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It’s always useful to read around the subject you’re applying for. Not only does it provide great material for your personal statement, but it also gives you an indication of the sort of content you will be studying at university. This will give you an idea of whether or not you’d actually enjoy it. But where can you start? We have here for you some fantastic reading recommendations, for further exploration of the wide world of Chemistry.

James Keeler and Peter Wothers – Why Chemical Reactions Happen

This book offers an overview of the subject, exploring chemical processes and why they happen. It does not make the traditional divide between physical, inorganic and organic chemistry. It explains, with many diagrams, how bonding in molecules occurs, how molecules interact, and how different reactions occur and what their outcome will be. This is a good book to give you an indicator of the focal topics of chemistry at university. 

Chemistry World Journal

This is a monthly chemistry journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. It’s great to read, as it keeps you informed about recent developments in chemistry, and will introduce you to contemporary and young fields of the subject. 

Peter Sykes – Mechanisms in Organic Chemistry

This is a textbook on organic chemistry, so not all of it will be completely accessible to an A-Level student. However, much of it is comprehensible due to its clarity and multitude of examples. It is aimed at university students, but if you want a taster of the type of study you will do at chemistry, whilst wanting to push your understanding a bit further, this is a great book to dip in and out of. 

Peter Atkins – What is Chemistry?

This is a more accessible text, designed for people to see chemistry through a chemist’s eyes. This book touches on the relations of chemistry to the wider world, such as how chemistry provides the infrastructure of our world, and how chemistry provides power generation and transport. This is a comprehensive guide to how chemistry provides a central part of our society, and will give you an insight into the breadth and depth of the discipline. 

John Emsley – Nature’s Building Blocks

This is an A-Z guide of the elements. It goes through the elements’ histories, structure, uses, and how each one is identified. Through the descriptions of each element it introduces lots of chemical techniques, and outlines many of the key facets of chemistry. It is readable, and also great to dip in and out, picking one element to read about in each go. 


Hopefully, one of these will have caught your attention. You know further reading is great to mention on your personal statement, but how do you slip it in? Great news – we’ve got a guide to your Chemistry personal statement.

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