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This page explains what the subject of politics 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.

The study of how people organise themselves in response to, or to influence, events and the activities of others around them. This includes studies of:

  • political organisation in national, international, and sub-national groups
  • citizenship and participation in decision-making
  • policy formation
  • public accountability, elections and party politics
  • public administration
  • theory and philosophy of politics.

Collection overview

Comprehensive holdings of UK published materials about the subjects above, including studies of countries outside the UK and of international organisations. Political studies are well-represented in many of the regional collections, including: US, South Asia, Central and East European, Caribbean, and African collections. 

Related collections include official publications, the publications of international organisations, and newspapers.

The Sound Archive has many relevant holdings, from speeches of politicians, to accounts recorded as part of National Life Stories.

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

Speakers Corner Trust - Forum for Debate

We are providing resource guides for the Speakers Corner Trust's Forum for Debate series. Recent debates have included the topic of voting reform in general elections, and features contributions from Lord Norton and the Electoral Reform Society.The Forum aims to stimulate broader debate on issues of current concern.

Myths and Realities debate series

In collaboration with the Academy of Social Sciences, and supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, we run a series of debates to examine public and social issues, challenge common myths, and show how research in social sciences can contribute to better understanding and providing solutions for problems. See our events web pages for more information on coming and past debates.

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