Using Special Collections for your dissertation

During Undergraduate Dissertation Week, we’re holding a drop in for anyone interested in using Special Collections in their dissertation. Come in to Special Collections (BANN 317a, Level 3 of the Bannerman Centre, accessed via the green staircase) between 12 and 2 on Wednesday 20 January to find out more.

Why use Special Collections?

Your dissertation topic is something you’re really interested in investigating in more detail. Delving into the sources in Special Collections can take your dissertation to the next level by making it more original. Using primary sources means you might discover something no-one has written about before, or find a new angle on your subject.

Develop your research skills

Using primary sources, such as manuscripts and archives, helps you to develop your research skills. Even if you’ve never used this sort of material before, we have resources available to help you. We hold a large number of collections available for research and study by all students and covering a wide range of subject areas. Why not take a look at our history or women’s history pages to get a flavour of what we have? Or try our complete list of collections on our webpages? Some highlights of our collections have also been featured on this blog.


Topics that people have researched using Special Collections include:

  • London during the First World War
  • Communists in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Clothing of the poor
  • Historical perceptions of fathers
  • Perceptions of fascism in the inter-war period
  • Issues surrounding crossing political borders
  • Presentation of women in the media
  • Feminism in the US in the 1950s
  • Equality in the 1968 Olympics

Several of our collections have already been used for dissertation research. The Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, in particular, has proven to be popular for its detailed life stories and the people behind the history.


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