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Subject guides: Geography

Geography section

Welcome to the UCL Library Services subject guide to Geography. This guide provides links to and information about resources relating to geography subjects and covers both our printed and electronic collections:

Printed collections in UCL Library Services are described below. There is also information about:

WISE for Arts & Humanities, Laws, Social and Historical Sciences and SSEES

WISE is a comprehensive, step-by-step online guide to finding and using information effectively. It includes detailed information on how to use all the resources listed above. Go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/moodle, and log in with your UCL userid and password. Click on WISE and select WISE for Arts & Humanities, Laws, Social and Historical Sciences and SSEES to start the course (If WISE does not appear in your list of courses click on “All courses” in bottom right hand corner then select WISE and register yourself on the course.)

Training sessions
For Information about our Library Training Programme covering use of the library, ejournals or specific databases - please see the following page at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/infoskill.shtml or arrange individual tuition with the Subject Librarian (contact details below).

Printed collections

The Geography Collection is on the first floor of the Science Library (DMS Watson Building). Relevant material may be found in other collections in the Science Library and also in the Main Library (Wilkins Building) or the Environmental Studies Library (Bartlett School - Wates House). See separate pages for maps and opening hours.

Book collections

To locate books, remember to use Explore, the library search facility. Explore will give details of the library site and collection in which the book can be found.

The Library has its own classification scheme for arranging books on the shelves (called Garside classification). The classmark for a book generally consists of a subject (indicating a collection within the library) followed by letters and numbers; e.g. GEOGRAPHY H 40 JON for a book on population geography or GEOGRAPHY Q 58 OCO for a book on African cities.
An outline of the classification system for Geography is available here.

Some of the Library's historic source material is kept off-site. The Special Collections site holds UCL's collection of manuscripts, archives and rare books. This material is currently held in The National Archives at Kew. Users can visit to view the material if they make an appointment. The Library's Stores hold research material that is currently not in high demand and material can be requested from here. For information about requesting material from our store, see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/store.shtml.

Journal collections

We have collections of journals in print and electronic format, and often hold titles in both formats. Search Explore to find out whether we hold the journal electronically and/or in print. Explore will tell you which years of a journal we hold and where. For electronic journals there will be a link to a journal website. There is also a UCL webpage listing the electronic journals UCL members have access to. The vast majority of our geography-related journals will be available electronically.

The print Geography journal (or periodical) collection is shelved in the Geography Reading Room on the first floor. Science journals can be photocopied in the Library. Older journals may be held in our off-site store (Explore will give information).

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Electronic collections

Many electronic resources are available to registered members of UCL and the majority of resources are available off-site as well as on-site. Use your UCL userid and password to access these. Please see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/e-res for more information.

There are a small number of resources that require passwords other than your UCL password - they are listed here - passwords.


The Library subscribes to a number of bibliographic databases (or indexing and abstracting services), of which the following might be particularly useful for geography:

GEOBASE is a multi-disciplinary database that indexes and abstracts journal articles and book chapters in human and physical geography, ecology, earth sciences, oceanography, geomechanics, environmental sciences and development studies.

IBSS (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences), indexes journal articles and book chapters in social science subjects including anthropology, geography, economics and political sciences.

WEB OF SCIENCE is a multidisciplinary database made up of three citation indexes: the Science Citation Index, the Social Science Citation Index, the Arts & Humanities Citation Index. The indexes cover over 10,000 journals and are a useful starting point for searching on many topics.

Other databases which may be useful are:

Census Information allows access to several different databases of census data. You need to register to use some of these data sets - see this information about accessing the Census Registration Service for more information.

Digimap - On-line digital mapping and data extraction facilities using Ordnance Survey data of Great Britain. You need to register to use this website. See this information about accessing Digimap to find out more.

EconLit indexes economics journals.

Georef is a geoscience database, indexing journal articles on geology and earth sciences.

Greenfile is a index of scholarly, government and general interest publications covering all aspects of the human impact on the environment.

JSTOR is an archive of important scholarly journals.

Landmap provides access to a range of spatial data, including optical data, radar imagery and elevation data.

SCOPUS indexes a wide range of material from scientific, medical, technical and social science areas.

For a complete list of databases available at UCL, see the list at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/database/. There are lists of resources that are useful for researching different subject areas here, as well.


Metalib is a gateway to UCL's electronic resources. You can access all of the above databases via Metalib and much more. Metalib allows cross-searching of resources - i.e. it's possible to search more than one database at a time. There are areas within Metalib to store your search results and your selected list of databases.

Electronic journals

A large number of journals are available electronically to registered members of UCL.

You can search Explore to find details of the electronic journals you can access (limit your search to'UCL journals'). Click on'view online' to open the SFX screen linking to the journal.

Alternatively, view an alphabetical list of electronic journals that UCL members have access to and link through to the journals from here. The years we have access to electronically will be listed in both places.

