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Philosophy Library Guide: Home

Philosophy Library Guide

Reference Books for Philosophy

Subject Encyclopedias 

In print, try the Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy, (10 volumes), at the shelf number R 103 ROUT.

An electronic alternative is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

To find it from off campus:

  1. go to the library homepage (, 
  2. login with the Off-Campus Login button,
  3. mouse over Search & Find,
  4. select e-Reference from the drop-down menu,
  5. and scroll down the alphabetical list of electronic reference books.

Shelf Numbers for Books

These are the main shelf numbers for Philosophy books:



100 Philosophy & Psychology

101 Theory of Philosophy

103 Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

107 Education, research, related topics

108 Historical and collected persons treatment

110 Metaphysics

120 Epistemology, Causation, Humankind

130 Paranormal phenomena

140 Specific philosophical schools

150 Psychology

160 Logic

170 Ethics (moral philosophy)

180 Ancient, Medieval, Oriental Philosophy

190 Modern Western Philosophy


However, philosophy is the most wide-ranging of subjects. You may well find that a philosophical book dealing with science, economics, politics, history or literature, for example, is shelved with those subjects rather than in the philosophy section.


For this reason it is vital to use the library catalogue.


The Basics of Survival


Finding books

Go to the library homepage at and click on the open search tab - this defaults to the book catalogue.

If you are searching for a book by a specific author it is useful to do a simple keyword search. Type in the author's surname, followed by AND and a word or two from the title.

For example: Khayyam AND Rubaiyat

This sort of quick and dirty search brings up not only The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,  but also books about The Rubaiyat.

Journal articles

Journals are published every few weeks or months. They are academic magazines that contain articles on different topics. Journals are important for finding very up-to-date information, or very specific information on narrow topics. The great thing about journals nowadays is that so many of them are available electronically as well as in print.

Printed Journals

The latest unbound journals are kept on level 5. The bound copies since 1965 are kept in the basement. Pre-1965 journals are kept in an off-campus store and can be requested from the Loans Desk.

Electronic Journals

Electronic journals are full text journals to which UCT subscribes. They are useful because they are always available and because they can be searched by subject.

Below the tab for books you will find a tab for "e-Journals". Click on it and type the title of the journal (not the article) into the search box. This will take you to whichever of our many database has that journal, and allow you to browse through it, year by year, issue by issue - or search through it with keywords. 

If you are off-campus, use the off-campus login first, on the library homepage. This will ask for your student number and the password you normally use on the UCT network.


Databases contain thousands of journals, all searchable by keywords, like a chunk of Google. You can get to our databases from by mousing over Search & Find and selecting Databases A-Z.

Most of the journals are full text nowadays. In some cases, though, the databases may just give a reference to the journal article, rather than the whole thing. This will tell you which year and volume and pages of a particular print journal to look at to find the article. In many cases though, if a journal is not full text one one database, there will be an SFX button below it, which allows you to see if it is ful text on any of our other databases.

Below are some databases which will be generally helpful

 Africa-Wide Information- via EBSCOhost 

Africa-Wide Information combines databases (African Studies, South African Studies, and African Healthline) to form a multidisciplinary aggregation offering unique and extensive coverage of all facets of Africa and African studies. This resource is essential for those with an interest in African research, and information on and about AfricaMLA International Bibliography

SA ePublications 

One of the few databases that indexes full text South African journals.

Academic Search Premier - via EBSCOhost (Full Text) 

This is a very popular undergraduate database at UCT. It contains a lot of full text covering most academic areas of study, including language and linguistics, arts and literature. You can weed out “newsy” material and restrict your search only to scholarly journals by ticking the “Peer reviewed” button on this database.

MLA International Bibliography - via EBSCOhost 

This is a very scholarly language and literature database, produced by the Modern Language association of America, and consists of abstracts for literature, language, linguistics, and folklore, with some full text. It holds abstracts for nearly 4,000 journals and books, in some cases back to 1963. It indexes some Afrikaans language sources as well as English. Some material may be full text.

