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International relations

This page explains what the subject of international relations covers, gives an overview of the material the British Library holds for this subject, and advice on how you can find and use it. It also gives details of current activities for developing the collections for this subject.

International relations is concerned with:

  • the role of governments, international organisations and other groupings in promoting security and ensuring good governance
  • studies of the relationships between states, regional groupings, international and trans-national organisations
  • studies of the role of international corporations and aid agencies on development
  • studies of foreign policies; conflict and conflict resolution; and the use of 'soft' power e.g. cultural diplomacy.

Collection overview

Comprehensive holdings of UK-published popular and research-level publications. Particularly strong holdings of research-level books and journals published outside the UK, that relate to the UK relationship with its former colonies and administered territories. Collection strengths in this area also include North America, Latin America, and works in Hungarian and Slavonic languages.

The Library is a , holds extensive publications of International Organisations, and newspapers. The India Office Records are an essential resource for understanding Britain’s relationship with India.

The British Library receives all UK parliamentary and state papers, including those of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for International Development.

Finding aids

Social Sciences Enquiry team

For more help on using the Social Sciences collections, contact the Enquiry team at or telephone +44 (0)20 7412 7894 from 10.00 - 20.00 Mon- Thurs or 10.00 - 17.00 Friday.

Current activities

British Library Content Strategy

We have refined our Content Strategy (i.e what we collect now and in future). Please see the content strategy pages on our website. These pages are organised by subject. Please remember that different aspects of a research theme may be described under more than one subject. A subject will also cover a variety of research themes, so even though your topic may not be specifically listed, it will likely be found under one of our headings.

If you have comments on the Library's content strategy, we would be pleased to hear from you.

Ian Cooke
Lead Content Specialist - International and Political Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7676