Books (etc) section

GCSE books AS and A level books General Interest (popular authors, other stuff)

Life Ascending by Nick Lane is a fascinating book about evolution from a biochemical background- which is of course the level at which evolution itself operates. The ten sections of the book deal with the great "inventions" of evolution; the origin of life, DNA, photosynthesis, the complex cell, sex, movement, sight, hot blood, consciousness and death. It certainly adds to and updates our ideas of Darwinism.
Although I have reviewed some of these books and DVDs personally, I have also included links to purchase these items via Amazon.co.uk. The BioTopics site is effectively maintained by this activity, as a small discount is channeled this way if you follow these links.

You can also follow these links (which open in separate windows) if you decide to buy your own choice of other products like CDs, DVDs and portable electrical items or even general science and nature books from Amazon. In fact you can easily browse the full Amazon menu.

This is effectively an opportunity for you to support the BioTopics site, especially if you have not made a direct donation.

Some classical Biological books

Actually these authors have also been recommended in Biotutors :
Simon Conway Morris
Carl Zimmer

Universal academic book finder

From Amazon.co.uk (opens in new browser window)
[Also available as an Amazon.com version]

Select from the drop-down boxes below, then click 'Go'
Subject: level: exam board: book type:

Sub-headings below

GCSE books AS and A level books General Interest (authors, other stuff)

Biology GCSEs

Click here for
a search page for other
School Books
The current GCSE Biology specifications are an improvement on the previous versions, and with the reversion to exams at the end of the course there is less interruption to study.
Please let me know which of these books you find useful,
and if any of these links actually point to outdated material for the previous specs.

The other Sciences have also changed.
You can also click on these links
to bring up a search page for
Chemistry or Physics books.

Jump to specification: ... AQA .. Edexcel .. OCR A .. OCR B .. CCEA .. General
Specification links
down this side:

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Textbooks etc, to support specifications for teaching from September 2011:

I have recently added the CGP revision guides, workbooks etc for each specification, which I know are very popular!
I hope these are the correct spec (2011 onwards), not the prevous versions!

Here is a link for CGP revision guides for all subjects.


REVISION GUIDES - ? aimed at all specifications ?
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Biology AS and A level textbooks (2015 onwards)

Most of these books have been developed to support the new specifications to be taught from September 2015.
The examination boards are keen to point out that there is not much difference in content from previous years, so textbooks may not necessarily need to be replaced.
Most publishers are offering separate books to cover year 1 of the A level (same as AS) and year 2 of the A level. Some have 2 volumes per year. Then there are revision guides, teacher packs etc.
Not all publishers have the full range available at the moment. I am not sure about some of the release dates either.
I have set out the options under the various boards, but I have found that Amazon servers sometimes alter the layout ....

Jump to Board-specific books: ... AQA ... OCR ... Edexcel

Not board specific, but adding something extra at about this level: . . . . . . . Colouring

Or you can search for other books etc here:

This CGP book is designed to bridge the gap between GCSE and A level, and as such it is suitable for all boards.

CGP and others have also produced these books to top up on Maths (etc) for Biologists

*,**, ***: These come highly recommennded by Biotutors
*** * **

AQA Biology 2015-

CGP books provide an informal approach to the subject, and there is an impressive range available.

Pauline Lowrie has produced books to cover each year of AS/Alevel

Collins' contribution (one volume per year): the more expensive Teacher Guide option offers "complete teacher support" - now available!

Published by Oxford, written by Glenn and Susan Toole

Originating in New Zealand, Biozone produce material with a different slant, in a one-topic-per-page format.

OCR Biology 2015-

OCR have two (2) A level specifications: A (content-led, flexible) and B (context-based approach), but A seems to be the more popular.


Hodder - last 2 now available

OCR A (Oxford)

Pearson are the owners of Edexcel ....

OCR B (Oxford)

Edexcel Biology 2015-

Edexcel have two specifications: Biology A (Salters-Nuffield) from 2015 and Edexcel AS and A level Biology B (2015).
Not all textbooks mention the A or B options.

