Sixth Form logo to use Sept 2015

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St Philomena's Sixth Form - Wider Reading

Why should I be doing wider reading and research?

Recently, the Russell Group Universities published a list of skills that they wanted to see in students and potential applicants. They were looking for evidence of :

  • being an independent learner
  • an ability to do research
  • an ability to write a clear and coherent essay
  • an ability to think critically and solve problems
  • an ability to contribute ideas to a discussion or debate

By doing this independent reading and pursuing wider opportunities, you will meet a range of these skills AND be able to demonstrate these skills to Universities in your application. Above all, your reading will show YOU whether your interest in a particular subject is great enough to want to study it to a much higher level.

Where else can I look for ideas of wider reading?

  • Talk to your teachers
  • Talk to students who are doing your subject at a higher level (year 13, University)
  • Talk to Ms Slark who has contacts at Pixl6 who will be able to help you with a range of subjects
  • Look on University websites for first year reading (this will really impress admissions tutors!)
  • Selection of books available in the McAuley suite

General Advice

  • Go to public lectures at local Universities and colleges
  • Go to Open Days  - the colleges of London University put on taster days and courses each June and July which are usually free and give you really useful insights into what studying certain subjects at University might be like.
  • Do The Extended Project Qualification – it is brilliant evidence of being an independent learner
  • Do some research in to the Sutton Trust summer camps which are run at a number of Universities
  • Get the best results you can in your courses and in addition to this, do three extra things each month that are specific towards reading around and researching what you think you might want to apply for.

Good Luck!


Books to read:

  1. The Third Chimpanzee (Diamond)
  2. Tribe (Bruce Parry)
  3. A Beginner’s Guide to Anthropology (Hendy)
  4. The book of Peoples (National Geographic)
  5. The Innocent Anthropologist (Nigel Barley)
  6. The Naked Ape (Morris)



Top Tips:

  • Build up your own portfolio – consider what buildings and architects have influenced your own designs and then read around their history and who designed them.
  • Find work experience with  a couple of different architects – you could contact your local council’s planning department and see if you can do some work shadowing there
  • Do research on material science, sustainability projects, energy saving, self-correcting control mechanisms
  • Keep abreast of the Stirling Awards – the top prize for architecture in the UK


Books to read:

  1. The Chemistry of Life (Steven Rose
  2. Language of the Genes/Almost like a Whale (Steve Jones)
  3. Genome (Matt Ridley)
  4. The Wisdom of Genes (Wills)
  5. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Daniel Dennett)
  6. The Selfish Gene/The Extended Phenotype (Dawkins)
  7. Virolution (Ryan)
  8. Life Asceding (Nick Lane)
  9. The Revenge of Gaia (Lovelock)
  10. 50 Genetic Ideas You Really Need to Know (Henderson)
  11. Journals: Nature / New Scientist,,

Top Tips:

Experiment with finding out about specialist areas such as virology, microbiology, marine biology and genetics to see which area you might like to specialise in.

Business and Marketing

Books to read:

  1. Brilliant Marketing (Hall)
  2. The Advertising Concept Book (Barry)
  3. Guerllia Marketing (Levinson)
  4. The Strategy Book (McKeown)
  5. Strategy (Harvard Business Essentials)
  6. Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur (Branson)
  7. Anyone Can Do It (Bannatyne)


Books to read:

  1. The Chemistry of Life (Steven Rose)
  2. Chemistry (Brock)
  3. Principles of Biochemistry (White, Handler and Smith)
  4. Chemistry for Changing Times (Hill, McCreary and Kolb)
  5. Materials Science (Ramsden)
  6. Science and Society (Hilary and Steven Rose)
  7. Uncle Tungsten (Sacks)
  8. The Periodic Kingdom (Atkins)
  9. Mendeleyev’s Dream – the search for the elements (Strathern)

Periodicals: New Scientist, Nature, Chemistry World, Education in Chemistry,


Top Tips:

  • The advice is ‘read, read, read’ but make it for pleasure rather than it becomes a burden
  • Choose two novelists, poets and playwrights and read a range of their work. You should also read other works by your A-level authors to develop different perspectives on their work.
  • If you are interested in creative writing, build up a portfolio of your own work or if you are interested in journalism, contribute to a school or local newspaper or magazine. If there isn’t one – then start one!


