DSM7820 Information Organisation and Retrieval

Information organisation and retrieval has always been at the very heart of library and information work and arguably, as the World Wide Web has become ubiquitous and everyday, and as digital and networked environments are becoming the norm, the management and retrieval of information has become increasingly important. It is certainly the case that issues that used to be of interest mainly to librarians are now of interest to a much broader range of professionals.

This course provides an introduction to the principles and practices of knowledge organisation and retrieval.  It introduces a number of theoretical approaches before examining conventional knowledge organisation solutions such as cataloguing standards, classification schemes and thesauri.

The approach taken is analytical and critical, historicising specific solutions and contextualising with reference to principles and theory. More recent solutions such as metadata, taxonomies and emerging frameworks and standards such as RDA and FRBR are also explored.  In addition, the course discusses alternative approaches to the management and retrieval of digital documentation such as tagging and crowd-sourcing.  The couse includes many suggested readings on a range of topics so that students can follow up on areas that are of particular interest to them.


Dr Pauline Rafferty MA(Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCED, MCLIP - Postgraduate Schemes Coordinator and Senior Lecturer, Department of Information Studies.

Pauline joined Aberystwyth’s Information Studies  in 2007. Before that she taught in City University, London, the University of Central England, Birmingham, and her first teaching post was in the University of Northumbria. Before moving into teaching Pauline worked in information research and media librarianship.  Pauline  currently teaches digital information, knowledge and information architectures, knowledge organisation, communication studies, collection management and qualitative research methods.  Pauline serves on the committees of several scholarly journals and her current research and scholarly interests are in two main areas:

  • Information management and access: particularly the representation of knowledge and information, metadata, knowledge organisation, information architecture and access to digital documentation;
  • Critical information and communication studies: particularly philosophies and assumptions underpinning knowledge organisation systems (KOS), information critique, the cultural history of KOS, and approaches to subject analysis, interpretation, and semiotics.

Pauline's publications include:

  • Disrupting the Metanarrative: A Little History of Image Indexing and Retrieval. Rafferty, P., 2019, In : Knowledge Organization.46, 1, p. 4-14.
  • Tagging: Reviews of concepts in Knowledge Organization Rafferty, P., 2018, Knowledge Organization, 45, 6, p. 500-516.
  • Tagging Rafferty, P., 2017, ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization.Nomos.
  • Managing, searching and finding digital cultural objects: putting it in context Rafferty, P., 2016, Managing Digital Cultural Objects: Analysis, discovery and retrieval. Foster, A. & Rafferty, P. (eds.). London: Facet Publishing, p. 3-23.
  • Managing Digital Cultural Objects: Analysis, discovery and retrieval Foster, A. (ed.) & Rafferty, P. (ed.), 2016, London: Facet Publishing.
  • More publications on the Research Portal



A keen interest and/or working in libraries and information management services.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this short course 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
  • relate approaches taken by IR systems, to user, document, and owner needs


To apply please complete the Short Course Application Form

This form should be completed and returned - with your reference - as soon as possible to the Postgraduate Admissions Office: 

For further information, please contact the Department of Information Studies tel: (+/0)1970 622731 / 622189; e-mail: dis-dept@aber.ac.uk