Library Services


Human Rights

Book collections

The Arthur C. Spenser Human Rights Collection is located on the 1st floor of the UCL Main Library, opposite the self service issue room. The books are classified by subject and arranged on the shelves in classified order. The classification scheme is an adaptation of that used by HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems International) and 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 or editor's surname. 

For example, Women, Gender, and Human Rights: a Global Perspective edited by Marjorie Agosín has the classmark HUMAN RIGHTS CG 400 AGO, which indicates that it's shelved in the Human Rights collection (HUMAN RIGHTS) in the women's rights section (CG 400).

Materials of relevance to the study of Human Rights can also be found in the following collections:

  • LAW (UCL Main Library - Donaldson Reading Room, 1st floor) for books on constitutional law and the European Union, as well as primary materials and legal journals
  • INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (UCL Main Library - South, 2nd floor) for security studies and peacekeeping
  • PUBLIC POLICY (UCL Main Library - South, 2nd floor) for political administration and theory
  • PHILOSOPHY (UCL Main Library - South, 1st floor) for jurisprudence
  • GEOGRAPHY (UCL Science Library, 1st floor) for international development
  • ANTHROPOLOGY (UCL Science Library, 2nd floor) for vulnerable groups and political systems in a social context
  • ECONOMICS (UCL Main Library - South, 1st floor) for economic theory and policy

Journal collections

Human rights case reports are integrated into the main law reports sequence in the Donaldson Reading Room on the 1st floor of the UCL Main Library. Human rights journals are located with the book collection on the 1st floor.


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.

Online resources

The following databases are a selection of those we subscribe to. A complete list of legal databases available at UCL can be accessed through MetaLib.


  • International Law Reports Covers all significant cases of public international law from 1919 to the present day, including international boundaries, state and diplomatic immunity, treaties between states, war, terrorism and refugee law.
  • Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law Encyclopedia covering central topics from international law by legal scholars and practitioners from all over the world.
  • Oxford Reports on International Law Reports on decisions in all areas of international law and jurisprudence. Includes International Courts of General Jurisdiction, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law, and International Law in Domestic Courts.
  • United Nations Law Collection Exact reproductions of major United Nations legal publications, including the complete collection of the United Nations Treaty Series.

Journal indexes

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 plus the leading titles from the UK and other Commonwealth countries from 1978 onwards.
  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals is a multilingual index to articles and book reviews that appear in hundreds of legal journals published worldwide.

Other Internet resources

  • ASIL Electronic Research Guide: International Human Rights Law A guide to electronic sources available on the topic of international human rights law, compiled by the American Society of International Law (ASIL).
  • HUDOC A database providing access to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission of Human Rights, and the Committee of Ministers.
  • Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) 2006 provides guidance on citing sources of international law such as treaties, decisions of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and publications of non-governmental organisations such as the United Nations.

General resources

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.

Guides to using the Library Services generally and details of forthcoming group training sessions may be found on the Skills training and guidance webpages. One-to-one training may also be arranged by contacting the Subject Librarian for Law.

Details of the services the Library offers to support researchers are available on the Research Support webpage.