Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 Hours. 4 workshops of 2.5 hours each.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Practical Project  Open book practical project (equivalent to 4,000 words) requiring transcription of a set of facsimile documents and the application of a range of editorial methods.  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of any failed project  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

* identify and accurately read different styles of handwriting in common use during the period c1450 to c1800;

* transcribe or calendar documents written in archaic styles, applying recommended standards of editorial method

* recognise and interpret common form in legal and official documents;

* convert archaic dating practices to the modern historical equivalent;

* apply these various skills collectively to identify intermediate styles and to suggest dates for undated manuscripts.

* demonstrate familiarity with appropriate reference resources

Brief description

This module considers the historical development of handwriting (palaeography) in Britain between c1450 and the 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.


The specific types of script used in Britain between the 15th and 18th centuries are identified and their characteristics discussed, followed by specific guidance on the techniques for successful reading and transcription. Technical considerations include alphabets and letter shapes, abbreviations, use of numbers and dating practices. Language issues include archaic English and regional variations, orthography, personal names and place names, and the Welsh dimension is actively explored. Specific attention is also given to editorial methods, the development of common form in formal documents and the principles of authentication (seals and signatures). Strong emphasis is placed on applying theory to practice and on developing individual skill and best practice in the reading, interpretation and transcription of manuscript sources.
Learning resources include structured use of a specific core text which offers a wide range of facsimile manuscripts for individual study and guided use of selected on-line digital resources.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number This skill is widely developed, because of the need to understand pre-decimal currency (£.s.d), Roman numerals (to the 16thC), fractions of pounds sterling and historical accounting practices, and also to identify dates, convert them to modern equivalents and accommodate calendar changes. All these elements feature in the assignment.
Communication Written communication is enhanced through the need for precision (in transcription and calendaring), careful layout and presentation and the application of specific editorial rules (as assessed in the assignment).
Improving own Learning and Performance Successful progress in this module is dependent on individual effort, especially during guided self-study and independent practical work, and a willingness to persevere with meticulous care and patience. The assignment provides evidence of individual progress.
Information Technology Specific websites and on-line resources are used as part of the learning process. Students also discover the limitations/disadvantages of automatic spellcheckers when typing transcripts which must retain original archaic spelling.
Personal Development and Career planning Maturity and confidence are fostered through the development of applied skill and understanding of source material, through self-study and through the interactive workshops. Fresh career ideas and research interests often emerge from this new experience.
Problem solving The whole process of learning to read manuscripts is a problem solving exercise, requiring systematic approaches to identifying archaic letter shapes and abbreviations and considerable initiative. Progress is assessed through the assignment.
Research skills Learning to read, interpret and evaluate the primary sources and to use appropriate reference material to assist this process is fundamentally important to the research process. Progress is assessed through the assignment.
Subject Specific Skills Learning to read, interpret and evaluate essential primary sources is a fundamental need for students of early modern history. Progress is assessed through the assignments.
Team work Students are encouraged to work together during the early stages of practical work. This has a proven benefit to individual progress overall, but is not assessed.


This module is at CQFW Level 7