University LibraryStudents

Subject guides

Politics, History and International Relations

Sharon Reid

Photo of  Sharon Reid

Academic Librarian

Please contact me for individual help in finding information for your studies and referencing guidance.

There is a lot of support available throughout your studies. Don’t struggle alone! Your Academic Librarian, Sharon Reid, is here to help with information and referencing guidance and can be contacted to arrange a face-to-face appointment or answer your query directly:

Here you’ll find subject-specific advice on finding printed and electronic books, journal articles and digitised historical newspapers as well as guidance on referencing your work correctly and in the style specified by PHIR.

Important tip before you start

For off-campus access to the Library’s electronic resources you are advised to download and install the VPN client from IT Services.

Other related guides you may find useful

Newspapers and broadcast media

The Library stocks an extensive range of books in both print and electronic format. All books can be located via Library Catalogue Plus. Ebooks can be viewed on any computer irrespective of your location on or off-campus. Just remember to download the VPN client for off-campus access.

The majority of books relevant to PHIR are located on Level 2.  As the content of many books covers multiple disciplines you will often need to look in more than one place for books on a particular topic. For this reason it is not possible to be specific about where to locate “the books on politics” or “the history books”! You will find some general subject guidance at the end of each shelf of books if you wish to browse  but we strongly advise you to combine this with searching in Library Catalogue Plus.

Books are stocked according to subject area and the majority are located on Levels 1 and 2. Those on Level 1 generally relate to Science and Engineering topics and those situated on Level 2 largely cover the Social Sciences and Humanities. High Demand items can be found on Level 3 alongside the Main Information Desk and the Leisure Reading Collection is on Level 4.

The numbering or classmark system for locating books is:

000-499 and 700-999: Level 2

500-600: Level 1

Throughout your studies you will be expected to read and refer to the scholarly literature published in academic journals. The easiest way to locate articles within the Library’s journals, both print and electronic, is by using a subject database. Databases index a large number of journals within specific subject areas.

Below you will see a list of PHIR’s most popular databases and digitised collections of newspapers. To view the full range of databases available to you, click on Select Databases in Library Catalogue Plus. When you have found an article you would like to read, you will need to check if it is available in full by clicking on the SFX link alongside the record. Please note that not all articles are available electronically. The volumes of print journals are located separately from the books on Levels 1 and 2.

The most effective way to search the databases is by using keywords and phrases. Further advice on effective searching and how to evaluate your results is available from Sharon Reid, Academic Librarian.

 For journal articles, reports and conference proceedings:

  • ASSIA (Applied Social Sciences Indexes and Abstracts): Wide-ranging  database includes coverage of politics, race-relations and education
  • Humanities Index: key database for a wide-range of arts, politics and humanities subjects
  • Web of Science: key cross-disciplinary database for subjects including arts, humanities and social sciences 
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts: key database for politics, political analysis, political science, international relations and law


For newspaper articles (current and historical):

photo attributed to Mike Nantais under creative commons license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Why is referencing an important academic skill?

Citing the sources you have used within the main body of your work and creating a list of references (bibliography) at the end is an essential academic requirement. Correct referencing will enable you to acknowledge the use of someone else’s ideas and also allow those reading your work to identify and find the original sources of information. Crucially, correct referencing is the most important means by which to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined by the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as “the act of taking and using (passing off) the thoughts, writings, inventions etc. of another as one’s own”. Plagiarism is considered by the University to be an act of academic misconduct and may have serious consequences.

Referencing in PHIR:

Referencing forms part of the departmental marking criteria:

“Coursework which is not adequately referenced may be returned to you with a request that you supply the relevant information before the mark is awarded, although usually only in your first semester at University; thereafter, penalties will be applied”

[From the PHIR Undergraduate Student Handbook, p.31, 2016-17]

There are many different recognised referencing styles but the two that PHIR strongly encourages undergraduates to choose from are Harvard (Cite them right online style) and Chicago (numeric footnotes style). Please be aware that Cite them right online can also be used as a guide to the Chicago style as can The Chicago-Style Citation Quick GuidePostgraduates should speak to their supervisor to agree a referencing style. Which style you choose will determine whether you cite your references within the text in an author, date format, e.g. (Berry, 2009) or in numeric note form at the foot of each page, e.g. 1. David Berry, A History of the French Anarchist Movement 1917-1945 (Edinburgh: AK Press, 2009), 89-90. It will also dictate the order and format in which you write the required elements down in the bibliography, e.g.:

Harvard: Berry, D. (2009) A history of the French Anarchist Movement 1917-1945. Edinburgh: AK Press.

Chicago: Berry, David. A History of the French Anarchist Movement 1917-1945. Edinburgh: AK Press, 2009. 


•The departmental guidelines on referencing take precedence over other sources of guidance 
•You may choose either referencing style but it is essential that you use only one style for each piece of work. You will be penalised for mixing styles. Consistently is crucial when referencing

Where can I find guidance on these styles?