Chevron Left
Back to Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe by University of Colorado System

82 ratings
36 reviews

About the Course

Perhaps no other relic of the European Middle Ages captures our imagination more than illuminated medieval manuscripts, or those documents decorated with images and colored pigments. Serving as windows unto a lost world of kings, ladies, faith, war, and culture, they communicate complex visual and textual narratives of Europe’s collective cultural heritage and patrimony. In this fashion, illuminated manuscripts are dynamic messages from our communal past that are still relevant today in fields like graphic design and typography. In this seven-week course, students will explore the material creation, content, and historical context of illuminated medieval European manuscripts. Students will acquire an introductory knowledge of their distinguishing characteristics, their cataloguing and periodization (when they were created), the methods utilized to produce them, and their historical context and value. Student achievement will be assessed using not only traditional multiple-choice quizzes, but more importantly will be evaluated based on individual student projects. In their final projects students will either (1) produce a board of commented images about medieval manuscripts or (2) prepare a physical manuscript using medieval methods. The best of these peer-evaluated projects will be posted on the Deciphering Secrets website, which is our collective citizen scholarship web presence that encourages and supports our global citizen scholars appreciation and contributions to transcription of medieval manuscripts. Finally, we wish to highlight that this course is an exciting international collaboration between the University of Colorado (USA) and Universidad Complutense Madrid (Spain)....

Top reviews


Jan 27, 2018

An excellent overview of a complex subject , with the rare option to explore the practical skills involved in making manuscripts , and with a forward view of new research evolving IT makes possible.


May 05, 2017

fascinating subject. Excellent course whether you want to just learn about the history of the manuscripts or try creating some yourself. The Spanish professor is a real expert in the subject.

Filter by:

1 - 25 of 36 Reviews for Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe

By Theodora P

Mar 03, 2019

Exceptional! I am a Historian and a Historian of Art, from Athens Greece. I am really impressed by this course and its scientific aspect.

By Sandra B

Apr 09, 2019

I completed the course in April 2017. I found it challenging (which I like) and thoroughly instructional. I loved it. It is well presented, with a lovely combination of theory and practical work. The visuals are stunning. It has fostered a desire in me to keep on exploring these resources.

By Laëtitia J

Oct 26, 2018

Complete, and very high quality ! And last but not least, creative and funny :) Many thanks


Dec 11, 2017

Interesting and enjoyable course. Thanks for all the work in preparation of the course.

By Eleni P

Dec 10, 2017

Very interesting MOOC. Don't miss out on the opportunity to make your own "medieval codex" from scratch! Choose the hands-on project and put everything you learn through the videos to the test. You don't have to be an artist, don't worry; there are a lot of shortcuts available for us (the non-artists). I enjoyed it a lot!

By Joy S

May 05, 2017

fascinating subject. Excellent course whether you want to just learn about the history of the manuscripts or try creating some yourself. The Spanish professor is a real expert in the subject.

By Imelda F

Jan 25, 2017

Very challenging and also a lot of fun. I learned a lot and want to continue


Jan 28, 2017

Great course!!

By Birgitte B

Aug 24, 2017

Even though I already had some knowledge on Medieval manuscripts via Philology and Paleography courses I took as part of my BA English Language & Culture, this course gave me additional and broader knowledge on the subject, particularly on codicology. I found the hands-on project exercises both fun and instructional. I really learnt a lot in this course.

This is a very well-structured and informative course, suitable for students with no prior knowledge as well as students who have already some prior knowledge.

By Elz d B

Aug 13, 2017

I loved it! Although one can only touch the surface of this field in such a short time frame, I learned a lot. I liked the combination of medieval history and manuscript making. It helps putting it all in perspective.

By David B

Dec 30, 2017

This class was even better than I expected, and I expected a really good course. The professors are passionate about the subject, and they have very good teaching methods. I should probably say subjectS, because there were so many interesting things involved in this course. We learned about writing materials, the chemistry of ink and paint, textual analysis, analysis of the structure of the book and of the page layout, some psychology, lots of history, and - something very useful - advanced internet search methods for original sources. I would recommend this course to anyone; in fact, I've already done so several times. I look forward to doing more courses with Professors MARTINEZ-DÁVILA and Professor SÁNCHEZ-PRIETO in the future. Nice work!

By Kate S

Nov 05, 2017

Lots of information here! I enjoyed the content and lay out of the course as well as the presentation of the material. I have a new-found appreciation for the production of manuscripts and an interest in learning more about their illustration. Thank you for offering this course!

By stephen r

Jul 09, 2017

I'm still going through the course but it's excellent course if you enjoy studying history, art, warfare, chemistry and of course illuminated Manuscripts this is a course you will devour. They have created a very professional course, there is a lot of new information I have never read or came across before and i'm not even half way through the course, I look forward to the rest of the course. I would HIGHLY advise you to take this course if you love art and history from ancient to around the 16th century.

By Ivan S

Jan 22, 2018

It was amazing course full of new information and things to know, full of activities and works for creation own medieval manuscript. A lot of thanks for all people who done it!

By Kenneth K

Jan 27, 2018

An excellent overview of a complex subject , with the rare option to explore the practical skills involved in making manuscripts , and with a forward view of new research evolving IT makes possible.

By Maryna P

May 12, 2018

Excellent! Just one problem. There probably not too many students so it takes more time to grade your peer reviewed assignement and you have to wait.

By Jax L

Sep 19, 2017

This is definitely a must for anyone with an interest in history. The combination of the historic backdrop and the practical nature of manuscript studies makes it even more

By Gwyneth T

Apr 29, 2018

This was an extremely interesting course. I learnt a lot about medieval Europe and its history alongside knowledge of medieval manuscripts and bookbinding. I am tempted to do it again using the practical projects but I am not sure I have enough time to actually complete them.

By Bukhal A

Mar 14, 2017

Дужа захпляльны і цудоўны курс! Раю ўсім! Выкладчыкі - чароўныя!

By Rowena A

Dec 09, 2017

This course has been easy to follow and enjoyable, while still offering a high level of rigor and challenge. I especially appreciate the differentiation in projects available, so as to allow learners to choose their degree of engagement. The instructors are clearly knowledgeable, and responsive to learner communication. Highly recommended even (or maybe especially) for novice MOOC learners!

By Nathan B

Oct 29, 2017

An excellent course covering all aspects of Medieval Manuscripts, from parchment and pigments to illumination and binding. The only drawback is the Peer Review process, the vast majority did not leave comments so it was not that helpful, and those who were not thorough in their review of your work can provide an incorrect review lowering your overall score. The instructors are great and their passion for the topic shows! Expect a lot of work, but there is a lot to learn. I had a grand time!

By Emily L

Aug 10, 2017

Great course, very informative, and left me inspired to learn more!

By Cecilia C

Jul 14, 2017

Very illuminating and interesting Course! I really enjoyed the combination of theory and hands-on!

By Roger F

Aug 07, 2018

A very interesting and enjoyable course. The Hands-on project is very worthwhile but there is quite a lot to do.

By Angelina B

Jun 06, 2019

So, far I am not too far into the class however, it is extremely satisfying the level of information that one person can choose to attain via coursera. The time frames are tight, but flexible thankfully.