Category Archives: Research Commons

Images of Research Competition 2015

Once again, the Library is working with the Researcher Development Team to run the Images of Research Competition.

Open to all Early Career Research Staff only (grades E & F), ‘Images of Research’ aims to engage the public in our academic research, showing the breadth and creativity of what is taking place at Exeter. It also provides you with an excellent opportunity to communicate your research to no specialists and fully grasp the public engagement agenda.

You will also have the chance to win a ‘master class’ with the University Design Team. Runners up will receive prizes worth over £200 in value. All winning entries will be displayed for the public on the Streatham campus during ‘Universities Week’ 5-10th June and at the Penryn Campus 15-19th June. Finally, winning entries will be placed on permanent display in the Research Commons on the StreathImages Research logoam campus.

There are four categories for entry:

  • Collaboration
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Society and Culture
  • Technology

The deadline for submission is Friday 1st May, 2015.

If you have an innovative image and would like to enter please contact Dr Chris Wood (Research Staff Development Manager) at for more details.

How do I enter?

  1. All entrants must follow the entry criteria which are detailed in the Images of Research Check List 2015
  2. Entrants are then to be sent to:

Bookable study desks for research postgraduates

Calling all postgraduate research students!

Looking for quiet spaces to work on Streatham campus? Did you know that you can now pre-book a lovely large study desk and an associated locker in which to store your belongings?

The desks are located in the main reading room of Research Commons, a designated silent study space where you can really concentrate on your research.  Research Commons is housed in the Old Library building on the Streatham campus near the University Chapel and just a short walk from The Forum.

What you need to know:

PGRs can book desks like this one in the Research Commons Reading Room

  • Who? The desks are available to postgraduate research students from all colleges.
  • When? They are available for use during the library’s opening hours (currently 08.00 – 20.00 on weekdays and 10.00 – 18.00 on Saturdays and Sundays, further information here)
  • How long? Desks can be booked for 1 day or for up to 5 consecutive days.
  • What to do? When you arrive collect your locker key from the Research Commons Reception Desk by 10.00 (weekdays) or 11.00 (weekends). If you are going to be arriving later than these times, please confirm that you still need the desk by contacting Research Commons on the day.
  • Anything else? If you need more information about this scheme please contact staff at Research Commons who will be happy to assist. You can call us on  01392 724052 (internal: 4052) or email . A webpage supporting the use of these desks is also available here.

More about Research Commons

Although a particular haven for postgraduates, Research Commons is open to all and is well worth a visit. As well the silent reading room the Library contains a multi-media seminar room,  a café-style break out space with vending facilities and an outdoor terrace area.

The Research Commons houses our Special Collections, the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, the Arab World Documentation Unit, Official Publications and print copies of Science Journals. It also contains older and other less used research items. Why not take a look at our floor plans or just stop by for a visit?

Research Commons: opening hours update


Research Commons silent reading room

Research Commons houses our Heritage Collections, the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture and the Arab World Documentation Unit. Located just a few minutes walk from the Forum, this haven for research is open  7 days a week and also offers  a silent study reading room and bookable study desks for Research Postgraduates. Here’s an update on opening hours at Research Commons for the coming academic year.

Extended term time opening hours at Research Commons will resume from Monday 16th September. From this date the Library will be open from 08.00 – 20.00 Monday – Friday and 10.00 – 18.00 on Saturdays and Sundays during university term time.

After 8PM (6PM at weekends) current University staff and students who wish to continue working later into the evening are invited to move to the 24/7 study space at the Forum Library. This is located just a few minutes’ walk (along Poole Gate road, see map for details) and offers a wide range of study seats, colour/black & white printing and scanning, catering and vending. 

During the vacation periods Research Commons changes its opening hours to 09.00 – 17.30 (weekdays) and 10.00 – 18.00 (weekends). Please ask staff or see our web pages for more information.

Bookable PGR Study Desks in Research Commons

What are they?

These are large desks with associated lockers, which can be booked by Postgraduate Research Students from any college.

Where are they?

In the Main Reading Room of Research Commons. This is a silent study area.

When are they available?

During Research Commons opening hours. Check here for the current opening hours.

How do I book?

Book a desk in advance at:

A desk can be booked for 1 day or for up to 5 consecutive days. Collect your locker key from the Research Commons Reception Desk by 10.00 (weekdays) or 11.00 (weekends). If arriving after these times, please confirm that you still need the desk by phoning or emailing Research Commons.

Any questions?

Please contact library staff at the Research Commons Reception Desk (01392 724052) or email

Syon Abbey manuscript and book collections

We are lucky enough to care for some amazing collections here in Special Collections and one of our most widely used and most beautiful are the Syon Abbey collections.

