Suggested reading and resources | University of Oxford

Suggested reading and resources

Whether you need inspiration for your personal statement, something to think about before your interview or simply because you are intellectually curious, you might find the suggested reading and resources below useful and entertaining. They are intended to give you an idea of the kind of material you might engage with during a course at Oxford. We've also included links to the University's current research to give you an idea of how academic research can impact upon society. 

Remember, these are only suggestions for further reading, so please don't feel restricted to only reading what we recommend!

You can also enjoy an insight into what it's like to study at Oxford by exploring our free podcasts and videos. These include public lectures covering a wide range of subjects, plus teaching resources, interviews with leading academics, and more. You can watch and listen on your computer, or download files via our podcasts page or itunes.ox.ac.uk.

You may also like to have a look at our Medium channel for articles about Oxford research, covering topics from the weirdest plants in the Botanical Garden to how to teach a computer to recognise your cat. 

Archaeology and Anthropology

Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)

Suggested reading for prospective Biochemistry applicants can be found on the Department of Biochemistry website.

Biology

Biomedical Sciences

Chemistry

Classical Archaeology and Ancient History

There is no reading list for students applying for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, as we encourage students to engage with whatever they find interesting about the ancient world. If you are interested in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, this will include the historical and archaeological evidence through which we learn about that world. As well as visiting your local museum, or other museums, you may wish to explore some websites which have excellent links to historical and archaeological materials, such as the British Museum or Oxford’s own Ashmolean Museum, or the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time’, covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

There are also many social media sites which you can join such as Classics Confidential, Classics Outreach and Classics International.

Oxford research: 

Classics

There is no reading list for students applying for Classics, as we encourage students to read as widely as possible about any Classics materials they find interesting (in literature, history, philosophy, archaeology, and/or philology), and to think critically about their reading. You may also wish to explore some websites which have excellent links to materials about the ancient world, such as the British Museum or the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time’, covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

There are also many social media sites which you can join such as Classics Confidential, Classics Outreach and Classics International.

Oxford research: 

Classics and English

There is no reading list for students applying for Classics, as we encourage students to read as widely as possible about any Classics materials they find interesting (in literature, history, philosophy, archaeology, and/or philology), and to think critically about their reading. You may also wish to explore some websites which have excellent links to materials about the ancient world, such as the British Museum or the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time’, covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

There are also many social media sites which you can join such as Classics Confidential, Classics Outreach and Classics International.

For the English Literature element of the course, we recommend that you read as widely as possible, and think critically about all the texts – literary or not – that you read. Read more about this in our examples of interview questions. You can find literary resources on our Great Writers Inspire site. You may also like to look at literary websites and listen to radio programs such as BBC Radio 4's 'In Our Time'.

Oxford research: 

Classics and Modern Languages

There is no reading list for students applying for Classics, as we encourage students to read as widely as possible about any Classics materials they find interesting (in literature, history, philosophy, archaeology, and/or philology), and to think critically about their reading. You may also wish to explore some websites which have excellent links to materials about the ancient world, such as the British Museum or the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time’, covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. There are also many social media sites which you can join such as Classics Confidential, Classics Outreach and Classics International. 

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How best to prepare for the entrance procedure'. You can also find reading lists on the individual pages of the following languages: 

Oxford research: 

Classics and Oriental Studies

There is no reading list for students applying for Classics, as we encourage students to read as widely as possible about any Classics materials they find interesting (in literature, history, philosophy, archaeology, and/or philology), and to think critically about their reading. You may also wish to explore some websites which have excellent links to materials about the ancient world, such as the British Museum or the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time’, covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

There are also many social media sites which you can join such as Classics Confidential, Classics Outreach and Classics International.

Suggested reading for Oriental Studies can be found on the Oriental Studies website by following the relevant links below:

Oxford research: 

Computer Science

Introductory reading for prospective applicants to Computer Science can be found on the departmental website.

You may also like to look at our GeomLab website which will introduce you to some of the most important ideas in computer programming in an interactive, visual way through a guided activity.

Oxford research: 

Research videos: 

Computer Science and Philosophy

Introductory reading for prospective applicants to Computer Science can be found on the departmental website.

You may also like to look at our GeomLab website which will introduce you to some of the most important ideas in computer programming in an interactive, visual way through a guided activity.

