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Biology: Books


The majority of books held by the Bodleian Libraries, in both physical and electronic formats, can be searched via SOLO. On this page you will find recommended books, guidance on how to search for and access print and ebooks, and libraries in the University that might be relevant for your studies and research.

Physical books

Use the tabs above to explore the key texts and libraries for students of biology. Access to collections and borrowing privileges are subject to conditions; please check individual library websites for further information.

Help with books

For those wishing to learn more about searching for physical collections in Oxford, we recommend the following:

Below you will find key texts for biology. The links will take you through to SOLO where you can find out how to access the books.

Browsing the library's print collections can help you find relevant resources as the books are shelved in subject order, so you'll find related books shelved together.

Where are Books Kept in the RSL?

Loanable books in the RSL are located on the top floors. 

Books are arranged by the Library of Congress and National Library of Medicine Classification schemes.

The majority of biology books can be found at various shelf-marks depending on topic -

QH Natural history, biology

QH301-QH705  Biology general

QH359-QH425 Evolution

QH426-QH470 Genetics

QH471-QH489 Reproduction

QH540-QH549.5 Ecology

QK Botany

QK41-QK45.2 Botany general

QK91-QK97 Classification, systematics and taxonomy

QK494 Systematic divisions - Gymnosperms

QK495 Systematic divisions - Angiosperms

QK504 Cryptogams

QK640 Plant anatomy

QK710 Plant physiology

QK900 Plant ecology

QL Zoology

QL1-QL355 General zoology, geographic distribution

QL360-QL739.8 Invertebrates, Vertebrates

QL750-QL795 Animal behaviour

QL799-QL799.5 Morphology

QL801-QL950.9 Anatomy

QL951-QL991 Embryology

QP Animal physiology

QU Biochemistry

S Agriculture

SB Plant culture

SD Forestry

Electronic books (ebooks)

Ebooks are digital versions of written works. Broadly speaking they come in two forms: they are either 'born digital' or are digital reproductions of printed books. See the tabs above for details of different ebook resources relevant to those studying biology.


Many ebooks have enhanced functionality, such as connectivity with reference management software, the ability to annotate and accessibility features.


Members of Oxford University can use ebooks that the Bodleian Libraries have purchased for free. Search for them on SOLO. They can be read on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, e-reader or mobile phone; you just need your Oxford Single Sign On to access them. Individually purchased ebooks are all searchable on SOLO, but not all purchased ebook collections are, so it is important to visit the websites of ebook collections too. Look at the 'ebook collections' tab above.

Note, some ebooks have restrictive access and usage terms, for example they can only be read by one person at a time.

Some books are acquired via 'electronic Legal Deposit'. These must be read on a library desktop computer in one of the Bodleian Libraries. Further information on how to identify and access electronic Legal Deposit items on SOLO is at the link below.

Help with ebooks

The links below are provided for those wishing to learn more about ebooks.

Below you will find key texts available as ebooks for biology.


You will need your Oxford Single Sign On to access the ebooks if you are not on the University network.

The following is a list of ebook collections applicable to those studying biology at Oxford. Not all ebook collections are available on SOLO, so it is important to visit ebook collection websites to expand your search. You can browse and search across all ebooks on the provider's website and encounter titles of interest you may not have otherwise found.


The ebook collections have been selected by the Bodleian Libraries and you are able to access them for free because of institutional subscriptions to the content. You will need your Oxford Single Sign On to access the collections if you are not on the University network.

A number of eresources, including ebook collections, are freely available online and listed below.


Some of these resources are listed on SOLO but not all, so it is important to visit the websites to expand your search. You do not need your Oxford Single Sign On to access them. These are different to the ebooks purchased by the Bodleian Libraries for which you need your Single Sign On for access.

You will find study skills resources compiled by Bodleian Libraries staff available on Oxford Reading List Online (ORLO).


You will need your Oxford Single Sign On credentials to access the list.

A selection of dictionaries, thesauri and encyclopedias useful to those studying biology.


You will need your Oxford Single Sign On to access the collections if you are not on the University network.

General Biology

Plant Sciencs


Recommend a book

If the Bodleian Libraries don't have the print or ebook you are looking for, you can make a recommendation by completing the form below (Oxford Single-Sign On required).

Inter-library requests

If the Bodleian Libraries don't have the book you are looking for, we may be able to source it through Oxford's inter-library request service.

Why are some books not available electronically?

There are a number of reasons why the Bodleian Libraries may be unable to provide electronic access to a resource. The ebooks guide explains some of these reasons: