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Reading List Guide: What makes a great reading list?

A quick introduction to the reading list service from the Library

Criteria for a great reading list

  • The list should give students simple and easy access to the resources they need for study.
  • They should be clearly structured, for example reading materials mapped to topics or week by week in the term or semester. Here is an example of a clearly structured reading list.
  • Lists should indicate how the reading aligns with the module/topic learning outcomes.
  • Annotations are useful, for example "Chapter 4 gives a good overview of xyz topic".
  • The importance should be set, for example indicate if it is essential, recommended, or further reading. It's beneficial for students to have clear and realistic expectations of what should be read.
  • The lists should be available in advance of the start of the module to enable the library to supply the items and enable students to do some background reading and/or purchase the materials if they wish.
  • Lists should include signposting to further support, for example links to the library help pages.
  • They should include a range of formats, for example books, journals, videos, audio, to support different learning styles and to give students a varied experience and a rich list of references.
  • Ideally, lists should be of limited length - very long lists can be overwhelming, so it is best to have clear reading expectations for the module defined.
  • They should be diverse and represent different perspectives, for example by authors of different races, genders, cultures, etc. See the Decolonising your Reading List LibGuide.
  • The list should be reviewed annually to ensure currency. Books on your list will not automatically update when there is a new edition, so check you are up to date.
  • The University of Exeter Library has a Digital First policy so all materials should be available electronically wherever possible. This supports 24/7 international access and shared use across large student cohorts in a way that is not possible through the circulation of print material.

Oxford Brookes guidance

Reading list labels article

Worcester reading list project

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