Top Tips:

  • In Jan/Feb of year 12, sign up for a Headstart courses that operate each summer and that give you the chance to go to a top Engineering Department for a whole week in the summer and work on an Engineering project.
  • Consider a gap year with the Year in Industry scheme and gaining a placement for six to nine months.



Books to read:

  1. Freakonomic (Levitt and Dubner)
  2. The Third Way and its Critics (Giddens)
  3. The Lexus and the Olive Tree (Friedman)
  4. Small is Beautiful (Schumacher)
  5. The Undercover Economist (Harford)
  6. The End of Poverty (Sachs)
  7. The Very Short Introduction to Marx

Other authors: Amartya Sen, Jospeph Stiglitz, Robert Peston, Stephanie Flanders



Food and Nutrition

  1. Food and Nutrition (Tull)
  2. Understanding Food and Nutrition (Webster-Gandy)
  3. Deep Nutrition (Shanahan)



Books to read:

  1. Earth, An Inanimate History (Fortey)
  2. Globalism and Regionalism and Capitalism as if the Earth mattered (Poritt)
  3. Future Shock (Tofler)
  4. A Blueprint for Survival (The Ecologist and Penguin Books)
  5. Population Geography (Jones)
  6. The Sceptical Environmentalist (Lomberg)
  7. Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival (Ghinsberg)
  8. Surviving Extremes (Middleton)
  9. Earth from Space (Johnston)
  10. Belching out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola (Thomas)
  11. Tribe (Bruce Parry)

Other Authors: James Lovelock, Jared Diamond

Journals: Geography Review,,,,


Graphic Design / Communication

Books to read:

  1. 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design (Heller and Vienne)
  2. Know your Onions (De Soto)
  3. How to be a Graphic Designer without losing your Soul (Shaughnessy)
  4. Graphic Design Rules (Bucher)
  5. How to Create  Portfolio (Fig Taylor)
  6. Contemporary Graphic Design (Fiell)



Books to read:

  1. The Aims of History (Thomson)
  2. The Death of the Past (Plumb)
  3. An Introduction to Contemporary History (Barraclough)
  4. The Pleasures of the Past (Cannadine)
  5. Long Shadows (Paris)
  6. Voodoo Histories (Aaronovitch)
  7. Virtual History (Ferguson)

Top tips:        

  • Choose a couple of areas in your AS/A2 topics that you want to go into in more depth as ‘specialist subjects.’
  • Focus on some subjects pre-1900 as well as 20th century
  • Look at political philosophy (the ‘Very Short Introduction to….’ Series) and political biographies
  • Take part in debating groups and public speaking

Magazines: History Today, BBC History


Books to read:

  1. The Justice Game (Robertson)
  2. Getting into Law (ed. Lygo)
  3. The Search for Justice (Rozenburg)
  4. Understanding Law (Adams and Brownsword)
  5. Law and Modern Society (Atiyah)      
  6. On Evidence (Murphy)
  7. The Rule of Law (Bingham)
  8. Bonfire of the Liberties: New Labour, Human Rights (Ewing)
  9. Very Short Introduction to Human Rights (Clapham)
  10. Very Short Introduction to the Philosophy of Law (Wacks)

Podcasts on Iplayer: Law in Action, Unreliable Evidence


Top Tips:

  • Spend time at the Local Magistrates Court –speak to the Ushers to try and meet the Magistrates
  • Spend a day at a nearby Crown Court – visit the Old Bailey where there are 18 courts
  • Try to get work experience with a solicitor or barrister
  • Get involved in public speaking, debating and mock trials


Books to read:

  1. Fermat’s Last Theorem (Singh)
  2. Does God Play Dice/ Nature’s Numbers (Stewart)
  3. Easy as Pi (Ivanov)
  4. The Music of the Primes (du Sautoy)
  5. Just Six Numbers (Rees)
  6. Mathematical Diversions / Further Mathematical Diversions (Gardner)
  7. In Code (Flannery)
  8. Numbers. Sets and Axioms (Hamilton)
  9. The Universe and the Teacup (K. C. Cole)
  10. Algebra and Geometry (Beardon)
  11. Hidden Connections / Double Meanings (Wells)

