Social Science Library for course convenors

Nine purple chairs surrounding a white desk in a room

Support and services

We look forward to working with you in meeting the information resource needs of your students.

Reading lists

Please read the Effective Reading Lists Guidelines (PDF, 130 KB). We are pleased to support 44 taught degree programmes and over 300 individual courses, modules and options. Working from reading lists supplied by the departments, library staff check the existing resources (print and electronic) and purchase additional resources for the students enrolled on each course.

Please send us your reading list, or publish it on ORLO, at least six weeks before the start of teaching. We can then ensure there are adequate numbers of books and other resources available for your students. Please also indicate which items are core reading and the expected number of students taking the course. If your department uses ORLO, please read our guidelines on Department and Library Responsibilities (PDF, 145 KB).

We maximize the availability of reading list items by providing reference-only copies, a High Demand books collection, multiple lending copies, short loan periods, copyright-cleared scans via ORLO and e-book versions (when available).

At a minimum, the library usually provides two copies (one 'Library Use Only' or e-book and one available for borrowing) of every new text on a supported reading list. The exception is optional papers with low student numbers, or where provision for a list is shared with another library. We usually purchase additional lending copies of core texts at a ratio of one copy for every ten students taking the course. We use reports from the Library Management System to monitor collection use and respond to areas of high demand.

Digitizations for ORLO reading lists

During term, there is usually very high demand for scans. We recommend that you request digitizations (digital versions of books chapters and articles) via your ORLO reading list at least 2 weeks in advance. Requests submitted with less notice may not be ready for when they are required. Only University staff can request digitizations.

Readings must be essential or required readings on social science reading lists. They must be published in the UK or from select foreign countries or publishers. We can scan:

  • 1 chapter or 10% from a book (whichever is greater)  
  • 1 article from a print journal

We may not always be able to fulfil your request. We make scans available through the CLA Higher Education Licence, which has certain restrictions. Most UK publications are permitted and many from publishers that have offices in multiple countries. However, the UK does not have scanning agreements with all countries, and some are restricted arrangements.

We cannot scan readings from e-journals or e-books available online or through e-journals A-Z and SOLO, or readings from different editions of the same title. If we cannot complete your request, we will let you know why and try to find alternatives.

Other services

Workshops and training

Workshops covering finding and using key online resources, techniques for structuring searches, referencing and plagiarism, etc, can be embedded in departmental course timetables. Please contact your subject librarian to arrange a training session for your students.

Discussion rooms

The SSL has a number of discussion rooms, which can be booked by teaching staff.

Supported departments

The SSL is a hub for the social sciences and supports the departments listed below. Find out more about subject resources.


  • Department of Economics
  • Oxford Department of International Development
  • Department of Politics and International Relations
  • Department of Sociology
  • Department of Social Policy and Intervention
  • Centre for Criminology
  • Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
  • Blavatnik School of Government
  • School of Geography and the Environment 


  • Centre for African Studies
  • South Asian Studies Centre
  • Russian and East European Studies Centre
  • Oxford Internet Institute  
  • School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography