Reading List Policy

1. Introduction

There is a recognised need to manage student expectations regarding availability and accessibility of resources supporting their studies, particularly within an increasingly complex information environment. While there are many factors which contribute to providing appropriate access to resources, reading lists are often the starting point for students so it is imperative that library and academic colleagues work together to get this right.   

Information Services uses a reading list management system Aspire with the aim of:

  • Enabling academics to quickly and easily create online reading lists.
  • Ensuring students have ready access to essential reading materials and are aware of further reading which may be required.
  • Ensuring that purchasing and provision of resources is cost-effective and that resources are available in the right format, at the right time and in sufficient numbers to meet the learning and teaching objectives of the course of study.
  • Maximising the value of electronic and print resources purchased by the library.
  • Making library resource acquisition workflows more efficient.
  • Ensuring a positive experience for students, countering a perception that the University has failed to provide the necessary resources for the successful completion of their studies.

Reading lists are most helpful to students if they are:

  • Realistic: so that resources are available in digital form where possible and appropriate or, for physical resources, that they are in stock, with sufficient copies and appropriate loan periods.
  • Accurate: so that students can find the correct resource, including correct editions.
  • Annotated with levels of importance: so that students understand what is expected of them and the library understands what it needs to provide.
  • Clearly laid out: so that students can distinguish the different types of resource on the list
  • Updated regularly: so that students are working with the latest information.
  • Provided to the library in good time: to ensure the library can acquire the required resources.

2. Purpose of this policy

This document sets out the University’s policy on reading lists at module level and articulates the roles and responsibilities of Library Services and the module convenors/list creators.

3. Scope

This policy should be adopted by all departments and applies to all modules at Undergraduate level and Masters courses with reading lists.

The policy does not apply to franchise partner and branch campus sites where responsibility for library provision is provided locally.

4. Acquiring resources

4.1. Reading List budget

In order to ensure the link between online reading lists and library acquisitions remains robust a revised Library Resource Budget Allocation Policy for 2014-2015 was introduced. The new policy established a ring-fenced central budget for student reading materials on reading lists, specifically books and digitised content.

The funds for reading list materials will be spent on first come first serve basis. However, please note the deadline in section 6

In line with the Library Resource Budget Allocation Policy any journals added to reading lists, which are not available in AU libraries, must be purchased from departmental journal allocations.

Budgets will be monitored on a monthly basis and expenditures against the Reading List fund will be recorded at departmental level and reported to departments upon request

4.2. Book purchasing ratios

4.2.1.Essential reading

Print books recommended as essential reading will be purchased in the ratio of one copy per 15 students up to a maximum of 10 copies subject to available funds. Where electronic copies of these books are available, one print copy will also be bought.

This is not a hard and fast rule as some e-books have more stringent terms and licence conditions than others therefore we will take into consideration: number of concurrent users, number of total allowed accesses within a 12 month period, number of students on the module and cost, we will subsequently adjust the number of print to e-copies as appropriate.

Where the module student numbers are not known, the item will be treated as further reading.

4.2.2. Further reading

One copy of books recommended for further reading will be purchased regardless of the number of students on the module unless the Module Convenor/List creator includes a note to the library in their Aspire list asking for more copies.

4.2.3. Adjustments to purchasing ratios

On occasion it may be necessary to alter purchasing ratios, for example, when a module has a large distance learning co-hort. In these cases departments should consult their Academic Engagement Librarian to discuss departmental specific purchasing plans.

4.3. Editions

Library Services will purchase the most recent edition available at the time of the list being published/republished unless the Module Convenor/List Creator includes a note to the library in their Aspire list requesting the specified edition.

4.4. Digitising journal articles and book chapters

Module Convenors/list creators need to request digitisation in their Aspire list for articles or book chapters for inclusion on their Blackboard module.

