Skip to Main Content

Reading Lists: Reading List Good Practice

Diversifying your Reading List

There is no one way to diversify your reading list and course content and this is an ongoing process that will include research as it is made available, but some things to think about:

  • Is it possible to to add content from marginalized groups into your reading list and course design?
  • Is it possible to add content from marginalized groups and make it essential reading rather than optional?

There are many useful resources available on the subject of diversifying your reading lists:

If you would like to discuss the concept of diversifying your reading list in more detail please speak to your information consultant

Length of the list

As per theLibrary Services Information Resources Policy, reading lists should be no longer than 100 items long for a standard 15 credit module, including both Essential and Recommended readings. This limit should be pro-rata’d for shorter modules, and can be doubled to 200 items for 30 credit modules. 

Further reading will not be bought by the Library and it is advised that, where possible, further reading should utilise resources already available from the Library’s collections.  

Further information on the categories Essential, Recommended and Further can be found on the guide to reading lists.  

Pedagogy and List Length

There is much pedagogical discussion around the length of lists and what is the most appropriate and useful length for students to interact with. A Sage report from 2019 surveyed students and academics and found that 52% of students would rather have a list that contained few but well defined sources (Sage, 2019, p. 11) rather than a very long list with lots of choices.

The study also found that students commonly said they were overwhelmed with long lists and academics also said they used short lists with a few items to act as a starting point and expected students to find additional literature using their own literature and searching skills (Sage, 2019, p.11).

Sage (2019) How are Students and Lecturers Using Educational Resources Today? Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2021).

Encouraging independent research

The reading list can be seen as a starting point and an indication of reading that students need to complete before lectures/seminars. They can use key research skills to conduct their own independent literature searching.

Your Information Consultant is available to help develop these skills in numerous ways:

  • Lectures and workshops embedded in the course curriculum
  • One to one support with students
  • Online support via our Library Moodle Page

To find out more about the range of services that the library can provide in this area and the content covered please our staff intranet pages

Creative Commons License
Royal Holloway Library LibGuide by Royal Holloway Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.