Textlists, textbooks and course notes

girl with books
image credits: Walt Stoneburner

Do you know what your course textlist means? Did you know that there are alternatives to purchasing new textbooks?

What are course textlists?

The course textlists are available on the UNSW Bookshop website. You can also ask the UNSW bookshop or 2nd hand shop to print out a textlist for you. Please read the School information for first year textbook lists if you would like more information on individual schools.

Materials can be divided into three types:

1. Prescribed– main text used in the course to supplement your learning in conjunction with lectures/labs/tutorials.
(Be careful when buying bundled textbook packs. They have different prices to textbooks which are sold individually, so make sure you are buying the right books!)

2. Recommended– extra materials which are OPTIONAL to purchase and may further assist you with your studies.

3. Course Notes/Manuals– materials produced by the school. Look for the printed booklets with coloured paper covers.

It is recommended that you wait until your first class before purchasing your texts. Unless it has been clearly stated, you generally won’t be expected to have your texts until the end of week 1 or 2. Your lecturer/demonstrator will advise you on whether or not you need to buy the listed materials.



Brand new books can be purchased from the bookshop, but if you are having second thoughts, think about these other options:

  • Second hand books can be purchased at a discounted rate from the second hand bookshop on lower campus next to the arc reception building (Blockhouse). Also look out for second hand sale lists in the noticeboards around the campus.
  • Websites such as StudentVIP also sell second hand books
  • UNSW Medical Society Bookshop
  • Ebooks can be purchased from the publisher’s website. Sometimes,  the UNSW library or Trove (National Library of Australia) can offer free online versions of the text.
  • Borrowing from the library. Copies of the textbook may be available in the main use (long term) or high use collections (2hr limit). If you don’t think that you need to use the textbook all the time, then this might be a good idea, although bear in mind that there are limited copies available. You can also photocopy any pages that you want to keep for future reference.
  • Share the cost of the textbook with a friend
  • Ask your course coordinator for other options if you are struggling financially

Course Notes

colourful booklets
Course notes have colourful covers

Course notes can be purchased from the bookshop. They can also be accessed online through your moodle course or your school/faculty’s website. Sometimes printing out the course notes yourself will cost less than buying them from the bookshop.

*Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are the students’ own, and do not represent the views of the Faculty of Science at UNSW. Students/readers hold their own responsibility for obtaining the correct materials and textbooks. Please check the course requirements with your course coordinator.*

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