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Glasgow 1st year Medicine books

August 31st, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

A lot of people who I meet coming to start at Glasgow are confused about whether they should be buying lots of books before hand. Probably not, it’s almost certainly better to wait until you start. Despite that, I thought I’d give my views on some books typically used in 1st year at Glasgow. All books link to Amazon although I don’t receive royalty for the links (so click away!).

Anatomy (Almost certainly one of these)


Now in a 2 volume 12th edition Tortora (as it’s affectionately known as) remains a favourite for 1st years. Covering most of the anatomy and physiology you will ever encounter, this is one a lot of people buy. Personally I would try and experiment a bit more, it’s a decent book but the faculty hate it. Some of the individual anatomy and physiology books offer more and explain things clearer.


Either this one or one of the updated Clinical or Colour atlases are faculty favourites for anatomy learning. I haven’t seen the updated books but I found McMinn’s a tricky book for beginners. Almost all of the images are based on dissected specimens which, although very realistic, make it hard to see what’s going where. I much prefer the (slightly larger) book below.


Recently updated, this excellent anatomy book tries to make everything seem relevant by relating it to clinical practice. Whilst perhaps a bit much for 1st or even 2nd year, I wish I’d bought it early and actually got the full use out of it. One to look at!


Not to be laughed at, this book is actually really good at making you apply anatomy – which is generally quite dull. It does require a bit of time to get it usable as a book but for something you are only slightly interested in learning (something you’ve come across but not expected to know in detail, for example) it can be useful.
Fast Track

Fast Track

I’ve only come across this recently but I’ve grown to like it. It presents a question and answer format for the most important and commonly encountered anatomy topics. A chapter is finished with pictures (not the best of quality) which show some of the topics. Nice and small book, perfect for the train or similar.

Physiology (Almost certainly buy one of these)


Another book which tries, quite successfully, to combine both anatomy and physiology. Personally I prefer this to Tortora but the actual differences aren’t that great. Excellent for first year but I do feel eventually splitting the topics into two books helps – so may as well start this way. Sorry, Martini.


One of my favourite physiology books – explains everything with great clarity and has almost the right amount of detail. Can be very wordy some times and there is a lot of repitition but overall it’s a firm classic that is worth considering.


A British book that has been recently updated. I hated the old edition with its very small font but I have to give credit to the changes. Probably one of the more detailed books, always the one I’d turn to when I was getting stuck.


I’ve not yet seen this new edition but if the previous is anything to go buy this should be good. My major complaints with the previous were all formatting related, so hopefully this new one will be an improvement. One of the two Lange books that is well liked.

Medicine (Almost certainly buy one of these)


Classic. Now in red. Enough said.


Alternative to K&C. Worth a look, it’s a good book.


Great…when you’re old enough. (Avoid until at least year 3, maybe even later – it’s updated regularly.)

Histology (Maybe buy one of these)


Full of big pink blobs – apparently tissues. Does a good job of making histology seem a little less mundane. Doesn’t quite manage it, unfortunately (or maybe that’s just me).


Bit more detailed than Wheaters although I don’t feel the pictures are as good. Used together (a la SL – which has loads) they do everything you need.

Pathology (Maybe [not yet?] buy one of these)


Great book for year 1 but I do feel it kind of lacks behind after that.


Not something you’d want to carry far (it comes in a big horrid hardcover) but is by a mile (no MILE pun intended) my favourite pathology book. Diagrams are phenomenal and the descriptions are exactly what you want.

Stevens and Lowe

An alternative that (I’m sure…) was liked be the pervious head of year 1. Worth a look!

Biochemistry (Maybe buy one of these)


Still remains the recommended biochemistry book despite being years after her departure. Don’t even think about reading it, far less buying it. Don’t even take it off the shelf in the SL – seriously, people will laugh at you.

Medical Biochemistry

This book always gives me mixed feelings. I like the detail and it explains things well, but I think it’s not very well laid out. I bought it and haven’t regretted it but do try and see if you like it first.

Clinical Biochemistry

A very succinct book (like all the ICT books) but still one which is very useful. Probably the better of the 3, although not quite to the same detail as the previous ones. All 3 have authors tied to Glasgow so the faculty like them all. Your pick.

Crash Course

I really should mention this series of books (this one being great for the homeostasis block [new number escapes me]). They cover almost every speciality of medicine both basic science and clinical, ideal for revision (and when you’re lazy).

Pharmacology (Probably not buy one of these – maybe 2nd year)

Rang and Dale

The pharmacology book in my opinion. It has considerable detail but it’s in a very readable format and the diagrams are some of the best.

Pharm at a Glance

Another series of books (like the ICT above), this – recently updated – is on the best at a Glance book. I was once told to find a smallish pharmacology book and read it cover to cover. If I was going to do that, this would be my pick. Simply brilliant.

Clinical examination (Probably not buy one of these – maybe 2nd year)


This is much liked by most clinicians. I sold mine and got the book below. The new edition may be improved but I found it too wordy and not well laid out.


I simply cannot give this book enough praise – it’s fantastic. None (at least at time of writing) exist in the SL, which is a shame. Buying Macleods? Look here first. And no, I’m not getting commission.

I have reached the end of all the main books I’d recommend looking at for year 1. This is buy no means an exhaustive list – there really are lots of books out there. These are the common ones though and I’d be very surprised if anyone got through (and passed) 1st year without encountering a couple of books here. Suggestions welcome and I’ll try and keep this up to date with new editions but that’s easier said than do

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  1. September 4th, 2009 at 17:39 | #1

    You’re a star. Thanks Scott, great analysis.

  2. Jilly
    September 9th, 2009 at 21:32 | #2

    That’s a brilliant list, think it shall be very helpful. Thanks! Now all that remains is getting into med school…

  3. Hans
    September 12th, 2009 at 19:54 | #3

    Thanks for the advice Scott! I am sure I’ll work out something with the SL hopefully..are you taking part in any of the freshers week events? maybe give a little tip or two?

  4. September 13th, 2009 at 13:00 | #4

    No problem. I’m not actually doing anything particular for freshers although I will no doubt be about.

  1. August 31st, 2009 at 23:01 | #1

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