Friday, 15 May 2015

Finding past exam papers, Masters dissertations, and theses

Academic Liaison Librarian Ned Potter explains how to access exam paper, dissertations and theses.

It can be extremely useful to go over past exam papers so you know what to expect, or to see examples of best practice when writing your dissertation or thesis. Happily, the Library has plenty of examples for you to look at.

Finding exam papers and Masters dissertations

York Digital Library is our own online repository for multimedia resources including images, past exam papers and Masters theses. A key thing to note about the Digital Library is that it is possible to follow the link above and search it without logging in - however, unless you log in with your York username and password it won't show you everything you're entitled to see. So use the log-in button in the top right hand corner before you start.

Once logged in, click Browse. Choose University of York dissertations and exam papers (Login Required). You'll see a folder for Exam Papers, and a folder for Masters Theses (plus one for Undergraduate Projects and Essays - this has a selection of items from Economics, Health Sciences, History and History of Art). In the Exam Papers folder you'll find all the examples which have been released to the Library, from 25 Departments.

In the Masters Theses folder you'll find the following eleven departments:

Masters Dissertations from the Departments of Archaeology, Centre for Medieval Studies, Chemistry, Education, Eighteenth Century Studies, History, History of Art, Management, Music, Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit, and Sociology

(We're currently negotiating with Departments to add more, so this list should grow shortly.)

Once you've chosen the relevant subject area, the dissertations are arranged in collections by year. When you find the paper you're interested in, click the Download button to save it as a PDF to print or read on-screen.

Finding PhD theses

If you want to see examples of PhD theses from York students, we have a lot of recent examples in YorSearch. For example, at the time of writing there are 468 English literature theses available, of which 94 have online versions.

If you want to find theses from your own department, just follow the link above and replace the word 'English' that appears in the search box, with the subject that you're interested in.

Visit our website to find out more about consulting theses:

You can also potentially find theses from other institutions: White Rose Etheses Online holds electronic doctoral level theses from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, and  EThOS (the British Library's online theses service) has PhD theses from most British higher education libraries made freely available in PDF format.

If you have any questions about getting hold of theses, dissertations or exam papers, let us know and we'll be happy to help - email

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