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Open Research


How do I find a Cambridge thesis?

Ph.D., M.Litt., M.Sc., and Divinity M.Phil. theses approved after 1970 are catalogued in iDiscover, as are M.D. and M.Chir. theses approved after May 2006. Earlier theses are listed in a card catalogue in the Manuscripts Reading Room and are gradually being added to iDiscover.

Since 1 October 2017, all PhD theses are being deposited in electronic form to the University repository Apollo. Many earlier theses are also in the repository, but if they are not yet in digital form it is possible to request access to these theses. There is more information on how to request a copy of a printed thesis further down this page.

Gaining access to electronic copies of theses

The author of a given thesis in Apollo can choose whether their thesis is available to be downloaded, available on request or unavailable. While many of the theses in Apollo are openly available for download, some theses in the repository are not open access because they have either been embargoed by the author or because they are unable to be made openly available for copyright or other reasons. For an explanation of the different theses access levels, see this page.

Open Access theses

Theses that have been made available Open Access can be downloaded from Apollo as a PDF file without any restrictions other than the license under which they have been made available. Just click on the document file in the thesis record to download a copy.

Embargoed theses

Theses with an embargo are shown in Apollo with a padlock icon over the PDF file are not open access but can be requested. If you wish to access the full thesis, click on the padlock icon on the PDF and you will be redirected to the repository’s ‘Request a Copy’ function. Requests for embargoed theses will be passed on to the author so they can choose to grant or refuse the request at their discretion.

Controlled theses

Theses under controlled access remain unpublished because they are not made available on the internet via the Apollo repository and as such, the rules for unpublished works in UK copyright law will apply to these theses. Controlled access theses are provided by the University Library in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1998. Theses under controlled access are shown in Apollo with a padlock icon over the PDF file are not open access but can be requested. If you wish to access the full thesis, click on the padlock icon on the PDF and you will be redirected to the repository’s ‘Request a Copy’ function. Requests for controlled theses are managed by the Library and incur a £15 administrative fee. For further information on copying by librarians or archivists see:

If a thesis has been digitised by the Digital Content Unit's image request service in the library it will be deposited in Apollo under controlled access and can be requested via the thesis record in Apollo.


Requesting a copy of a printed thesis

Researchers can order a copy of an unpublished thesis which was deposited in print form through the Library’s Digital Content Unit via the image request form. Copies of theses may be provided to researchers in accordance with the law and in a manner that is common across UK libraries.The law allows us to provide whole copies of unpublished theses to individuals as long as they sign a declaration saying that it is for non-commercial research or private study. The agreement used for access to theses at Cambridge has been drafted using the guidance by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Theses are not available for borrowing or inter library loan. The copyright of theses remains with the author. The law does not allow us to provide a copy for inclusion in a general library collection or for wider distribution beyond the individual receiving the copy, without the explicit permission of the author or copyright holder. Where someone approaches us asking for a copy for their library or wider distribution, they must obtain the explicit permission of the author or copyright owner.

Please note any periods of access restriction requested by the author apply to both electronic and print copies.

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