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Course readings service

About the Course Readings Service

The Course Readings Service gives taught course students access to materials that are in high demand. Access is provided in digital format where possible (see Digital Course Readings); these digital readings are made available through online reading lists. Otherwise, readings are in paper format (Paper Course Readings). (More information about format.) This service replaces the Teaching Collection service.

The Teaching and Learning Support Section (TLSS) administers the service. The section is based in room 402 of the the Science Library (DMS Watson building). Contact TLSS.

Course readings: what can be included

Course readings are typically book extracts and journal articles, but can include copies of images and diagrams from printed sources, lecture notes and other core course materials.

The Course Readings Service takes advantage of UK copyright licensing schemes (administered by the Copyright Licensing Agency) to make available material covered by copyright. There are certain restrictions on what material can be added to the collection without permission. Considering these limits when selecting material for inclusion in the collection can avoid delays and frustration. Licence limits. What the Licence means for format of course readings.

Please note that articles that are readily available in full text via UCL's E-journals service, and material that is easily accessible on public websites, cannot be included as course readings.

Using the Course Readings Service

There is a simple procedure for submitting an extract. Please pay careful attention to the deadlines indicated.

  1. (a) Collect full bibliographic information relating to the reading you wish to submit.
    (b) Complete and sign a Course Readings submission form (one for each extract). Download form.

  2. Optional. Digital readings will be delivered via an online reading list. If you would like a full online reading list containing all your course readings, please submit your list to TLSS by e-mail at least 6 WEEKS before it will be required by students.

  3. Make a photocopy of the extract, from an edition held by UCL Library. (If both American and British editions are available, please photocopy the British version. (More details.)

  4. Photocopy the front and back of the title page of the book or journal from which the extract comes. More information.

  5. Send the submission form and both photocopies to TLSS in the internal post (or hand them in to any issue desk) at least 4 WEEKS before the extract will be required by students. If you would like course readings for term 1, it is advisable to submit them to TLSS 8 weeks before the start of term: that is, by 1st August.
Course Readings Submission Form

All extracts submitted to the Course Readings Service must be accompanied by

  • a submission form, giving details of the author, title, source of the extract, date and place of publication, and publisher, as well as the lecturer's name, course details and number of students (Download form);
  • photocopies of the front and back of the title page of the book or journal from which the extract comes (this page gives details of publisher, date and place of publication).

This documentation is extremely helpful to TLSS staff, enabling them to ensure compliance with copyright law and the CLA Licence (see Copyright), and to attach the correct bibliographic information to the extract.

What Happens Next
  1. TLSS staff will check each course reading to determine whether it can be digitised under the terms of our CLA Licence. Can it be digitised?

  2. If the reading can be digitised, TLSS staff will create an online reading list using the appropriate bibliographic details. This will be used to deliver the digital reading to students via the SFX button. The reading will then be scanned and uploaded, and the SFX link to the digital reading enabled.

    If the lecturer has taken up the option of a full online reading list, TLSS staff will enter the bibliographic details of all the items on the list. Once the list has been published, students will be able to use it to search the Library catalogue automatically. The SFX button will allow them to link directly to full text electronic journal articles and websites referred to in the list. SFX also includes options to search Senate House, COPAC and InforM25 automatically. More about SFX.

  3. If the reading cannot be digitised, but can be made available in paper format, TLSS will add it to the service as a paper course reading.

All material made available through the Course Readings Service must comply with the provisions of copyright law and UCL's CLA Licence. More details.

Format: Can It Be Digitised?


  • UCL Library owns a copy of the book or journal from which the extract was taken;
  • edition from which the extract was taken was published in the UK or USA and does not appear in any of the CLA's Excluded Works categories or the CLA's Excluded US Publishers List the extract falls within the limits set in the Licence (usually 1 chapter/1 article/5%).


If the extract was published outside the UK or US, but complies with the other conditions above, the CLA Licence may allow it to be included in paper format, or as a paper course reading.


