The Law collection is housed in the Donaldson Reading Room on the 1st floor of the UCL Main Library, and is divided into three main sequences: books, law reports and legislation, and journals.
The loan collection is arranged by subject in accordance with Garside, UCL's own classification scheme. Each book has a shelfmark on the spine which consists
of the name of the collection, followed by a letter and number indicating the subject and the first three letters of the author's surname.
For example, EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials by Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca has the shelfmark LAW W 100 CRA, which indicates that it's shelved in the Donaldson Reading Room (LAW) in the European Union law section (W 100).
You will find dictionaries of legal terminology and abbreviations, such as Raistrick's Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations at the beginning of the law textbooks sequence. This is near the back of the Donaldson Reading Room on the right hand side as you enter. Other reference works such as The Digest, Current Law, and Halsbury's Laws of England are shelved in a separate section in the first bay on the right as you enter the Donaldson.
Materials relevant to the study of Law can also be found in the following Library collections:
- HUMAN RIGHTS (UCL Main Library - South, 1st floor) for national, international and comparative human rights and civil liberties
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (UCL Main Library - South, 2nd floor) for international law
- PUBLIC POLICY (UCL Main Library - South, 2nd floor) for constitutional and administrative law
- HISTORY (UCL Main Library - South, 2nd floor) for legal history
- PHILOSOPHY (UCL Main Library - South, 1st floor) for jurisprudence
- GEOGRAPHY (UCL Science Library, 1st floor) for environmental law
- MEDICAL SCIENCES (UCL Science Library, 2nd floor) and medical library sites for medical ethics and bioethics
- TOWN PLANNING (UCL Bartlett Library, Central House) for planning and construction law
Law reports and legislation
Law reports and legislation are grouped by jurisdiction. Legislation is shelved first within each jurisdiction, followed by law
report series arranged alphabetically by title.
The sequence starts in the
first bay on the left with England and Wales, and is followed by
material from Commonwealth jurisdictions and the United States.
National materials are followed by international materials, including the United Kingdom Treaty Series and reports of cases heard in the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice.
Legal journals and other periodicals are arranged alphabetically by title in a single sequence at the back of the Donaldson Reading Room on the right hand side. This sequence has the shelfmark LAW Pers (short for periodicals) on Explore (the Library online catalogue).
Law reports, legislation and legal journals can't be borrowed, but may be photocopied in the Library. See the Photocopying, Printing and Scanning Services webpage for further information.
UCL subscribes to a huge range of online journals. To find out if we have access to a specific title online, either consult the alphabetical
list of e-journals on MetaLib, or search Explore selecting 'UCL Journals' from the drop-down menu.
The following databases are a selection of those we subscribe to. A complete list of legal databases available at UCL can be accessed through Explore by clicking on Find Databases and selecting Law from the drop down list.
The two most comprehensive legal databases are:
- Lexis Library which provides access to key primary materials such as The Law Reports, The English Reports and consolidated versions of all UK legislation in force, as well as report series not available elsewhere such as the All England Law Reports, Industrial Relations Law Reports and Times Law Reports.
- Westlaw UK which provides access to a similar range of primary materials as Lexis Library. Content unique to the database includes the Common Market Law Reports, Criminal Appeal Reports and European Human Rights Reports, as well as major academic journals such as the Law Quarterly Review.
Most people develop a preference for one database over the
other, and provided you find what you are looking for, it doesn’t really
matter which you use. However, although there is considerable overlap between the two, it’s important to realise that no single database will provide you with everything you need, and it's well worth spending time learning how to use both effectively.
Journal indexes and citators
- JustCite is a legal citator and search engine and provides links to the full text of case reports and legislation in other databases, including Lexis Library and Westlaw. A number of the law reports we have access to online at UCL aren't listed in MetaLib, so this is a particularly useful resource for finding out which database to look in for a specific law report series.
The following databases are useful for searching for articles on a
specific subject and identifying where you can find them online:
- Legal Journals Index is part of Westlaw UK and indexes the contents of UK legal journals from 1986 onwards.
- Index to Legal Periodicals and Books indexes US legal journals as well as the leading titles from the UK and other Commonwealth countries from 1978 onwards.
- Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals covers periodicals from across the world dealing with foreign, international and comparative law.
Other Internet resources
- Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations enables you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative law.
- Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is designed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials and is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers.
- British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) provides access to the most comprehensive set of British and Irish legal materials freely available on the Internet, and is a particularly useful source of transcripts of judgments in unreported cases.
- Legislation.gov.uk is a government website maintained by The National Archives and provides access to UK legislation, as enacted, from 1267 to the present.
- EUR-Lex provides access to European Union legal information, including the Official Journal of the EU, case law of the General Court and Court of Justice, and consolidated versions of EU Treaties.
The information you need may not always be available at UCL, in which case you'll need to consult another library.
The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) in Russell Square is the legal research institute for the University of London and has one of the best collections of foreign, international and comparative legal materials in Britain. Access is restricted to postgraduate students and staff, but undergraduates may be given access to consult material not available elsewhere in the University of London if they have a letter of recommendation from their tutor or the UCL Law Librarian.
The Senate House Library (ULL) has an extensive collection of British official publications and some of the main legal journals. Access is available to all UCL staff and students.
The library of the London School of Economics (LSE) is a depository for the European Union, United Nations and the United States Government and has extensive holdings of official publications from the UK and overseas. Reference access is available to all UCL students. Borrowing may be possible for staff.
Further information about how to gain access to these and other libraries is available on the Other Libraries available to UCL users webpage.
One-to-one training in any aspect of finding and using legal information may be arranged by contacting the Subject Librarian for Law, but you may also find the following materials useful:
Finding and using legal information
Guides to using the Library Services generally and details of forthcoming group training sessions may be found on the Skills training and guidance webpages.
Details of the services the Library offers to support researchers are available on the Research Support webpage.