Pearson : Salters-Nuffield (spec A)

Pearson : spec B

Mary Jones
Hodder : spec B

Hodder : spec B?

Colo(u)ring is growing in popularity, and some students will certainly gain something from this.

But there are lots of titles to choose from, and how relevant for UK students?
What colour are your mitochondria? Beyond 50 shades ...

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General interest

I make no apology for including a range of books and other media from certain authors, who may be appreciated at different levels or within different sections of the syllabus. And of course some TV programmes are not yet available as DVDs.

Authors Richard Dawkins Matt Ridley Alice Roberts Richard Fortey David Attenborough
Other stuff

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he is very supportive of Charles Darwin, who is featured in most specifications under the heading of natural selection and evolution. He is also inclined to be very sceptical about religion, particularly in the context of evolution.
But isn't being sceptical part of being a scientist?

I was quite interested in his recent TV series entitled "The Genius of Charles Darwin"
( 3 1-hour programmes) and I see it is available as a DVD, and also together with previous TV material.
As yet no supporting book, but lots of other books (below). dvd.jpg
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Richard Dawkins' books in chronological order. The most recent one - The Magic of Reality - is aimed at younger children, attempting to bring a more satisfactory scientific explanation to popular misconceptions.

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Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley is a science writer who produces very readable books, not quite as reactionary as Richard Dawkins.

He also has an interesting background. As well as being titled, he has been a journalist with the Economist and was non-executive chairman of Northern Rock from 2004 to 2007, in the period leading up to the bank's near-collapse.
2006 Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code 2003 Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, & What Makes Us Human,
also later released under the title The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture in 2004
1999 Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters 1996 The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation 1993 The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
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Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts is a doctor, anatomist, illustrator and media person who has participated in TV programmes like Coast and her own project Don't Die Young (what a terrible title!) - now in its second series. I have found this series on human organs quite useful in lessons, especially the section on the eye.
Sadly these are not available on DVD.
The incredible journey covers the topic of human evolution and the spread of Homo sapiens over the world. The book apparently gives more than the DVD.

Richard Fortey

Richard Fortey has written a variety of books on biological topics, especially fossils

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David Attenborough

David Attenborough can do no wrong with me; I watch every TV program he is on, and I always find interesting details which amplify the things I am trying to teach each day.
I do not use his DVDs much in lessons, but they are packed full of lots of useful material! His books are great, too.
I had to put in a special David Attenborough Amazon search page to do him justice.

Other stuff

I enjoyed reading this book, which would be very useful in relation to "How science works" sections of the syllabus.
It has been quite high in the Amazon best-seller charts!
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (also known as a travel writer) is an impressive book which attempts to chart the development of the universe, planet Earth and life upon it, so it is a sort of compendium of science and history. Alongside this, the author brings out interesting facts about the scientists who made the discoveries, and their idiosyncracies and interactions. I was especially interested in the techniques employed to explain the scale involved in some of the stories. What I found especially uplifting was the way in which he was able to get to meet the people in the know (presumably as a result of his reputation gained in writing his other books), and pass on some fascinating conclusions.
ISBN 0- 552 - 99704-8
A Guinea Pig's History of Biology focuses on the various organisms chosen by Biologists in their study, some of which were more fortunate choices than others. I have taken a long time reading this book - not much of a recommendation on the face of it. But as you get into it (i.e as it gets nearer to modern times from Darwin and Mendel onwards) it gets quite interesting and there is certainly a lot of detail about the key players in Biological Science, and their interactions at the research group level.

March of the Penguins is a very good wildlife video (not to be confused with others of a cartoon nature!) which covers the Emperor Penguins life on land.
Great for thinking about life in extreme conditions.
Also included on the video are other sections about how penguins hunt (fascinating!), and some interesting background stuff - the camera crew got badly frostbitten! dvd.jpg
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Some fun choices

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