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.

Social Work: Working with books

Subject guide for social work

Working with books

Books are a key academic resource and social work degrees can require a fair bit of reading on your part. Relevant books are identified in two ways; by looking through material that is suggested to you via reading lists; by searching independently using library catalogues and subject resources e.g. subject databases.

Reading lists:

Reading lists are a good starting point for your studies. They will include books and other important reading material. Remember to be selective in what you read. Some items may be marked as essential, but many are optional. Decide carefully what you need to read. Don't become overwhelmed. Books will be available in both print (physical) and electronic formats. Electronic books are often available with an unlimited license meaning as many people can use it as required; you may find with print books it is necessary to reserve a copy.

Independent searching:

It is important to look for sources of information outside of what is recommended to you by your lecturers. This will demonstrate your research skills and enable you to 'read around' a topic, bringing in a broader spectrum information. Books can be found by searching the library catalogue; they can also be found through our ebook collections, some of which allow you to search the content of many book simultaneously, which is not possible in the library catalogue (see the Reading ebooks tab for more information).

Encyclopaedias and dictionaries

Sage reference online - Includes 60+ reference books and encyclopaedias including topics such as psychology and social policy

CREDOreference - Online reference books including encyclopaedias, dictionaries and thesauri in a wide range of subject areas.

Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Language Dictionaries


'But serendipity is the greatest pleasure of browsing,...'

Dalrymple, T., 2012 Why second-hand bookshops are just my type. The telegraph [online], 3 December 2012. Available from: [Accessed 22 March 2019]

How books are organised on our shelves

How to use the BU library catalogue

Useful shelf locations - print books

Social work and related

The numbers below are a guide; searching the library catalogue with subject words will help you find relevant books classified elsewhere on the shelves, along with relevant ebooks.