Help for Undergraduates

Getting started

If you are new to the library, learn how to get started quickly.

View of Radcliffe Camera

Reading lists and prescribed texts

Do you know the name of your course? Check the list of UG courses with their reading and set texts lists and, where available, links to scans of reading list materials.

See also more information for finding online resources, such as ebooks and a list of some key history journals.

freshers library inductions and more courses which can help you improve your searching techniques, knowledge of useful eresources, and organising your citations.

Your Thesis

Every undergraduate taking the BA in Single Subject History must submit a thesis as part of the fulfillment of their Final Examination. The History Faculty has guidance on the Thesis on WebLearn.

2nd years: Hilary and Trinity Terms: Research skills training sessions take place in Hilary Term; the Thesis Fair will take place in the first week of Trinity Term. These can help you get ideas for your topics and meet specialists.

Then get your research skills upgraded and attending a variety of lectures, information sessions and workshops which are organised by the HFL and in colleges. 

3rd years: Michaelmas Term, Friday of 6th week: You need to submit your thesis title.

3rd years: Hilary Term, 1pm, Friday of 4th week: Deadline for making changes to your title.

3rd years: Hilary Term, noon of Friday of 8th week: You need to submit your thesis.


What the library can do for you: find, purchase, citing help 

Find materials

Check out guides to history collections for some ideas.

Browse printed sources

British & Western European history: The Upper Reading Room in the Old Bodleian Library houses the open-shelf collections for British and Western European history (medieval to 20th century). They will include printed sources, often transcribed from manuscripts, such as chronicles, individuals and family papers, papers of monasteries, statesmen, etc. It's well worth a browse to get some ideas. Browse anything in the shelfmark range K.3-10.

English local history: The Duke Humfrey's Library in the Old Bodleian Library houses the open-shelf collections for local history. They are often fantastic source materials relevant for all periods but particularly medieval and early modern. Browse anything in the shelfmark range R.Top.

Other countries (US, Africa, Commonwealth, Middle East, Far East): If you are interested in the histories of other countries or topics, check out the list of college and Oxford libraries useful for historians.

Access to special collections

You will be using libraries and possibly archives to locate sources and critical materials, whether locally or elsewhere, so it is worthwhile honing your search skills and learning more useful finding aids. More on training.

The Bodleian Library's special collections (rare books, manuscripts, maps) are held in the newly opened Weston Library. If you are going to be using the manuscripts and rare books collections of the Bodleian Library, then email with the name of your course, the title/subject of your dissertation and the name of your supervisor.

Using the British Library (BL)

Consider using Britain's national library, the British Library nr St Pancras in London. You can search their catalogue online (Explore The BL). The BL has many databases which are not available in Oxford. Check out the HFL tips on how to get started at the BL.


Purchase materials

Recommending purchases for the Bodleian / History Faculty Library

If a book is not available in Oxford, you are welcome to recommend a book to be purchased for the HFL or the Bodleian. Complete online book recommendation form.

If you need research materials, such as databases, microfilms, etc. please contact the History Librarian (e: in the first instance. These can be very expensive and need further investigation. See policy on Provision of materials for undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations (pdf).


Cite materials

Faculty guidance on the presentation of essays, dissertations and thesis

It pays to learn early on what style conventions the History Faculty requires and what tools to use to collate and organise your citations.

Reference Management Software

Constructing a bibliography? Don't let the citations overwhelm you. There are tools to help and it is worthwhile learning about them early on. See the Managing Your References LibGuide. The recommended tools for undergraduate theses is RefWorks. Consider attending a course on RefWorks in Trinity Term.


Seek help 

Library staff are very happy to help you with literature searches, finding source materials, use library catalogues, databases, ejournals, etc. You can contact us in a variety of ways. You can also arrange a one-to-one session with the History Librarian (, t: (01865) 277294).

Some useful resources

Finding books

  • COPAC - search over 70 UK and Irish academic, national and specialist library catalogues (includes the British Library)
  • Explore the British Library - search the catalogue, incl. newspaper catalogue of Britain's national library
  • WorldCat - major union library catalogue with details of hundreds of US and international library catalogues, incl. Library of Congress
  • Karlsruhe Virtual Catalogue - German national and regional libraries but also European national library catalogues

Dissertations & theses

Finding journal articles

> I want even more information on bibliographical databases.


Printed and electronic source materials

Check out some guides for source materials.

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