There are many introductions to philosophy: Myles Burnyeat and Ted Honderich’s ‘Philosophy’ as it is a very useful collection. Martin Hollis ‘An Invitation to Philosophy’ and Simon Blackburn’s ‘Think’ are also recommended but feel free to pick up any introductory or beginners’ text.

Oxford research: 

Research videos: 

Earth Sciences

At present we do not produce a reading list for students applying for Earth Sciences but we encourage you to read New Scientist, National Geographic or any other relevant materials which you find interesting.

Oxford research: 

Economics and Management

An indispensable introduction to economic analysis, both for those who have not studied it at school and for those who have is ‘The Economist’ or the Economics pages of newspapers. Paul Krugman’s writings are highly recommended. Begg, Fischer and Dornbusch’s ‘Economics’ is one of the introductory textbooks widely used at Oxford.

Oxford research:

Engineering Science

At present we do not produce a reading list for students applying for Engineering Science but we encourage you to read any relevant materials which you find interesting. Here are some online resources you may like to use to test your knowledge:

  • Isaac Physics: this website contains lots of maths and physics problem solving questions.
  • British Physics Olympiad: this website contains lots of past papers and solutions of problem solving type questions.
  • Next time: this website contains some quite fun questions designed to make you think about physical concepts.
  • I want to study Engineering: this website is just as useful for all applicants not just those applying to engineering.
  • Brilliant.org: this website has some resources to test your mathematical and physics knowledge.

Oxford research: 

English Language and Literature

For the English Literature element of the course, we recommend that you read as widely as possible, and think critically about all the texts – literary or not – that you read. Read more about this in our examples of interview questions. You can find literary resources on our Great Writers Inspire site. You may also like to look at literary websites and listen to radio programs such as BBC Radio 4's 'In Our Time'.

Oxford research: 

English and Modern Languages

For the English Literature element of the course, we recommend that you read as widely as possible, and think critically about all the texts – literary or not – that you read. Read more about this in our examples of interview questions. You can find literary resources on our Great Writers Inspire site. You may also like to look at literary websites and listen to radio programs such as BBC Radio 4's 'In Our Time'.

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How best to prepare for the entrance procedure'. You can also find reading lists on the individual pages of the following languages: 

Oxford research: 

European and Middle Eastern Languages

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How can I prepare myself for the entrance procedure?'. This advice can be applied to both the European and the Middle Eastern elements of the course. You can also find reading lists on the individual pages of the following languages:

Oxford research:

Experimental Psychology

Please see here for suggested reading for Experimental Psychology. This document also includes reading suggestions for those interested in the Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics course.

Research videos:

Fine Art

The following list is suggested as a starting point and is not exhaustive and nor does it mean that you must read these. 

  • Barthes, Roland, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (Vintage) 
  • Crow, Thomas, The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent (Everyman )
  • Stallabrass, Julian, Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introductions (Oxford University Press) 
  • Smith, Terry, Contemporary Art: World Currents (Laurence King Publishing)

We strongly encourage all students to attend exhibitions and look at art works as much as possible. Public art galleries like Tate Modern, the Whitechapel, and the Serpentine in London, the Ikon in Birmingham, the Liverpool Tate, the Whitworth in Manchester, the Baltic in Gateshead, the Arnolfini in Bristol, and Tramway in Glasgow are all excellent places to see contemporary art and to find out more about it.

Other excellent resources include:

It is also a good idea to look at journals such as:

Geography

History

The best way to prepare for a History degree is to read the history books which interest you, either related to your school work or ranging beyond it – and be prepared to discuss your views of those books and their arguments.  To find such material, you might want to follow up on references made in your school or college text books, or your History teacher may also be able to recommend particular works for you to read on topics that you find most interesting.

One good way of broadening your historical horizons is to read one of the popular History magazines: History Today or BBC History, which has weekly podcasts. You may like to look at the books which are being reviewed in the quality press.

You may also like to explore the websites of public institutions which have excellent links to historical materials, such as the British Museum or BBC Radio 4 archives.

Lastly, delving into some historical sources can be a great way to develop your ideas and understanding. You could try exploring literature, art, music or even films produced by different societies, and consider what these can tell us about the people of that time.

