How do I know what textbooks to get?

Before you buy your textbooks – STOP and read this blog post, because you may be buying books you don’t really need.

So, how do you know what books to get for uni?

There are 2 ways:

1. On The Co-op website

You can use The Co-op’s textbook search engine to pull up all the textbooks you need. BUT I’m not sure how accurate it is because textbooks for one of my subjects weren’t listed on there even though it’s listed on the handbook.

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2. On the handbook (recommended)

If you look up your subject on the handbook, and scroll down in that handbook entry – there is a section called, “Prescribed Texts” and “Recommended Texts”. That is where your textbooks will be listed.

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What’s the difference between “Prescribed” and “Recommended” texts?

Well, “prescribed texts” means those texts are “compulsory”. This means you “should” get them (I’ll elaborate on this further in this post). Whereas “recommended texts” aren’t compulsory. These textbooks are usually there for those who want to read it for more info. They’re generally not assessed.

Now, for the real question…

Will I actually use these textbooks?


My general rule of thumb with textbooks is to wait till the end of Week 1 before purchasing books. Sometimes the handbook says the textbook is “prescribed”, but I know on several occasions – my tutors and lecturers have said otherwise.

If possible – try to get in touch with people who have done the subject and see what they say about textbooks. I would post in faculty club facebook groups and ask if there are people who have done that particular subject, and if they used the textbook much.

And as you know, textbooks cost a bomb.

But fear not, you can usually purchase them secondhand. A list of places you can purchase second-hand books will be published in another blog post soon. Plus – there should be copies in the library.

– Daphane

2 thoughts on “How do I know what textbooks to get?

  1. Hey, just to let you know that the Co op’s website is super buggy at the moment. They decided to update it during pre-semester rush which hasn’t worked out too well. Also if your book isn’t listed on the website could mean that the lecturer hasn’t gotten in touch with the Co op yet to let them know what book they want to order for their class. I work at the Co op (though not at Melbourne Uni) but I’m happy to answer any questions if people have them :)

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