MA/Postgraduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies

If you want to progress in library or information work, you need a professional qualification, normally chartered Membership of CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. But before you can obtain this, you need to complete a postgraduate programme such as ours.

Applications are encouraged from good graduates with previous library experience.

For entry to the MA you need to have at least a second-class honours degree. We also expect that students will have about a year’s experience of working in a library or information service by the time the course begins. A graduate traineeship is best (see the CILIP website), but other kinds of work, for example, as a library or information assistant, will often be as good. Casual work in a library (such as shelving), or administrative support roles (such as secretarial or financial administration posts) are not usually regarded as appropriate. Ask if you are unsure whether your experience is enough.

We like to have a good mix of students from different sectors and with varied experience, so even if your background is not conventional you may still be a good candidate.

Where practicable, all suitably qualified applicants are interviewed.

Length of programme
You can do the MA in one year (September-end of August) full-time, two years part-time, or over up to five years on a modular basis.

The Postgraduate Diploma takes one academic year full-time, two academic years part-time or up to five academic years on a modular basis. The only difference from the MA is that you do not do a dissertation. If you wish, you can convert the Postgraduate Diploma to the full MA by taking the Dissertation module at a later date (within five years of completing the Diploma).

Part-time students undertake the programme on one day a week while continuing to work in their normal jobs. These should be in a library or information service. It can be hard work, but you have the benefit of being able to relate the theory that you learn on the course to the practice of your everyday work. At present part-time students attend on Tuesdays in the first year of the course, and on Mondays in the second; this situation is likely to continue in the future.

Modular students normally attend for half a day a week.

How to apply
The closing date for all applications has been extended to 12 January 2015 to allow for maintenance of the online application portal. For an application form, please follow the link to: Graduate study

Further information for applicants

What the programme consists of
The programme aims to be broad-based: we are not trying to produce graduates who can work in only one kind of library or information service. The skills we try to impart are therefore intended to apply in a wide range of different jobs. Nevertheless, within the general framework of the programme there is plenty of scope for you to follow your particular subject interests.

Core courses
You have to complete the six core courses, all of which cover topics which are fundamental to the running of any library or information service:

INSTG004 Cataloguing and classification 1 ***
INSTG006 Collection management and preservation ***
INSTG014 Information sources and retrieval ***
INSTG020 Introduction to Management ***
INSTG027 Principles of computing and information technology ***
INSTG030 Professional awareness ***

UCL students can click on *** to go directly to the password-protected pages.

Optional courses

In addition, you choose TWO from the following optional modules:

INSTG002 Advanced preservation ***
INSTG005 Cataloguing and classification 2 ***
INSTG007 Database systems analysis and design ***
INSTG008 Digital resources in the humanities ***
INSTG038 Electronic publishing ***
INSTG012 Historical bibliography ***
INSTG022 Manuscript studies ***
INSTG055 Publishing today ***
INSTG032 Creation and capture ***
INSTG034 Services to children and young people ***

We normally try to offer most of the options each year, but we cannot guarantee to offer any individual option. If you particularly want to do something please ask about it.

Note Because part-time students attend on only one day their choice of options is restricted to those available on the part-time days (usually the most popular ones such as Historical Bibliography, or Services to Children). Students who can arrange to come on two half days in the relevant term may of course choose other options if they wish.


MA candidates do a dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words on a topic of their choice, within the subject area.

Student handbook for 2014/15 (requires UCL password)

Preliminary reading list for 2014/15

Full-time timetable 2014/15
Part-time Year 1 timetable 2014/15
Part-time Year 2 timetable 2014/15

You will need to attend the compulsory modules, plus two optional modules. Note that optional modules are shown in italics.

Some publications by former students


This well established programme is accredited by CILIP (to May 2019).

Page last modified on 21 sep 14 22:05