Congratulations on your conditional offer of a place to study Chemistry at Oxford! We are looking forward to welcoming you to St John’s this autumn (​assuming, of course, that you get the necessary minimum grades and hopefully better!). We have put together this page of resources to help you prepare for the start of your course.

Reading list

Some textbooks relevant to the first year course:

Physical Chemistry

  • Atkins, P.W, de Paula J and Keeler, J: Physical Chemistry (11th Ed. OUP)
  • Smith, E.B: Basic Chemical Thermodynamics (5th Edition, Imperial College Press/World Scientific )
  • Cox, P.A: Introduction to Quantum Theory and Atomic Structure (Oxford Chemistry Primer, No 37, OUP)
  • Price, G.J: Thermodynamics of Chemical Processes (Oxford Chemistry Primer, No 56)
  • Cox, B.: Modern Liquid Phase Kinetics (Oxford Chemistry Primer, No 21)

It is recommended that you have a look at the thermodynamics books, at least, before you come up.

Organic Chemistry

  • Clayden, J., Greeves, N., Warren, S. and Wothers, P.: Organic Chemistry (OUP)
  • Sykes, P.A.: Guidebook to Mechanism in Organic Chemistry
  • Hornby, G.M. and Peach, J.M.: Foundations of Organic Chemistry – Oxford Chemistry Primer Series

Inorganic Chemistry

  • Weller, M., Overton, T., Rourke, J., Armstrong, F. A. and Atkins, P.W.: Inorganic Chemistry. 7th Ed. OUP 2018  (Essential). 
  • Cox, P.A.: Instant Notes – Inorganic Chemistry (BIOS 2000)
  • Emsley, J.: Nature’s Building Blocks – An A-Z guide to the Elements (OUP 2001)


  • Sivia and Rawlings: Foundations of Science Mathematics

Please note that it is not suggested that students should have read all these books before coming up! Nevertheless, selective browsing will give you a good idea of the scope and content of the course.

Study skills for incoming undergraduates

As an Oxford student, you have many great opportunities ahead, but studying here can also be very challenging. To help you prepare for this, we have put together some resources that will help you develop your study skills before you start at Oxford, no matter your subject.

Starting at Oxford

Starting a course at Oxford can be very daunting, but there are many resources out there to help you succeed! Here are some useful guides from across the University that you might want to check out:

  • Study skills and training: Here you can find advice on academic good practice including avoiding plagiarism, managing your time, reading, note taking, referencing and revision.
  • Student life: It’s not all about academics at Oxford; here you can find out about the range of other opportunities available to you as a student, as well as tips on how to navigate student life with your workload. If you prefer podcasts, much of this information is available in that form here!
  • Managing the cost: Undergraduate students Helena, Joe and Dan, have teamed up with the University’s Undergraduate Admissions team to discuss the financial support available to students and how they manage the cost of studying at Oxford.

Useful contacts

If you have any questions that aren’t answered on this page, you can get in touch with the following people:

ContactQuestions they can answer
Admissions Office: Sarah JonesAnything to do with offers, visas, UCAS issues, reading lists and preparatory materials
Accommodation OfficeAccommodation, what to bring, insurance, electoral roll issues  
BursaryAll things financial
College OfficePractical arrangements, bank letters, etc.
Disability enquiries: Elaine EastgateAny issues relating to disability or special requirements