If you have questions about EThOS, please contact our Helpdesk on:

If you want further information on EThOS, how it works, the background to the service, help in setting up an Institutional Repository, etc. please see the EThOS Toolkit.

Registration / Log In

You can search the database without logging in / registering. You only need to log in / register when you want to order documents or check earlier orders.

Why register?

EThOS supports UK Higher Education's desire for Open Access. However, in order to protect the thesis author's rights and to minimise the opportunities for plagiarism, EThOS asks anyone wishing to access a thesis to register on the system and log in before ordering a thesis so that we can track when, where and to whom a thesis has been supplied. Please note the terms and conditions of supply which you have to agree to before you can access a thesis.

Essential information

You must complete all fields marked with an asterisk (*) when registering. All other fields are optional.

Email address

The email address you give the system will be used to communicate with you and, particularly, to let you know when a digitised thesis which you have ordered is available for download. It is therefore important to check the email address supplied carefully.


The password you enter will be case-sensitive. Make sure that you keep your password details safe. If you forget your password, contact EThOS Helpdesk and we will send a password reminder to your registered email address.

Address details

Enter the address to which you will want most of your items delivered. When you need a document sent to a different postal or email address, you can override your registered details during the order process.

Credit / debit card information

We do not ask for any credit or debit card information during the registration process. You only need to enter credit / debit card information when you are submitting your orders. This data is sent directly to Netbanx, our credit card authorisation agent, not to the British Library. This information is not stored by us in any way and you will need to re-enter it each time you order.

Terms and Conditions

We cannot create your account unless you agree that you have read and accepted our Terms and Conditions. This agreement forms part of the process of registration and you will need to agree to the terms and conditions of supply every time you order a thesis.

Data Protection

We may occasionally want to email you about British Library products, services and events. We will not disclose your details to any third party, within the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. The British Library's privacy policy is available on our website.

Updating your registration details

If your contact, delivery or email address changes, or you want to change your password, you can amend your registration details by visiting the Login page and clicking Amend Details.


EThOS scope


The aim of EThOS is to give access to ALL theses from participating institutions whether paper based or electronic. It achieves this by harvesting e-theses from Institutional Repositories and by digitising paper based theses as they are ordered by researchers using the system.

When you order a thesis it will either be immediately available for download or writing to hard copy (indicated by this symbol page icon on the search results page ) or it will need to be digitised. If you order a thesis for digitisation, the system will manage the process and you will be informed when the thesis is available for download/preparation to hard copy.

Typical supply times are shown on the Order page, but these depend on the originating institution supplying the thesis promptly. You can track the progress of your order by viewing the Order Process History.


The EThOS toolkit tips

The EThOS Toolkit is a resource which has been developed by the EThOS Project Team comprising British Library and UK Higher Education members. Its aim is to support UK Higher Education Institutions in setting-up an e-thesis service including submission, storage and access to e-theses (Whether participating in the EThOS national service or not). It addresses business and technical issues and offers advice on all aspects of e-theses including practical support.

It is also useful for users of the EThOS system as it explains the background to the project and the service and may help you understand why the system works as it does.

The toolkit can be found here:


Search tips

Basic Search

The Basic Search is for quick and easy searching.

Type your keywords into the Search box. If you want to search for a specific phrase, type it within double quotes, e.g. "document supply".

Click on the Go button and we will display all articles on the database containing all of your keywords in order of most relevant first.

Click on the checkbox after "Limit search to items available for immediate download" to search only for documents that are held in electronic format and are therefore available as immediate downloads.

To buy a copy of any of the articles that your search has found, you will need to log in or, if this is the first time you have ordered through EThOS, register and create an account.

Advanced Search

If you want to search in a very precise way, you can click the link for Advanced Search on the menu.

Advanced searching works in just the same way as the basic search, except that you can specify exactly how and where EThOS applies your keywords, ensuring that the records you find are as suitable to your research as possible.

Type a word or phrase into the long box in each row. If a box contains more than one word there is no need to surround the words with quotes: the text will automatically be treated as a phrase to search for.

You can alter the way in which each of your search terms are applied by selecting a different search operator from the drop-down box to the left:

  • AND - The default setting. Will only display records containing this term.
  • OR - Will display records containing this term or the previous term.
  • AND NOT - Will only display records that do not contain this term.

You can use the drop-down boxes on the right to specify the exact type of information from which you want EThOS to find your keyword, e.g. search for Baker as an author rather than as a word in the title. The default setting, Any word, will search for the keyword across all fields.

If you want to create a search using more than three keywords, click the Add a Row button for as many additional keywords you need.



