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Foreign, comparative and international law collections: Comparative

An overview of print holdings and online resources

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IALS Library has one of the world’s leading comparative law research collections, including significant material not otherwise available in the United Kingdom. 

Comparative law publications are found throughout the library. Although there is a dedicated Comparative Law section at classmark SB, there are separate collections for particular legal systems, regions of the world, individual jurisdictions and so on: the Catalogue has full details. Substantial online resources are also available (see below). 


More than seventy different journals with a substantial comparative law focus are held at IALS (not all are active subscriptions); many of them are available online as well as in printed format - see Catalogue

Current subscriptions include the following key series, among many others:

  • American Journal of Comparative Law  
  • International and Comparative Law Quarterly
  • Revue internationale de droit comparé 
  • Uniform Law Review / Revue de Droit Uniforme
  • Zeitschrift für vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft

Comparative law scholarship may be found in almost any journal, however, not only those with an SB classmark. The library has online journal indexes and full-text journal databases which can be for wide-ranging literature searches: see our guide to finding journals and journal articles.


IALS holds a large collection of books on comparative law, including many e-books. The main location of print books on the subject is in the Comparative Law section, at SB. However, many comparative law books are located in the Depository or the Short Loan Collection, relevant works may be found at non-SB classmarks, and many e-books are also available. The Catalogue has full details, including links to e-books.


The collection includes a number of encyclopedias of particular relevance to comparative law research:

  • Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, ed. Smits (2nd ed., Edward Elgar, 2012).

  • International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, ed. Zweigert and Drobnig, (Martinus Nijhoff [1971]- ), print and online.

  • Encyclopedia of  Private International Law, ed. Jürgen Basedow, Giesela Rühl, Franco Ferrari and Pedro de Miguel Asensio. (Edward Elgar, 2017).

  • ‚ÄčMax Planck Encyclopedia of European Private Law, ed. Basedow, Hopt and Zimmermann (OUP, 2012).

  • Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, ed. Redden (W.S. Hein, 1984-2005) - also on HeinOnline.

  • Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History, ed. Katz (OUP, 2009) - covers many different legal traditions, in the modern period as well as medieval and ancient times.


The following subscription databases, available via the IALS Law Databases page, are of particular interest for comparative law research:

  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (part of HeinOnline): indexes selected foreign, comparative and international law journals and essay collections;

  • Foreign Law Guide: describes the legal systems of the jurisdictions of the world and gives detailed guidance on finding legislation for each jurisdiction;

  • World Constitutions Illustrated: current and historical constitutions /constitutional legislation for every jurisdiction in the world, with commentary, bibliographies and links.

For full details of subscription databases, many more of which can also be used for comparative law research, see our Databases guide and Law Databases page.

Other sources

Descriptions of our foreign law holdings may be found on the tabs above; for details of our UK law collection, see the UK law research guide