ARA4118 – Arabic Manuscripts

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

This course introduces students to assessing and reading pre-20th century handwritten texts in Arabic. This includes learning to describe the physical aspects of manuscripts (codicology); training in reading a variety of texts; a survey of major Arabic manuscript collections and both printed catalogues and online manuscript databases; and projects for physical preservation and digitization of manuscripts.

Learning outcome

Students will

  • learn to assess the arts of book making in the Arabic Islamic tradition (paper making; writing techniques and major scripts; bookbinding)
  • learn to use major bibliographic tools to identify manuscripts
  • get training in reading Arabic manuscript texts from a variety of periods and geographic areas
  • get a basic introduction to cataloguing and digitizing techniques


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Admission as a Master's student to the Program for Asian and African Studies.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

ARA2110 - Arabisk språk 3+4 or equivalent.

Recommended previous knowledge

Fluent knowledge of written Arabic (four semesters minimum) and English


10-week seminar (2 hours/week) with class readings and intermittent lecture-style presentations by teacher and students. Students must attend a minimum of 16 out of 20 hours.


1) Brief presentation in class (incl. a 1-2 pp. written handout / “thesis paper”) on a relevant topic to be agreed upon. The presentation will not be graded, but must be ‘accepted’ in order to be allowed to submit the term paper.
2) Term paper (semesteroppgave) (8-10 pp. à 2300 characters) on a topic to be agreed upon (either an annotated edition and translation of a manuscript text; or a study of a topic relevant to the subject of the course).
Before the final version can be submitted, it must be presented and discussed orally in class.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Evaluation of the course


Useful information about Master's studies at IKOS
(This information will soon be available in English).

Facts about this course

Every spring
Every spring
Teaching language