The results of your search will be displayed in order of relevance. Above your table of results you will see the query you used for your search and the total number of matching records.

No results

If you receive no results from your search, you could check the spelling or try amending your search terms. Alternatively, if the specific thesis you are looking for is from an institution which does not participate in EThOS, you should go directly to the institution's library and ask about access to the thesis.

If you have the bibliographic details of a thesis and you believe that the institution participates in EThOS but you can't find a record, you can send details to the British Library by following the links on screen to the Speculative Request screen. Here you can enter brief details of the thesis and contact details for yourself, and our support team will search for the thesis using the various tools at our disposal.

If we find record of the thesis and the institution participates in EThOS, you will be contacted with a record id which will allow you to find a newly created record for the thesis and from there you will be able to order it in the usual manner.

If we cannot find a record for the thesis we will contact you informing you of this but, if you can supply more details, we will check again.

If you cannot supply more details or we cannot find the thesis following supply of further details, you will not be able to use EThOS to gain access to the thesis.

Navigating your results

Ten results will be displayed on each screen and you can move between screens by clicking on the numbers at the top of the list. Clicking 'previous' or 'more' will display a different range of possible display screens. You can also click on the navigation arrows page icon or page icon to go straight to your first or last page of results.

Immediate Download Icon

Immediate download icon

If you see this icon next to a record, it means that the thesis is stored in digital form on the system and you will be able to download it as soon as you have ordered it (or request preparation to hard copy).

Abstract Icon

abstract icon

If you see this icon next to a record, it means that an abstract summary of the document is available. If you hold your mouse cursor over the icon, both on the list of search results and on the full article details page, you can read the first 800 characters of the abstract. This will only remain on screen as long as you hold your cursor over the icon.

Order details link

If you click on the thesis title on any search result, you will go to a page containing the full bibliographic data for the thesis.

On this page you can check the availability for download, log in and order a thesis, choosing the format for delivery. The service charges and turnround times (the amount of time it takes to process the thesis before putting it in the post, where applicable) for each delivery format are given, but remember that you can always download direct to your desktop for free. All charges are made in Sterling (GBP).

Should you opt for hardcopy, if you don't want the document to be sent to the registered postal or email address for your account, which will be displayed at the bottom of the screen, follow the link to change the delivery address. These changes will only be applied to this particular order, any future orders will default to your registered details.

If you want to order the thesis, choose the delivery option you want to use (free download is the default) and then click on Add to basket. Your order will then be placed into your basket along with any other documents you add.



There are various IDs associated with a thesis:

There should always be a BL unique and persistent id, beginning with The number following this (e.g. is a unique identifier for the system and quoting this number will allow us to find the specific thesis you are interested in.

There is usually, but not always, an ILS catalogue id that can be used to cross-reference to the British Library Integrated Catalogue.

There may also be a shelfmark. The shelf mark was used in the past to identify the physical microfilm version of the item held at the BL. Although microfilm copies are no longer used, this number may be a useful link to a thesis supplied in the past and so it has been maintained on the system. New theses will not be assigned a shelfmark - the persistent id replaces it.

There are also ids that derive from the institution within which the thesis was completed. There may be a thesis id, which identifies the thesis on the local university library catalogue. There may also be an EThesis id (which is also known as the Open Archives Initiative identifier) which identifies an electronic version of the thesis. This will usually be accompanied by a URL that takes you to the institution's record for their electronic holdings for that item and then to the item itself on the Institutional Repository.


Delivery Options


Current prices are always displayed on the Order screen. These prices include VAT.

Turnaround times are also shown. These are the time taken to process the thesis including digitisation (where applicable) and preparation to hard copy (where selected). The total supply time is the sum of the processing time plus the preparation time. Where a thesis is already held by the system and download is the selected delivery format, download can be started once the terms and conditions of supply are agreed to.

Where an institution offers its theses Open Access (i.e. free at the point of use) there will be no charge for digitisation. Where an institution cannot offer Open Access, the first researcher to order the thesis will pay for the digitisation. This is expected to be rare.

Once an item has been digitised EThOS provides that digital version of the thesis for others to access without charge.

Speed of service

There are 2 elements which make up the delivery time of a thesis:

  1. Processing time - where a thesis is already stored on the system (i.e. it was sourced electronically or it has been digitised), there is no processing time. Where a thesis is not held on the system (i.e. it is stored on hard copy at the institution and has not been digitised) the processing time consists of the sum of the time to retrieve it from the institution plus the time to digitise it.
  2. Preparation time - this is the time taken to prepare the thesis for delivery. Where the delivery format is download, then once the thesis has been processed it will be immediately available for download i.e. the preparation time is zero. Where hard copy delivery is required (loose-leaf, soft-bound, hard-bound, CD/DVD) , the turnaround times for each option is shown by the system.

