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The Politics subject guide gives you access to useful library databases and trusted Web resources, relevant for researching many topics in politics & international relations.

Dictionaries & Encyclopaedias

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias are helpful places to start your research, as they define & clarify concepts and terminology. Good encyclopaedias will usefully summarise a topic, and many offer suggestions for further reading.

Rather than use free Web sources (which are often unreliable), you could browse the range of reference books at JA 61 on floor 4, or search the catalogue using some general keywords + dictionary, eg. Political Theory Dictionary.

Some well-known online reference sources that may be useful for your research:

Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought / edited by David Miller(Blackwell: 1987)

Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Governance & Politics / edited by Philipp H. Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli (Edward Elgar: 2015)

Encyclopedia of Governance / edited by Mark Bevir (SAGE: 2007)

Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought / edited by Gregory Claeys (SAGE: 2013)

Encyclopedia of Political Theory / edited by Mark Bevir (SAGE: 2010)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - highly regarded open access work, regularly updated

World encyclopedia of political systems & parties / edited by Neil Schlager and Jayne Weisblatt. 4th ed. (Facts on File: 2006)

Useful academic reference works across the social sciences more broadly include:

International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. 2nd ed. (Elsevier: 2015)

The Social Science Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (A-K) and vol. 2 (L-Z) / edited by Adam & Jessica Kuper (Routledge: 2004)

Encyclopedia of Global Justice / edited by Deen Chatterjee (Springer: 2011)

In addition, the library holds a couple of standard reference works that are particularly useful for background information on countries and international agencies:

Europa World Year Book - held in print form at D 1.E8 on floor 2 (1963-)

Political Handbook of the World - held in print form at JA 51 on floor 4 (1978-)

The CIA World Factbook (online) is also a reasonably reliable source of basic information.

The Library also has access to these online reference resources from Oxford University Press, which are excellent sources of information and benefit from new articles being regularly added to them:


After looking at reference material you might want to learn about a topic in a bit more depth, and books are a good starting point, as they are usually more suitable than journal articles for establishing an understanding of a topic.

Academic books come in various flavours and include:
1. Introductory textbooks
These are often referred to on your reading lists and you can find a great selection in the Student Collection on Floor 1, as well as online

2. Short books
These have become popular in recent years, as they are cheaper & faster to publish, often deal with contemporary topics that are appealing to students, and are quicker to read! The Library has purchased all of the Oxford Very Short Introductions series, which cover all subject areas, but there are many other examples available in print or online.

3. Handbooks
These can be highly useful, as they summarise research across a broad subject area and its subfields. A very useful resource are the Oxford Handbooks in Political Science that the Library has purchased access to. You can cross-search them for the topic you are interested in. Many others are available from publishers including Routledge, SAGE, Wiley, Springer Palgrave, etc.

4. Monographs and Edited Collections
Monographs are just scholarly books written by an academics, and are useful if you need to pursue a topic in more depth. Good examples of these can be found through the library search & browsing the shelves, and the library subscribes to the Oxford Scholarship Online collection of ebooks in Politics & other subjects.
Edited collections have chapters written by different authors that relate to the title or theme of the book as a whole, and you might find that selected chapters from edited books are relevant to your topic.

The library search does include the contents (i.e. chapter details) of some books, but not all. Google Books or Amazon Book Search can be helpful in finding out the contents details of specific books. Browsing the library shelves is a really good way of doing this too, as books on similar topics are shelved together.