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Liberal Arts Subject Guide: Online library support

Help and guidance on finding resources in your subject area

Welcome to the Liberal Arts 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 Getting Started with the Library guide to learn all about the Library basics. 


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Sarah Jones (Exeter)

Online Tutorials

Click on the image to access the tutorial.

Liberal Arts Think Tank worksheet 2022

Reading for leisure

Take a break from your recommended academic reading and explore e-books and audiobooks on the Libby app.


More information can be found on the Libby guide.

Where to start your search

Library Search

Search across the print and online collections for books, chapters, articles, journals and lots more. 

For more in depth research in databases and archives, use the A-Z Databases List.

Expand your searching

Key Liberal Arts Databases

Research databases index the global literature and provide references to journal articles, books, conference proceedings,  reports etc that match your search criteria. 

These are key databases for the Liberal Arts.  They are multi-disciplinary in nature, covering a wide range of subjects, themes and disciplines.


Additional databases can be found via the A-Z Databases list.


To find subject specific or specialised databases, choose a subject from the list below and explore the relevant Subject Guides.


Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is an extensive archive of free-to-air TV programmes and radio shows

  • Search the archive to find programmes relating to your subject
  • Record programmes from over 65 free-to-air channels and add to the archive for others to view
  • Create your own clips and playlists

Humanities Index is an international bibliographic index of scholarly research
across the humanities. Records include journals, reports, newspapers, conference reports  and other content from 1962 onwards.

Subject coverage:

Archaeology, Current Affairs, Education, Economic, Environment, Gender Studies, History, Law, Political Science, Religion

Find out more here.

NOTE: As a bibliographic index, this database contains records of scholarly material, not necessarily the full text content itself (although many records are linked to full-text).

The video below shows how to search EBSCO databases such as Humanities International Complete:

Watch the video to find out more about IBSS

Use the IBSS LibGuide for guidance and search tips

JSTOR provides access to scholarly book, journal and primary sources via an easy to use search interface.

Use the How to Search JSTOR LibGuide for an introduction to the service or take a look at JSTOR's Vimeo channel for educational and instructional videos. 

JSTOR holds content across the social sciences.

This video shows you how to use JSTOR ebooks.

The quick reference guide will provide you with a brief overview of the service. The video below provides some great tips on how to improve your searching.

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

You can browse by subject e.g. Liberal Arts or type (e.g.maps, news, images etc.) or search to find your required resource.

Explore the full A to Z Database list:

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum is located on the Streatham Campus and contains a wealth of moving image memorabilia from the 17th century to the present and is an important collection relating to the history of film and and moving image.

Click here to find out about the collections, visiting and more.

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

I am looking for ...


You have access to hundreds of online books that cover liberal studies subjects. Use Library Search and search by topic to discover relevant material. 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 multidisciplinary nature of the liberal arts means that you are likely to require information across a range of subjects. The following information shows you how library books are organised so that you can quickly find them on the shelves.

 The Forum Library print books are arranged in Dewey Decimal Classification order.  This means that each books is assigned a classification number which is labelled on the book spine. Books on similar topics are grouped together.  Find out more with our Classmarks  guide.  

The Dewey Decimal Classification system has 10 broad classes:

  • 000 - 099: Computer Science, general reference works and Information Science
  • 100 - 199: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 200 - 299: Religion
  • 300 - 399: Social Sciences
  • 400 - 499: Languages and Linguistics
  • 500 - 599: Science (including Mathematics)
  • 600 - 699: Technology
  • 700 - 799: Arts and Recreation
  • 800 - 899: Literature
  • 900 - 999: History and Geography

Each of these topics may be further divided into more specific subject areas, e.g. 590—Zoological Sciences, 595 Other Invertebrates
The numbers can be subdivided further using a decimal point and additional numbers after the point. The more numbers, the more specific the classification, e.g. 595.7 Insects, 595.789 Butterflies.

After the numbers you will usually find 3 letters - either the first 3 letters of the author's surname or the title of the book, e.g. 595.789 HIG.

An e-book collection that provides brief introductions to scholarly topics and can be browsed by subject.



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.

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 here.

Most of our collections are available in full text online. Current, recent and historical news collections are all available.

See the News Libguide for more details.



The University has access to an extensive range of online primary source materials. These contain digitised copies of documents, letters, books, photographs and other primary sources. 

The Primary Sources Libguide will help you identify the best databases for your research. As we have over 550 Primary Source collections, the collections have been categorised by Country, Time Period and Theme so that you can quickly find the most relevant collections for your research.


A full list of our primary sources databases can be found here. Below is a sample of some of the archive collections.

The Liberal Arts programme is multidisciplinary, the resources you require will depend on your perspective major and areas of interest. For more specialised resources, explore the LibGuides relevant to the subject / topic interests. For example, Art History,  HistoryBusiness and News Resources . You can see the full LibGuides list here.

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 study skills including essay writing, referencing, critical reading and getting the most out of lectures.

Study 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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