Learning and research resources

With over 2.7 million books and periodicals, three million manuscripts and archives, and more than 16,000 electronic resources, the University library is the largest research support facility in the West Midlands.

As a Birmingham Doctoral Researcher you will have easy access to the materials you need for world-class research.

Libraries and collections

The Main Library houses our principal collections and services for the arts and humanities, social sciences, and sciences and engineering, while other libraries and resource centres are specific to individual subject areasincluding law, medicine, dentistry, education, music, and European studies and modern languages. In addition, the Orchard Learning Resources Centre on Selly Oak Campus offers general library and study services beyond the main campus.

Situated in the purpose-built, newly-completed Cadbury Research Library, Special Collections provides access to a wide range of primary and rare source materials. The collection includes 120,000 rare books dating from 1471 and over 3 million archives and manuscript collections including the Mingana collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, designated as a Collection of National Importance. Special Collections is also responsible for the University’s own heritage archive and photographic collection. All of these collections can be accessed by our staff and students for conducting their research,

The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, holds an internationally significant collection of books, manuscripts and archive material on the history and performance of Renaissance drama. Students also have access to a range of primary and rare source materials in our Special Collections department.

Electronic resources

Our web portal, my.bham.ac.uk will provide you with a wide range of integrated services including email, access to e-learning systems, library account details and collaborative group spaces for social and study activities.

A range of services are available to enable you to use our information resources effectively, and to locate the materials you need swiftly:

  • Electronic databases and journals on the e-library 
  • Online library catalogue of printed collections
  • One-to-one information clinics for doctoral researchers to support individual learning needs
  • Subject and database guides to help identify useful information sources
  • Skills guides to help you get the most out of your research
  • A range of library services by telephone or online


There are dedicated computer clusters for doctoral researchers in a number of locations across campus, as well as computing facilities within libraries, schools and departments. Assistive software is installed in almost all of our computer clusters, as well as in the assistive technology booths within the Main Library.

You will also have access to the high-performance research computing facility BlueBEAR which, together with the Visualisation Centre, forms part of the Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR).

You will have free access to email and the internet during the course of your studies, and there are two dedicated computing helpdesks which doctoral researchers can contact regarding general computing issues or to report faults.

Accessing resources

We want you to be able to use our information resources as effectively as possible without unnecessary time or trouble spent locating the materials you need. A range of services are available to help you do this, including access to a broad spectrum of electronic databases and journals on the e-library and our online library catalogue of our printed collections. Individual learning needs are supported through one-to-one clinics with our subject specialist staff.

We produce subject and database guides to help you identify useful information sources, as well as a series of skills guides to help you in getting the most out of your research.

If you are too busy or too far away to visit our libraries and resource centres, you can access a range of library services by phone or online. Whether you want to place a reservation, need help with using a database, or have a query about a fine, the service will help you find what you need quickly and easily.