The Bodleian Libraries’ thesis collection holds every D.Phil. thesis deposited since the degree began in its present form in 1917. Our oldest theses date from the early 1920s. We also have substantial holdings of M.Litt. theses, for which deposit became compulsory in 1953, and M.Phil. theses.
NB: The Oxford Theses team do not administer holdings of external theses and dissertations. If you are looking for theses from other universities, rather than Oxford, please contact the Bodleian’s Reader Services team.
Most theses are open for consultation in the library, but many earlier ones will not be open for copying without permission. This is primarily due to the terms of deposit (the form which the author signed on depositing their thesis with the library), which did not anticipate cheap, mass copying methods when the degree first began. The terms were updated over the years to take this possibility into account.
Some theses are closed for consultation by the author. In this case readers would need to contact the author to gain permission to read the thesis. Modern theses are rarely closed for more than 3 years, but some are granted a permanent embargo. This is extremely rare. If a thesis is closed, there will be a note in the SOLO record.
All theses in the Bodleian collection may be ordered via SOLO.
If you already have a reference, using an Advanced Search with the author's name, the title and "Thesis Oxford" should find the thesis you are looking for.
If you want to search for a particular subject you can also use Advanced Search, look for the subject and refine your search by material "theses" to find theses on your subject. It's best to use broad subject terms (e.g. "English Literature, 18th century" or "India, civilization") as they will give you a better chance of finding a larger number of theses which cover your topic.
Note that the records for Science theses do not have subject headings added, but you can narrow down a search by division or department.
If you are looking for a thesis but cannot find a record on SOLO, please get in touch with us. Sometimes it takes a while for authors to deposit after completing their degree, and we may have recently received it.
We receive regular deliveries of theses from the Examination Schools, and aim to catalogue them within a few weeks of arrival. If you need to see a thesis which has arrived but is yet to be catalogued, we can catalogue it out-of-sequence and make it available.
Theses are consulted in the Weston Library in the Charles Wendell David Reading Room (for Humanities and Social Sciences subjects) and in the Radcliffe Science Library (for Science subjects). Music theses can also be consulted in the Weston Library’s Mackerras Reading Room.
Most theses are now on SOLO, apart from the last few hundred which are currently being catalogued.