The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) holds most Edinburgh University higher degree theses. These are an important source for research in a variety of different fields.

Theses: a guide for users

Please read the guidelines below carefully. Over the years, theses have been catalogued in different ways and the information below will help you to find the thesis you are looking for as quickly as possible.

Finding a thesis

Digitised Theses on Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA)

Theses from 2008 onwards can be found on ERA, the University's digital repository. ERA is open access, though external users will need to register for an account in order to download theses in pdf format.

Additionally, many theses from pre-2008 have been digitised and placed on ERA.

Theses after 1984

Records for all post 1984 theses (but not prize essays) can be found in the online Library Catalogue. Searching can be by author, title or keyword. In the last instance, when using subject keywords, the word ‘thesis’ must be one of the words chosen.

If a thesis is available in digital format too, the online catalogue record will include a link to the thesis on ERA.

Please note, the CRC does not provide access to hard copy theses if a digital version is available through ERA, unless exceptional circumstances mean the researcher cannot access the digital copy.

Theses before 1984

These are all listed in the sheaf-binder indexes, which are held in the CRC Research Suite. CRC staff will be happy to check these indexes on your behalf if you are unable to visit in person.

Theses presented between c. 1835 and 1880

These are largely uncatalogued. Please contact CRC staff for further information.

Locations and availability

Most theses accepted since 1950 are present in the Library in two copies, one archival copy and one which is available for consultation. For Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, the consultation copies are held in the Centre for Research Collections and can be viewed in the CRC Research Suite. For Science and Engineering, second copies are housed in the KB Library Store at King’s Buildings. Astronomy theses are held at the Royal Observatory Library, Divinity theses are at New College Library.

Consultation regulations

Theses can only be consulted at the holding library (e.g. the CRC). Theses at the CRC may not be taken out on loan and they are not available as Inter-Library Loans.

Theses with the location mark ‘Theses Section 1’ are held as archival copies and are not normally issued for consultation, unless there is only one copy available. In this case the thesis will have to be consulted in the CRC Reading Room.

Theses (hard copy or microfilm) with the location mark ‘Theses Section 2’ or with non-Main Library locations should be consulted in the relevant library. Requests for Section 2 theses in the Main Library should be made by filling in the CRC request form in the department, or by contacting us in advance. They can be consulted in the CRC Research Suite.

Where a thesis record shows ‘RESTRICTED’, consultation is prohibited unless the inquirer obtains written permission from the author, which must then be counter-signed by the author’s head of department. An author can restrict a thesis for a period not exceeding 5 years after graduation.

Copying regulations

Theses may not be photographed or photocopied by users.

The University provides a thesis scanning service costing £40 (+ VAT where applicable). Please see the link below.

If you are consulting a thesis at the CRC, staff can photocopy up to 20 pages. Please note a fee applies.

Contact the Centre for Research Collections

Phone: +44 (0) 131 650 8379


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