The community of Bridgettine nuns at Syon Abbey, South Brent, Devon is unusual in being able to trace an unbroken tradition reaching back to their Abbey’s foundation. The order founded at Syon Abbey in 1415 became a major focal point of religious activity in the sixteenth-century and was well-known for its publication of religious literature. A surviving set of rules for Syon Abbey emphasises the importance of books and instructs the sisters in their proper care. Both the nuns and the monks had their own libraries but no catalogue of the nuns’ medieval library has survived and little is known about what physically happened to either of the libraries following the Abbey’s dissolution in 1539.

At the dissolution, the nuns went into exile and lived first in the Low Countries and later in Portugal. From the mid-sixteenth-century to 1809, when the nuns returned to England, the sisters lived as an English community at Lisbon. The collection of archives and books attracts considerable research interests from throughout the world.

The collections contain liturgical and theological manuscripts, dating between the 15th and 17th centuries and the extensive book library contains pre-1850 titles from the library of Syon Abbey.

Information on the archives can be seen on our online archives catalogue here and the books are catalogued on the library catalogue. There is further information on our website at

Revision spaces and tips

The Summer term is nearly upon us which does, inevitably, mean revision. Good luck to all of you who are taking exams in the coming weeks. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of Library spaces and resources and – most importantly – looking after yourselves during this stressful time.

Quiet Spaces where you can study

The Main Reading Room in Research Commons is a haven for focused quiet study

We understand the importance finding a quiet space to study on campus, which is why :

  • The overall number of study spaces in the Forum Library has been permanently increased as of April 2013
  • Forum Seminar Rooms on Levels 0 and +1 will become drop in study rooms accessible through the Library from Sunday 28th April – Sunday 2nd June (inclusive)
  • Forum Library group work rooms will become quieter revision spaces for the duration of the exam period
  • Year round designated silent study rooms are available on all 3 floors of the Forum Library, as well as in Research Commons, St Luke’s Library and in the Amory Study Centre.
  • The availability of the Interview Rooms in the Student Services Centre is  extended during the exam period with  Rooms 3, 4, 5 and 7 available as drop-in study spaces from 8am – 9pm, Monday – Friday, and additional rooms (1 – 8) available on a drop-in basis 5pm – 9pm on weekdays and 10am – 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Studying late? Work smart and stay safe!

Quiet Study Room in the Forum Library Learning Hub (Level -1)

If you plan on studying long into the night then you can do so safely:

  • The Forum Library is open 24/7 (swipe access after 9pm on week days and 6pm at the weekend)
  • St Luke’s Library has a swipe-accessible 24/7 study room on the 1st floor
  • Amory Study Centre (currently open until 9.30PM daily) will stay open until Midnight during exam time (Sunday 21st April – Sunday 2nd June).

But if you are staying late then do look after yourselves. Please take note of the following tips:

  • You’ll retain more information if you take regular short breaks between your revision sessions
  • Don’t forget to eat and drink: vending machines are available in all our Libraries
  • Even in a heated environment you can get cold if you are sitting still for long periods: free blankets are available from the Library reception desk, just ask if you’d like one.
  • Consider your safety if you need to leave the Library during the night: always walk home with a friend if possible, or if not call a taxi. Try to make sure one of your friends or housemates knows where you are and what time you are heading home.
  • The Library is a public space, never leave valuables unattended. Storage lockers and laptop charging lockers are available in the Forum (you can borrow keys through Express Collections); please store your belongings safely in these while you take a break.

 Study skills and managing stress

It’s normal to feel nervous when facing an exam, and a certain amount of anxiety can inspire you to a better performance, but it’s important not to let anxiety overcome you. The University Wellbeing Team offer some useful tips on their webpages for how to keep calm and manage stress during exams that may be useful.

Here in the Library we also have a number of resources available to help you prepare for your exams. Why not consult one of the following titles, just a selection from the many we have available:



The Exam Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell

Find it in the Forum Library or St Luke’s Library at classmark 371.26 COT




Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University by Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield

Find it in the Forum Library Reference Section at 029.6 BUR or loanable copies at St Luke’s Library classmark  378.170281 BUR 





The Student’s Guide to Exam Success by Eileen Tracy

Find it in the Forum Library or St Luke’s Library at Classmark: 378.17028 TRA 






Passing exams without anxiety : how to get organised, be prepared and feel confident of success by David Acres

Find it in the Forum Library Reference Section at 026.6 ACR or at St Luke’s Library Classmark  371.30281 ACR 

Using the Hypatia Collection

We have a wide range of collections covering most subject areas for teaching and research available in Special Collections. One of the most popular and well used is the Hypatia Collection.

The collection contains books and journals exclusively by or about women. Its richness stems from the collecting habits of its creator, Dr Melissa Hardie, who acquired many ephemeral titles and books on subjects and by writers traditionally excluded from the academic canon in her aim ‘to make available published documentation about women in every aspect of their lives’. The collection is strongest on biography, social life, occupations and history, as well as on literature (especially fiction) and the arts.

The collection is used extensively, both in seminars and independent study. The range of subject areas, from the academic to the ephemeral allows for wide areas of study to find material relevant to their research or assignments by both undergraduates and postgraduates.

