Reading about your subject is one of the most powerful ways of strengthening your application. Those all-important people, the university admissions tutors, really appreciate ‘reading around the subject’ for a number of reasons:
- It shows your enthusiasm and passion for a subject
- It shows you’ve made the effort to go ‘beyond the curriculum’ to explore your subject in more depth
- It demonstrates intellectual ability when you describe what you’ve leant from it. Admissions tutors are particularly interested in what you found interesting and why.
For Oxford and Cambridge applications however, extra reading is absolutely essential (and preferably lots of it!).
What should I read?
Our list that can be found towards the bottom of Strengthening Your Application page gives you some great titles to explore for each subject. However, for certain disciplines it would be wise to quickly progress beyond them:
Read novels for as many different periods and genres, including prose, drama, and poetry. There are some great resources to explore on this excellent University of Oxford site: http://writersinspire.org/
In addition to the books on our site, you really need to explore your interests. You could do this by reading books on a particular period of history, the history of a country or region, an approach (e.g. social and economic history) or a theme such as empire, power, wealth and religion.
You need apply what you’ve learnt in the books on legal theory by seeing it in action. You can do this by reading the law sections of on-line newspapers such Times and Guardian.