EThOS scope

The aim of EThOS is to give access to all doctoral theses from all UK institutions whether paper based or electronic.

You can easily search and browse the records and see information about each thesis. Where electronic copies of the full text theses already exist, you can access them for free either by direct download from the EThOS database (login required) or by clicking a link to the digital repository of the awarding university (no login needed).

If no digital copy exists, you can usually order a scanned copy. The system will manage this process; there will be a delay while the paper thesis is scanned and there may be a charge. You will be informed when the thesis becomes available for download. You can track the progress of your order by viewing the Order History.


EThOS toolkit

The EThOS Toolkit is a resource which aims to support UK Higher Education institutions in participating in EThOS. It provides detailed information about thesis metadata, digitisation, author rights and other legal issues, and has extensive FAQs.

It is also useful for users of EThOS as it explains how the service operates and the variation in coverage, full text availability and access options that users might experience between universities - and indeed between different records from the same university.

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. "Somerset levels".

Click on the Go button and all records containing all of your keywords are displayed, in order of most relevant first.

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

To download any of the theses from EThOS, or to order a copy for digitisation, you will need to log in or, if this is the first time you have ordered through EThOS, register and create an account. You can also access theses by following the links provided to the copy held in the university's own repository - you do not have to login to use this route.

Advanced Search

Advanced searching works in the same way as the basic search, except that you can specify how and where EThOS applies your keywords. 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 each of your search terms is 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 Term button for as many additional keywords you need.


Search results

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.

If you have the bibliographic details of a thesis which is not recorded in EThOS, you can submit the details using the links on screen to the Speculative Request form. Here you can enter brief details of the thesis, and our support team will search for the thesis using the various tools at our disposal.

Once we have confirmed the thesis details (UK doctoral theses only), you will be contacted with an EThOS record ID which will allow you to go to the newly created record for the thesis. You will then be able to download it or submit an order for digitisation.

If we cannot find any record for the thesis we will let you know.


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. 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

Available to download from EThOS     May be available to download from institution

If you see either of these icons next to a record, it means the thesis is available for immediate download. The PDF icon means you can download the thesis from EThOS itself (login required). The 'open padlock' icon means you can click on a link in the EThOS record to go to the copy held in the university's digital repository.

Full record

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 of the thesis, download it, follow a link to the university repository, or order a copy for digitisation. Any digitisation charges and turnaround times where applicable are provided on this page. All digitisation charges are made in Sterling (GBP).

You will need to login to download from the EThOS database but not to follow links to copies held in university repositories. You also need to login to order an item for digitisation.

To download from EThOS (or order for digitisation), choose the delivery option you want to use (free download is the default) and then click on Add to basket. From here a series of screens will allow you to download the item and save it to your own PC.

To be clear, there is no charge or delay to download theses from EThOS. Due to its technical structure however, you have to login and add items to the basket before downloading.


All EThOS records have a unique and persistent EThOS identifier, beginning with The number following this (e.g. is a unique identifier for the EThOS record and quoting this number will allow us to find the specific thesis you are interested in.


Registration and Login

You can search the database and click through to external repositories without logging in or registering. You only need to login / register when you want to download documents from the EThOS database or order a thesis for digitisation.

Why register?

EThOS supports the open access commitment of UK Higher Education. In order to protect the thesis author's rights and to minimise opportunities for plagiarism, EThOS was set up to require users to register on the system and log in so that we can track when, where and by whom a thesis is downloaded. Please note the terms and conditions of supply which you have to agree to before you can access a thesis. We acknowledge the frustration in having to login to access a free, open access item and add it to a basket.

Email address

The email address you provide 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 is case-sensitive. Make sure that you keep your password details safe. If you forget your password, click on Reset Password and a new password will be sent to your registered email address.

Address details

The EThOS "Added Value" service allows users to order printed or CD/DVD copies of digital theses. For this reason you are asked to provide your postal address. 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 submit an order that requires payment. This data is sent directly to Netbanx, our payment provider, 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.



Where digitisation is required, follow the "Add to basket" process. You will be informed of the cost (if any) and turnaround times before you add the item to the basket. Once your order is placed, you will be informed by email when the item becomes available.

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 want to make any changes to your order when adding items 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 download your free items or go to the payment screen and pay by credit or debit card for digitisation (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.


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

Where an institution has allocated a budget to support the cost of digitising its theses, there will be no charge for digitisation for the end-user. Where an institution cannot fund the cost of digitisation, the first researcher to order the thesis will pay for the digitisation.

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

Turnaround time

This is the time taken to process the thesis for digitisation.

The time shown on the screen is the time taken by the British Library to make the digital copy; this process is often much faster than the time shown. In addition, time needs to be allowed for the institution to retrieve the paper thesis, make checks on its suitability for scanning, and send it by post to the British Library. Users ordering an item for digitisation can therefore expect a significant time delay before the digital copy becomes available.

If a printed or CD/DVD copy has been ordered, users should expect an additional delay to allow for postage time depending on the location of the person ordering the thesis.

Using the thesis for research

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 download it themselves. They may do it from a library PC or any other PC, but they must login and download it themselves so that they accept the terms and conditions of supply.

Hard copy delivery

We can also supply a thesis on CD/DVD as an alternative to immediate download.

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.


Payment/Credit Card Questions

Payment method

Payment for digitisation is by credit or debit card only, and we accept MasterCard, Maestro and Visa. The EThOS ordering 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 will 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 will send you an email containing a unique reference number once your card has been authorised and again when payment has been taken. This email is your firm tax invoice. The British Library does not receive your credit card details when you order through EThOS.