Websites: ,,,

Top Tips:

  • Maths Departments often are only interested in the Maths you have done! – so the more you do the better – further maths, Step Level papers, Open University Modules etc


Books to read:

  1. Hippocratic Oaths (Tallis)
  2. A Very Short Introduction to Medical Ethics (Short Introduction series)
  3. The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine (Le Fanu)
  4. NHS Plc – The Privatisation of Health Care (Pollock)
  5. Betraying the NHS (Mandelstram)
  6. The Political Economy of Health Care (Tudor Hart)
  7. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science (Gawande)
  8. Causing Death and Saving Lives (Glover)
  9. How Doctors’ Think (Groopman)
  10. Diagnosis: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Medical Mysteries (Sanders)

Journals: British Medical Journal

Top tips:

  • You need to demonstrate your personal qualities as well as academic – try to get as much work experience as possible. For example, work with the SEND department at school, your local NHS trust, your local GP surgery.
  • If you are having trouble finding access to medical environments, contact your local Rotary Club which may have contacts who can help.
  • Keep a portfolio of all your experiences and follow up on conditions you come across with further research and reading

Modern Languages

Top Tips:

  • Read foreign literature – mostly in translation, but as much as you can in the original
  • Listen to international radio broadcasts, use newspapers and do research in to the culture, politics, economy, social issues and history.
  • Where there has been a significant impact on philosophy, an introduction to that would be good. For example Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau or in German, Kant, Hegel Nietzsche etc


Books to read:

  1. In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat/In Search of the Multiverse (John Gribben)
  2. The Physics of the Impossible (Kaku)
  3. Hyperspace (Khan)
  4. QED/ Surely you’re Joking (Feynman)
  5. The Trouble with Physics (Smolin)
  6. Chaos (Gleich)
  7. Quantum of the Cosmos (Greene)
  8. Just Six Numbers (Rees)
  9. ABC of Relativitiy (Russell)
  10. The Wonders of the Solar System (Brian Cox)

Radio Programmes: The Infinite Monkey Cage (Radio 4)

Journals: New Scientist, Scientific American ,,

Politics / PPE

Books to read:

  1. The Dilemma of Democracy (Hailsham)
  2. The Third Way and its Critics (Giddens)
  3. Plato to Nato (Redhead)
  4. British Politics (Madgwick)
  5. All Too Human (Stephanopoulos)
  6. The 3 Ms of Maciavelli (Marx and Mill)
  7. The Time of my Life (Denis Healey
  8. Sophie’s World (Gaarder)
  9. What Philosophy is (O’Hear)
  10. Gorgias (Plato)
  11. What is Good (A.C. Grayling)
  12. How to Outwit Aristotle (Peter Cave)
  13. Do you think what you think you think? (Baggini)

Political Autobiographies: Chris Mullin, Jack Straw, Barack Obama

Political Biographies: Anthony Seldon on Tony Blair

Magazines: Philosophers’ Magazine, Philosophy Today

Top tips:

  • Get involved with debating
  • Find work experience or shadowing – contact your local council, your local MP, even your Euro-MP
  • Know who the key members of the Cabinet and the Opposition are and what they are proposing
  • Choose an area of foreign politics that you interests you and familiarise yourself with the key issues there


Books to read:

  1. Understand Psychology (Hayes)
  2. Games People Play (Berne)
  3. I’m OK, You’re OK (Thomas Harris)
  4. The Serial Killers: the Pyschology of Violence (Wilson)
  5. 50 Psychology Ideas you really need to know (Furnham)

Websites: The Encyclopaedia of Psychology

Sports Science

Books to read:

  1. Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition (Bean)
  2. Periodisation Training or Sports (Bompa and Carrera)
  3. Sport and Exercise Science: An Introduction (Griffin and Watkins)



Books to read:

  1. A Very Short Introduction to Theology (Ford)
  2. The God Delusion (Dawkins)
  3. A History of God (Armstrong)
  4. The Case for God: What Religion really means (Armstrong)
  5. 50 Key Concepts in Theology (Rayment-Pickard)