PhD Theses available for free download

Following on from my recent post about my own PhD, I’ve been looking at the British Library’s Electronic Theses Online service (EThOS). It lists over 250,000 British PhD theses. Many can be freely downloaded as PDFs, and hard copies of others can be purchased. It claims thatthey will digitise a thesis not currently available for download on request in 30 days. However, when I requested one I was told after the 30 days that it was not available. Some people restrict access for a while as they fear that free availability of their thesis will hurt their chances of getting it published. I was told in a university seminar on copyright was that this was not the case because of the extent that a thesis has to be changed in order to make it publishable, but some of the other students present were clearly not convinced.

The number of hits for some military history keywords are given below. The first number is the total of theses and the second is the number available for download. There will be a fair degree of double-counting and some are cultural history or engineering theses, but there are still many military history theses available:

War 2337/1068
Army 330/173
Navy 108/54
Naval 129/80
Air Force 108/64

Published military historians whose theses are available for download include Gary Sheffield, Gerard Oram, Ross Anderson, Matthew Hughes, Annika Mombauer, Nicholas Lloyd, David Kenyon, Bryn Hammond, John Buckley, Gerard de Groot, Saul David, Charles Esdaile and David Zabecki. When searching for a particular author note that sometimes the first name(s) are given in full, but sometimes only initials are stated, especially for older theses or Oxbridge ones. Also, authors may use a diminutive of their first name on the cover of their books, but theses normally quote their full name.

Click on the link below to go to the British Library EThOS homepage:



Filed under War History

4 responses to “PhD Theses available for free download

  1. It is a great resource. Just a shame that if you are the first person to download it you hve to pay for its conversion. I’m not sure if that is the case for more ‘modern’ PhDs where the requirement is to submit an electronic copy as well as the hard bound version with you institution.

  2. If a digital copy is available, then downloading it seems to be free, regardless of whether the British Library has digitised it for somebody else or the student submitted it electronically.

    I hadn’t realised that the first person to request an electronic copy had to pay for the conversion.

  3. This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I have found something which helped me.

  4. Awesome! Its actually remarkable paragraph,
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