Reading the Past: From Script to Print ENGLANG4051

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will engage with original manuscript and printed materials produced during the medieval and early modern periods including books held in Glasgow University Library Special Collections. We contextualise these artefacts within the cultures and societies within which they were produced. You will learn to read their script and describe aspects of their decoration, make-up and sociocultural functions.


2 x 1hr sessions per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus


This is one of the Honours options in English Language and Linguistics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into English Language and Linguistics, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Portfolio of 4 online exercises - 25%

Timed transcription activity 1 - 12.5%

Timed transcription activity 2 - 12.5%

Commentary exercise 1 (1250 words) - 25%

Commentary exercise 2 (1250 words) - 25%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ help students contextualise selected manuscript and early printed book materials within the cultures and societies within which they were produced;

■ demonstrate how selected manuscripts and early printed books were produced, transmitted and received;

■ develop students' understanding of changes in book production during the medieval period;

■ show students how to examine original sources - manuscripts and early printed books - held in Glasgow University Library Special Collections and from digital surrogates.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ describe the layout, codicology, scripts and decoration (as appropriate) of selected manuscripts and printed books produced during the medieval and early modern periods;

■ transcribe passages from English manuscripts selected for study;

■ discuss and contextualise selected manuscripts and early printed books within the culture and society in which they were produced;

■ discuss the approaches and techniques available to and used by editors of specific texts;

■ discuss the history and reception of selected texts.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.