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Tracing Theses

A guide to finding theses at the University of Birmingham and beyond.

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 you 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 University of Birmingham eTheses Repository.

Finding University of Birmingham theses

University of Birmingham theses are indexed and discoverable on FindIt@Bham. Carry out a search on FindIt@Bham using your topic, or search for your school or department directly (for best results, use the dropdown menu in the FindIt@Bham search bar to switch the scope of the search from an "Everything" search to a "UoB Research & Publications" search). Once you have generated some results, use the "Resource Type" filters in the “Tweak my results” menu on right-hand side of the page and select "Dissertations" (you may need to click "Show more" to get this option).

Theses listed in the 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 "Check for current availability at Research Reserve..." and then click “Request this item from the Research Reserve…”. 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

To search for research theses across the UK, the British Library's EThOS service is highly recommended. EThOS is the British Library’s e-theses service and provides access to over 500,000 doctoral theses.  Many are available for immediate download (registration is required, but this is free and straightforward to do), and 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 Higher Education Institution (HEI) – see the list of Participating Institutions for details of members.

Finding Theses from other countries

To search widely across theses from many countries, the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database is highly recommended (theses from the UK and Ireland are included here too). 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.

Another option when searching for theses globally is to consult e-theses repositories available from other countries. The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations contains a breakdown of e-theses repositories by country.

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