While there’s no mandatory reading list for students prior to their arrival at our programmes, if you are keen to do some preparatory reading or thinking about the subjects you’ve chosen, there are various resources for you to explore. Here we have detailed some of the free and easy ways that you can access materials which will spark your curiosity and get you in the learning mood. We hope you enjoy!
TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, mostly in the form of short talks which are filmed and uploaded onto their website. These videos feature expert speakers across a wide range of subjects and topics, and are a useful resource for almost every subject area we teach at Varsity. There is a wealth of information and stimulating discussion available on the website, and you can view it all for free. If you see anything that piques your interest, watch it!
Although many online academic journal libraries are unavailable without buying a subscription, there are some free options which you can use to read more about whatever interests you. The Directory of Open Access Journals is one option for you to explore.
There are also search tools you can use: http://www.jurn.org/ is a website which uses a modified Google search to uncover free academic articles on books on various subjects including arts, humanities, science, nature, business and law. There is, of course, always Google Scholar itself, which is a simpler way to look for materials based around your search terms. The more specific the terms you use, the more relevant the results will be.
Although taking a look at the news is clearly useful for students interested in politics and international relations, many news websites have specialised pages for developments in science, business, economics, arts and more. You should check these regularly in the weeks leading up to the start of your course to ensure that you are knowledgeable about contemporary issues and the latest developments in your subject area, so you can discuss these in class and with your tutors.
Although no news source is truly impartial, the BBC is legally required to provide balanced analysis and, as a British news source, may be particularly relevant for your studies in the UK. There are also websites that are dedicated to news from specific fields, like Scientific American or The Engineer.
Although films are very rarely completely historically accurate, movies based on real historical events can nevertheless be an entertaining way of giving you a feel for various events or time periods. Interested in the Second World War? Films like The Imitation Game can give you an understanding of the behind-the-scenes work which contributed to the Allied victory over Germany. How about the Cold War? Bridge of Spies portrays life behind the iron curtain, and provides insight into relations between the United States and Soviet Union during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Beyond history, there are films relating to many different topics. If you’re an economics student, you may be interested in The Big Short, a drama about the 2008 financial crisis. For English Literature students, there are a number of films based on Shakespeare plays that you can enjoy, including The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and Romeo + Juliet.*
*Please be aware that while all films mentioned are certified for 15-18 year olds in the UK, it is up to parents discretion whether they are deemed appropriate or not. Please check with your parent or guardian first.
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