VMS4101 – Medieval manuscript culture

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The topic of this course is the culture of writing and reading in the Middle Ages. There will be a focus on the production of manuscripts and transmission of texts. Who wrote what to whom in what purpose? And in what way?  The concept of literacy is crucial in this respect, with its emphasis on the implications of the use of script in a society. The relevance of a concept of genres will also be scrutinized. Do different types of texts in diverse manuscripts represent various genres in the modern sense of the term?  Medieval communication is dominated by the encounter between a homegrown script culture and the Latin culture coming from abroad. How did the local cultural elites adapt to this external cultural import?

Learning outcome

The students will become acquainted with the production, re-production, and dissemination of texts. They will have an understanding of the codicological aspects of manuscript culture; the various people involved, from the patron who orders the copying of a text, through the production of writing material to the scribes and illuminators providing the final result in the form of a manuscript. They will also know how modern scholars work with extant manuscripts. The students have become familiar with the concept of literacy and know how to formulate theoretical issues connected to the implications of reading and writing. They will also have sufficient insight to debate the relevance of the concept of genres in a medieval perspective.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

The minimum number of attendants for the course is 5.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Admission to a Master's programme.


The teaching is given in 14 double lectures and seminars. Teaching takes place throughout the semester.

A qualifying paper has to be approved before the student may take the final exam.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


Trial lecture

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


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

Facts about this course






Every other autumn starting 2016


Every other autumn starting 2016

Teaching language