Exam papers

Copies of UCL examination papers for undergraduate courses (from 1997 onwards) are available on the web at: http://exam-papers.ucl.ac.uk/SocHist/Geog/


Other internet resources

Government Departments and websites -

A-Z of government departments on DirectGov, the UK government portal.

Europa - Portal site for the European Union, providing information about EU affairs, leglislation and policies.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) - The executive office of the UK Statistics Authority. The ONS website provides access to a wide range of statistical information about the UK's economy and society. Reports such as Social Trends and Regional Trends can also be downloaded from the site.

UK National Statistics Publications Hub provides access to all government produced National Statistics - reports published by ONS as well as other government departments.


Eldis - Development gateway from Institute of Development Studies. Documents can be downloaded on development policy, practice and research from over 4,500 different development organisations. There are also profiles of different developing countries.

OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. UCL members have access to OECD iLibrary which allows access to the full text of OECD books and reports and the OECD statistical database.

United Nations Millennium Development Goals webpage provides information about the progess of the Millennium Development Goals.

Many reports and publications can be downloaded from UN sites such as the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund. Useful reports include the Human Development Reports and State of the World Population reports.

The World Bank gives financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. Many World Bank documents and reports can be downloaded free of charge, such as the World Bank Development Reports.

World Bank Global Development Finance statistics - requires UCL login

World Bank World Development Indicators - requires UCL login.

Many World Bank databases are available to search at the World Bank Databank.


Ecology, Conservation and Environment

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - the UK's Centre of Excellence for research in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. It is part of the Natural Environment Research Council which is one of the UK's agencies for funding and managing research in the environmental sciences.

EarthTrends - a portal of environmental information from the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank.

Global Environment Facility - this body provides grants to developing countries for projects related to biodiversity, climate change and other global environmental issues. Publications describing GEF's projects are available to download.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific body that reviews worldwide research on climate change. Scientists submit research on a voluntary basis. The IPCC is open to member countries of the UN (United Nations) and the WMO (World Meterological Society). IPCC Asssessment reports are available to download from this site.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a UN agency set up to coordinate international cooperation on environmental protection. Many reports and publications are available to download.

Worldwatch Institute is an environmental research institute that produces annual 'State of the World' reports. Makes available research on global sustainability.


Urban Geography

UN-Habitat is the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. It promotes social and environmentally sustainable towns and cities.

Geographical Societies

International Geographical Union

Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) - the learned and professional society for geography.



The British Library Map Room in the St Pancras building contains maps from all over the world dating back to the 15th Century. The collection is the national map library of Great Britain and contains over 4.25 million atlases, maps, globes and books on cartography. Do check the requirements for registering for a reader pass in the British Library, before visiting, however.

Senate House Map Holdings - Senate House holds a wide-ranging collection of maps, especially London maps. The collection is in closed access however and available through prior appointment only.

The Bodleian Library Map Room at Oxford University, holds an extensive collection of maps and has a large number of useful links to other websites (under 'Map Links').

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Other libraries

The Senate House Library (University of London in Malet Street) has some relevant collections, especially in human geography and Latin American and Caribbean studies. Any registered member of UCL can join the Library and borrow books. Also, in many cases, electronic resources can be accessed offsite, using the Senate House Library card.

The SOAS Library (School of Oriental & African Studies) has excellent collections in African, Asian and Middle East material, which is relevant for regional studies. It is available for reference use by any member of UCL, and taught postgraduate, research postgraduate and academic staff may borrow material. Please see Accessing other libraries for more information.

The LSE Library is one of the largest collections in the world devoted to economics and the social sciences. It is available for reference use by undergraduates and you are asked to fill in a registration form available on the LSE website before visiting. Academic staff and research postgraduates should also fill in the form and may borrow material from the LSE library with a Sconul Access Band A card. (The library may limit access to materials which are designated for its own taught courses.) Please see information on the Sconul Access Scheme for information about borrowing material for research postgraduates and academic staff.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Library has valuable information on water management, public health and tropical medicine. UCL undergraduate students may access the library on a reference-only basis and PhD MPhil students can borrow material with a Sconul Access Band A card. See the library information on visitors.

For links to other library catalogues, please see catalogues and homepages for other libraries and for information about using other libraries, see Accessing other libraries. The website COPAC is very useful for searching for materials in other libraries - it searches many research and university library catalogues in the UK, including Senate House Library, University of London college libraries and the Britsh Library.

If material you would like to see is unavailable in nearby London libraries, you can request an interlibrary loan.

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Contact details

If you have any queries about using the Library, please come to the Enquiry Desk, or ask for the Subject Librarian for Geography:

Polly Geater

Room 109, First Floor, Science Library, DMS Watson Building

E-mail p.geater@ucl.ac.uk

Telephone: internal: 3 2791; external: 020 7679 2791

Available Wednesday (working from home), Thursday 10am - 4pm and Friday 8.30am to 6.30pm.


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Last modified 26th September 2005

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