Oxford research:

History (Ancient and Modern)

There is no reading list for students applying for Ancient and Modern History, as we encourage students to read as widely as possible about any period of history, ancient and/or modern, that they find interesting. (See 'History' above). For the ancient world, you may also wish to explore websites which have excellent links to historical materials, such as the British Museum or Oxford’s own Ashmolean Museum, the BBC Radio 4 archives, for example for the programme ‘In Our Time', covering material from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

Oxford research: 

History and Economics

The best way to prepare for a History degree is to read the history books which interest you, either related to your school work or ranging beyond it – and be prepared to discuss your views of those books and their arguments.  To find such material, you might want to follow up on references made in your school or college text books, or your History teacher may also be able to recommend particular works for you to read on topics that you find most interesting.

One good way of broadening your historical horizons is to read one of the popular History magazines: History Today or BBC History, which has weekly podcasts. You may like to look at the books which are being reviewed in the quality press.

You may also like to explore the websites of public institutions which have excellent links to historical materials, such as the British Museum or BBC Radio 4 archives.

Lastly, delving into some historical sources can be a great way to develop your ideas and understanding. You could try exploring literature, art, music or even films produced by different societies, and consider what these can tell us about the people of that time.

An indispensable introduction to economic analysis, both for those who have not studied it at school and for those who have is ‘The Economist’ or the Economics pages of newspapers. Paul Krugman’s writings are highly recommended. Begg, Fischer and Dornbusch’s ‘Economics’ is one of the introductory textbooks widely used at Oxford.

Oxford research: 

History and English

The best way to prepare for a History degree is to read the history books which interest you, either related to your school work or ranging beyond it – and be prepared to discuss your views of those books and their arguments.  To find such material, you might want to follow up on references made in your school or college text books, or your History teacher may also be able to recommend particular works for you to read on topics that you find most interesting.

One good way of broadening your historical horizons is to read one of the popular History magazines: History Today or BBC History, which has weekly podcasts. You may like to look at the books which are being reviewed in the quality press. You may also like to explore the websites of public institutions which have excellent links to historical materials, such as the British Museum or BBC Radio 4 archives. Lastly, delving into some historical sources can be a great way to develop your ideas and understanding. You could try exploring literature, art, music or even films produced by different societies, and consider what these can tell us about the people of that time.

For the English Literature element of the course, we recommend that you read as widely as possible, and think critically about all the texts – literary or not – that you read. Read more about this in our examples of interview questions. You can find literary resources on our Great Writers Inspire site. You may also like to look at literary websites and listen to radio programs such as BBC Radio 4's 'In Our Time'.

Oxford research: 

History and Modern Languages

The best way to prepare for a History degree is to read the history books which interest you, either related to your school work or ranging beyond it – and be prepared to discuss your views of those books and their arguments.  To find such material, you might want to follow up on references made in your school or college text books, or your History teacher may also be able to recommend particular works for you to read on topics that you find most interesting.

One good way of broadening your historical horizons is to read one of the popular History magazines: History Today or BBC History, which has weekly podcasts. You may like to look at the books which are being reviewed in the quality press. You may also like to explore the websites of public institutions which have excellent links to historical materials, such as the British Museum or BBC Radio 4 archives. Lastly, delving into some historical sources can be a great way to develop your ideas and understanding. You could try exploring literature, art, music or even films produced by different societies, and consider what these can tell us about the people of that time.

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How best to prepare for the entrance procedure'. You can also find reading lists on the individual pages of the following languages:

Oxford research: 
 
 
 

History and Politics

Politics is a very wide-ranging subject. In addition to newspapers and weeklies, Jonathan Wolff’s 'An Introduction to Political Philosophy' is recommended; and also, for interesting and up-to-date insights into recent political developments in a number of countries, the series of texts produced by Macmillan publishers at regular intervals called ‘Developments in British (French, German, East European etc.) Politics’.

The best way to prepare for a History degree is to read the history books which interest you, either related to your school work or ranging beyond it – and be prepared to discuss your views of those books and their arguments.  To find such material, you might want to follow up on references made in your school or college text books, or your History teacher may also be able to recommend particular works for you to read on topics that you find most interesting.

One good way of broadening your historical horizons is to read one of the popular History magazines: History Today or BBC History, which has weekly podcasts. You may like to look at the books which are being reviewed in the quality press.

You may also like to explore the websites of public institutions which have excellent links to historical materials, such as the British Museum or BBC Radio 4 archives.

Lastly, delving into some historical sources can be a great way to develop your ideas and understanding. You could try exploring literature, art, music or even films produced by different societies, and consider what these can tell us about the people of that time.

