Art, Design and Architecture Theory: Reference

An introduction to library resources and learning skills support for students studying histories and theories of art, design or architecture.

Oxford Art Online


Oxford Art Online is an online art encylopedia - gateway to Grove Art Online and Oxford art references:

  • Oxford companion to Western art
  • Concise Oxford dictionary of art terms
  • Encyclopedia of aesthetics

Image credit: Vincent van Gogh: Starry Night, oil on canvas, 736×921 mm, 1889 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); photo © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by Scala/Art Resource, NY

Reference works

Encyclopedias, dictionaries and handbooks are important sources of information. Use them for definitions and explanantions of key concepts of a topic. They can provide important background information such as the theoretical foundations and academic terminology for a topic.

They are a very good starting point for reseaching an essay topic.

Print format reference works are usually held in the Reference Collection of libraries. However some are online eg Oxford art online.

Be judicious in your use of free reference material on the internet. For example Wikipedia is a collaborative online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute. Information in Wikipedia is not necessarily accurate nor authoritative. However, Wikipedia can be a starting point to identify keywords which relate to your research topic. Do not cite or reference Wikipedia in an essay.

Selected reference works

Click on the title link to see the library catalogue record for the books below (and then click the locations tab to see the call number).