One of the top questions I get asked pretty often is what I would recommend doing before beginning a Biomedical or Biology-related degree.
I do want to stress that what worked for me may not work for everyone and there may be specific requirements that your university ask for you to do before you start your degree in which case I would suggest that you do so but you may want to do something a little bit extra to feel a little bit more prepared for the jump to a degree.
A lot of university books are incredibly expensive so I have tried to narrow down the books that you maybe only need for a small chapter and have attempted to find books that cover a wider range of material so that you really get the most for your money. There are 4 (3 because two of them are quite similar in terms of content) books that I have found invaluable during my first two years at university studying for an undergraduate Biomedical Science degree. It really does no harm trying to get a little bit ahead of the game, and during the summer before you begin university it makes perfect sense to take a little bit of time out to go over some topics to refresh your memory from A-level and to inform you a little bit better ready for your lectures in September.
- Practical Skills in Biomolecular Sciences (4th edition)
This book has proved invaluable when preparing for labs and learning how to prepare scientific pieces of work such as posters and presentations. It is split into 10 easy to read sections which cover an array of topics from important scientific skills to lab techniques. It begins with discussing how to take lecture notes, citing information, using internet resources and spreadsheets, then going onto how to communicate information with a scientific audience. It then goes into more detail on scientific techniques such as basic laboratory procedures, how to work with cells and tissues, analytical techniques to quantify samples and how to analyse any data obtained. This book for me should be a staple in any biomedical student’s library because it really will help ease you into getting comfortable in a laboratory environment, especially if you’re nervous about beginning labs. (Found here for £31.99)
2. Biology (3rd edition) OR Campbell Biology (9th edition)
I probably wouldn’t recommend buying both of these books purely because they are remarkably similar in terms of content. I have used both in the past to reference two different sources but really, there isn’t that much of a difference. Having both books is probably a waste of money because they both cover almost exactly the same topics in the same amount of detail and the graphics are incredibly similar. Both are split into sections covering chemistry, the cell, genetics, evolution, diversity, flowering plants, animals and ecology. These are both books that I would highly recommend to students studying pure Biology. I used this book a lot in my first year of
university because it gives you a lot of broad information but as you begin to specialise in topics of your second year you may struggle to use this book as anything beyond a starting point for your broader research. However, it is a good place to begin if you have little knowledge on a particular subject and both books nicely explain all topics at a relatively basic level. Personally I think I used Campbell more but if I’m honest I have absolutely no idea why, it may have just been a coincidence. These are both quite expensive books so I would definitely recommend just getting the one. (Biology found here for £50.99) and (Campbell Biology found here for £84.99)
3. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease (9th edition)
This book wasn’t really useful in first year but I have found myself picking it up time and time again in second year. The Pathologic Basis of Disease is a good book if you are covering modules on human anatomy, disease, physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology and I actually found myself using it for some microbiology and biochemistry assignments too so really, this book is a pretty good all-rounder. The book itself beings talking about the cell as a unit of health and disease, moving onto cellular responses to stress, inflammation and repair. It dedicates chapters each to infectious diseases, environmental disease, splitting from general pathology into systemic pathology (disease of organ systems). I would highly recommend this book to a biomedical student or a student who has chosen a few pathology based modules on a biology degree. This has proved invaluable for me during a pathophysiology and pharmacology module this year so I would wholeheartedly recommend it to brush up on organ systems and how these can face problems. (Found here for £63.99).
Overall, my ultimate top tip would be to browse for any books that you want to read or are required to read in your university library but also in second hand bookshops and second hand versions that are available online. These will probably save you about £40 minimum but remember that if this is a book that will help you quite a bit, then it maybe worth investing a little bit of money. Of course it is entirely up to you but all the books that I have suggested I have used for pretty much every assignment and piece of coursework that I have been required to do so they are ones that I bought myself to have them close to hand. Another tip is to have a look at online versions of books to see if you like the format in which the material is delivered before you buy that bad boy. This way if a book isn’t for you, you haven’t just wasted your entire month’s wages. I did try to find the cheapest new options for all of the books, if you can find cheaper then please post below!
I really hope that this has helped some of you that are beginning a Biomedical or Biology-related subject at university and if you have any questions about life at university or what it is like to study a degree like this, then please do not hesitate to drop me either a private message or comment on this post.
Good luck in all your future endeavors,
Until next time,
Disclaimer – All of the views expressed in this post are the authors own and are not sponsored in any way. All prices are current of 13/06/2016 and may vary over time.