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Reading lists for staff

Providing resource lists online for the courses you teach.

Effective reading lists

An effective, clearly laid out reading list can enhance the student experience by:

  • enabling students to manage their reading more effectively
  • ensuring students are able to easily locate and access resources you are recommending 
  • improving communication between the department and library 
  • raising student satisfaction rates 

5 Top Tips

1. TELL your students what you expect them to do!

If you want students to do the reading – TELL them in lectures, in seminars, in the unit handbook, on Moodle that you have a list and you expect them to read. Research suggests reading compliance is higher with weekly readings than the occasional. Make sure the items they need to read are clearly flagged with the appropriate level of importance (item to purchase, essential or further reading).

2.  Annotate your list and tell the students how this resource will improve their life!

Students can’t tell whether one resource is more appropriate than another from a reference, so annotate your list and TELL them why Bob Smith’s book on presentation skills is so great, and how it’s crammed full of essential advice they’ll need for their assessed presentation. Think sales pitch.

3. Embed items in the course content of Moodle

Students are also busy people, so if you want them to read, embed the important sections of your reading list into Moodle. That half an hour they’re spending tracking down an article could be more usefully spent actually reading it! If you’re concerned about spoon-feeding, consider running seminar exercises on information literacy (your Subject Librarian can help!) and develop your students’ research skills more effectively.

Check out this short video to find out how you can embed weekly/thematic sections of a reading list directly within the content of a Moodle unit area.   

4. Regularly update your list

If your list is full of out-of-date texts, you’re undermining your own expertise. Update your list taking into account usage (using the dashboard feature), feedback from library staff and students. Add links to new resources on Amazon or publisher’s websites to your list, make a ‘Note for Library’, and send your list for ‘Review’ so your Subject Librarian knows to order the stock.

Contact your Subject Librarian for details about library suppliers enabling you to search for up-to-date material.

5. Include a range of formats

Reading lists aren’t just for books, research indicates that students prefer articles or chapters to read, and if these are available online they’re more likely yet to get read. The Library suppliers have hundreds of thousands of ebooks available whilst the Library provides a digitisation service for those key chapters which aren’t published electronically.

However, you’re not limited to texts, take a look at Box of Broadcasts or LinkedIn Learning, for example, for content inspiration.

Inspirational reading lists

Diversify your reading list

Representing diverse perspectives and authors in your reading list leads to a more inclusive learning experience for students. A minor change to your course materials could make a major change to the way a student, or a group of students, respond to the course.

Look at your list

Look at your list and use our reading list audit template and methodology to consider the diversity of resources represented. Does your reading list include a diverse range of perspectives and authors with equality across race, gender, sexuality, disability, internationalisation and socio-economic contexts within the discipline? 

Talk to students

Talk to students to get feedback and even recommendations on reading list resources. Students at University of the Arts London created a resource wall of texts to 'Decolonise the Arts'. At Cambridge University students on the Human, Social, Political Sciences undergraduate programme have created decolonial reading lists for their course.

Encourage students to recommend books for the library via our Books Buy You service

Get in touch

Get in touch with your subject librarian to find out how we can help you find diverse material within our existing collections and from alternative publishers.

Tips to help you get started

Explore the scholarly landscape

Find new publishers and authors in your discipline that include academics from diverse backgrounds.

  1. Explore our list of alternative publishers and resources.
  2. Open Access is an opportunity for diverse groups to make their voices heard, so explore Open Access publishers
  3. Look at best practice elsewhere: what are your peers within your discipline doing at other institutions?
  4. Check out our celebrating diversity guides and reading lists on the Library Website
  5. Reading lists from other institutions may also help: Oxford Brookes developed this reading list for business topics and UCL ‘liberated’ anthropology reading lists. University of Kent have a series of reading lists for liberation history months:

Keep up-to-date

Keep up-to-date with RSS feeds, saved searches and current awareness in your discipline.

Use RSS feeds; it will save you time and ensure you don’t miss any important updates to key resources or networks. There are many RSS feed readers you could use for this.

  1. You can save searches you have carried out in most e-resources to alert you when new content is available (YouTube)
  2. Follow blogs and use tools such as ResearchGate to find researchers from across the globe.

Think beyond content

Consider the format of the resources on your list. Alternatives to print resources in accessible formats will accommodate varied learning needs, styles and environments.

  1. Explore our range of e-resources 
  2. Incorporate guidance from UTA's Inclusive Curriculum to support your choices in teaching and learning resources.
  3. Organise your reading lists into headed sections to make them easier to navigate and include links to book chapters and web pages.


Thanks to The University Of Reading and The University of Kent.