  • If UCL Library does not hold the source of the extract, it will be necessary to acquire a copy (either by suggesting it for purchase to the appropriate subject librarian, or by obtaining a copyright fee paid copy from the British Library), or to obtain permission from the copyright holder.
  • If the extract exceeds the limits allowed, or is from a publisher not participating in the CLA Licence, it will be necessary to obtain permission from the copyright holder.

Where permission is required, TLSS can contact the publisher on behalf of the lecturer in question. Publishers usually make a charge for use of non-licensed material. All permission costs must be paid by the requesting department. Charges for digital copies vary but are likely to be calculated on a per page per student basis. Typically, a publisher will charge 5-10 pence per page per student, although more may be charged. Paper copies attract lower charges. TLSS will ask a lecturer to confirm that funding is available for any permission charges before we write to a pubisher. If no funds are available we will not request permission.

When submitting a reading that will require permission, please bear in mind that publishers often do not respond for several weeks. Items from sources not held by UCL Library, or that exceed the limits above, should therefore be submitted as far in advance of the required date as possible.

View a digram that explains the process of making a course reading available.

Digital Course Readings

Digital course readings are extracts from books and print journals that TLSS staff have scanned and uploaded as PDF files. Links are then made from citations in online reading lists to these PDFs. Students can use the SFX link (that appears next to every item in an online reading list) to access the full text of the extract. Students registered on the course may download and print out a copy of the extract. (Please note that digital readings do not appear on the Library catalogue.)

Lecturers who have established Moodle courses are welcome to use Moodle as a means of delivering access to digital course readings. TLSS staff will be happy to advise you further, and to provide details of links once readings have been uploaded in the usual way.

TLSS retains back-up copies of scanned extracts. If extracts are to be used in future years, it is a simple procedure to re-publish the appropriate online reading list, including the links to digitised readings, amended as necessary.

Paper Course Readings

Paper course readings are photocopies from books and print journals that cannot be included as digital course readings. (See Format: can it be digitised?) These are kept in envelopes at the Main, Science, Bartlett and Institute of Archaeology issue desks, and are normally issued for three hour periods or overnight from 4pm. However, they may be given a two-day loan status on request.

Each item is assigned a number (eg. SCIENCE 2546). Students can locate the item and its number by searching on the Library catalogue by author and title, just as for a book. It is also possible to search by entering the department and course code in a Keyword search (eg. ANTH7004).

For reasons of space, copies of any one item are normally limited to a maximum of two. (Exceptions are possible if a class is unusually large; TLSS staff are happy to give advice.)

If there are more than 6 readings for a course that cannot be made available as PDF, and the lecturer would prefer a bound paper studypack to hand out to students, then the TLSS will advise the lecturer on how this can be achieved. For further details see study pack preparation guidelines.

Please note that if a reading submitted falls outside the terms of the CLA Licence, permission from the copyright holder will be necessary.

Maintenance of Course Readings

Course readings remain available while the course for which they are intended is taught. On an annual basis, TLSS staff review course readings, providing lecturers with information about readings that are in the collection and asking them which of those readings are needed for the coming year. If no response is received, it is assumed that the readings are no longer needed. If a particular digital reading is required in a future year, the existing PDF file can be used: there is no need for an additional submission from the lecturer.

If paper course readings are mutilated or stolen, or pages are found to be missing, TLSS staff will inform the lecturer and request a replacement copy if the material is still required.

Please note that lecturers can request that items be removed from the Course Readings Service at any point.

Contact TLSS

TLSS staff are happy to answer questions and give further advice.

June Hedges
Co-Ordinator, Teaching and Learning Support Section
ext: 30106
Hazel Ingrey
Supervisor, Teaching and Learning Support Section
ext: 32087
Pamela Clarke
Digital Course Support Officer, Teaching and Learning Support Section
ext: 32087

E-mail enquiries should be directed to: library-tlss@ucl.ac.uk

Please send readings and submission forms to:
Room 402
Science Library (DMS Watson)

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Last modified 27 September 2011

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