 Humanities International Complete - via EBSCOhost 

This is a scholarly and wide-ranging database with good full text.  Subjects covered include Film, Linguistics, Literary & Social Criticism, Literature, Performing Arts, and Philosophy. It covers only articles from English-language periodicals.

 Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI) on Web of Science 

This is a scholarly tool used for following a chain of references.  By typing in the name of a particular researcher, you can generate a list of articles which have made reference to that researcher’s work. The database can also be searched by subject, like any other database.


Philosophy Journals


Although most of our journals are electronic nowadays, you may still find yourself needing a printed journal.

Here are some Philosophy journals in print at UCT:


American Philosophical Quarterly [ 105 AME]  -     1972+ QUARTERLY

Ancient Philosophy [ 180.5 ANC]  -     2003+ 2 PER YEAR

Australasian Journal of Philosophy [ 105 AUS]  -     1968+ QUARTERLY

Contemporary Political Theory NEW SUBSCRIPTION 2006+

Canadian Journal of Philosophy [ 105 CAN]  -     1980+ QUARTERLY

Economics and Philosophy [ 330.05 ECO]  -     1993+ 2 PER YEAR

Ethics - An International Journal of Social, Political and Legal Phisophy [ 170.5 INT]  -     1899+ QUARTERLY

Inquiry - Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy and the Social Sciences [ 105 INQ]  -     1979+ EVERY 2 MTHS

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism [ 111.8505 JOU]  -     1980+ QUARTERLY

Journal of Applied Philosophy [ 105 JOU]  -     1984+ 3 PER YEAR

Journal of Business Ethics [ 174.405 JOU]  -     1983+ 2 PER MONTH

Journal of Medical Ethics [M 174.205 JOU] HEALTH SCIENCES     1975+ OTHER

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy [M 174.205 JOU] HEALTH SCIENCES     1988+ QUARTERLY

Journal of Philosophy [ 105 JOU]  -     1915+ MONTHLY

Journal of Religious Ethics [ 291.505 JOU]  -     1981+ 2 PER YEAR

Journal of Religious Thought [ 200.5 JOU]  -     1991+ 2 PER YEAR

Journal of Symbolic Logic [ 164.05 JOU]  -     1971+ OTHER

Journal of the History of Ideas [ 105 JOU]  -     1953+ QUARTERLY

Law and Philosophy [DH 340.5 LAW] LAW     + EVERY 2 MTHS

Linguistics and Philosophy [ 410.5 LIN]  -     1979+ EVERY 2 MTHS

Medical Humanities [M 174.205 MED] HEALTH SCIENCES     2000+ Unknown

Midwest Studies in Philosophy [ 105 MID]  -     1980+ 5 PER YEAR

Mind [ 105 MIN]  -     1892+ 5 PER YEAR

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly [ 105 PAC]  -     1981+ OTHER

Philosophia [ 105 PHI]  -     1971+ QUARTERLY

Philosophia Africana [BA 199.605 AFR] AFRICAN STUDIES     2001+ 2 PER YEAR

Philosophical Papers (Rhodes University) [ 105 PHI]  -     1972+ 2 PER YEAR

Philosophical Psychology [ 150.105 PHI]  -     1988+ QUARTERLY

Philosophical Quarterly [ 105 PHI]  -     1972+ OTHER

Philosophical Review [ 105 PHI]  -     1965+ QUARTERLY

Philosophical Studies [ 105 PHI]  -     1950+ MONTHLY

Philosophy [ 105 PHI]  -     1936+ EVERY 2 MTHS

Philosophy and Literature [ 801.05 PHI]  -     1998+ 2 PER YEAR

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research [ 105 PHI]  -     1964+ EVERY 2 MTHS

Philosophy and Public Affairs [ 105 PHI]  -     1971+ QUARTERLY

Philosophy of Science [DS 505 PHI] SCIENCE LIBRARY     1961+ 5 PER YEAR

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society [ 105 ARI]  -     1900+ ANNUAL

South African Journal of Philosophy [ 105 TYD]  -     1964+ QUARTERLY

Teaching Philosophy [ 105 TEA]  -     1979+ QUARTERLY