Biology encompasses a huge variety of topics, all linking to the study of living organisms. This ranges from tiny micro-organisms and plants, and animals and human beings.
Here are some general resources related to Biology. These should be a useful introduction, regardless of which Biology related course you’re interested in and where you might want to study it.
These books should give you some insight into the different topics you may encounter within Biology. Take notes as you read and follow up on anything you don’t understand; they will ground you in Biology as an academic discipline, and may end up being useful when you come to write your personal statement.
The “Very Short Introductions” series is great for getting a more in-depth overview of a topic, for example Developmental Biology, Reptiles, Hormones, and Plants. An extra benefit of these is sometimes they show up on essay reading lists, and they are often really good for developing the background or introduction of an essay!
It’s a good idea to read a number of different popular science books, however there are so many out there, so pick the ones on topics that you’re interested in!
Use videos as a springboard for further research. Videos are a quick way to find out about lots of different things, and by themselves can be part of developing your interest and subject knowledge. If you then follow up anything you found interesting, they can be part of developing your research skills - again, which you might want to use as evidence of your interest and curiosity during application (e.g. personal statement).
'Biology of the Back Garden' YouTube videos 🔗 🌟 This series by Dr Lindsay Turnbull, Associate Professor and Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, looks at the biology of the back garden.
'Map of Biology' video 🔗 This video lays out the subject of biology and how all of the sub-disciplines are related to each other.
SciShow YouTube channel 🔗 SciShow delve into different scientific subjects with videos every day, many of which are biology-related.
The Amoeba Sisters YouTube channel 🔗 The Amoeba Sisters have videos on all sorts of different biology topics, at a level which should consolidate and extend your A Level or equivalent studies of Biology.
David Attenborough documentaries 🔗 Sir David Attenborough is a biology icon - here is a link to all his current documentaries which are free to watch on BBC iPlayer if you have a TV license.
Gresham College Biology lectures 🔗 🌟 Gresham College hosts lectures on all sorts of topics, including biology. These are freely available online, along with PDF transcripts you can read.
These websites are useful for building up your knowledge of Biology. This is useful in preparing you for life as a student, supporting your school studies, and developing your thinking skills - which may be useful in any additional parts of the application such as admissions tests or interview.
Massive Sciences 🔗 🌟 A website that offers cutting-edge science news and opinion pieces - their “Surviving the Anthropocene” section has a huge amount of biology-related pieces.
New Scientist 🔗 🌟 A fantastic weekly magazine and website which is recommended by many Biology departments to students wanting to keep up to date with the latest biology news.
National Geographic 🔗 Also recommended by Biology departments, this contains many written pieces and videos about lots of different areas of Biology, and how it links to other disciplines including Geography.
Podcasts are a great opportunity to engage with Biology in an everyday context. Listen while you’re doing the dishes or on a walk, and if anything sparks your interest, follow it up afterwards. The process of using a ‘source’ such as a lecture or podcast, and then researching anything interesting, contradictory or surprising that it mentioned, is a key part of being a student. Again, this will prepare you for life as a student, and could come in handy as evidence of interest and curiosity on your personal statement.
The Life Scientific podcast 🔗 🌟 Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, many of whom are biologists from a variety of different areas. These are really good for getting snapshots into a wide range of different topics that aren’t really covered in the A-level (or equivalent) course, and a good jumping-off point to find areas that you want to read and learn more about.
Tangents 🔗 Free to listen to on Spotify, and talks about all sorts of different areas of science, many of which are biology-based, for example, episodes on Whales, Frogs, Trees, Extremophiles, and Bees
Big Biology 🔗 A podcast that tells the stories of scientists tackling some of the biggest unanswered questions in biology.
Did you enjoy learning about a particular topic, book, article, or video? Find out more about it! In your personal statement and/or interview, the biology tutors want to see your enthusiasm for biology, and a great way to show that is by thinking about the links between different areas of biology. Make sure that you’re really confident about the basic concepts and try and get as many practice interviews as possible, or get your friends and family to ask you questions about biology and then try and talk through and explain the ideas.