Archives & Special Collections: Support for Learning, Teaching and Research

With its wide range of subjects, materials and media, Archives & Special Collections play a strong role in supporting learning, teaching and research both within and beyond the University of Surrey. 

Teaching and learning within the University

We aim to provide a high level of learning and teaching support. Through our collection knowledge and professional expertise, we are able to engage with users in a variety of ways:

  • Induction sessions - These sessions introduce students to our collections and explain how to make the most of primary sources in their learning. The research room provides an ideal environment for working with rare books, archives and manuscript collections with assistance from our expert staff.
  • Group teaching - Working with course leaders, we are able to develop a programme of teaching and group sessions based around the collections which directly ties into a specialised subject and gives students a first-hand opportunity to work with primary source material.We can either deliver the session with a tutor or can assist by making material available for sessions where the class is led solely by the course leader.
  • One-to-one sessions with students - We are experienced in working with undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them to develop their ideas for research projects based on our collections; as such we can offer bookable one-to-one sessions, to enable students to discuss their dissertation proposals or research projects and discover what resources are available to support their work.

Research within the University

Our archives are unique primary sources which offer immense scope for academic research across disciplines and at various levels. Many of our collections are relatively under-explored which means they offer plenty of potential for new discoveries.

All researchers are most welcome to contact us and find out more about what the archives have to offer. The best place to start is by exploring our collections and investigating our previous research projects below.

Support beyond the University

We are keen to welcome groups from beyond the University who wish to learn more about what we can offer and engage in research with our collections. We also embrace opportunities to visit interested groups and present details of our work and collections. All researchers are most welcome to contact us and find out more about what the archives have to offer. 

Research Collaboration

Archives & Special Collections are keen to collaborate on research proposals drawing on our collections and are able to provide support and guidance on developing such proposals. Our archives have offered inspiration to a number of collaborative research projects. If you wish to explore your research ideas with our archives team please get in contact to discuss further. Some examples of successful and innovative projects from previous research collaboration include:

  • Pioneer Women: early British modern dancers

This AHRC-funded collaborative project between Surrey and Middlesex University unlocked two previously closed archive collections containing unique material representing forms of ‘barefoot dance’ that were prominent in early twentieth century Britain and to re-establish their largely forgotten place in dance history. The archives are specific to the work of Madge Atkinson (1885-1970) and Ruby Ginner (1886-1978) both pioneers of early British modern dance forms which embraced naturalism and neo-classical ways of moving. In addition the project processed materials from two solo dancers working in modern dance forms influenced by European practice; Ludi Horenstein (also known as Ludmila Mlada or Rosemary Young) and Leslie Burrowes.

An oral history project has provided valuable supplementary documentation and additional resources to enhance the archives' content and usefulness. An international symposium 'Moving Naturally' was a central event for the research in terms of publicising the high archival and intellectual value of the collections and the project research.

  • Digital Dance Archives

The Digital Dance Archives (DDA) was the result of an AHRC-funded collaborative research project carried out by academics and archive staff at the University of Surrey and Coventry University. The one-year pilot project investigated the potential to search innovatively across different archive formats. 

The resulting DDA is a portal to explore the integrated archive collections. The content format includes photographs, drawings and moving images drawn from the archive collections at Surrey and the Siobhan Davies Replay archive hosted by Coventry University. Visitors to the website can explore this digital archive and use interaction functions such as image tagging, annotation, and selecting and compiling content into virtual scrapbooks. It is best accessed via search engines other than Internet Explorer; go to to begin your exploration.

  • Contexts culture and creativity: enriching e-learning in dance

This JISC-funded project created Open Educational Resources to enhance student-centred learning and maximize the interaction of digital resources and archive collections. Enriched e-learning packages were designed utilising archive content and these were distributed via the VLE, Jorum Open and the Digital Dance Archives website. The learning packages emphasise cultural and contextual content, and creative modes of using digital resources in the learning environment.

Where we are

University Library, George Edwards Building,  University of Surrey,  Guildford,  Surrey GU2 7XH,  United Kingdom T: +44 (0)1483 689235 F: +44 (0)1483 689500

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