Serious, regular reading is a prerequisite for a successful application to Oxbridge to read Philosophy or a related degree. One proper Philosophy reading and note-taking every week is required as an absolute minimum for joint-honours Oxford Philosophy degrees, and two for Cambridge single-honours.
The following books give good introductions to the subject. They are recommended to all Oxbridge Philosophy candidates as a first step. For those who do not already study Philosophy, reading at least one of these is considered essential.
- Nigel Warburton, Philosophy: the Basics
- Thomas Nagel, What Does it All Mean
- Simon Blackburn, Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)
It is strongly recommended that you get hold of (and use!) a Philosophy 'reader'. This is a compilation of primary text materials. Browse them for topics or philosophers you find interesting. Set yourself a target of reading one reading each week, and taking notes and/or answering any study questions that are provided. Two of the best general Philosophy readers are:
- Nigel Warburton, Philosophy: Basic Readings
- Robert C. Solomon, Introducing Philosophy: A Text with Integrated Readings
Once some primary sources have whetted your appetite, there are three things you can (and should) do.
- Find out about new topics
- by reading some Very Short Introductions. These excellent books are available on a wide range of philosophical themes and available online. Some of the best are: Causation (Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum); Kant (Roger Scruton); Plato (Julia Annas); Wittgenstein (A. C. Grayling); Policitcal Philosophy (David Miller); Freedom (Thomas Pink).
- by reading Philosophy Now - a superb Philosophy magazine. The back issues never go out of date and contain some amazing articles.
- Read some primary source material. Other pages on this website give some ideas of what to look at.