Doctoral Open Days – Explore Our Research Collections

Library visitors sitting chatting

Practical and inspiring open days for first year PhD students new to the British Library

Have you just started your PhD? Our Doctoral Open Days are a chance for you to discover the British Library. Learn about the extent of the Collection:  manuscripts, archives, books, maps, visual art, sound recordings, newspapers, zines, stamps, official publications, journals, databases, websites … and more! Spanning over 3,500 years of history, drawn from across the world and covering hundreds of languages, the Library’s Collection is an essential research resource, unique in its size, variety and potential to support scholarship across a wide range of different disciplines and subject areas. 

We understand researching the Collection can be an overwhelming process. To help get you started we have designed these interdisciplinary Open Days which will introduce you to the Library, explain the practicalities of using our catalogues and services, and offer tips on navigating our fascinating, vast and diverse physical and digital collections.  Each day will present generic tools and helpful hints, with reference to a different thematic area or time period of the Library’s collection, providing a starting point for your own research.  As such please do choose the event you feel is of most interest and relevance to your studies.    

These Open Days are aimed at first year PhD students who are new to the Library.  

Booking is essential – Places cost £10 each and include lunch and refreshments.

20 January 2020
Introducing the Collections: Asian and African Collections

27 January 2020
Introducing the Collections: Music

29 January 2020
Introducing the Collections at Boston Spa and Beyond

3 February 2020
Introducing the Collections: British and European - From Antiquity to 1600

17 February 2020
Introducing the Collections: British and European Collections After 1600

24 February 2020
Introducing the Collections: Contemporary Society and Culture

28 February 2020
Introducing the Collections: The Americas

You will generally find attending one event will give you tools relevant across all the themes. However, if you are interested in booking more than one event, please email  BOOKING ESSENTIAL.  Places cost £10 each and include lunch and refreshments.

To prepare for the Open Days:

Follow the link in your confirmation email to complete our pre-event survey.

Pre-register for a free Reader Pass.

Check the email address you used for booking to receive updated information and timings in the run up to the event.

All events take place in the British Library Knowledge Centre at St Pancras, London, except for the event on 29 January 2020, which takes place at the Library’s site in Boston Spa, Yorkshire.

Previous Doctoral Open Days attendees

“A stimulating day with lots of ideas and useful to meet the other students”

“Overall an excellent experience and something I would definitely recommend to others because it has changed how I will research forever”

“Thank you for the day. Useful. I'm sure I'll be back. Never thought of using archives for my PhD but will have a think outside the box!”

How can an open day help you? View some case studies and read our 5 key reasons to attend a British Library Doctoral Open Day.