CS954 – Information Retrieval & Access

Credits 20
Level 5
Semester 1
Prerequisites N/A
Availability Possible elective
Contact Lectures: 22 | Tutorials: 0 | Labs: 11
Assignments: 80 | Self study: 87
Assessment Students will complete an individual assignment (50% of the marks) and sit an examination (50% of the marks).
Resit TBC
Lecturer Dr Martin Halvey | Dr Rebekah Willson

General Aims

This module aims to:

  • give a detailed examination of the field of information seeking and retrieval: the study of how people search for information, and the sources, services and systems that can be used to help people access information.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate the ability to critically examine a number of influential information seeking models;
  • demonstrate an understanding of research methodologies for studying human information behaviour;
  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of important concepts, such as relevance, in the context of information seeking and retrieval;
  • demonstrate the ability to show how findings from information seeking theory and practice can inform the design of information access systems;
  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of the theory and technology used to construct modern Information Retrieval and Information Access systems;
  • demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate the assumptions behind the evaluation of Information Retrieval systems;
  • be familiar with a wide range of free and commercial information services and how to use them professionally for the benefit of users;
  • understand the role of the information professional in selecting and acquiring appropriate information sources for user queries;
  • understand how the Internet impacts on the role of the information professional.


  • Information representation
  • The design of information retrieval and information access systems
  • Evaluation of information access systems
  • Multimedia and web retrieval models
  • Information seeking theory
  • Sensemaking theory
  • Information behaviour
  • Reference services
  • The reference question
  • Online databases and subscription services
  • Information philosophy

Recommended Text/Reading*

* This list is indicative only – the class lecturer may recommend alternative reading material. Please do not purchase any of the reading material listed below until you have confirmed with the class lecturer that it will be used for this class.

Looking for information: a survey of research on information seeking, needs, and behavior. Donald O. Case San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2002. | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

The Turn: integration of information seeking and retrieval in context. Peter Ingwersen and Kalervo Järvelin Springer, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-0471485599 | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

Modern Information Retrieval. B. Ribiero-Neto and R. Baeza-Yates ACM Press. 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0201398298 | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

Introduction to Information Retrieval. D. Manning, Prabhakar Raghavan and Hinrich Schütze Cambridge University Press, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0521865715 | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century. Cassell, Kay Anne Facet Publishing, 2006. | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

Success at the Enquiry Desk. 5th edition. Owen, Tim Buckley Facet Publishing, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-1856046008 | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

The Library and Information Professional’s Internet Companion. Poulter, Alan., Hiom, Debra, and McMenemy, David. Facet Publishing, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-1856045094 | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

The Information Literacy Cookbook: Ingredients, Tasters and Recipes for Success. Secker, Jane., Boden, Debbi., and Price, Gwyneth Chandos Publishing, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-1843342250 | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)