He was educated at Merton College, Oxford (Ph.D., 1924) and later returned to Oxford as Reader in Post-Biblical Jewish Studies from 1939 to 1964. Thereafter he was visiting professor at Bar-Ilan University, Israel (1964–1965), and at the City University of New York (1966–1969).
He was editor in chief of Encyclopaedia Judaica from 1965 until his death.
His works number over 600 items, including:
- Roth, Cecil (1974) . A History of the Marranos (5th ed.). New York, USA: Sepher-Hermon Press. ISBN 0872031381.
- Life of Menasseh Ben Israel (Philadelphia, 1934)
- Roth Haggadah (1934)
- Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica: a Bibliographical Guide to Anglo-Jewish History (London, 1937)
- The Spanish Inquisition (Robert Hale Limited 1937)
- Anglo-Jewish Letters, 1158-1917 (London, 1938)
- History of the Great Synagogue (of London), available online, as part of the at the Susser Archive of JCR-UK
- The Jewish Contribution to Civilization (New York 1941)
- History of the Jews in England (Oxford, 1941)
- History of the Jews in Italy (Philadelphia, 1946)
- The Rise of Provincial Jewry (Oxford, 1950), available online, as part of the Susser Archive of JCR-UK
- History of the Jews (initially published as A Bird's-Eye View of Jewish History) (1954)
- The Jews in the Renaissance (Philadelphia, 1959)
- Jewish Art (1961)
- The Dead Sea Scrolls (1965)
- "ROTH, Cecil". Who Was Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 120.
- "Dr Cecil Roth". The Times. 22 June 1970. p. 12. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Lipman, Vivian David. "Roth, Cecil." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 17. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 479-480. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
- "History of the Great Synagogue". JCR-UK. jewishgen.org. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
- Roth, Cecil. "A History Of The Jews In England". Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "The Rise of Provincial Jewry". JCR-UK. jewishgen.org. Retrieved 26 September 2009.