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Art History and Visual Culture Subject Guide: Online library support

Help and guidance on finding resources in your subject area

Welcome to the Art History and Visual Culture Subject Guide

Use this guide to help you make the most of the library and information resources and services.

New to the University?  Explore the Library Induction to learn all about the Library basics. 

Your Liaison Librarian

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Nicola Nye

Tutorial: Finding and using library information

Click on the image to access the tutorial.

Where to start your search

Library Search

Search for print books, ebooks, journals, articles and more. 

Library Search LibGuide available for guidance.

For a full selection of databases and archives, use the A-Z Databases List.

Key databases

Research databases

Search these collections to find academic literature on art history and visual culture. These collections contain primarily secondary sources of information such as journal articles, books, conference proceedings, reports and more.

Image databases

Primary source collections of searchable images. 
A full list of image databases can be found here in the A to Z database list.

There are lots of museum and gallery websites such as the British MuseumVictoria & Albert Museum, Tate GalleriesNational GalleryNational Portrait Gallery etc. that have quality images of their collections.

However, copyright restrictions apply to the use of images, and this will vary depending on who owns the copyright and how you want to use the image. Check the licence details on the website if in doubt. See our Using Images LibGuide for more information.

 Museum and gallery collections

Search the digital collections of internationally renowned musuems and galleries.

 These are just a few of the audio-visual databases that we subscribe to. You can see a fuller list in the A to Z database list here.

Sound collections

Use the A-Z Database List to access the full list of databases the library subscribes to.  

You can browse by subject e.g. Art History and Visual Culture or type (e.g.maps, news, images etc.) or search to find your required resource.

Allied subjects include ClassicsDrama, Film StudiesHistoryPhilosophy and Sociology. You will also find LibGuides available for these and other subject disciplines.

Explore the full A to Z Database list:

Explore research materials available elsewhere

  • Library Hub Discover - Search the catalogues of over 100 major UK and Irish national, academic and specialist libraries to find books, journals and other materials

  • WorldCAT - Search the collections of over 10,000 worldwide libraries  

  • The European Library - Access to the collections of the 48 National Libraries of Europe and leading European Research Libraries.

  • The Library of Congress -  Catalogue records of the print and digital resources held in the Library of Congress collections (USA)

  • LibWeb - Find online library catalogues worldwide

  • CORE - Search the world's largest collection of open access research papers

Key journals and magazines

I am looking for ...

You are likely to use a wide range of different types of information sources for your research.  As well as academic sources such as books and journal articles, you may want to use audio-visual sources such as images, illustrations, film and sound; primary materials such as 3-dimensional objects, maps; ephemera etc.  Use the online support highlighted here to guide your searching

Online Books

You have online access to hundreds of online books that cover art history and visual culture.  Use the Library Search to search by topic to discover relevant content.  Take a look at the following to give you an idea of how you can search and browse online books like these.

Print Books

The Forum Library print books are arranged in Dewey Decimal Classification order.  This means that books on similar topics are grouped together.  Find out more with our Classmarks  guide.  The majority of books on art related subjects will be found at number 700 in the library, for example:

Art History and Visual Communication Classmarks in the Forum Library
700 The Arts (General)
701 Art philosophy and theory
708 Galleries and museums
709 Art history
730 Sculpture and sculptors
740 Drawing, graphic design and decorative arts
750 Paintings and painters
770 Photography and photographers
791 Film and cinema
792 Stage and theatre

However, art history and visual culture is a wide ranging discipline and you are likely to wish to consult materials from other areas such as History, Philosophy and Sociology  - to name just a few!  Library Search will help you locate these materials.

The vast majority of our journal articles are available in digital format, although we do keep older print journals in the Forum Library.

Our journal databases may offer full text access or abstracts only, or sometimes a mixture of both.

  • Full text access allows you to view or download the entire journal article from that database.
  • Abstract only access provides a summary of the content of a journal article and in many cases, links out to full-text sources held digitally in our collections.

Many of our databases fully index their content, by organising them under various subjects. This helps ensure that all potentially relevant articles are captured when searches are carried out.

Use Library Search to find Journal Titles and articles that relate to your research/study area.

For targeted searching, select a research database and explore the published literature in your field. Key databases are flagged above.

Our wide range of archive collections contain digitised copies of documents, letters, books , photographs and other primary sources. The Primary Sources libguide introduces the library’s collections and provides links to as well as some freely available archival collections online. 

It’s worth remembering that not everything you require will be available online! You may need to make research trips to access print material as well. Don’t forget the Library’s Special Collections archive holds primary source material you can use.

There are a number of collections that can be accessed locally in the Exeter area.

Effective Searching & Referencing

It is important to plan your search strategy, and manage your search results so that you get the most from your online searching.

Keep a record of all the material you need to cite in your assignments, papers, projects etc. 

Use the Search Techniques and Referencing guidance to assist you.

  • It is  easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of information available to you.  
  • Invest time in planning an effective online search strategy so that you can quickly and easily discover relevant and high quality information. 


As you search you need to keep track of all the material you will be using in your academic work so that you can cite and reference it appropriately.

Top Tip

Always check your module handbook for specific departmental guidance on the style required for your assessed works and dissertations.  Check with your personal tutor or dissertation supervisor if you need clarification.

For more guidance take a look at:

Find out more about the skills support available to help you develop a range of academic skills including essay writing, referencing, critical reading and getting the most out of lectures.

Academic Skills Support

Sage Research Methods Online (SRMO) is a great resource to use when you are planning and conducting your research. 

It is targeted at social science researchers but is useful across all subject areas as it covers key research methodology topics that are applicable across the research spectrum.

Sage have produced a comprehensive LibGuide to help you get the best from the resource.

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