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Reading List



We are often asked to make suggestions for preparatory reading and for introducing new subjects that you might be considering. There is no pre-requisite reading that needs to be done, but you may find the following books interesting and informative at a general level.  Please note that the books present an initial view of the subject and may not include material covered by the undergraduate course

You are NOT expected to purchase any of the books on this suggested reading list.

* Indicates which books are considered best to read.


Biology of Cells



Lewis Wolpert

How we live and why we die: the secret lives of cells

Faber and Faber (paperback)

For those wishing to look at a suitable course textbook beforehand we suggest:

B. Alberts et al

Molecular Biology of the Cell

Garland (paperback) (2014) 6th Edition

Although A level Biology is not a requirement for the Biology of Cells Course, if you have done little or no biology before, you may find it helpful to begin with a less advanced textbook. We suggest: Alberts, B. et al (2014) Essential Cell Biology, 4th Edition (Garland) In addition, some knowledge of Chemistry beyond GCSE is assumed and those who have not done A level Chemistry may find helpful explanations of chemical principles in a biological context in the following book: Biochemistry, 8th edition, Jeremy M. Berg, John L. Tymoczko and Lubert Stryer.


Computer Science


A Kee Dewdney

The new Turing omnibus

Computer Sciences Press 1993 (reprinted 2003, Palgrave Macmillan)

Kevin Houston

How to think like a mathematician

C.U.P. (2009)


Evolution and Behaviour


Holland, P

The Animal Kingdom: A very short introduction

O.U.P. 2011


Dawkins, R. & Yang, W.

The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life

Weidenfield & Nicholson (2016)

Carroll, S.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Quercus (2005)


For those wishing to look at a suitable course textbook beforehand we suggest:

Barton, et al




Cold Spring Harbour Lab. Press (2007)





P.W Atkins


Scientific American

*J Keeler & P Wothers

Why Chemical Reactions Happen



Earth Sciences





Langmuir, C. & Broecker, W.

How to Build a Habitable Planet: The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind


Princeton University Press, 2012

For those wishing to look at a suitable course textbook beforehand we suggest:

*Press, F. & Siever, R.

Understanding the Earth

W. H. Freeman; 4th edition, 1986




Materials Science


*Ball, P.

Made to Measure: New Materials forthe 21st Century.

Princeton University Press




Gordon, J.E.

New Science of Strong Materials


Miodownik, M.

Stuff Matters








We do not recommend any particular books, although you are encouraged to read widely on subjects that interest you. You may find the Richard Feynman lectures available at interesting. The most important thing you can do by way of preparation for the Part IA Physics course is to revise your A-level (or equivalent) courses in physics and mathematics, and to work through the mathematics worksheet that you have been sent by your college.  If you would like to try some problems before arriving, you may find the Isaac Physics website worth looking at, in particular the level 3 to 5 problems; however, this is not an essential requirement.  The web address is        



Physiology of Organisms


Ashcroft, F.

King, J

The Spark of Life

Reaching for the Sun


C.U.P (2nd edition)

Widmaier, EP

Why Geese don’t get Obese (and we do)

W H Freeman





Gowers, T

Mathematics: a very short introduction

O.U.P. (2002)

Tom W. Körner

The Pleasures of Counting

C.U.P. (1996)

*Sivia, DS & Rawlings, SG

Foundations of Science Mathematics


Web links:

Plus magazine:

Stem_nrich for Natural Science Maths:




Elementary Mathematics for Biologists



Huff, D

How to Lie with Statistics


*Foster, PC

Easy Mathematics for Biologists

CRC Press

Rowntree, D

Statistics without Tears - an Introduction for






Mathematical Biology



We do not recommend any particular books, as there are none covering appropriate material at the correct level that would be suitable for self-study. However we do recommend some revision of the following topics from A Level Mathematics (or equivalent) as they will be used heavily in the first term: exponentials, logarithms, differentiation, integration and curve sketching.  If you have studied any statistics at school it would also make sense to look over your notes for that, but if not, do not worry, all statistical material will be taught assuming no prior knowledge.