Oxford research: 

History of Art

A reading list for prospective applicants to History of Art can be found on the History of Art departmental website.

You may also find it interesting to explore the following resources:

Human Sciences

Introductory reading lists can be found on the Institute of Human Sciences website.

Oxford research: 

Law

We recommend that you start by reading the court reports in broad sheet newspapers.

As the reading lists for the degree course change each year it isn't always advisable to buy text books in advance, but you may find one or more of the books from this list useful when preparing your application Introductory reading for Law. It can be useful to look at the list of law academics on the departmental website and follow the links to their latest publications. All lecturers have their own lists, which change from year to year and include books and journal articles.

You may also like to read the BBC's website Law in Action, and download their podcasts. Other recommendation are the Guardian's law pages and the Counsel magazine.

Research videos: 

Materials Science

There is no set text and students should read widely around the subject. Introductory reading for prospective applicants to Materials Science can be found on the departmental website.

Students may also wish to read the New Scientist magazine which may be available in your school or local library.

Running an internet search on Nanoscience or Nanotechnology will give useful background information in the sciences. Here are some further resources to test your knowledge:

  • Isaac Physics: This website contains lots of maths and physics problem solving questions.
  • British Physics Olympiad: This website contains lots of past papers and solutions of problem solving type questions.
  • Next time: This website contains some quite fun questions designed to make you think about physical concepts.
  • I want to study Engineering: This website is just as useful for all applicants not just those applying to engineering.
  • Brilliant.org: This website has some resources to test your mathematical and physics knowledge.

Oxford research: 

Mathematics

Mathematics and Computer Science

Reading lists for prospective Mathematics applicants can be found on page 11 of the departmental prospectus, available to download from the Maths Department website.

Introductory reading for prospective applicants to Computer Science can be found on the departmental website. You may also like to look at our GeomLab website which will introduce you to some of the most important ideas in computer programming in an interactive, visual way through a guided activity.

Oxford research: 

Mathematics and Philosophy

Mathematics and Statistics

Medicine

Modern Languages

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How best to prepare for the entrance procedure'. You can find reading lists on the individual pages for of following languages: 

Oxford research: 

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How best to prepare for the entrance procedure'. You can also find reading lists on the individual pages of the following languages: 

You can also download the Introductory reading list for Linguistics.

Oxford research: 

Music

Oriental Studies

Suggested reading for Oriental Studies can be found on the Oriental Studies website by following the relevant links below:

Suggested reading lists for BA Egyptology and Near Eastern Studies, BA Hebrew Studies and BA Jewish Studies are currently in development and will hopefully be available in the near future.

Oxford research: 

Philosophy and Modern Languages

There are many introductions to philosophy: Myles Burnyeat and Ted Honderich’s ‘Philosophy’ as it is a very useful collection. Martin Hollis ‘An Invitation to Philosophy’ and Simon Blackburn’s ‘Think’ are also recommended but feel free to pick up any introductory or beginners’ text.

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How best to prepare for the entrance procedure' for the Modern Languages element of this course. You of also find reading lists on the individual pages for the following languages: 

Oxford research: 

Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

We always recommend that students read widely around their subject, deepening their knowledge and understanding, to help prepare for their application. Tutors will be looking for evidence of students' academic potential, as well as their commitment and motivation for their course, so will certainly be looking for evidence that a student has really engaged with their subject, and has a passion for studying it. This is particularly important for courses like PPE, as many students will not have studied any of these three subjects at their school or college.

The very best preparation is a reasonable grasp of the workings of the social and political world in which we live. For PPEists, reading newspapers, watching TV and listening to radio news and current affairs programmes are not optional activities – they are crucial to success at the subject. Students should read a good quality daily newspaper, and ‘The Economist’ weekly is also highly recommended – this offers unparalleled quantity and quality analysis of current events.

There are many introductions to philosophy: Myles Burnyeat and Ted Honderich’s ‘Philosophy’ as it is a very useful collection. Martin Hollis ‘An Invitation to Philosophy’ and Simon Blackburn’s ‘Think’ are also recommended but feel free to pick up any introductory or beginners’ text.

