Manuscript skills: post medieval palaeography and diplomatic

This module considers the historical development of handwriting (palaeography) in Britain between c1450 and c1800, the characteristics of specific types of script, the principles of transcription and other editorial methods, and the development of common form in formal documents (diplomatic). Practical and technical skills in reading and transcription are developed through applying theory to practice in a wide range of manuscript material under careful guidance.


Julie Mathias BA MA DAA PhD FHEA – Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Information Studies.

With a passion for local history and archive studies, Julie has held various posts over the years ranging from National Trust room steward, assistant archivist to tutor for Genealogical Studies in the School for Education and Lifelong Learning. After completing a PhD in this Department, Julie gained a post in DIS as a Teaching Fellow and then was appointed as a Lecturer.

Her research is in: records and record keeping, archival finding aids, archive user needs, local history, and her publications include:

Mathias, J.D. (2015) “Summer schools in library service at Aberystwyth (1917-1928).” Library Review, 64 (6/7) pp. 489-502.

Mathias, J.D. 2013. “Improving access to the records of landed estates: balancing archival and user perspectives.” Archivaria 75 pp. 145-185.

Davies, S.J., Mathias, J.D.S. 2013. “From Record Commissions to Record Repositories: Archival Custody in Wales, 1800-1995.” Archives and Records: The Journal of the Archives and Records Association 34 (1) pp. 43-66.

Mathias, J.D., Gillison, T.C. 2010. “From parchment to pixels or pixels to parchment?” S. Haslett, H. Rowlands (Eds.) Enhancing Research - Teaching Links in Higher Education: Proceedings of the Newport Nexus Conference 2010, Prifysgol Cymru, Casnewydd pp. 92-107.


*Please note that it is recommended that applicants for this course attend a residential workshop in Aberystwyth. For further information about attending the workshop, please contact the course tutor Julie Mathias on



Learning Outcomes

After completing this short course you should be able to:

  • Identify and date different styles of handwriting in common use during the period c1450 to c1800;
  • Accurately read different styles of handwriting in common use during the period c1450 to c1800;
  • Transcribe documents written in archaic styles, applying appropriate editorial methods;
  • Calendar documents written in archaic styles, applying appropriate editorial methods;
  • Recognise and interpret 'common form' in a wide variety of documents;
  • Convert archaic dating practices to the modern historical equivalent.




To apply please complete the Short Course Application Form. Return it - with your reference - to Aberystwyth Postgraduate Admissions Office on, before the application deadline date.

For further information, please contact the please contact Information Studies tel: (+/0)1970 622188; e-mail: