Oxford theses

The Bodleian Libraries’ thesis collection holds every DPhil thesis deposited at the University of Oxford since the degree began in its present form in 1917. Our oldest theses date from the early 1920s. We also have substantial holdings of MLitt theses, for which deposit became compulsory in 1953, and MPhil theses.

Since 2007 it has been a mandatory requirement for students to deposit an electronic copy of their DPhil thesis in the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA), in addition to the deposit of a paper copy – the copy of record. Since the COVID pandemic, the requirement of a paper copy has been removed and the ORA copy has become the copy of record. Hardcopy theses are now only deposited under exceptional circumstances. 

ORA provides full-text PDF copies of most recent DPhil theses, and some earlier BLitt/MLitt theses. Find out more about Oxford Digital Theses, and depositing with ORA.

Finding Oxford theses


The following theses are catalogued on SOLO (the University libraries’ resource discovery tool):

  • DPhil and BLitt and MLitt theses
  • BPhil and MPhil theses 
  • Law theses
  • Science theses

SOLO collates search results from several sources.


To search for theses in the Oxford collections on SOLO:

  • navigate to the SOLO homepage
  • click on the 'Advanced Search' button
  • click the 'Material Type' menu and choose the 'Dissertations' option
  • type in the title or author of the thesis you are looking for and click the 'Search' button.

Also try an “Any field” search for “Thesis Oxford” along with the author’s name under “creator” and any further “Any field” keywords such as department or subject. 

Searching by shelfmarks

If you are searching using the shelfmark, please make sure you include the dots in your search (e.g. D.Phil.). Records will not be returned if they are left out.

Oxford University Research Archive (ORA)

ORA was established in 2007 as a permanent and secure online archive of research produced by members of the University of Oxford. It is now mandatory for students completing a research degree at the University to deposit an electronic copy of their thesis in this archive. 

Authors can select immediate release on ORA, or apply a 1-year or 3-year embargo period. The embargo period would enable them to publish all or part of their research elsewhere if they wish. 

Theses held in ORA are searchable via SOLO, as well as external services such as EThOS and Google Scholar. For more information, visit the Oxford digital theses guide, and see below for guidance on searching in ORA.


Type your keywords (title, name) into the main search box, and use quotes (“) to search for an exact phrase.

Refine your search results using the drop-downs on the left-hand side. These include:

  • item type (thesis, journal article, book section, etc.)
  • thesis type (DPhil, MSc, MLitt, etc.)
  • subject area (History, Economics, Biochemistry, etc.)
  • item date (as a range)
  • file availability (whether a full text is available to download or not)

You can also increase the number of search results shown per page, and sort by relevance, date and file availability. You can select and export records to csv or email. 

Select hyperlinked text within the record details, such as “More by this author”, to run a secondary search on an author’s name. You can also select a hyperlinked keyword or subject. 

Other catalogues

Card catalogue  

The Rare Books department of the Weston Library keeps an author card index of Oxford theses. This includes all non-scientific theses deposited between 1922 and 2016. Please ask Weston Library staff for assistance.

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses

You can use ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global to find bibliographic details of Oxford theses not listed on SOLO. Ask staff in the Weston Library’s Charles Wendall David Reading Room for help finding these theses. 

Basic search

The default Basic search page allows for general keyword searches across all indexes using "and", "and not", "and or" to link the keywords as appropriate. Click on the More Search Options tab for specific title, author, subject and institution (school) searches, and to browse indexes of authors, institutions and subjects. These indexes allow you to add the word or phrase recognised by the database to your search (ie University of Oxford (United Kingdom), not Oxford University).

Advanced search

The Advanced search tab (at the top of the page) enables keyword searching in specific indexes, including author, title, institution, department, adviser and language. If you are unsure of the exact details of thesis, you can use the search boxes on this page to find it by combining the key information you do have.

Search tools

In both the Basic and Advanced search pages you can also limit the search by date by using the boxes at the bottom. Use the Search Tools advice in both the Basic and Advanced pages to undertake more complex and specific searches. Within the list of results, once you have found the record that you are interested in, you can click on the link to obtain a full citation and abstract. You can use the back button on your browser to return to your list of citations.


The Browse search tab allows you to search by subject or by location (ie institution). These are given in an alphabetical list. You can click on a top-level subject to show subdivisions of the subject. You can click on a country location to show lists of institutions in that country. At each level, you can click on View Documents to show lists of individual theses for that subject division or from that location.

In Browse search, locations and subject divisions are automatically added to a basic search at the bottom of the page. You can search within a subject or location by title, author, institution, subject, date etc, by clicking on Refine Search at the top of the page or More Search Options at the bottom of the page.

Where are physical Oxford theses held?

The Bodleian Libraries hold all doctoral theses and most postgraduate (non-doctoral) theses for which a deposit requirement is stipulated by the University:

  • DPhil (doctoral) theses (1922 – 2021)
  • Bachelor of Divinity (BD) theses
  • BLitt/MLitt theses (Michaelmas Term 1953 – 2021)
  • BPhil and MPhil theses (Michaelmas Term 1977 – 2021)

Most Oxford theses are held in Bodleian Offsite Storage. Some theses are available in the libraries; these are listed below.

Law Library

Theses submitted to the Faculty of Law are held at the Bodleian Law Library.

Vere Harmsworth Library

Theses on the United States are held at the Vere Harmsworth Library.

Social Science Library

The Social Science Library holds dissertations and theses selected by the departments it supports. 

The list of departments and further information are available in the Dissertations and Theses section of the SSL webpages. 

Locations for Anthropology and Archaeology theses

The Balfour Library holds theses for the MPhil in Material and Visual Anthropology and some older theses in Prehistoric Archaeology.

The Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library holds theses for MPhil in Classical Archaeology and MPhil in European Archaeology.

Ordering Oxford theses

Theses held in Bodleian Offsite Storage are consulted in the Weston Library. The preferred location is the Charles Wendell David Reading Room; they can also be ordered to the Sir Charles Mackerras Reading Room.

Find out more about requesting a digitised copy, copyright restrictions and copying from Oxford theses.