5. Responsible authorities

5.1. Module convenors/list creators

  • Attend training on the Aspire system and refer to training and guidance material.
  • Submit and update reading lists by the deadlines detailed in section 6.
  • Review and refresh reading lists frequently.
  • Add lists to the module hierarchy, to ensure the list can be found by students.
  • Choose the correct semester for the list, to ensure the list rolls over to the next academic year.
  • Indicate the number of students on the module, so library staff can purchase to the agreed formula. Please ensure a planning number is available to avoid all items being treated as Further reading (see 4.2)
  • Assign importance to each reading list item i.e. Essential or Further so library staff can purchase copies to the agreed formula.
  • Include any relevant notes to the library
  • Publish the reading list so that library staff are notified that the list is ready for checking/purchasing.
  • Re-publish lists which have been edited, to let library staff know you have added more items to the reading list for checking/purchasing.
  • Consult with Academic Engagement Librarians if a departmental specific purchasing plan is more appropriate.

5.2. Library Services

  • Provide training, guidance and ongoing support in the use of Aspire.
  • Check and acquire resources on published reading lists in accordance with section 4.2 and the guidelines in Appendix 1.
  • Endeavour to obtain clearance for digitising copyright material and if clearance cannot be obtained advise list creators.
  • Monitor and record Reading List budget expenditure by department.
  • Monitor, record and report on engagement with this policy in accordance with section 8 and the guidelines in Appendix 2.
  • Treat items as Further Reading when no level of importance has been set by the list creator.
  • Ensure that reading lists are available in the appropriate space in Blackboard.
  • Adopt any alternate departmental specific purchasing plans.

6. Deadlines

Reading lists in Aspire can be updated throughout the year, however module conveners must revise and publish all lists by the following deadlines to ensure materials are available to students in time for teaching.



Distance Learning ('blank' semester)

30th June

Semester 1

31st July 

Semesters 1 and 2 (taught over both semesters)

31st July

Semester 2

30th November

7. Welsh language standards

A Welsh language reading list must be provided for Welsh language modules. Please see guidance here:

It is recommended by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol that Welsh language versions of material should be listed for modules taught through the medium of Welsh wherever possible.

8. Monitoring and review

8.1. Monitoring

One of the methods used to monitor the effective delivery and engagement with this policy is by counting the number of modules with reading lists.  In order to have more accurate coverage figures it is necessary that each module list is linked to the hierarchy and because the hierarchy data is derived from AStRA that departments update AStRA to accurately reflect the status of the module.  Please see guidance in Appendix 2.

8.2. Review

This policy is reviewed on an annual basis prior to the start of the next academic year. Any changes are communicated via various channels.


Appendix 1 Checking and acquisitions

In some circumstances (high cost items, delays in supply of the resource, rights/permissions), the library may have to make exceptions to the information in the tables below. In these cases the library will endeavour to communicate with the Module Convenor/List Creator.

Reading List Items

If unavailable the library will obtain:

Essential Books

Sufficient number of print copies purchased to the agreed ratio: one copy per 10 students up to a maximum of 15 copies subject to available funds. Where electronic copies are available, one print copy will also be bought.

Further Reading Books

One copy obtained where no copies in stock subject to available funds.


Essential & Further Reading Journals

See 4.1 penultimate paragraph


Essential & Further Reading Articles

Upon request (by including a note to the library) a copyright-cleared copy or scan of the article from our own copy to be made available via the relevant BlackBoard module subject to copyright clearance, licence restrictions and available funds.


Essential & Further Reading Chapters

Upon request (by including a note to the library) a copyright-cleared copy or scan of the chapter from our own copy to be made available via the relevant BlackBoard module subject to copyright clearance, licence restrictions and available funds.



One copy. If more are required, please add a note to the library

Alternate Departmental specific purchasing plans


Reading list items

If unavailable the library will obtain:


Essential Books

2 Copies regardless of the number of students on the module


Essential Books

1 Copy regardless of the number of students on the module


Essential Books

Total number of students

Total number of copies
















Further Reading Books

2 Copies

Appendix 2. Guidelines for AStRA updates

Departments can improve their percentage coverage figures by ensuring data in AStRA accurately reflects the status of the module.

Modules withdrawn or suspended following the procedures outlined in Section 2.1 of the Academic Quality Handbook have their code prefixed with N or X respectively in AStRA and modules with either of these prefixes are not imported to Aspire


The modules form SMF010 in AStRA now includes a box to indicate if a module does not require a reading list e.g. where the modules is a dummy for the Year Abroad or where the content of the module is fieldwork or practical application.  By adding ‘N’ to the reading list box the module is not imported to Aspire 

These Regulations are maintained by Information Services, were last reviewed in October 2022 and are due for review in October 2023