Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Available all semesters
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment approx 2,500 words  50%
Semester Assessment approx 2,500 words  50%

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module you should be able to:

  • discuss the structure and function of IR systems
  • explain the role of index languages, indexing and searching in the retrieval process

Brief description

The development of this subject during the latter 19 century and early 20 century was limited by the view that the problems to be solved were substantially those of the physical arrangement of books on shelves. A classification scheme could achieve this, while a catalogue would permit other approaches to the bookstock.
These methods continue to be used, but are now seen to be only part of the methods needed to retrieve information quickly and efficiently. Changes have taken place in the nature of subjects; multi-disciplinary studies are common and have rendered less satisfactory crude attempts to 'pigeon-hole' knowledge into classification schemes. Information materials have changed so that libraries of almost all kinds contain not only books, but maps, slides, tapes, etc. The older, limited techniques of classification and cataloguing cannot adequately cope with information needs which may be met, for example, by the retrieval of a single slide in a slide set.
Your study of this subject is influenced by four major characteristics:
1) the body of traditional literature and thought on 'classification and cataloguing' a phrase once expressive of our whole subject but now representing only part of it. Indeed, many information professionals work in contexts where these techniques are not used at all.
2) the vigorous development of information storage and retrieval since the 1950s you will see that this development was often highly individualistic, with many competing theories and attitudes. You will soon become aware that it can be more difficult to study a subject in which much is to be settled, especially when there is disagreement over some terminology.
3) the advent of the OPAC
4) growing recognition that to the vast majority of ordinary library users the traditional information retrieval approach to retrieving documents was at best an irrelevance and at worst a potential barrier.

The subject is not readily divisible into distinct topics. There is much inter-connection and overlap between the topic areas and you will see this when you come to study the module. One topic illuminates another and the development of understanding depends upon perceiving these relationships as you proceed through the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 7