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Subject guides: Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy section

Welcome to the UCL Library Services subject guide to Physics and Astronomy. The content is regularly revised and feedback or suggestions are welcomed. The printed collections in UCL Library Services are described below. There is also information about:

Regular training sessions on electronic library resources are held in the Library. For details see Information Skills Training. Individual training sessions on specific databases and other electronic resources can be arranged on request.

WISE for Built Environment, Engineering, Maths and Physical Sciences: an online guide to finding and using information effectively. Go to UCL Moodle, and log in with your UCL userid and password. Click on WISE and select Built Environment, Engineering, Maths and Physical Sciences to start the course.

Printed collections

The PHYSICS collection is on the 3rd floor of the Science Library, in the DMS Watson Building. The collection is divided into several sections. Some important ones are as follows:

PHYSICS A - introductions to physics
PHYSICS C - general mathematical physics
PHYSICS E - astronomy, astrophysics and space science
PHYSICS J - properties of matter
PHYSICS Q - high energy physics
PHYSICS R - quantum physics
PHYSICS S - medical physics

Other sections of the Library you might need are:

GEOLOGY (Science Library, 3rd floor)
CHEMISTRY (Science Library, 3rd floor)

ENGINEERING (Science Library, 4th floor)

Use Explore to find the exact class mark (shelf location) of a book.

Journal collections
The library holds both print and electronic journals (periodicals). Journals cannot be borrowed but may be photocopied, subject to copyright. Printed Physics journals are kept in the PHYSICAL SCIENCES Pers section on the third floor of the Science Library. Older journals and those which are also available electronically are held in the library store. These can be requested via the Store Request Form and will be available the next day.

Use Explore to search for journals the library has access to (select UCL journals in the resource list). Explore also allows you to search for articles within some journals (select Journals articles). Contents of journals can also be searched via indexes and abstracts.

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Electronic collections

Material in electronic form is available to registered members of UCL. Users are advised to access these resources via the links from the UCL Library website. If you are off-site, you will be prompted for your UCL userid and password.

Indexes, abstracts and e-books
The following are relevant to physics. For a complete list of databases available at UCL, see the A-Z list.

  • Inspec is produced by the IET and covers the literature of physics back to 1969.
  • Web of Science (Science Citation Index) indexes over 6000 science journals from 1981 onwards. The Web of Science help pages offer useful tips on effective search strategies.
  • SCOPUS is a multi-disciplinary database containing references to journal articles, conference proceedings, trade publications, book series and web resources. For further information see the SCOPUS online tutorials.
  • Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics is a comprehensive reference work with over 2,750 full text articles. Only available from UCL computers.

MetaLib provides a single access point to electronic resources, enabling cross searching of abstracts and indexes, library catalogues and e journals. For full details see the Metalib guide.

Electronic journals
To look for a specific title, go to the A-Z list from the Library's Metalib pages. Physics and Astronomy titles can be browsed by selecting the subject tab from the same page.

For further information see Finding journals.

Other Internet resources

General resources

  • ADS Digital Library : the Astrophysics Data System from NASA links to online astronomy and astrophysics books, and points to a wealth of online resources.
  • Kaye and Laby : tables of physical and chemical constants.
  • The laws list : laws, rules, principles, effects, paradoxes, limits, constants and other related topics in physics and astronomy.
  • Physical Reference Data : from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
  • Physicsworld resources contains links to reference sources from the Institute of Physics (IOP).

Preprint collections

Databases and catalogues of astronomical objects

Exam papers
E versions of past exam papers can be found by searching here. Paper copies of exam papers for the current year for all Main and Science Library subjects are shelved in the Photocopying Room of the Main Library. Older papers are available in printed format and are kept in Stores. These can be requested by clicking here.

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Other libraries

The Senate House Library in Malet Street has relevant collections which UCL students can use.

All UCL staff and students can apply directly to the British Library for reference access. You will need to bring indentification showing proof of address, proof of signature and proof of student or research status (UCL ID card) in order to obtain a reader's pass.

See UCL's guide to using Other Libraries for more information.

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Contact details

The library contact for this subject is Robert Tomaszewski, based in Room 314 of the Science Library. Tel: extension 32634 or 020 7679 2634. Please contact for any questions regarding the collections and library resources or to arrange individual training sessions.

See the Science Library blog: Library news for Science and Engineering: to keep up to date with new resources, events and library news.

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Last modified 18 September 2012

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