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Download the introductory reading list as a pdf document

Students often ask for reading suggestions, in order to get their minds tuned into some of the topics that will be covered, or to simply provide a more general foundation for University. This list of suggested reading is not an exhaustive one, nor is it a list of material you must read. There are countless good general texts, so do explore: as well as books, read the local and national press, and look for relevant podcasts, websites, lectures, events and museums or exhibitions in your local area. This is not a list of books you should rush out and buy:

  • First and foremost, read what interests you the most. Each student should, from early on, begin to develop their own particular area of expertise.
  • Second, consider what subjects or topics relevant to Medicine you may not cover in your A-level studies (or equivalent).


Ashcroft, F. Life at the Extremes. Univ California Press, 2002.

Black, J., Boyd, C.A.R. and Noble, D. (editors). The Logic of Life. Oxford University Press, 1993.

Calvin, W. H., and Ojamann, G. A. Conversations with Neil's Brain: The Natural Nature of Thought and Language. Basic Books, 1995. (also available free of charge from

Dawkins, R. The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Dawkins, R. (editor). The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. Oxford University Press, 2009.

De Kruif, P. Microbe Hunters. Kessinger Publishing Co, 2005.

Glynn, I. Elegance in Science. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Goldacre, B. Bad Science. Harper Perennial, 2009. (also see Ben Goldacre’s columns for the Guardian at

Jones, S. The Language of the Genes. Harper Collins (Flamingo), 2000.

Medawar, P.  Advice to a young scientist. Perseus Books, 1989.

Sacks, O. The Man who mistook his Wife for a Hat. Pan Macmillan Picador, 1986.

Sykes, B. Blood of the Isles. Corgi Books, 2007.

Wishart, A. One in Three. Profile Books, 2007.


MacKinnon, P. & Morris, J., Oxford Textbook of Functional Anatomy. Oxford University Press, 2005.


Stryer, L., Biochemistry. W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd, 2006.


Rang, H. et al. Pharmacology. Elsevier Health Sciences (Churchill Livingstone), 2007.


Alberts, B at al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. Taylor & Francis Inc (Garland Publishing), 2008.

Berne & Levy. Physiology. Elsevier Health Sciences (Mosby), 2009.

Boron, W. & Boulpaep, E. Medical Physiology. Elsevier Health Sciences (Saunders), 2008.

Online resources

Start by looking for websites providing information on topics you might be interested in, or read the science sections of newspapers. There are plenty of useful resources out there so do explore.

Here is a list of websites offering podcasts and videos relevant to medical sciences:

Oxford Podcasts
iTunesU > Oxford University > Medical Sciences or

BBC Science 

Radio 4 Science & Nature podcasts

Horizon (BBC archive)