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Tracing Theses: Tracing Theses

Introduction to Theses

A thesis is a published piece of written work embodying the results of original research for the award of a higher degree from an academic institution. 

Reasons for consulting a thesis include:

  • For use as an information resource relevant to your research topic, i.e. you may like to refer to and cite a thesis;
  • To ensure that your proposed topic of research has not already been substantially covered by somebody else;
  • To become acquainted with recent trends, methodologies and approaches in your subject;
  • To gain understanding about what is expected of you if are undertaking a research degree, and to gain ideas for structure, tone, language, layout etc.

Theses for the higher research degrees (PhD, M Litt,  M Phil or MRes) of the University of Birmingham are deposited with Library Services.  Since 2009, University of Birmingham research theses have been deposited in electronic format in the e-Theses section of UBIRA, our institutional repository.

Looking for a thesis?

Finding University of Birmingham theses

University of Birmingham theses are listed on FindIt@Bham.  Search on your topic, or school, then use the “Tweak my results” options on the right to refine by Type > Dissertations (you may need to click ‘Show more’ to get this option)

Theses listed on eTheses repository will be available electronically, unless embargoes are in place, click on “View Online…” to access the full text. 

To access the older, printed theses, click “Request this item from the Research Reserve…”, and complete the form, selecting your delivery site.  You will receive an email notification when the thesis is ready for collection. 

Please note the following:

  • theses may not be removed from the Library
  • you must sign the copyright declaration in each thesis used
  • since theses are under copyright, you must consult Library Services staff if you wish to photocopy more than a short extract
  • occasionally an author may place an embargo on a thesis if any of its content is commercially valuable or confidential.

Finding UK Theses

EThOS is the British Library’s etheses service providing access to over 500,000 doctoral theses.  Many are available for immediate download, for others you can request that the printed version be digitised.  If you are requesting digitisation of a thesis, a scan fee may apply depending on whether the institution is a participating HEI – see for details of members.

Other countries offer similar services, see for a list.

Finding Theses from other countries

To search widely across theses from many countries, the best starting-point is ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global, available via FindIt@Bham.  It includes millions of searchable citations to theses from 1861 to the present day, together with over a million full-text theses that are available for pdf download. The database offers full text for most of the theses added since 1997 and strong retrospective full-text coverage for older graduate works. Each thesis published since July 1980 includes a 350-word abstract. Simple bibliographic citations are available for dissertations dating from 1637. 24-page previews of theses are provided where possible.

Also, as mentioned above, you can check the etheses repositories from other countries, if there is a specific country you are interested in.  Go to

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