Politics is a very wide-ranging subject. In addition to newspapers and weeklies, Jonathan Wolff’s 'An Introduction to Political Philosophy' is recommended; and also, for interesting and up-to-date insights into recent political developments in a number of countries, the series of texts produced by Macmillan publishers at regular intervals called ‘Developments in British (French, German, East European etc.) Politics’.

An indispensable introduction to economic analysis in use both for those who have not studied it at school and for those who have is ‘The Economist’ or the Economics pages of newspapers. Paul Krugman’s writings are highly recommended. Begg, Fischer and Dornbusch’s ‘Economics’ is one of the introductory textbooks widely used at Oxford.

Oxford research:  

Philosophy and Theology

There are many introductions to philosophy: Myles Burnyeat and Ted Honderich’s ‘Philosophy’ as it is a very useful collection. Martin Hollis ‘An Invitation to Philosophy’ and Simon Blackburn’s ‘Think’ are also recommended but feel free to pick up any introductory or beginners’ text.

At present we do not produce a specific Theology reading list for people who are considering making an application, though we always advise prospective candidates to read beyond what they are reading in school and to explore areas that interest them.

Oxford research: 

Physics

There are many suitable sources for reading. Popular science books are normally readily available at your local library, as are copies of the New Scientist or other scientific periodicals. Anything that takes your interest will be valuable; we have no set reading list.

However, for general preparation prospective candidates can see the suggestions on the Physics department website. We also recommend maths preparation.

There is also lots of information on the internet, on sites such as www.physics.org. or through some of the excellent science blogs. The University of Oxford publishes a science blog and our department also runs a project called Galaxy Zoo which is part of the Zooniverse community of projects , which allows members of the public to contribute to astrophysics research. Large scientific organisations such as CERN and NASA publish a lot of good material online, for example the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. Here are some further resources to test your Physics knowledge:

  • Isaac Physics: This website contains lots of maths and physics problem solving questions.
  • British Physics Olympiad: This website contains lots of past papers and solutions of problem solving type questions.
  • Next time: This website contains some quite fun questions designed to make you think about physical concepts.
  • I want to study Engineering: This website is just as useful for all applicants not just those applying to engineering.
  • Brilliant.org: This website has some resources to test your mathematical and physics knowledge.

iTunesU can also be a very useful resource, as it has a range of physics content, from public talks to undergraduate lectures, from a variety of reputable sources.

Oxford research: 

Physics and Philosophy

There are many introductions to philosophy: Myles Burnyeat and Ted Honderich’s ‘Philosophy’ as it is a very useful collection. Martin Hollis ‘An Invitation to Philosophy’ and Simon Blackburn’s ‘Think’ are also recommended but feel free to pick up any introductory or beginners’ text.

There are many suitable sources for reading. Popular science books are normally readily available at your local library, as are copies of the New Scientist or other scientific periodicals. Anything that takes your interest will be valuable; we have no set reading list.

However, for general preparation prospective candidates can see the suggestions on the Physics department website. We also recommend maths preparation.

There is also lots of information on the internet, on sites such as www.physics.org. or through some of the excellent science blogs. The University of Oxford publishes a science blog and our department also runs a project called Galaxy Zoo which is part of the Zooniverse community of projects , which allows members of the public to contribute to astrophysics research. Large scientific organisations such as CERN and NASA publish a lot of good material online, for example the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. Here are some further resources to test your Physics knowledge:

  • Isaac Physics: This website contains lots of maths and physics problem solving questions.
  • British Physics Olympiad: This website contains lots of past papers and solutions of problem solving type questions.
  • Next time: This website contains some quite fun questions designed to make you think about physical concepts.
  • I want to study Engineering: This website is just as useful for all applicants not just those applying to engineering.
  • Brilliant.org: This website has some resources to test your mathematical and physics knowledge.

iTunesU can also be a very useful resource, as it has a range of physics content, from public talks to undergraduate lectures, from a variety of reputable sources.

Oxford research: 

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL)

Religion and Oriental Studies

At present we do not produce a specific Religion and Oriental Studies reading list for people who are considering making an application, though we always advise prospective candidates to read beyond what they are reading in school and to explore areas that interest them.

Oxford research: 

Theology and Religion

At present we do not produce a specific Theology reading list for people who are considering making an application, though we always advise prospective candidates to read beyond what they are reading in school and to explore areas that interest them.

You may also find it interesting to explore the BBC Radio 4 archives of the 'In Our Time' program, especially the Religion and Philosophy archives.

Oxford research: 

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