Skip to main content


Discover Cardiff University’s Open Access research theses

24 April 2018

Gone are the days when PhD theses sat in dusty splendour on a library shelf for a few years. From 2011 onwards all Cardiff University’s research-level theses are openly available in our institutional repository ORCA. Just click on the ORCA link to access the innovative and exciting work of Cardiff’s early career researchers.

Theses are among our most read items, regularly topping the “most downloaded” records stats. We currently have over 4, 500 research theses in ORCA, including topics such as The News of the World hacking scandal, autism and equine therapy, the European Gas Network and (my favourite!) the social life of street food. It’s easy to access theses on ORCA – just go to the browse menu and select “type” and then “thesis”. If you want to look at theses for a particular school just click “Browse, School (Complete)”, then select the school and the item type.

Most UK universities now hold their research level theses in their institutional repositories, including Oxford, Cambridge and our GW4 partners Bristol, Exeter and Bath. The British Library’s EThOS  service holds records of over 480, 000 doctoral theses which can be either downloaded immediately or a copy ordered. And a quick Google will find the theses of many prominent cultural icons, including Einstein, Stephen Hawking and a certain Dr Brian May. It’s a kind of magic indeed.

If you are a Cardiff University student of staff member, the research theses are also accessible through the library catalogue on our intranet pages. University regulations allow students to apply for an embargo period where the online thesis is restricted for public use (usually in relation to confidentiality issues, or book publication). These are valid concerns (although click here for an interesting blog post debunking the fear that publishers won’t touch a thesis that has been made available online).

Guest blogger: Louise Harrington, Cardiff University ORCA Team