An impressive body of work
Human Biology and Health Studies has been prepared by an experienced team of teachers and examiners to meet the requirements of the post-16 one-year syllabuses of the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board and the Midland Examining Group.
The authors have geared the text to this "more mature" readership, for they provide advice in their introduction about getting a copy of the syllabus and using the text to check content and skills.
There are 27 chapters, all relatively short, grouped into five themes. The titles of the themes and chapters are straightforward ("disease control", "evolution", "nutrient cycles" and the like) and the text is clear, with no unnecessary jargon or technical phrases.
Key words are highlighted and each chapter is summarised. Questions are scattered through the text but they do not interfere with the flow of an explanation and are used when a reader needs to check understanding.
At the end of the book, on grey or yellow pages, a selection of questions is grouped by chapter. Most are from past papers and so readers have the chance to experience the variety of question styles used by the boards. Answers are also provided.
There are many clear diagrams, photographs, tables and charts. The quality of the black and white drawings deserves special mention. Careful use of shading and contrast makes the most familiar of diagrams look fresh, even the skeleton looks lively.
Similar care has gone into colour drawings, where the use of bright colours is used to clarify detail and differences. The series of diagrams on the ear is outstanding. There are good photographs too, for example of root hairs and aphids, and the child with a cleft palate before and after treatment.
The authors make good use of data and experimental evidence: especially impressive is the section on regulation of body temperature and the incorporation of Benzinger's work on the role of the hypothalamus.
Although this book is targeted at a particular type of syllabus, it should prove a valuable reference source for a wide variety of courses.
Jackie Hardie is deputy head of The Latymer School, north London