Human Sciences

Congratulations on your conditional offer of a place to study Human Sciences at Oxford! We are so excited to welcome you to St John’s this autumn, and we have put together this page of resources to help you prepare for the start of your course.

Reading list

The following is a selection of reading which represents different subject areas within the first year course of Human Sciences. If you don’t know what you have signed up for, now is the time to find out. You are by no means expected to read everything on this list but I recommend that you select some titles which arouse your curiosity.

Paper 1: Biology of Organisms including Humans

  • Allen T, & Cowling G. The Cell: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, 2011.
  • Ashcroft, Frances. Life at the Extremes. Univ California Press, 2002
  • Ellis, Erle C. Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, 2018.
  • Krebs, J. Food: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, 2013.
  • Tree, I. Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm.  Picador, 2019.
  • Schilling, C. The Body: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, 2016.

Paper 2: Genetics and Evolution

  • Charlesworth B. & Charlesworth D. Evolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2017 (new ed.)
  • Divan, A. and Royds, J. A. Molecular biology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2016
  • Harari, Y.N. Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. Harvill Secker, 2014.
  • Howard J. Darwin: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, 2001.
  • Rogers, Alan R. The evidence for evolution. University of Chicago Press, 2011
  • Slack, J. S. Genes: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2014

Paper 3: Society, Culture and Environment

  • Barley, N. The Innocent Anthropologist. Penguin, 1983
  • Diener A.C. & Hagen J. Borders: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2013
  • Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. Small Places, Large issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology. 2001. Pluto Press. (free pdf available to download, just google search on this title.)
  • Matthews, J.A. & Herbert, D.T. Geography: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Monaghan, J. & Just, P. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, 2000

Paper 4: Sociology and Demography

  • Bruce, Steve. Sociology: A Very Short Introduction, 2000, Oxford University Press
  • Dorling, Danny.  Population 10 Billion. Constable & Robinson, Paperback, 2013.
  • Harper, S. Demography: A Very Short Introduction, 2018. OUP.
  • Steger, M. B. Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, 2017 (3rd ed.) OUP.

Paper 5: Quantitative Methods for the Human Sciences

  • Hand, D.J., Statistics: A Very Short Introduction, 2008. OUP
  • Kahneman, D. Thinking, fast and slow. Penguin Books Ltd, 2011.

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