ES Background Knowledge

Applicants to the PEAK Environmental Sciences program are anticipated to come from a large number of different countries from around the world having studied under a wide range of different education systems. Therefore, although students joining this program will have different levels of experience in the key science subjects (for the subject requirements for the PEAK ES course, please read the Application Guidelines), it is expected that students will begin with a solid working knowledge of the fundamentals of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. A series of pdf files have been created to provide specific details on the expected levels of knowledge in these subjects and represent the starting baseline knowledge for the science courses during years 1 and 2 of the program.

Any applicants with missing knowledge in the subjects should aim to spend some time during the summer before their arrival studying appropriate topics to ensure they have a solid grounding by the time that they begin in October. The University of Tokyo will not provide any revision or "catch up" classes on these subjects and so it is the responsibility of students to ensure that their knowledge is at an appropriate level. This means that students with large gaps in a number of these subjects should think carefully about whether they will be able to cope with the courses before application.

Detailed lists of expected background knowledge in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology can be downloaded from the table below.

Background Reading

Based on the expected level of background knowledge in each subject, suggested reading lists are provided as follows:

If you have studied either SAT Subject Physics, IB Physics Standard Level, or GCE AS-level Physics, we would like to ask you to read your textbook again to prepare for the course.
If you have not studied any physics in last two years in high school, we'd recommend to obtain one of textbooks for IB Physics Standard Level course, or GCE A- and AS- level physics course. Most textbooks are available from amazon or other retailer.

Some examples are as follows:
Pearson Baccalaureate Physics Standard Model

Cambridge International AS and A level Physics (second edition)

If you'd like to study further, any textbooks for AP physics, IB Physics Higher Level, or GCE A-level will be a great step up.

The PEAK physics course is offered in the second semester, and it is "Calculus-based". You are expected to have a basic concept of differentiation and integration at the start of the course, after taking a mandatory math course in the first semester.
Nonetheless, if you have not studied any calculus in high school, we would recommend to study the subject using one of the textbooks for IB Mathematics Higher Level, or GCE A-level mathematics.

The required entry level understanding for PEAK chemistry courses is International Baccalaureate Standard level. An excellent textbook on this subject is:

"Pearson Baccalaureate Chemistry Standard Level Bundle for the IB Diploma"

If you have already studied chemistry to this level and want to improve your knowledge to the highest expected incoming level, then IB Higher level chemistry is an excellent next step. There is another text in the same series for higher level:

"Pearson Baccalaureate Chemistry Higher Level 2nd Edition Print and Online Edition for the IB Diploma"

These are full textbooks that include print and ebook editions together. For reviewing or revising material, an alternative are published notes on these topics from the Kindle store (these are considerably cheaper, but a more of a summary of the ideas rather than a full introduction). Here are the links to the US Amazon Store, but these books should be available from Amazon in other countries too.

"IB Chemistry Revision Notes Standard Level"

"IB Chemistry Revision Notes Higher Level"

Life Science
Students are encouraged to read a web-textbook available (free) at, especially chapter 1-5, 9, 11, and 12. This textbook will provide an overview of life science, which has a great impact on various academic fields as well as our society.

If you'd like to study further, a more comprehensive textbook is available (free) at, part of which will be used in Life Science class.

Earth Science
The course does not assume any specific knowledge about Earth Science, but students are encouraged to read the following books to obtain an overview of Earth Science.

The Earth: Its Birth and Growth (2nd Edition) Minoru Ozima, Jun Korenaga,
Qing-Zhu Yin
Cambridge University Press
ISBN-13: 978-0521760256

Understanding Earth
John Grotzinger, Thomas H. Jordan
ISBN-13: 978-1464138744