Students at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies will have access to the extensive resources of the Senate House Library and, as students of the University of London, have access to the libraries of the constituent colleges of the University of London under the University of London Libraries Access Agreement. In addition, the Institute is located close to the British Library, one of the largest libraries in the world.

There are many online resources which students can use when undertaking their studies, and you can search for required publications through national cataloguing systems.


Senate House Library

Students at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies have access to Senate House Library, including the Institute of Commonwealth Studies’ library and teaching collection. There are a number of reading rooms and study spaces at the Library, including the option of booking private study carrels.

Students will also have access to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library which is located at Charles Clore House. The IALS library also offers a very quiet, focused place to study

The British Library

The British Library, which is just around the corner from the Institute, is the UK’s national library and holds over 150 million items, both print and digital formats, from around the world, in both English and other languages. As a major research library and one of the UK’s depository libraries, the British Library is likely to hold rare, difficult to find items. To access Reading Rooms you will need to register for a Reader Pass in advance of your first visit.

University of London Libraries 

Students within the University of London are eligible to use the libraries of the constituent colleges of the University of London, but please note that you will need to register separately at each one and that each library may have slightly different requirements for visitors

Local libraries

SOAS Library is one of the most important academic libraries in the world for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East (see its collection guide for further information). Taught postgraduates have reference ticket rights and research students may borrow up to three books for up to one month.

Birkbeck Library is, like SOAS, located very close to the Institute. To join as an Affiliate Member, fill in the application form which is available on their website.

The UCL Library holds a human rights collection. As a taught postgraduate from the University of London you are eligible for a reference ticket. Research students have limited borrowing rights (up to 5 books).


  • Jisc Library Discovery Hub is a great resource if you are looking for a particular text as it brings together the catalogues of over 70 major research libraries in the UK and Ireland, allowing you to search for a publication in a dedicated one-stop shop. A great time-saver.
  • WorldCat allows you to search the contents of libraries around the world.

Online resources