The Hypatia Collection is fully searchable on the library catalogue by following the instructions below:

Browse the titles by selecting ‘local classmark‘ on the ‘Search’ options and by typing ‘Hypatia’ and the first 3 letters on each subject: ie‘Hypatia Bio’ for Biographies; ‘Hypatia Dom’ for ‘Domestic Science’… etc.

The books are arranged alphabetically within subject sequences: The American Woman; Archaeology; Art; Biographies; The Cornish Woman; Crime; Diaries; Domestic Science; Education; Fiction; Health; History; Humour; Literature; Marriage and the Family; Myths and Legends; Natural World; Nursing; Occupations; Performing Arts; Poetry; Politics; Religion; Science; Topography; Travel; Women and War.

All items in the collection are reference only and are available to consult in the Special Collections reading room. Reserve an item in the collection by contacting us at or via our web pages at

Open Research Exeter (ORE) launch!

Are you thinking about uploading a copy of your research paper or your PGR thesis to the University’s repository?

Well, you might like to know that ERIC, the current institutional repository, is being rebranded this week as Open Research Exeter (ORE)!

ORE showcases all types of Exeter’s research, including research papers, research data and theses, increasing its visibility and impact.

  • Research in ORE can be viewed and downloaded freely by researchers and students all over the world.
  • Research in ORE is securely stored, managed and preserved to ensure free, permanent access.
  • ORE’s content includes journal articles, conference papers, working papers, reports, book chapters, videos, audio, images, multimedia research project outputs, raw data and analysed data.
For more information see the ORE pages or come and talk to the the Open Exeter team. We will be in the Forum Street on Friday March 22nd from 10:00 – 12:00, to answer any research data management or open access queries you may have. You will have the chance to see an ORE demo, and talk to those who developed the repository as well as staff from RKT, Exeter IT and the Library who support research at Exeter, including your favourite Subject Librarians! You can join the event on Facebook and you may even get a free fairy cake! Email or for further advice.


University of Exeter archive

The University archive contains a diverse range of photographs, student publications and other material from throughout the history of the University of Exeter and its predecessor institutions from the late 19th century through to the present day, and covers the building programme for the Streatham campus, student and academic life, including Guild and Athletics Union activities. Coverage for some periods is patchy, perhaps in some cases due to the fact that the University Registry was bombed during the Second World War.

Students outside Gandy Street, c1929

The archive is arranged and catalogued to reflect the progression of the University from the city centre site at Gandy Street to the development of the Streatham Campus, the individuals who have shaped its history throughout this period and the various events or activities which collectively have created the University’s particular identity.

Sir Stafford Northcote began the quest for higher education in Exeter, with plans for a cultural quarter that would enable what he felt would establish ‘a very important system of education’. In 1861 land in Queen Street was donated for this purpose.

The Exeter Technical and University Extension College began offering day classes in 1895. In 1900 the college became the Royal Albert Memorial College and began to offer degrees from the University of London.

By the early 1920s the Streatham estate had been donated by the former Mayor of Exeter, W.H. Reed and the institution was granted University College status.

Football team, 1926 – 1927

The University College had applied for university status before; on the 21stDecember 1955, the University received its charter – the Principal became the Vice- Chancellor and the President the Chancellor. In 1955 there were around 1,000 students. Post-war expansion and a large building programme ran through the remainder of the 1950s and on into the 1960s until the present day.

Arial view of campus, 1956 showing the construction of the chapel and the completed Hatherly building.

The university archive is administered by Heritage Collections. Our webpages are at . The Special Collections reading room is open from 10am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.


AWDU is on the Move

HistoryAWDU - 270212 (17)

Like human beings all libraries evolve, for us one important catalyst for such evolution has been the surge in provision Middle/Near East Studies in the UK in the past 20 years.

The Arab World Documentation Unit [AWDU], started out as an unassuming documentation unit in 1981 by the Centre for Arab Gulf Studies at the University of Exeter. The Political and Social situation in the Middle East eventually led to a greater and renewed interest in the subjects we offer.  Then there was a merger of the Department of Arabic and Middle East Studies and the Centre for Arab Gulf Studies and these made their home in the new IAIS building in 1999. A further milestone came when in 2000, the expanding and reputable AWDU collection was incorporated into the University Library management structure with the appointment of staff with expertise in Arabic and technical issues, in line with the recommendations made by Lesley Forbes.

To the PresentResearch Commons post Refurbishment.jpg (126)

Now, with the realisation of Forum Project, the paradigm shift and rationale of Student focus, the implications for student experience in terms of quality given the £9K fees – the AWDU more than ever must be a fully-fledged, evolving and living library that keeps apace with the changes and needs of today’s student.

AWDU is now moving to the Research Commons in the Old Library Building and this  incorporation means greater accessibility, longer opening times with staff support, greater facilities and an expanding collection in an integrated Library environment.

Meanwhile the current space vacated by AWDU will become dedicated study areas.

If you have any questions about the move then please contact the Arab and Islamic Studies Librarian – Afzal Hasan.