"I am glad to know that others will benefit from your tuition again. I remain hugely grateful to you not only for the lovely bindings you made for my family history books, but also that I have had a lot of fun making bindings for a great many of my books, cheap and cheerful ones for tatty old but often-read paperbacks from the 1960s, and some leather ones for valued that look and feel special. I shall do more this summer too."

Finlay Jardine

City and Guilds Qualifications

With our training you can learn as you go along at your own pace with no pressure.  This means that you can fit bookbinding into your life without it taking over.  Join us every month over three days Saturday, Sunday and Monday or just take up one of the three days.


in three parts

What is City & Guilds?


City and Guilds is one of the oldest vocational education organisation in the UK and the only body to offer internationally recognised qualifications in Craft Bookbinding.


For over a century professional bookbinders have undergone training based on a City & Guilds curriculum. Over time the syllabus has adapted to industry changes and in 2018 Otter Education started to teach it.


Why are City & Guilds qualifications important?


By linking our courses to a City & Guilds curriculum we are offering a universally recognised set of qualifications and standards.  It is not a requirement for students to register for City & Guilds qualifications but those who gain a City & Guilds qualification will have the satisfaction of achieving an independently assessed level of competence.


For Art and Design students, a City & Guilds qualification is a worthwhile addition to a CV.


What Courses do we offer?


Otter Education offer City and Guilds Level 1 and Level 2 Bookbinding qualifications and Level 3 Diploma in Craft Bookbinding which embraces a wide range of binding techniques at the highest level.


Level 1 - City & Guilds Award in Craft Bookbinding (Units 118 & 119)


Level 1 is designed for complete beginners.  Unit 118 teaches the basic principles of bookbinding and gives a thorough grounding in the use of materials and basic hand tools.


In Unit 119 the student learns how to design and make two types of photograph album, one with folded guards and the other with stiff boards.  The course also teaches how to make a simple slipcase.


Otter Education offer courses for complete beginners and those who successfully complete the following assignments can apply for a City and Guilds Award.


Unit 118 - Multi-Section Binding. A starter course where the student learns all the basic bookbinding skills such as cutting, measuring, grain direction, appropriate use of materials and tools, sewing and simple cover-making. During this course a series of single section pamphlet bindings are produced with different styles of cover, plus one or two (depending on the speed and capability of the student) multi-section binding.


Unit 119 - Photograph Album & Slipcase Expanding on the knowledge learnt in Unit 118, the student learns in Unit 119 to make two different styles of photograph album, plus a square entry cloth covered slip case. One album as card leaves with folded compensation guards and the other has thicker mount board leaves with linen jointed strip guards. A slipcase is made for one of the albums.


City and Guilds currently charge £35 to register for a Level 1 Award in Craft Bookbinding


Level 2 Certificate in Bookbinding (Units 220 & 221)


The second level continues to develop hand-skills, adding more complex techniques to the learning programme. It is suitable for those with some previous experience of bookbinding.


Unit 220 introduces leather as a binding material and teaches how to make a book with a quarter case leather binding.  Unit 221 teaches alternative binding styles and includes constructing a book in a ‘Coptic Style’ binding with an exposed sewing structure.


Developing skills learnt in Level 1, the two units below (plus the Design and Sampling Course (Units 201/202) must be taken to achieve a City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate of Bookbinidng.


Unit 220 - Half Leather Case Binding Leading on from multi-section case binding in cloth, on this course you will learn how to prepare leather for binding, including edge paring and spoke-shaving, and the sharpening of tools and their maintenance.  Students will make both quarter and half leather case bindings and experiment with different methods of making endpapers.


Unit 221 - Non-adhesive Binding There are many ways of making books that don’t require the use of glues and this course explores several different methods including Coptic and Japanese binding techniques.


City & Guilds currently charge £64 to register for a Level 2 Certificate in Craft Bookbinding


Level 3 Diploma in Bookbinding


The Level 3 City & Guilds Diploma is a brand new qualification which has been devised to complement the Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme.  


Level 3 is wider ranging and more challenging than the first two levels, and covers a broad range of bookbinding skills which will enable a successful candidate to work in a commercial or institutional bindery.


The qualification takes a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years to complete and comprises four groups of mandatory assignments, plus a fifth optional group.  The mandatory assignments are:


  1. Storage and Enclosures: Phase box, drop back box, artist’s portfolio, lift off lid box, post folder, quarter leather drop back box.

  2. Library Style Binding: simple paper repairs, binding single leaves and periodicals, reinforced library binding.

  3. Lace on Boards Binding: binding with laced on boards in quarter and full leather, self decorated endpapers, leather entry slipcase.

  4. Finishing:  paper labels created on a computer, leather labels using a blocking machine, hand lettering with gold leaf, hand tooled decoration with gold leaf, using a type holder.  *NB Group 4 should be seen as a progressive group of assignments running in tandem with work undertaken in Groups 1-3.


The optional assignments of which at least two must be taken are:


  1. Cloth Re-backing

Leather Re-backing

Springback (Ledger) Binding

Edge Decoration

17th Century Vellum Laced Binding

Quarter Vellum Binding over Boars

Bookform Slipcase


Students must keep a record of self assessment plus a portfolio of design and sampling ideas. To achieve the diploma Shepherds Bookbinders will carry out two assessments for each student: one to be made approximately half way through the syllabus, and the other on completion of all assignments.  A final assessment will be carried out by the City & Guilds EQA (External Quality Assurer) who will also want to see the work (some of which can be presented digitally) and verbally assess the student.


City & Guilds charge £150 to register for a Level 3 Diploma, and Shepherd’s charge £95 for each assessment made.  Registration for the Diploma must be made through Shepherds as Approved Centre.  Assessments will generally be carried out at a Shepherd’s location either in London or Wiltshire and it is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements to attend these.


Classes and individual tuition are usually held at Otter Bookbinding in Midhurst 


Otter Bookbinding


Ashfield Road


GU29 9JS

Contact Us

Contact us on O1730 352042 or send us an email using the contact form here.