentations of 10 minutes each (each with slides and a 1500-word script) due week 7 and week 1140.00
PracticalOne detailed descriptive catalogue record of a manuscript according to the Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines due exam week 260.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

One presentation is on a manuscript feature of the student’s choice to be approved by the tutor in advance; the other presentation is on a manuscript of the student’s choice to be approved by the tutor. The catalogue entry must be done on the same manuscript. For the catalogue entry, students will learn a new language (XML=Extensible Markup Language) and will need to master the Manuscript Description chapter of the Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines ( The presentations can each be replaced by a 1000-word essay on a topic to be agreed by the tutor, if necessary for a resit.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 11/09/2023 10:47:36


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