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Natural Sciences Tripos

 

Suggested Reading List for Prospective Students

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

Author
Title
Publisher

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, 6th 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.

 

Evolution and Behaviour

Author
Title
Publisher

Coyne, J.

Why Evolution is True

Oxford University Press (2011)

Dawkins, R. & Wong, Y.

The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life (2nd Edition)

Weidenfield & Nicholson (2016)

Carroll, S.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom

Quercus (2011)

Roberts, A. The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being Heron (201)
Davies, N. Cuckoo, Cheating by Nature Bloomsbury (2015)

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

Futuyma, D.J. & Kirkpatrick, M.

Evolution (4th Edition)

Oxford University Press (2017)

 

Chemistry

Author
Title
Publisher

*J Keeler & P Wothers

Why Chemical Reactions Happen

O.U.P.

P.W Atkins Molecules Scientific American

Earth Sciences

Author
Title
Publisher

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 earth

W. H. Freeman; 4th edition, c2004

 

Materials Science

Author
Title
Publisher

*Ball, P.

Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century.

Princeton University Press

Gordon, J.E.

New Science of Strong Materials

Penguin

Miodownik, M.

Stuff Matters

Penguin

 

Physics

 

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  http://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/tuva/index.html 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 https://isaacphysics.org.

 

Physiology of Organisms

Author
Title
Publisher

Ashcroft, F.

The Spark of Life

Penguin

King, J. Reaching for the Sun C.U.P (2nd edition)

Physiology is a challenging subject, and we don't recommend that you attempt to work through a university-level textbook just yet.  These books will be available to you in College libraries, so you may not need to purchase one for yourself.  However, if you do wish to look at a textbook which covers the first term's materials, the best one to choose would be:

Hill, R.W., Wyse, G.A. & Anderson, M. Animal Physiology (4th Edition) Sunderland: Sinauer Associates, Inc

Mathematics

Author
Title
Publisher

Gowers, T.

Mathematics: a very short introduction

O.U.P. (2002)

Körner, T.W.

The Pleasures of Counting

C.U.P. (1996)

*Sivia, D.S. & Rawlings, S.G.

Foundations of Science Mathematics

O.U.P.

Web links:

Plus magazine: http://plus.maths.org

Stem_nrich for Natural Science Maths: http://nrich.maths.org/6884

Mathematical Biology

 

In addition to the books and websites suggested above for Mathematics, the following may be of interest in getting a sense of how mathematics and statistics are particularly important in biology:

  • David Spiegelhalter, The Art of Statistics: Learning from Data, Pelican Books
  • Ian Stewart, Mathematics of the Life: Unlocking the Secrets of Existence, Profile Books
  • Edward Beltrami, What is Random? Chance and Order in Mathematics and Life, Copernicus Books

We also recommend you remind yourself of certain topics, depending on whether you intend to study Mathematical Biology A or Mathematical Biology B (see: https://www.biology.cam.ac.uk/undergrads/nst/courses/mb/a-and-b). 

If you intend to study Mathematical Biology B, you should review the following topics from A Level Mathematics or equivalent: exponentials, logarithms, differentiation, integration and curve sketching.  If you have studied any probability or statistics it would also make sense to look over your notes (but if not, do not worry as these topics will be taught assuming no prior knowledge).

If you intend to study Mathematical Biology A, you must do the preparatory reading and work through the online course as described at https://www.biology.cam.ac.uk/undergrads/nst/courses/mb/a-and-b