Learning and research resources

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

Central and departmental facilities and training are available throughout your research to support and enable you to access the information you need to succeed in your research. 


Our new Main Library, opened in September 2016, 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 areas including 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. 

We have teams of library staff who are specialists in specific subject materials who are available to help our researchers find materials both in physical and digital forms. One-to-one information clinics for doctoral researchers to support individual learning needs are available to book throughout the academic year.

The Main Library also has a dedicated research space, the Researchers’ Suite, on the first floor of the Main Library, which includes both a quiet reading room and a breakout space for improved researcher networking and collaboration.

In addition to access to over 2.7 million books and periodicals, three million manuscripts and archives, and more than 16,000 electronic resources; the Main Library includes a Research Reserve on the lower ground floor featuring 1.5 million items, which brings together our important heritage print collection. This area responds to a desire to bring more of the University’s collections into a single space, and make it more accessible to Library users. Knowledgeable staff is available to facilitate access to this research material and can be found in a small consultation area within the space for those who need access to the collections in situ. 

Skills and Training

Technology is an important part of everyday life as it is for doctoral research. The Library Services offer regular training sessions throughout the year which are free to book and attend including research data management, statistical software including SPSS, project management and Endnote referencing software. 

Thesis Guide

During your research, the Library Services are able to guide you on presenting and binding your thesis, reference management as well as general enquiries about using our dedicated online system for searching existing thesis materials.


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.


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.

English language skills for international students

Run by the Birmingham International Academy, lunchtime sessions, workshops, one-to-one sessions and online materials for improving your social and academic English are available throughout the academic year. These sessions and materials are free to all current students.

Academic English for PGRs workshops for international postgraduate researchers are delivered through the Westmere PGR Hub by experienced tutors of Academic English from the Birmingham International Academy. These include tips and guidance on vital sections of your thesis such as:

  • Using supervisor feedback effectively
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • The language of literature reviews
  • Writing critically
  • Proofreading techniques

Collaborate Training Centre

Due to open in 2019, the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) facility, will bring together practical teaching activities across a broad range of science and engineering disciplines. The new purpose-built facility will incorporate a wet lab, dry lab and e-lab, to be located between the Learning Centre and the Biosciences Building. This project represents an investment of over £40 million in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects at the University.

The new state-of-the-art facility, along with the recently-opened engineering lab in the School of Engineering Building, will enable us to rethink the way STEM subjects are taught at the University. It will make more effective use of staff time and resources through the efficient use of practical teaching space, innovations in teaching delivery and the reinvention of practical classes. This will allow postgraduate students to benefit from transformational teaching in a space designed to encourage and facilitate collaborative and inter-disciplinary working.