Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Equivalent to 2,000 words  20%
Semester Assessment equivalent to 3,000 words  30%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   Theory Exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

A. Palaeography:

  • read and transcribe handwriting commonly used in Britain from the 12th to the 19th century
  • understand the development of handwriting in Western Europe from the time of the Roman Empire onwards
  • use appropriate technical terms to describe writing styles, identify varieties of script and suggest approximate dates of writing
B. Diplomatic:

  • recognise the common forms of official documents and understand consistent formulae
  • analyse and describe the diplomatic structure of such documents
  • apply knowledge and judgement in identifying uncommon practice and inconsistencies

Brief description

Palaeography and Diplomatic provide the necessary expertise for the study and interpretation of official documents. Palaeography, however, has a broader significance, since it extends beyond official documents to include the whole range of manuscript material which has survived from previous centuries, whatever its context.

is the study of old handwriting, with the primary aim of learning to read it, but with further, more subtle purposes, as indicated above.
is the study of the form of official documents, considering both "external" and "internal" characteristics, and especially the standard formulae common to particular categories. The general purpose is to achieve correct interpretation but, as with Palaeography, Diplomatic involves a range of skills.

Reading List

Recommended Consultation
Barnes, P. M. and Hector, L.C (1968) A Guide to Seals in the Public Record Office 2nd HMSO Primo search Bischoff, Bern (1990) Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages Cambridge Primo search Chaplais, P (1971) English Royal Documents, King John - Henry VI, 1199-1461 Oxford Primo search Cheney, C. R (2000) A Handbook of Dates for Students of English History (Michael Jones, rev.) . Cambridge Primo search Dawson, G. E. and Kennedy-Skipton, L (1968) Elizabethan Handwriting London Primo search Denholm-Young, N (1954) Handwriting in England and Wales Cardiff Primo search Grieve, H. E (1954) Examples of English Handwriting 1150-1750 Essex: Essex Record Office Primo search Hector, L. C (1966) The Handwriting of English Documents London Primo search Parkes, M. B (1969) English Cursive Book Hands 1250-1500 London Primo search Petti, A. G (1977) English Literary Hands from Chaucer to Dryden London Primo search Stuart, D (1992) Manorial Records Phillimore Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7