Students on the 2nd floor of the library

Legal Research: Frequently Asked Questions

Access to the IALS Library

Can I use the Library of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies?

For full details, see Library Admissions .  The main points to be aware of are:

The Institute Library is available free of charge to university teachers and students studying for higher degrees (masters' or doctorate).

Undergraduates, and students studying for legal professional examinations (CPE, LPC, BVC etc.) are not admitted.

Practising lawyers and others may be admitted on payment of a fee.  There are one-day passes and 3-month, 6-month and annual tickets.  For current fees click here .

What other Libraries can I use?

This will depend on the kind of material you need, and the library's admission requirements.  Always check in advance whether you can be admitted to university and college libraries. 

For the main sources of English law (statutes, case reports), try the two major London public libraries:  Guildhall Library in the City of London and Westminster Reference Library in Westminster.  Westminster also has European Union materials. 

For foreign law, consult our FLAG guide to collections in UK libraries.

For international law, the main alternative source in London is the Library at the London School of Economics .

How do I get to the Institute?

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies is at 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR.  This is on the north side of Russell Square, on the corner of Bedford Way.  Nearest underground station: Russell Square (Piccadilly Line).  Click here to see a map.

What are your opening hours?

Normal Hours (Term and Vacation):

Monday to Friday            9:00 am to 8:00 pm

Saturday                           10:00 am to 5.30 pm

Click here for details of holiday closures.

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IALS Library Collections

Do you have this book / journal / report?

You can search the Library Catalogue in many different ways, and often you can LIMIT the search you have done by using new criteria (for example SORT BY DATE).  Note that a SUBJECT HEADING search uses the subject headings of the United States Library of Congress (for example "corporation law" not "company law").  Note also that the Library Catalogue forms part of the whole catalogue of the University of London School of Advanced Study, and that catalogue records indicate clearly the location (i.e. which Library) and the shelf mark of each item.  The IALS Library is one of several locations within the School of Advanced Study.

Can I consult your Library on the Internet?

Technology has not yet reached the stage where entire libraries are converted to electronic databases!  The main means of access to the contents of the Institute's Library is the Library Catalogue .  Although this provides many more sophisticated means of searching than a card catalogue, it is still a list of the books, journals, reports, etc. that we have.  There is no magic link from a record for a textbook to an electronic version of that book.

On the other hand, many of the publications we collect are available electronically.  But we sign licensing agreements for these, which restrict access to our own students; we cannot make them freely available from our web pages.

Do you keep transcripts?

The Library does not maintain a collection of unreported cases.

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Theses in the IALS Library

What theses are held in IALS Library?

The Institute has a collection of University of London legal theses. With very few exceptions, these are doctoral (PhD) theses or MPhil (Master of Philosophy) theses.

They are available for consultation in the library only. Loan copies (lent to libraries, not individuals) are available at the University of London Library. Details can be seen here .

The Institute does not collect theses from the 65 or more other law schools in the United Kingdom.

How do I find theses in the IALS Library Catalogue?

First log on to the Library Catalogue .

If you know the author and / or title, look them up in the usual way. The record will show a thesis number (e.g. "Thesis 657"). This is the number you will need when you request the thesis at the Library Enquiry Desk.

If you are looking for theses on a subject, you will need to do a two-stage search.

1  Choose the CLASSMARK option from the SASCAT front menu.

  • Choose Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (other libraries have different classmarks)

  •    Enter thesis in the box (note: not theses but thesis). There will be over 900 hits.


You will see a box labelled "Words in the TITLE". Click the down arrow and you will see that there are three possible searches: words in title, words in author, or words in subject. Experiment with all three.

Finding other UK legal theses

The Institute has published lists of legal research from time to time. The main historical list is:

  • Legal Research in the United Kingdom 1905-1984 : a classified list of legal theses and dissertations successfully completed for postgraduate degrees awarded by universities and polytechnics in the U.K.

For information on current work in progress by doctoral students, see our new Current Legal Research Topics database.

If you need to consult a thesis from another university, please ask a member of the library staff for advice. (Normally students registered at a University of London college should ask their own library about obtaining material on inter-library loan).

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Doing Legal Research

Can you recommend materials for my thesis?

The Institute is not able to undertake research on behalf of students.  We do not therefore provide literature searches or surveys, bibliographies or lists of recommended reading, or informal supervision of students registered at other institutions.

In the first instance, students should consult their supervisor in their own home institution, who should be able to recommend relevant literature and appropriate sources of further information.  The library staff at the student's own university should also be able to advise both on the resources available locally, and suitable catalogues and indexes in print or electronic form.

The Institute's web site contains

  • Brief subject guides to published legal literature
  • Links to legal materials available on the Internet, organized by subject or by jurisdiction
  • A link to the INTUTE Law Gateway (the law section of the Social Sciences Information Gateway), which provides both links and brief descriptions of law-related web sites across the world.  You can search and browse this database by subject or by jurisdiction.

Where can I find a list of legal abbreviations?

This is a very selective list of commonly used legal abbreviations and citations , relating to titles held by the Institute Library.  This list will be updated soon.

Where can I find legal bookshops in London?

You will find legal bookshops in central London listed on the IALS web site in local facilities and services .

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Studying Law

Where can I find more information on law schools in the UK?

A list of UK law schools is maintained on its website by the United Kingdom Centre for Legal Education , which also gives general information about studying law in the UK.

What courses do you run?

The Institute does not itself provide courses for law students, although a small number of doctoral studentships are available each year.  Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral law degrees are offered by six of the Colleges of the University of London.  The University of London also offers External LLB and External LLM Programs for students wishing to study at home. 

How can I apply to study for the Master of Laws (LLM)?

The Institute does not offer LLM courses itself.  IALS provides library services for LLM students registered in one of the five law schools of the University of London who offer this degree.  Students wishing to apply for the LLM or to read for the MPhil or PhD at one of these schools should apply to the postgraduate tutor at one or more of the following:-

For LLM and MPhil / PhD:

Further details of the range of library services , provided by IALS Library for University of London LLM students, are available.

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Inter-library Loans and Photocopies

Can I request photocopies from the IALS Library?

The Library provides a popular photocopying service for currently registered academic staff and students in the UK or overseas. See Document Delivery Services for Researchers for more details.

Commercial organisations should refer to our Information Services for Practitioners .

Can I borrow books from the Institute Library on inter-library loan?

The Library participates in the British Library Document Supply Service and handles requests for loans and photocopies of items. The Library is essentially a reference library, with limited lending. We do not lend books from our open shelves, but it may be possible to lend older materials or previous editions. See Inter-Library Loans Service for more details.

University of London LLM students and academic staff are advised to contact their college library to if they wish to request inter-library loans.  The IALS Library can only make inter-library loan requests on behalf of Institute staff, Institute research students and visiting academics.

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