Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Design and Engineering: Finding Standards and Patents

Contact us

Got a question? Get in touch using our instant chat service...

Chat is currently unavailable - please telephone us.

Phone help available 24x7
+44(0)1202 965959


Email the SciTech library support team for specialist subject enquiries...

...or book an appointment with a member of the SciTech library support team.



Standards are agreed ways of doing something, written down as a set of precise criteria so they can be used as rules, guidelines or definitions (British Standards Institution 2019).

Product design requires references to relevant standards. Use the tabs above to identify which standards you might need, and how to find them.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is the UK National Standards Body. Follow the link to find out more about standards, including how they are made and the different types of standards that exist.

 To log on to British Standards Online (BSOL), select British Standards Online from the A-Z resources list

BU's subscription does not include access to every standard, but many are available full text.


Please note restrictions on use:
Access to British Standards Online is provided for educational purposes only. It must not be used for the purpose of University business processes (including but not limited to Health & Safety, Estate Management) or for monetary reward (including but not limited to knowledge transfer partnerships).

There might be a standard for the product you're developing, in which case you will need to consult it. However, there may not be a standard available for it. In those circumstances, you will need to consider whether there might be a standard for a particular aspect of it. For example, there may be standards in relation to:

- Health and safety

- The materials used in your product

- Environmental requirements

- Individual components in your product

- The manufacturing process

There may also be standards for products similar to your own. You will need to consult these documents and consider whether any part of the standard has relevance to you.

The Health and Safety Executive provide more information about relevant standards and essential requirements to satisfy product safety.

Go to British Standards Online (BSOL) logging in via the A-Z list of resources.

There are two ways to find standards on BSOL: browsing and searching. It's worth attempting both to reduce the chances of missing anything.

Begin by using Browse by Subject. This has the advantage of familiarising yourself with the available categories, which may give you new ideas. It also helps if you’re struggling to think of search terms.

Next, use advanced search. Identify the keywords for the standards you think you’ll need, beginning with the product itself. Try and identify any synonyms (words which mean the same thing) or perhaps a broader or narrower concept. 

Depending on the number of results, you may need to use the filters to reduce the number. Consider, for example, searching for a keyword within your results, or limiting the results to items available in the University's subscription or to standards which are current.

Finally, once you've identified one or more relevant standards, consult the cross references in each record (links to other standards referred to in the standard itself). Hover over the name of each standard to reveal the title. This may reveal other standards relevant to your product.


A patent is a type of intellectual property protection covering inventions and products. For more information, check out the Intellectual property Office (IPO) website.

The IPO also has guidance for searching for a patent.

UK patents and patent applications can be found via the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Online Patent Information and Document Inspection Service (IPSUM)


European patents and patent applications can be found via the European Patent Office (EPO) Esp@cenet patent search


US patents and patent applications can be found via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database