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printKeywords: module readings, resources, library, journal articles, access, electronic, reading lists, required, optional

What is it?

ReadingLists@UCL is an online service that gives students easy access to materials on their reading lists from any web connection and lets staff create and update lists whenever they need to.

Lists have a unique identifier - an 8-character code. Moodle editors use this code to associate the list with that Moodle course. This allows staff to connect students with the relevant digital materials including journals, databases, books and web-based resources. For materials not available digitally, students are instructed about borrowing a hard-copy.

There are two ways to include lists in your Moodle course:

  • To link to one or more reading list in their entirety, you include the 'Library Resources' block.
  • To link to a particular list or section within a list, you add a 'Reading List' activity (note this requires some maintenance in advance of each new academic year).

Why use it?

It avoids intellectual property issues, especially when used with the Library's Course Readings digitisation service.

It links students directly to Library and external items, with the option of presenting these in context in the body of your Moodle course.

This context allows you to give students extra guidance about, say, questions to keep in mind or theoretical lenses to adopt while reading.

Who can use it?

Staff with editing permissions in a Moodle course set up and display lists.

Anybody with access to that Moodle course can click through to the linked list items.

Before I start...

Either request a new reading list or arrange editing rights to an existing one via the Library's ReadingLists@UCL service (refer to ReadingLists@UCL for teaching staff).

Ensure that the code for your list matches the Portico Identifier in the corresponding Moodle course's settings (to get to the course setting, go to your course's front page and in its Settings block click Edit > Settings). If necessary, correct the Portico Identifier to match your list's code.

Don't worry, the Portico Identifier in your Moodle course settings doesn't affect which students populate your Moodle course - that is achieved through the Portico Enrolment block

To find the code for your list, sign into the ReadingLists@UCL service and note your list's 'Linked to:' field. If you need help with this part, please contact readinglists@ucl.ac.uk.

How do I set one up?

The Library Resources Block gives a link to one or more reading lists

The Library Resources Block appears to the side of your main content and contains a number of Library links. It can be configured to display any reading list.

After finding your reading list code (see above) and checking that it matches the module's Portico Identifier, you then use the Library Resources Block in your Moodle course as follows:

  1. Go to your Moodle course and Turn Editing On.
  2. Navigate to the Add A Block menu (usually at the bottom of one of your sidebars) and from it select the Library Resources block. 
  3. From the ‘Actions’ icon, click on the Actions list (cog icon) and select ‘Configure Library Resources block’; the block will display including a link to the Reading List corresponding to the Portico Identifier in the Moodle settings.

The 'Reading List' activity displays within the body of a Moodle course

Sometimes you want to display particular list items within the body of your Moodle course - the 'Reading List items' resource enables this.

Tutors find this helpful when they wish to highlight a few resources at a time - such as weekly readings - in particular, Moodle sections. If you've divided your reading list into sections, you can display those sections as well as individual items.

Here's how to display items within the main Moodle content area:

  1. Go to your Moodle course and Turn editing on.
  2. At the bottom of this section where you want the items to display, click its Add an activity or resource link; a list of possible additions displays.
  3. Choose Reading List; its description displays.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter the Activity name. For example, this could be the name of the reading list or the specific section that's being linked to.
  6. Click Save and display.
  7. Click on the 'Click to continue' button to be taken over to ReadingLists@UCL and enter your UCL username and password
  8. This will allow you to setup the link to either a reading list or specific section for your students to use. Information on how the system works is provided by the library team and can be found by visiting ReadingLists@UCL.

When setting up the link, after clicking "Start" and entering your login details the page may auto-fill with an incorrect Reading List name. If you remove the year from the name, you will then be prompted with the correct Reading List.


A small but important amount of maintenance is required before each new academic year to maintain 'Reading List items' links - see below and make a note in your diary to do this since it is easily overlooked.

What you need to do before each new academic year

At the end of each academic year, the Library makes a duplicate of your list for the coming year and archives the original. You can follow developments on the ReadingLists@UCL blog.

After the Library archives your list each summer and duplicates a new one, the Moodle 'Reading List items' resource requires you to re-link the readings to the new list (this situation affects all institutions using the plugin - not just UCL).

The ‘Library resources’ block does not require any maintenance.

If it is unclear to you whether the 'Reading List Items' link to the archived or current list, check as follows:

  1. Click on the link to the reading list.
  2. Choose an item from the list and click its title; this takes you to the item’s entry page on the reading list.
  3. In the right hand column of that entry page is the context of the item: “This item appears on List: …”.

  4. Click on the link to the List; the list page displays.

  5. There you can see an alert “This list relates to the academic year Academic Year 2016/17 which ended on 23/06/2017”, followed by “This list has a newer version. Click here to view”, and “This list has been archived”.

To mend links to reading list items so they point to the current reading list:

  1. For each Reading List Item, edit its Settings; all possible Reading List Items from the current list display, with checkboxes.
  2. Select the item you need (there is a 'Select all/none' button that helps speed this process).
  3. Click Save.
  4. Repeat for each instance of Reading List Items.

Further help

If you find any inaccurate or missing information you can even update this yourself (it's a communal wiki).

If you have a specific question about the tool please contact the Digital Education team.

Examples and case studies

Questions & Answers

How can I find out how students are using my reading list?

By logging into the ReadingLists@UCL service, going to the reading list in question and clicking on its Dashboard button, you can find statistics about the number of ‘clicks’ each item on your Reading List has had. 

As outlined above, items presented via a 'Reading List items' resource which is set to display embedded inline items are not counted in these statistics, but items set to display on a separate page are counted.

Trying to add the Library Resources Block but the Moodle Portico Identifier doesn't match the reading list code


  • you want to display more than one reading list, but there is only one Portico Identifier set up in the Moodle course settings.
  • the Moodle Portico Identifier for the module is ‘Aesthetics_module_A’ but the reading list has been set up with the 8-character module code AEST1234.
  • a MSc programme with a 12-character code (similar to ‘TMSGEOSAQV04’), that has one Moodle course and one reading list for the whole programme.

Follow these easy steps to manually add a reading list to the block:

  1. In the Moodle course containing the Library Resources Block 'Turn Editing On'.
  2. Locate the Library Resources Block and click its Settings (cog) icon, and from the menu which displays click 'Configure Library Resources Block'; the block's settings display.

  3. For the 'Default Reading List', untick its 'Display’ checkbox. 
  4. Click on ‘Additional reading list 1’.
  5. Select Type as appropriate - either ‘Module’ or 'Programme'.

  6. In the ‘Code’ box type in the 8-character Portico module code or 12-character programme code.
  7. Save; the intended Reading List should display in the block.
    • If you get an error message that the 'Portico identifier is already used by another course...' this is easily resolved by appending an underscore or dash followed by any other characters to the code, e.g. ECON7003 becomes ECON7003_2 .
  8. Repeat as needed for other Reading Lists you want to display.

Error message that the 'Portico identifier is already used by another course...'

This is easily resolved. It happens because the contents of the Portico Identifier field need to be unique.

To make them unique, go into your Moodle course settings and to the existing Portico Identifier code append an underscore or dash followed by any other characters, e.g. ECON7003 becomes ECON7003_2 .

Further information