Textbook 101

Just thought I’d put together a blog post about regular textbook-related questions I receive from you guys!

Here they are:

Where can I get a booklist?

Unlike high school, there isn’t really a set list of textbooks you have to get. If you go to the student handbook, search up your subject, you can find the textbooks for your subject there.

What does it mean by prescribed and recommended texts?

‘Prescribed texts’ are required textbooks that are used frequently and are usually examinable. When I asked one of the lecturers during AAD back in first year what prescribed texts are, she said that they are texts that are ‘examinable’ and ‘lots of references will be made to examples in the textbook’.

‘Recommended texts’ are…not mandatory. They refer to textbooks to get if you want some extra background knowledge with the lecture notes. They’re not necessarily examinable – but get these books if you want to go that step further!

What is a subject reader?

Subject readers are commonly assigned to breadth subjects, and they’re a compilation of readings put together by your subject coordinator. And you’ll find these at the uni co-op bookstore.

Most of the time you’ll have to buy these brand new because they tend to change every year. But it is possible to get them second hand in some cases!

Tip: if you’re going to buy subject readers second hand, always check that it’s for the correct year.

It says on the handbook that readings will be posted on the LMS? What does that’s mean?

Basically, your coordinators and tutors will upload readings and such on the LMS – and you’ll just have to download/print/ do whatever you want! Too easy!

Where can I get second hand books/discounts for textbooks?

Read this post: Second hand textbooks

Do you actually use the textbooks?

If you want my opinion…

Prescribed books/readers/workbooks: get them.
Recommended books: if you want to build a deeper understanding of what the lecturer is talking about – get it! If you only want to pass the subject – don’t get them. Recommended books are mainly for reference-sake.

But then again, this is only my opinion – take it or leave it. It’s entirely up to you! I know people who didn’t get ANY textbooks and such, but still aced their exams and pracs. This is based on my experience studying biology/psychology/education breadth subjects – so it may vary depending on the subject.

Daph’s Sneaky Tips…

Tip #1 – Here’s a sneaky tip that a little bird told me. There was apparently an incident a couple of years ago, where an international student returned a textbook that was 12 weeks overdue! And when the librarian asked the student why it was so late – he responded, saying that the library fine was cheaper than buying the book itself!!

But please be mindful of the other people that may need the book! If I’m trying to find a book in the library and I find out that you’ve pulled this one on me – I will find you! And I don’t even know if it is in fact, cheaper than purchasing a textbook.

Tip #2 – Another library-related tip: you don’t have to pay library fines until they exceed $25 over time. But keep them under $25 because if you don’t – the uni puts a ‘sanction’ to your name and prevents you from doing a lot of things such as re-enrolling.

Tip #3 – Some readers/workbooks can be photocopied easily such as the first year biology lab manual (BIOL10004). There’s probably some copyright thing against this – but here’s a thought…you and a friend can buy one manual, split the cost, and photocopy it = money saved!

Tip #4 – Beat the queues at the Uni bookshop! The lines at the uni bookstore are going to be hectic! Be sure to keep your eye on their website to see when your books/reader is in stock! Check out their website.

I hope this helps!


6 thoughts on “Textbook 101

    1. Hey Victoria!!

      That topic is on my ‘to-write’ list haha. Yes I definitely do have advice about that.

      There are so many pros and cons about textbooks and ebooks. So here are my thoughts about them in a nutshell.

      Ebooks are super convenient in comparison to hardcopy. Some of them are cheaper than hardcopy, and you can even get some for free (legally!) if you search on the net. Not all book are available as an electronic version though. You can even highlight and write notes on the books nowadays if you download certain apps.

      And hardcopy textbooks can be bulky and hard to carry around campus. BUT! Think about this – with hardcopy textbooks, you can sell them second hand when you’ve finished. What are you going to do with your ebook when you’re done?

      Ebook seems like the way to go nowadays, but for me – I prefer hardcopy textbooks over ebooks hands down. I’m very old school when it comes to learning haha. I love highlighting the pages, putting tabs on pages, and flipping through the book etc. What I do, is that I leave my textbooks at home and use the books in the libraries. Or when I am on the train, I would use my iPad to do my readings.

      So, with the ebook and hardcopy textbook debate – it’s completely up to you and your learning style!

      Hope that helps you!

      P.s – Are you the Victoria from Destination Melbourne/First Year @ Melb blog?

      1. Hi Daphne,

        Thanks for the nutshell, I’ll definitely take it all onboard. I think I might trial and error this semester and try out ebooks and hard copies to see which I prefer. After all, won’t it be a waste of first semester if I don’t work out my learning styles?
        And yes, I am the DM/First_Year Victoria.


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