Science blog

27 October 2015

Science education: A short guide to resources at the British Library

Tonight we host our 30th TalkScience event, ‘Science in schools.’ Here we outline a range of British Library resources that may be useful for science education researchers. The guide is by no means exhaustive but will give you a flavour of the resources held across the Library’s collections.

 Educational Research

Our collection of academic monographs and peer reviewed journals, including key titles such as Science Education, as well as literature produced by membership organisations such as the British Educational Research Association and the Association for Science Education, contain a wealth of practical and theoretical research into science pedagogy.

Bibliographic databases, such as The British Education Index, Australian Education Index, Web of Science, and SCOPUS[1] can be used in our Reading Rooms to find references to a range of content related to science education, including books, journal articles, conference papers, and research reports across various disciplines.

Girl DNA

We collect curriculum resources,including textbooks and other teaching aides,[2] giving an insight into the content of school science lessons, while popular science titles and children’s science books offer a wider context for gauging scientific literacy.

 Education policy

Debates over education can be traced through a range of official publications from Parliament, ministerial departments and agencies. Hansard, the report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, is available to browse in the Social Science Reading Room, and full text searches of Parliamentary papers can be conducted via the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database.

Changing practices of inspection and assessment in the UK can be charted through the reports of regulatory bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual, and research published by international agencies such as UNESCO[3] provides a global context for understanding legislative change in the UK.

Digital documents

The online resources described in this section allow full text reports to be downloaded remotely for free.

The Management and Business Studies Portal contains documents such as research reports, briefings, case studies, and working papers produced by research institutes, professional societies, government bodies, and trade unions, which have been curated into subject areas; ‘Technology, Innovation and Change’, and ‘Accounting, Finance and the Economy’ are particularly relevant to science education.

The Social Welfare Portal offers information on all aspects of social welfare in the UK and overseas, including education from early years to postgraduate level. Research reports, consultations, and policy proposals issued by think tanks, universities and campaigning charities among others, are selected for inclusion by the Library’s social policy curators.

EThOS facilitates free access to the full text of 160,000 digitised UK doctoral theses and can be searched for titles relating to science education.

Contemporary commentary

NewsroomCommentary on educational change in the UK can be traced through our newspaper collection, which spans the national as well as regional and local press. The British Newspaper Archive contains 12 million fully searchable pages, and we subscribe to a range of newspaper electronic resources, including key titles such as The Times, the Daily Mail, and The Guardian.

Our Broadcast News service has more than 40,000 news programmes recorded since 6 May 2010, many of which can be searched by subtitle. International comparisons can be made by searching the online resource NewsBank: Access World News, containing full-text newspaper articles from over 12,000 newspapers worldwide. In addition, titles from the professional press including the weekly Times Educational Supplement and Times Higher Education are available in our Reading Rooms.

The UK Web Archivesecures permanent online access to key UK websites and has been organised into searchable special collection and subject areas, including ‘Education & Research’.

 Life stories

The British Library Sound Archive contains a huge collection of recorded sound and video. Interviews with scientists and engineers recorded as part of the Oral History of British Science initiative can be accessed on site and are searchable through the Sound and Moving Image catalogue.

Voices of science

The Voices of Science web resource offers curated access to audio and video highlights from the interviews, organised by theme, discipline and interviewee. Many of the interviewees reflect on their education, giving a fascinating insight into their experience of school science.

Science at the British Library

The British Library holds most of the scientific monographs published in the UK, a large proportion of the English-language journals published in Europe and North America, and an extensive collection of both peer-reviewed journals and professional journals, which can be accessed in our dedicated Science Reading Room. We are developing collaborations with UK universities and Higher Education Institutes, and our events programme engages the public with topical scientific issues. Follow us on Twitter and read our blog to find out more!


Learning at the British Library

Learning BLOur collection is at the heart of our schools programme. Led by our team of specialist educators, the programme combines a skills-based approach centred around critical thinking, research, and visual, verbal and digital literacy together with opportunities to encounter original and rare objects both onsite, online and nationally. Teaching resources and thousands of high resolution collection items, current academic research, films and animations can be accessed on our website.



Getting Started

  • Use our library website to find out about our collections, online service, and what’s on in the Library.
  • Use Explore the British Library to find details of books, reports, journal titles, newspapers and many more parts of the Library’s collections.
  • Find out about services in our Reading Rooms, and pre-register for a Reader Pass.

[1] Find these on the catalogue by searching for the title then selecting ‘Databases’ under ‘Material Type’ on the dropdown menu to the left.

[2] The best way to find them is by conducting an advanced search in the main catalogue. Use ‘science’, or a particular subject word such as ‘physics’ or ‘chemistry’ as a keyword in the ‘Main title’ search field, then use the exact phrase ‘study and teaching’ in the  ‘Subject’ search field. You can then further refine your results using the drop-down menu to the left of the results list.

[3] Search for UNESCO in the ‘Author’ field and education in the ‘subject’ field


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