Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Rare Books and Special Collections
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 essay (equivalent to 3,000 words)   50%
Semester Assessment 1 report (equivalent to 3,000 words)   50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit essay ( equivalent 3,000 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit report ( equivalent 3,000 words)  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Describe the nature and purpose of Rare Books Libraries and Special Collections;

Outline and critically assess significant developments in the history of manuscripts and the printed book in Western Europe, especially in Britain;

Describe and evaluate the main features of medieval and early modern manuscripts;

Identify the principal characteristics of printed books in the hand-press period (up to 1850);

Analyse the main management issues facing the custodians of rare books and special collections;

Critically assess the provision of services offered by Rare Books Libraries and Special Collections.

Brief description

This module provides a general introduction to the specialist field of rare books and special collections. It gives a brief overview of the development of manuscripts and the printed book in the hand-press period (to c. 1850). Students will be given the opportunity to visit rare books and special collections and to discuss the challenges of managing these resources with current professionals.


Concepts and issues;
The history of manuscript materials;
Characteristics of medieval and early modern manuscripts;
Book production on the hand-press;
The book trade in the hand-press period;
Development and management of rare books and special collections.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Writing and presentation skills (presentation skills not assessed)
Improving own Learning and Performance Students are set activities which involve reflection on practices in the workplace and suggestions for the acquisition of relevant new skills (such as promotion, and disaster planning)
Information Technology Use of web-based catalogues and databases
Personal Development and Career planning Visits to rare books and special collections to see how they are managed and the opportunity to speak to specialist staff involved. Use of the library working environment in activities and assignments in a specialist area of informatin studies.
Problem solving Several activities in the module involve identification of problems and of factors which might influence potential solutions
Research skills Several activities involve a researched follow-up to taught examples
Subject Specific Skills Identification and analysis of elements of manuscripts and early printed books; skills for the management for rare books and special collections.
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 7