Total delivery time is the sum of the processing time plus the preparation time.

Best efforts

Please note that the processing times depend on prompt receipt of the thesis from the institution. If there are any delays in this supply then the turnaround time may not be met. The figures given therefore represent 'best efforts' and should be regarded as a guide rather than a guarantee.

Turnaround time means the time up to putting the thesis in the post (where applicable) - it does NOT include postage time as this may vary depending on location of the person ordering the thesis.

Immediate downloads

These will normally be available as soon as the item has been digitised and loaded to the EThOS system. Where digitisation is required, you will be informed by email when the item becomes available. For items already held digitally, you will be able to begin downloading immediately.

General Electronic Delivery notes

  • Electronic documents are made freely available and any theses which you have previously downloaded will continue to be available via a link on the Order History page.
  • You should NOT download a thesis for someone else. Each person wishing to access a thesis must accept the terms and conditions of supply and you would be breaking these terms and conditions should you supply the thesis to someone else.
  • You may NOT store and make a thesis available to readers in a library in either electronic or printed format. If a reader wishes to view a thesis they must order it themselves. They may do it from a library PC or any other PC, but they must login and order it themselves so that they accept the terms and conditions of supply.

Hard copy delivery

We can supply a thesis on CD/DVD where electronic access is required but where you cannot download it.

We also print and bind theses on request. A high quality colour printer is used and the theses can be supplied loose-leaf, soft-bound or hard-bound. Hard-binding takes place off-site, so this takes a little longer.


Confirming your order / Checkout

When you are ready to send your orders to the British Library, click on the Basket link at the top of the page and you will go to a page listing all of the documents that you have added to your basket, including information about the delivery method you chose and prices. At the bottom of the page, you will find a total price for your order.

If you click on the links in the Order number column, you will go to a page with detailed information about that particular order.

To remove an item from your list, click in the Remove box on the right of the records you want to take out of your list, then click on the Remove selected items button. To clear the entire list, click on Remove all items.

To search for more items to put into your basket, use the New search and Select more items links at the bottom of the page to either begin a new search or to return to your latest search and select further records.

If you need to change the delivery method or speed that you chose when adding the item to your basket, you must delete the item from the basket, return to search, reselect the item and choose the new delivery method. You cannot change the delivery options within the shopping basket.

When you are happy with your list of documents, click on Checkout to go to the payment screen and pay by credit or debit card (where applicable).

Once you have been through Checkout and confirmed your order, you cannot cancel your request, so be sure to check your list thoroughly before going to the Checkout.


Payment / Credit Card Questions

Payment method
Payment is by credit or debit card only. We accept Delta, Diners Club, Eurocard, JCB, MasterCard, Solo, Switch / Maestro and Visa. This process arranges for authorisation to charge your credit / debit card. We will only charge once your order has been satisfied. You will not be charged for unsatisfied orders.

Pricing and VAT

All charges are made in Sterling (GBP) , and will include UK Value Added Tax (VAT) at 20% where applicable. The British Library must comply with EU VAT regulations and statutory reporting therefore:

  • If you are a European Union customer and are registered for VAT, please provide your VAT numbers for our records. If no VAT number is recorded when an account is created, VAT at 20% will be charged where applicable.
  • If you are a UK customer, VAT will be charged at the applicable rate.
  • If you are a customer based outside the European Union, no VAT wil be charged.

Credit card authorisation

All credit card authorisation is carried out by NetBanx, a leading secure on-line payment solution for credit, debit and charge cards. NetBanx carries out all card authorisation and will debit your account. NetBanx uses SSL technology with 128 bit encryption on their secure server. The British Library does not receive your credit card details when you order through EThOS.


NetBanx sends you a unique reference number by email for each transaction. Use this number in any communications about your payment. The British Library does not receive your credit card details.


Confirmed orders

If you have logged in, you can find a list of all of your confirmed orders, displayed in date order, by clicking Orders on any page. On the Orders page you will find information about the status of each of your orders: whether it has been supplied, is still in process or is not available.

Once a document has become a confirmed order, you cannot cancel it.

Immediate downloads

If you have asked for a document to be supplied as an Immediate Download, it is on this page that the link will appear once your payment has been processed. When you are ready to download your file, visit this page and click on the link. Remember that you can only download each file once.

Navigating your confirmed orders

Ten results will be displayed on each screen and you can move between screens by clicking on the numbers at the top of the list. Clicking 'previous' or 'more' will display a different range of possible display screens. You can also click on the navigation arrows page icon or page icon to go straight to your first or last page of results.