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Cookie and web tracking notice

For information about the data we collect, how we collect it and our lawful bases for doing so, please read the College's privacy notices.

Like many organisations, Birkbeck, University of London, employs a number of online tracking techniques, to help us improve our websites and online services and also to show you advertisements that we think are relevant and helpful.

What follows is a description of those techniques and what they mean for people who visit our websites and use our online services.

1. System logging

As with all web servers and online systems, ours will necessarily log, at a system level, basic information about devices that connect to them and the requests made by those devices. This includes information such as the IP address of the requesting device, the version of the web browser the device is using, and the date and time of the request.

Similarly, our databases and software will update their data fields and logs when new actions are taken or information is added. These logs help us to understand how our systems are performing and to fix problems with them when they occur - as such, they are a necessary part of the architecture of our systems.

Where you are asked to supply data that we store in our databases, the reasons why we are requesting that data, and the uses to which it will be put, will be made clear to you at the point at which it is requested, either explicitly or by reference to an appropriate privacy notice.

2. Search optimisation

When you run a search on our websites or online systems, we will log that search and the criteria used. For example, if you run a search for courses using the search string 'biology', we will log that. The reasons for this are:

  • to help us understand what people are searching for
  • to allow us to tailor our search, so that what we believe is the right content will be returned as your list of results, sorted appropriately
  • to help us solve problems with the search: for example, if a particular search yields no results, we want to know about that and fix it if appropriate.

We use complex systems and aggregated search reporting to help us with this.

3. Cookies

Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer by websites that you visit. They are widely used to make websites work, or work more efficiently, as well as to provide information to the owners of the website. We use cookies across our websites and online services in the following ways:

3.1 Necessary cookies

  • These are essential to enable you to move around our website and use its features. Without these cookies, the services you have asked for, such as registering for an account, cannot be provided.

3.2 Functional cookies

  • These allow our website to remember choices you make, such as your volume setting for a video, and provide more personal features, such as the ReciteMe accessibility feature.
  • The information these cookies collect may be anonymised and they cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.

3.3 Analytical cookies

  • These collect information about how visitors use our website, such as which pages visitors go to most often. We use this information to improve our websites and to help us fix problems. These cookies do not collect information that identifies a visitor.
  • You can find out which analytics systems we use and get more information about the cookies that they place in the 'Web analytics' section, below.

3.4 Social cookies

  • These are usually set when a third-party system, such as Twitter or Facebook, presents embedded information on a page. Such systems may place cookies on your browser for functional, analytical, targeting or other reasons. The best way to understand the purposes for which such cookies are set is to visit the privacy notices for the third-party system.
  • You can control whether these systems are allowed to place cookies in your browser using this setting, or you can update your cookie preferences in your browser to disable third-party cookies.

3.5 Targeting cookies

  • These are used to deliver relevant adverts to you and they are linked to services provided by third parties. These cookies collect information about your browsing habits. We use targeting cookies to send information on your visit to third parties, so that they can make their advertising more relevant to you when you visit their websites.
  • Targeting cookies help us let people know about the courses we offer, as well as other activities such as Open Evenings and taster events, via advertising campaigns.

4. Web analytics

We make use of the following analytics services to help us understand how you navigate around our website:

4.1 Google Analytics

Find out more