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Unit information: Research Skills for Medievalists in 2021/22

Unit name Research Skills for Medievalists
Unit code AFACM1001
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Cathy Hume
Open unit status Not open




School/department Arts Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit is designed to introduce postgraduate students working in medieval areas to a range of the skills they will need to use both during their MA studies, for optional units and dissertations, and beyond. Students will learn how to work with primary medieval sources.  The course will place a strong emphasis on palaeography (how to read and describe medieval handwriting), and will cover bibliographical research skills for medievalists and how to handle and describe manuscripts. Students will also be introduced to the following specialist skills, drawing on the expertise of Centre for Medieval Studies staff: diplomatic (working with charters), textual editing, and describing medieval buildings. These may be supplemented by additional methodologies and disciplinary areas depending on student needs and staff availability. One or more field trip to a medieval collection, archive or building will allow students to apply these skills outside the classroom.

The unit will be taught by staff from different disciplines, which will introduce students to different disciplinary methodologies and approaches. Students will be introduced to new methodologies and will be given opportunities to practise them during seminars and through preparatory tasks to be completed outside class. Exposure to a range of different medieval sources, such as different kinds of manuscript material and buildings, will train students to 'read' what they are looking at.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will:

  1. Have the basic skills to read, transcribe and describe manuscripts.
  2. Be able to read some categories of medieval script at beginner level.
  3. Know how to approach researching medieval topics related to their own specialisms and interests.
  4. Have some understanding of methodologies and approaches commonly used within Medieval Studies.
  5. Apply their new research skills along with analysis, critical interpretation and argument in a written essay.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including instruction from tutors, discussions, and practice in skills.

Assessment Details

Summative Assessments:

1 x Transcription or description of a medieval manuscript, of up to 1,500 words (ILOs 1-2).

1 x Essay, of up to 3,000 words (ILOs 3-5).

Both assessments are pass/fail.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. AFACM1001).