This guide is for students studying an A-Level Communication programme on any site. This includes the subjects: Art and Design, Drama and Theatre Studies, English Language and Literature, Geography, History, Law, Media, Philosophy and Ethics, Psychology, Religious Studies, and Sociology.

How to find books

There is an electronic reading list available for your subject. You can access this either by searching for the subject code on the Activate Learning Library catalogue or by following the hyperlinks below.

  Art and Design or use subject code ALART
  Drama & Theatre Studies or use subject code ALDRAMA
  English Language &  Literature or use subject code ALENGLISH
  Geography  or use subject code GEOGRAPHY
  History or use subject code ALHISTORY
  Law or use subject code ALLAW
  Media or use subject code ALMEDIA
  Philosophy and Ethics or use subject code ALPHILOSOPHY
  Psychology or use subject code ALPSYCHOLOGY
  Religious Studies or use subject code ALRELIGIOUSSTUDIES
  Sociology or use subject code ALSOCIOLOGY

  • You can also use advanced search to search the catalogue for relevant books using several filters:
  • You can apply your search term to categories such as Title, Author, Location, Keyword, Subject, Publisher, or All Fields using the Search In dropdown menu.
  • You can select the media type you would like to see using the Media Type drop down menu.
  • You can use multiple search terms in different categories by clicking the + button and selecting
    AND, OR, or AND NOT.


Here the results will include anything that has psychology as a subject and Gross as an author.

If you know the title of the book you are looking for you can use a guided search by selecting that option from the tabs at the top and entering the details.


For more help using the catalogue you can watch this short clip from the using the libraries section on the website or ask a member of the team in the library for help.

Finding books on the shelves

You may want to browse the shelves, books are organised by subject and given a shelfmark which consists of numbers and letters. Shelfmarks for books are displayed on the catalogue so you can locate the book, books nearby will be similar in subject so may also be useful.

  Art is spread throughout the 700s

Sculpture and ceramics at 730

Graphic arts and drawing at 740

Paintings at 750, with specific artists at 750.92

Photography at 770

For example, if you wanted books on Picasso you could look at 750.92 PIC for those specifically on him but also at 709 for books on Cubism.

Books on drama and theatre are located from 792 whilst plays are arranged by country in the 800s. See 812 and 822 for American and English plays respectively.

English language books can be found from 421 to 428 and English Literature spans the 820s

You can find books about Human Geography around 302, Physical Geography at 550, and textbooks and general information such as tourism start at 910

There’s a small section on general History at 900 but it is then sorted by region from 930 onwards.

It’s worth checking the whole of a section - books on WWII are in 940 but those on Germany specifically will be in 943.

Law books are found at 340

Media books are located mainly at 302.23 but books specifically on film and TV studies start at 791.4

Books about Philosophy run through the 100s, with the exception of the 150s which are the Psychology books. Ethics specifically spreads over the 170s

Religion starts at 200

Sociology is covered by the 300s

Your online Account

Logging into your Heritage account allows you to view the items you have on loan and reserved, you can also renew items and view your loan history. Log in using your student ID number and your date of birth DDMMYY.

You can also view a short clip for help on how to log into your account.

login with pin and circle.PNG


By logging into your account you can place reservations on items that are on loan, this will stop the current user from renewing the item and you will be contacted by the library when the item is ready for collection.


You can borrow items from any Activate Learning library, if the location of the item you require is not your local library click on the Reserve button in the detailed record. The item will be transferred to your local library and a member of the team will contact you when it is ready for collection. Alternatively speak to a member of the team at the issue desk and they will help you arrange for the item to to transferred.


eBooks are listed on the catalogue and can be recognised by the [E-book] symbol next to the entry. To access an eBook look at the detailed entry for the item and select the link that says Read me…. (click for online eBook). You can access eBooks offsite, the username and password are the same as your college network login details. eBooks are included in the subject reading lists.

You can search for just eBooks by changing the Media type to E-book from the drop down list.


For more help using eBooks you can watch this short clip from the using the libraries section on the website or ask a member of the team in the library for help.


Reading journals and magazines allows you to keep up-to-date with developments in the sector; read reviews and news and follow current trends. Journals and newspapers are for reference only, you can read the journals in the library or photocopy/scan articles to take away but you can’t borrow them.

