QMUL – Cambridge Hackathon

HANDS:ON is a unique digital training programme for advanced students in the humanities.  Organised by Cambridge University Library and Queen Mary University of London, it provides  students with practical experience in digital methods, technologies, design and collaboration. Each year we partner with a cultural heritage organisation who provide our theme and ‘problem’ for the year.

Students from partner institutions receive initial training in preparation for the event, delivered online. Students then convene for an exciting 5-day event in Cambridge, where they work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop innovative prototypes for the exploration of manuscripts and artifacts on the web.

2024 Hacakathon – Applications Now Open

To find out more and apply for this year’s event, please visit the 2024 Hackathon page

Application closes at the end of the day on February 29, 2024

To find out more about the event, including the interactive prototypes our teams have developed, see our pages on previous hackathons at the top of the page.


Pre-hackathon training

Our team will deliver short introductory online modules leading up to the Hackathon on essential basic skills in web technologies, representing text in digital form, digital images, design thinking and collaboration.

Hackathon event

Our programme is well-paced and structured to provide motivation, direction and fun!

  • Day 1 – introduction to the programme, manuscripts, and user personas
  • Days 2-3 – pitch ideas and form teams, work on prototypes
  • Day 4 – mini testing lab, incorporate feedback into prototypes
  • Day 5 – presentation to an audience

Feedback from past hackathon participants

“I really enjoyed the co-operation within our group.”

“The fact that we had chosen manuscripts was also amazing, because we could think about the manuscript, see how it was done and think not only about the content, but also form.”

“I think that for me was most interesting the part with testers, as the feedback proved very useful and helpful for our prototype.”

“Reachable milestones and targets – everyone had something to show for their work by the final presentation.”

Cancellation of 2020 & 2021 Hackathons

Unfortunately the 2020 and 2021 Hackathons are cancelled due to the ongoing uncertainty around the Covid-19 Pandemic. We hope to run the hackathon again in 2022, and look forward to welcoming participants then.

We have retained material about the planned 2020 hackathon on miniatures in partnership with the Fitzwilliam Musem as an archive.