Alumni Services

November 2019

Our last bookshelf of 2019 brings together gripping fiction, thoughtful biography, and thorough examination.


Author Justine Bell


Book Sketches of the History of Science

Ever wondered how science came about, but were intimidated by voluminous tomes that tell but do not show how it was all done? With its hundreds of illustrations and accessible writing style, Sketches of the History of Science helps you navigate the philosophical underpinnings of science, shows you its roots in natural philosophy, and illuminates complex phenomena in early and modern biology, chemistry, and physics. Requiring no previous background in the natural sciences, the book can be read both for fun and for class to develop a better understanding of the origins of science and how it works. Co-authored by Justin Marleau.

Sketches of the History of Science

You can hear Justine and Justin talk about their book in this radio interview:

CBC Radio interview



Alison Chandler

Degree Arts

Walking Backwards: (Up an Apostle's Nose)

This beautiful literary memoir framed in six days walking on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2015 is a love letter to Spain and to women’s lives. It weaves together rich seams of hard reality with profound lyricism, the political with the personal, suffering and fear with love and joy. It moves from the silver of Scotland’s North Sea coast to the terracotta and gold of Iberia, the sterile white of hospital wards to the bountiful blues of the deep Atlantic. It is a story of banker knights, dangling caterpillars, handsome lovers, aching pilgrims and policemen’s bottoms, and it is all true. Alison Chandler is a one-time student of Hispanic Studies now a newly exhibited Scottish artist in her sixties. The thousand-year-old pilgrimage way winds through her experiences of 1970s Catalunya and Galicia, 1980s Notting Hill and her survival of cancer and return to Camino in 2018. As she makes her way, we catch glimpses of Europe’s great crossroads, its myths and our mortality as their impressions on all our lives flicker through the wet green woodlands of north-west Spain. A colourful and original mix of profundity and humour, it is redemptive and full of surreal adventures and new beginnings.

Walking Backwards: (Up an Apostle's Nose)



Siân Collins

Degree English Literature


Forced to leave her family home in the Towy Valley, 17 year old Margaret Lewis travels with her parents to take up a new life in South Africa. After her father's death, Margaret and her friend run the dilapidated farm, but soon fall into the web of secrets and deception surrounding the property. A gripping coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of 1920s South Africa.

The book considers ideas about homeland, belonging, and how we misjudge others in trying to understand ourselves. It is not bleak, though the shadow of apartheid is already waiting in the wings. There is beauty and friendship and love.”

Siân Collins



Author Roger Gosden
Degree Medicine
Bookt Let There Be Life

The authorized biography of IVF pioneer Robert Edwards is a compelling account of how he led a medical and social revolution by making babies in ‘test-tubes’. Prevailing against immense opposition when human embryology was new and sacrosanct territory, he was the champion of people with infertility, and now millions more owe their existence to assisted reproductive technologies. An improbable hero of science, he was the son of a coal miner who almost failed his first university degree, but the gritty Yorkshireman rode a roller-coaster of emotions and obstacles to a breakthrough for which he was rewarded with a Nobel Prize and knighthood. After the first IVF babies, he became an entrepreneurial clinic director and publisher, but, alas, never received so much acclaim for the foundations of embryo stem cell science and embryo screening for heritable diseases.

About the author

As well as holding a DSc from Edinburgh, Roger is also a former research director and professor of reproductive science here.

Let There Be Life


Author Laura Keogh
Degree Law
Book Data Protection Compliance: A Guide to GDPR and Irish Data Protection Law

This is a practical guide to current European data protection law, in particular the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 (GDPR), which came into force 25 May 2018. This book is designed and written to assist with GDPR compliance and to allow the reader quick access to certain GDPR related questions. The introductory section explains the broader elements relating to the GDPR, thereafter each chapter sets out the questions that require answering during the required steps towards compliance.

Data Protection Compliance: A Guide to GDPR and Irish Data Protection Law


Author Karen Walls (as K.H. Irvine)
Degree Commerce

A Killing Sin

Would you surrender your secrets to save a life?

London. It could be tomorrow. Amala Hackeem, lapsed Muslim tech entrepreneur and controversial comedian, dons a burqa and heads to the women's group at the Tower Hamlets sharia community. What is she doing there?

Ella Russell, a struggling journalist leaves home in pursuit of the story of her life. Desperate for the truth, she is about to learn the true cost of the war on terror.

Millie Stephenson, a university professor and expert in radicalisation arrives at Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister and home secretary. Nervous and excited she finds herself at the centre of a nation taken hostage. And then it gets personal.

Friends since university, by the end of the day the lives of all three women are changed forever. They will discover if friendship truly can survive secrets and fear.

Links to the University and city

Although set in London, look out for references to the University and the city of Edinburgh throughout this gripping novel.

A Killing Sin

Your book

If you are a member of the alumni community and have recently published a book, we would be delighted to include it in the Alumni Bookshelf. Email the editor, Brian Campbell, with the following information:

  • your name
  • degree details
  • book details, including a link for further information

Email Brian Campbell

Please note

Books are added to the bookshelf in order of submission. All of the further information links listed are the external websites of the book publisher, the author, or the bookseller. The University of Edinburgh is not responsible for the content and functionality of these sites.