The one thing you can guarantee with any subject at university is that it will require LOTS of reading. Contrary to common belief, science courses are no exception. There is a wide range of textbooks available for Chemistry students at university. Students are often handed reading lists at the start of the year, from each lecturer on each module. It can be very overwhelming to sort through these lists looking for the best and most helpful Chemistry reads. So if you’re a Chemistry student and don’t know where to start with your pre reading or revising, or maybe you’re just not sure whether it’s worth spending all that money on 100 textbooks, we’ve put together a list of the best textbooks for Chemistry students!

  1. Physical Chemistry by Atkins & De Paula (11th Edition)

This Chemistry textbook breaks down the mathematics and physics behind many chemical concepts that Chemistry students come across at any point in the undergraduate course. The size of this textbook may seem daunting but it’s easy to follow and definitely an essential textbook for Chemistry students at University.

student chemistry lab

2. Organic Chemistry by Clayden, Greeves & Warren (2nd Edition)

Now this is the BIBLE for any Chemistry student! The best textbook for Organic Chemistry by far! If you’re a visual learner, it has clear illustrations and reaction pathways, it is colourful and even interactive with links and further resources in the online textbook edition. If you’re a Chem student that struggles with the Organic side, this textbook is for you! 100% worth purchasing your own copy!


3. Inorganic Chemistry by Weller, Overton, Rouke & Armstrong

This textbook is fantastic at explaining key chemistry concepts related to Group Theory and Symmetry. If you’re an active learner and need to continuously practice whilst reading, this textbook offers lots of extra help and practice questions to track your learning. And that’s why Inorganic Chemistry makes it up there with the best textbooks for Chemistry students at University.

chemistry sketch

4. Chemistry3 by Burrows, Holman, Parsons, Pilling & Price (3rd Edition)

If you’re more of a one-textbook kind of person, then this is the holy grail for you. As the name implies, this textbook covers all three types of Chemistry, Organic, Inorganic and Physical Chemistry all in one book. So if you’re only going to purchase one Chemistry textbook, then make sure it’s this one!

chemistry test tubes

5. Chemistry: The Central Science by Brown et al

And lastly, a relevant textbook for all Chemistry students. With the latest edition updated in 2021, this textbook offers a great understanding of the deeper meanings behind key Chemistry concepts and applying them to everyday life.

And there you have the best textbooks for Chemistry students at University. If you’re the type of student that gets overwhelmed by heavy amounts of reading, then its definitely worth investing in one of these essential textbooks. Having all the topic notes and practice questions in one place can help make the life of any Chemistry student much less stressful! So make sure you purchase one of the best textbooks for Chemistry students! If you’re looking for more Chemistry advice then visit our blog on the Top Tips for Chemistry Students.

This blog was written by Isabella Impavido, at the University of Nottingham.

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