The following journals are available across Activate Learning, check in your local library to see which titles they hold:

Art and Media

3D Artist
3D World
American Craft
Art monthly
Art review
Artforum international
The Artist
Ceramic review
Ceramics Art and Perception
Creative review
Digital filmmaker
Eye : the international review of Graphic Design
Flash Art
Marketing week
Modern Painters
Practical Photography
Total film

We also have access to the Vogue archive which is a fully up-to-date collection of the US editions of Vogue, starting from 1892. This is searchable by various things such as designer or clothing piece and would be useful for gender or marketing studies for example. To access it, follow the instructions for the eResources below or click this link.

Drama and theatre studies
Dance theatre journal
Dancing times
Lighting and Sound international
Sight and Sound


Emag : the A-level English magazine. This has an online version as well, with an archive of past issues and some exclusive online material. You can ask your tutor or the librarians for the log in details and access it here or in our eResources.
The English review


Geographical Magazine
Geography Review


History today
Modern History review


New law journal
A-level law review
Think : philosophy for everyone
The philosophers’ magazine


RS Review

In addition to these journals, each library also gets a selection of newspapers daily and, if none of these are suitable, UK Newsstand gives you access to a range of over 300 national and local newspapers which can be searched by topic as well as browsed by paper. Access this from the link or from our library eResources section discussed below.


You can find eResources under that title on the library website, theses are online resources you can use to support you on your course. Some are available only whilst in college, others require a username and password but can be accessed from anywhere.

Arts on Film offers a large range of films about Art produced in the UK since the 50s though you need to have VLC Media Player or Quicktime installed on your computer to watch them. It is an excellent insight into post-war art throughout the world, as well as UK documentary filmmaking.

BFI InView contains over 2,000 non-fiction film and television titles from the 20th century to the early 21st. InView is easily searchable, comprehensively catalogued and clearly organised under six main themes, each with an introductory essay by an academic historian.

British Cartoon Archive holds the artwork for more than 150,000 British editorial, socio-political, and pocket cartoons, supported by large collections of comic strips, newspaper cuttings, books and magazines.

Digimap for Colleges provides access to digital Ordnance Survey mapping of Great Britain. Search by place name or postcode to create maps you can save or print. This resource can only be accessed when you are in college.

Drama Online is an amazing resource for plays from antiquity right up to the 21st Century. It’s really easy to find what you want either by direct search or browsing through their tabs and they have various tools for each text like explanations for uncommon phrasing or references. It also has a specific search engine for monologues which you can refine by gender and word length to find the perfect audition piece.

e-Law student has everything an aspiring lawyer could need: articles, case studies, module specific lectures from OCR and AQA and even some quizzes to test your knowledge. There’s a brief help sheet for navigation available here.

History Study Centre is a collection of primary and secondary sources on global history from ancient times to the present day. It’s organised into into categories of study units, historical documents, maps and reference, multimedia, and journals which each have their own search function. There’s also a timeline of events to scroll through on their home page.

Issues is a resource designed to give a better understanding of our world and the problems it faces. With this in mind it has some useful articles on law and justice, media, the environment and other interesting topics.

The John Johnson Collection is something a little bit different but easily browsable. It is a collection of printed leaflets, posters and other short-lived items from the 18th Century to the early 20th and as such allows for a different perspective into everyday life than sources normally give.

ProQuest Learning: literature contains information and criticism about various literary works and authors, as well as reference materials such as an online dictionary and thesaurus.

VADS - the online resource for visual arts is a resource made up of various collections of art and also lectures and learning resources based on some of these works. It holds a lot of material useful for History as well as Art and all of the images are copyright cleared.

Very Short Introductions is a collection of ebooks that offer a short and insightful introductions into various topics within Psychology and Social Sciences.This resource can only be accessed when you are in college.

Study skills and referencing:

Good study skills allow you to get the most out of your time in college, work efficiently and achieve good grades on your course.

Referencing is vital to avoid plagiarism and to give credit to other author’s work and ideas you have used. Check with your tutor which system they would like you to use. The library holds copies of Cite Them Right which provides guidance how to cite your sources in the body of the text and prepare your reference list.

There are a wide range of study skills books available in our libraries, you can find a selection on this list or browse the study skills section in the library.

Using other libraries:

As an Activate Learning student you can use the libraries at City of Oxford College, Banbury and Bicester College or Reading College, whichever is most convenient for you.

You may also find useful information at your local public libraries which are free to join.

For more information visit the Oxfordshire county libraries website or Reading Borough Council Website.

Where to get help:

You can contact the library team or access information about our services in a number of ways.

Email   Telephone 0118 955 4700

Email     Telephone 01865 551961



Or in person during library opening hours