The latest batch from Cambridge Modular Sciences brings one thick colourful book for physicists, two thinner colourful books for chemists, and two monochrome books for biologists. As before, the general presentation is of a very high standard.
Each chapter begins with an introduction to relevant applications and learning objectives and concludes with a summary. The main text is well supported by diagrams, illustrations, calculations and study questions which reinforce the concepts.
Outline answers to the study questions are given at the end of each book,together with an index but no glossary. Although the books are aimed at the Cambridge A-level modules, the material covered can be used for a variety of syllabuses.
Basic Physics 1 and 2 continues the work of Foundation Physics and completes the A-level physics core. It is a clearly produced and effective textbook, including a number of applications and examples of the physics studied. The study questions are generally well chosen.
The book is likely to be popular with students, but teachers may wish more applications and examples could be included.
How Far? How Fast? and Chains and Rings, on the other hand, contain up-to-date and relevant examples and a fascinating table of the pH of familiar solutions that will prompt much thought and discussion. Naming the people in the illustrations gives a human touch that is often missing from textbooks at this level. Both these books provide good coverage of the common core for chemistry and can be confidently recommended.
Applications of Genetics is an extremely useful volume, with excellent and hard to find applications that enliven what can be a rather dry topic. The illustrations are black and white, but they are carefully shaded and clearly annotated. In comparison, Growth, Development and Reproduction is less successful. Diagrams that would work well in colour are hard to follow and the clarity of some pages suffers. Students are likely to find the expositions helpful, but may wish more examples and applications had been included.
Overall, Cambridge Modular Sciences continues to provide good quality textbooks. Some are more successful than others, both in terms of content and as a result of the publisher's decision not to produce the whole series in colour.
Trends and Patterns and Further Physics in the Cambridge Modular Science series will be published next week.
Jerry Temple-Fry is head of science, Hugh Rippin is head of chemistry and Chris Gregory is head of sixth-form at Chenderit High School, Banbury