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    Reading Lists

Students wishing to deepen their knowledge of a subject area, or who are considering applying to university to study a particular subject are recommended to read some or all of the following reading below.




Wonderful Life: the Burgess Shale and the Nature of History Stephen Jay Gould (Hutchinson)

The language of the genes: biology, history and the evolutionary future Steve Jones (Flamingo)

The selfish gene Richard Dawkins (OUP)

The blind watchmaker Richard Dawkins (Penguin)

Scaling : why is animal size so important? Knut Schmidt-Nielsen (CUP)

The trials of life : a natural history of animal behaviour David Attenborough (Collins)

Lucy : the beginnings of humankind Don Johanson & Maitland Edey  (Penguin)

Introduction to animal behaviour Aubrey Manning (Arnold)

An introduction to the study of man J. Z. Young (Clarendon)

Life on Earth : a natural history David Attenborough (Collins)

Private Life of Plants : a natural history of plant behaviour David Attenborough (BBC)

Genome: the autobiography of a species in  23 chapters Matt Ridley (Fourth Estate)

The Story of Life TRE (Richard) Southwood (OUP)

Life: An Unauthorised Biography Richard Fortey

Trilobite! Richard Fortey

Dry Store Room No. 1 Richard Fortey


The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves Matt Ridley ISBN: 9780007267118

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries  Are Failing Paul Collier ISBN: 0195374630

The Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity  with Nature Paul Collier ISBN: 1846142237

Obliquity: Why our goals are best achieved  indirectly John Kay ISBN: 1846682894

Meltdown – the end of the age of greed Paul Mason ISBN: 1844673960

Fifty economics ideas Edmund Conway ISBN: 9781848660106

Art of Strategy Dixit & Nalebuff ISBN: 9780393062434

How the economy works Roger Farmer ISBN: 9780195397918

How we Decide Jonah Lehrer ISBN: 9780618620111

Origins of Virtue Matt Ridley ISBN: 0140244042

The Age of Instability David Smith ISBN: 978‐1846683107

Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and

No One Can Pay John Lanchester ISBN: 1846142857

Crisis Economics Nouriel Roubini ISBN: 9781846142871

Paul Collier ISBN: 1846142237


Elegant Solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments  in Chemistry Philip Ball (Royal Society of Chemistry)

Nature’s Building Blocks John Emsley (OUP, Oxford)

Why Chemical Reactions Happen James Keeler & Peter Wothers (OUP, Oxford)

Organic Chemistry Jonathan Clayden, Nick Greeves, Stuart Warren & Peter Wothers (OUP, Oxford)

The Elements of Physical Chemistry Peter Atkins (OUP, Oxford)

Pushing Electrons Daniel Weeks (Harcourt Coll. Publishing)

Four Laws that Drive the Universe Peter Atkins (OUP, Oxford)

Chemistry 3 Burrows, Parsons, Price, Pilling & Holman


Classics: A very short introduction M. Beard & J. Henderson

The Roman Empire: A very short introduction C. Kelly

Presocratic philosophy: A very short  introduction C. Osborne

Greek History R. Osborne


Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman ISBN: 1846140556

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the  way to fight Global Poverty Abhijit Banerjee ISBN: 1586487981

Worldly Philosophers Robert Heilbroner ISBN: 0140290060

Keynes – the Return of the Master Skidelsky ISBN: 184614258X

Predictably Irrational: Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Dan Ariely ISBN: 0007256523

Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis  of 2008 Krugman ISBN: 184614239

Animal Spirits Akerlof & Shiller ISBN: 780691142333

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Michael Lewis ISBN: 1846142571

The Ascent of Money Niall Ferguson ISBN: 014103548X

The Upside of Irrationality Dan Ariely ISBN: 780007354764

Losing Control Stephen D King ISBN: 0300154321

Development as Freedom Amartya Sen ISBN: 0192893300

The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics and Physics Stephen Landsburg ISBN: 143914821X

Drunkard’s Walk Leonard Mlodinow ISBN: 0713999225

How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities John Cassidy ISBN: 1846143004

New Ideas from Dead Economists Todd Buchholz ISBN: 0452288444

Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter  and Creative Destruction TK McCraw ISBN: 0674025237


Engineering – a Beginner’s Guide Natasha McCarthy

New Science of Strong Materials: or, Why you  don’t fall through the floor J B Gordon

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science: The  Very Best Backyard Science Experiments You Can Do Yourself Neil A Downie


Jonathan Bate, English Literature: A Very Short Introduction provides an excellent overview of the subject and ways in which it is studied.

Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction questions why and how English should be studied in a lively, engaging way.

The London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, New Yorker and the books sections of the broadsheets are well worth dipping into from time to time. The Extension English seminar series will also provide a very useful outline of critical approaches and perspectives.


Hazards and Responses, Bishop, V. (Coasts/Tectonics)

The Beach Book: Science of the Shore, Carl Hobbs (2012)

Landscapes and Geomorphology: A Very Short Introduction

Plate Tectonics: A very short introduction, Perter Molnar

Human Rights: A very short introduction, Andrew Clapham

International Migration: A very short introduction, Khalid Koser

Prisoners of Geography, Tim Marshall

The Power of Geography: Ten Maps that Reveal the Future of Our World – the sequel to Prisoners of Geography

The Tectonic Plates are Moving! Roy Livermore


The Earth: An Intimate History Richard Fortey

Trilobite! Richard Fortey

The map that changed the world: William Smith and the birth of Modern Geology Simon Winchester

High Tide: News from a warming world Mark Lynas

The Weather Makers Tim Flannery


What is History? E.H. Carr (Penguin)

The Pursuit of History John Tosh (Longman)

Why History Matters John Tosh (Palgrave)


Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken

In Your Defence – Sarah Langford

Under the Wig – William Clegg

The Prosecutor – Nazir Afzal

In Black and White: A Young Barrister's Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System – Alexandra Wilson

Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey – Wendy Joseph


Fermat’s Last Theorem: the story of a riddle…Simon Singh (Fourth Estate)

Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture *(Greek title: O Theois Petros kai Eikasia tou  Goldbach)

Apostolos Doxiadis (Faber)

Alice in Numberland (Out of print)  John Baylis & Rod Haggarty  (Macmillan)

A Number for your Thoughts Malcolm Lines (Hilger)

Fundamentals of Mathematical Analysis Rod Haggarty (Addison-Wesley)

Does God Play Dice? Ian Stewart (Penguin)

From Calculus to Chaos D.J. Acheson (OUP)

The Code Book Simon Singh (Fourth Estate)

1089 and All That David Acheson (OUP)

Numbers and Proofs R.B.J.T. Allenby (Arnold)

What is Mathematics? R. Courant & H. Robbins (OUP)

Mathematics: the New Golden Age Keith Devlin (Penguin)

Journey through Genius William Dunham (Wiley)

Oxford Figures : 800 years of the mathematical  Sciences J Fauvel, R Flood & R Wilson (OUP)

A Mathematician’s Apology G.H.Hardy (CUP)

Makers of Mathematics Stuart Hollingdale (Penguin)

A Concise Introduction to Pure Mathematics Martin Liebeck (Chapman & Hall)

From Here to Infinity Ian Stewart (OUP)

The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and

Interesting Numbers D.G. Wells (Penguin)

The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and

Interesting Geometry D.G. Wells (Penguin)

Mathematical Circus Martin Gardner (Penguin)

Mathematical Carnival Martin Gardner (Penguin)

Five Golden Rules John L. Casti (Wiley)


Medical Ethics (A very short introduction) Tony Hope (OUP)

Life at the extremes Frances Ashcroft (Flamingo)

Bad Science Ben Goldacre (HarperPerennial)

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Oliver Sacks (Picador)

Genome Matt Ridley (HarperPerennial)

Nature via nurture Matt Ridley (Fourth Estate Ltd)

A Career in Medicine: Do you have what it takes? 2nd Ed. Ed. R. Shakur (Royal Soc. Medicine Press)

Learning Medicine Ed. Peter Richards & Simon Stockhill (BMJ Books)

