Research underpins all core purposes of the British Library. We play a key role in the UK research community and work with national and international partners to support and stimulate research of all kinds.

We lead and support research projects, supervise a range of collaborative PhDs, research placements and fellowships, and run a regular programme of training events. Our staff have extensive research expertise and we contribute actively to the development of research policy.

Our activities are summarised in the 2016-17 Research Report.

In addition to exploring these pages, you might find the following areas of the British Library’s website of interest:

Our Reference team can answer subject-specific research enquiries.

Find out how we contribute to Learning and higher education.

Read about our International collaborations.

How we collaborate

Doctoral research

We support postgraduate research through our Reading Rooms and online resources, through collaborative projects, and through research training events.

Projects and partnerships

We actively lead on and support research.

Research expertise

Our research, professional and methodological expertise covers all disciplines and spans traditional and digital scholarship in all its forms.

Training and events

We convene and support research events and training activities throughout the year.


As the national library of the United Kingdom, we are an integral part of the national research infrastructure and have an active approach to research and higher education policy.


Call for Proposals for AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships

5 October 2018

Apply by 23 November 2018.

Explore key works of early 20th – century classical music

20 September 2018

Our latest online resource provides unprecedented access to our music collection

British Library publishes inaugural Research Report

24 September 2018

Find out about the British Library's diverse research activity.

Apply for a 2019/20 Chevening Fellowship at the British Library

10 August 2018

The application window is now open for two 12 month fellowships at the British Library for international experts. Deadline: 6 November 2018.

Case studies

More Case studies
…This placement introduced me to a career path I had not considered before.…

During her PhD research placement, Laura examined the Library’s holdings of North American migrant literature.

…Data visualisation tools allowed me to present a new perspective on the EAP projects in Africa…

Data visualisation tools allowed me to present a new perspective on the EAP projects in Africa.

…I think one of the underlying principles of the Fellowship… is that you might just be surprised by what you can find [at the BL].…

Exploring the potential for innovative sociological research with the British Sociological Association.

…A PhD can be a lonely journey, but collaborative PhDs are certainly not that.…

Investigating constructions of identity in the works and archive of the writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

Research collaboration events

Doctoral Open Days 2018/19


Practical and inspiring open days for first year PhD students.

The Annual Equality Lecture: Professor Kalwant Bhopal


Social justice, exclusion and white privilege in universities

Feed the Mind 2018


From postcolonial stamps to Ethiopian magic, this series of inspiring talks explores the diversity of collaborative research taking place at the British Library.

Blog posts

Recording of the week: Montserrat Volcano Observatory

Monday, October 15, 2018

This week's selection comes from Emme Ledgerwood, Collaborative Doctoral Award student with the British Library's Oral History department and Leicester University. “I think great science comes from this natural curiosity” This recording for #EarthScienceWeek comes from Stephen Sparks, a volcanologist...

Building Library Labs around the world - the event and complete our survey!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Posted by Mahendra Mahey, BL Labs Manager. Building Library Labs Around the world, leading national, state, university and public libraries are creating 'digital lab type environments' so that their digitised and born digital collections / data can be opened up...

Visualising the Endangered Archives Programme project data on Africa, Part 3. Finishing up

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sarah FitzGerald is a linguistics PhD researcher at the University of Sussex investigating the origins and development of Cameroon Pidgin English. She is currently a research placement student in the British Library’s Digital Scholarship Team, using data from the Endangered...

Canada and Its Literature: A Tale of More Than Two Cultures 2/2

Friday, August 17, 2018

Language has inevitably played a significant role in Canada’s immigration patterns. Reflecting the country’s colonial history and occupation by both the French and the English, the two most commonly-spoken languages in Canada remain English (the mother tongue of 56% of Canadians) and French (that of 21% of Canadians). Of course, other factors influence human relocation, but it is easy to see the attraction of such a linguistic context for immigrants from former colonies.

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