Cambridge University Library


The Manuscripts Reading Room administers the University's collection of doctoral and higher degree dissertations. Before 1920, degrees were awarded on the basis of examinations or certificates of research, and little written work composed specifically for such purposes survives, other than a small collection of Advanced Student Dissertations. However, revised regulations then approved, instituting the new degree of PhD, required a written work to be deposited here. Our collection of doctoral dissertations thus dates from 1921, when just four arrived in the Library. Other degree dissertations came later. Statistics illustrate a great increase in output: for the academic year 2007-2008 almost one thousand new dissertations were approved and thus added to our collection. There are now over 31,000 volumes.

The online Theses catalogue contains records of theses approved from 1970 onwards, including Master of Philosophy dissertations from the Faculty of Divinity (1978-1998). Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Surgery (MChir) theses records are from May 2006 onwards. For pre-1970 theses, Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery theses before May 2006, and Prize Essays, there is a card catalogue in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

BA dissertations for Geography are also held in the department. They have been catalogued by the Geography Faculty Library and can be searched for on the Newton catalogue through the Departments and Faculties F-M section.

Assistance in all aspects of the use of the catalogues can be had on application to duty staff in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

It should be emphasised that this collection does not include dissertations from other universities. For information on availability of dissertations from other universities, please contact Inter-Library Loans (01223 333039 or 333080,

Please note that Cambridge dissertations are not available for inter-library loan.

The copying of Cambridge dissertations is subject to regulations made by the Board of Graduate Studies. Personal applications for the purchase of copies of dissertations for private research can be directed to Imaging Services (, To purchase dissertations on behalf of an institution (e.g. for library stock) the author's permission is required before a copy can be supplied.

Contact: Manuscripts Reading Room (01223 333143,