 Insiders’ Guide to Medical Schools Ed. Alex Almoudaris (BMJ Books)

‘Doctors To Be’ - 8 part BBC television series


The New Spaniards John Hooper (Penguin)

Mythologies Roland Barthes (Vintage)

Mimesis Erich Auerbach (Princeton UP)

France Today John Ardagh (Penguin)

Germany and the Germans John Ardagh (Penguin)

The French Language: an introductory guide Colin Boswell (Runnymede)

Linguistics David Crystal (Penguin)

Language made plain Anthony Burgess (Fontana)

or A mouthful of air Anthony Burgess (Hutchinson)

Language and linguistics John Lyons (CUP)

France 1848 – 1914. (3 vols.) Theodore Zeldin (OUP)

Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture ed. Alex Hughes & K. Reader (Routledge)

Encyclopedia of Contemporary German Culture ed. John Sandford (Routledge)

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture ed. Eamonn Rogers (Routledge)

Novels by Balzac, Flaubert, Stendhal, Marquez, Thomas Mann, Borges, Kafka,


Edward Craig Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford)

Nigel Warburton A Little History of Philosophy (Yale UP). Very accessible.

Thomas Nagel What Does it All Mean? (OUP). Short, readable.

Simon Blackburn Think (OUP). Readable and engaging.

Bertrand Russell The Problems of Philosophy (OUP). A classic, nearly 100 years old, but still readable.

A. J. Ayer Language, Truth and Logic (Penguin). Another classic, this one from the 30s - skip the long

Introduction, and dive into Chapter One!

Great Dead Philosophers (some of the more accessible texts)

Plato Meno and Euthyphro

Descartes Meditations

Berkeley Three Dialogues

Hume Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and Dialogues on Natural Religion

J. S. Mill Utilitarianism


Big Bang Simon Singh

The New Cosmic Onion Frank Close

The Elegant Universe Brian Greene

Thinking Physics Lewis Carroll Epstein

We need to talk about Kelvin Marcus Chown


For a general overview of the study of politics:

Politics: A Very Short Introduction Kenneth Minogue (OUP)

Introduction to Politics Geoffrey Ponton & Peter Gill (Blackwell)

For a very good overview of the study of political philosophy:

Contemporary Political Philosophy Will Kymlicka (OUP)

Political Philosophy David Miller (OUP)


Basic Psychology Henry Gleitman (Norton)

Atkinson & Hilgard’s Introduction to Psychology ed. Edward E. Smith (Wadsworth)

Foundations of Psychology: an Introductory Text Nick Hayes (Thomson)

Interesting or popular background reading:

Games People Play Eric Berne (Penguin)

Body Language Allan Pease & Peter Cox (Sheldon)

Talk Language Allan Pease (Pease Training)

Your Memory: A User’s Guide Alan Baddeley (Multimedia Textbooks)

Oxford Companion to the Mind ed. Richard L. Gregory (OUP)

The Language Instinct Stephen Pinker (Penguin)


Sociology: Themes and Perspective Michael Haralambos & Martin Holborn

Sociology: A Very Short Introduction Steve Bruce


The Living World of the Old Testament Bernhard W. Anderson (Longman)

Invitation to the New Testament W. D. Davies (SPCK)

Invitation to Theology David Brown (Blackwell)

A History of Christianity Paul Johnson (Penguin)

The Gospels and Jesus Graham N. Stanton (OUP)

The Puzzle of God Peter Vardy (Flame)

The Puzzle of Ethics Peter Vardy & Paul Grosch (Flame)


Training to be a Veterinary Surgeon published by RCVS


Reason and Argument P. T. Geach (California University Press)

Invitation to Philosophy Martin Hollis (Blackwell)

What Does It All Mean? Thomas Nagel (Wiley)

On Liberty J. S. Mill (CUP)

Extended Phenotype Richard Dawkins (OUP)

The New Science of Strong Materials, or Why you don’t fall through the floor

James E. Gordon (Penguin)

Emperor’s New Mind Roger Penrose (OUP)