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The best places to study in Manchester

27 Nov 2017

This piece is by Ailish Sinclair, one of our Stagecoach Student Ambassadors. Ailish is studying a Masters in History at the University of Manchester. Find out more about our student ambassadors.

If you’re new student in Manchester, finding a good place to study can be difficult and a little overwhelming. There’s a strong temptation just to go to your main University library because most other people do, or, if you’re a University Manchester student you’ve probably tried (and failed) to get a seat in the Alan Gilbert learning commons. But, there are so many amazing, peaceful and secret study spots to take advantage of in Manchester, both on and off campus! Here’s a little taster to get you interested in wondering outside the confines of the norm. 

1. John Ryland’s Library

john ryland library

Ok so this spot isn’t so secret and there is a high chance you’ll be in the background of a tourist’s holiday selfie… BUT, if you want a study space that looks like it’s come right out of Hogwarts, this is your spot! The walls are covered in bookshelves filled with John Ryland’s personal collections, and if you are a student, you can log onto euduroam and study to your heart's content while feeling very scholarly surrounded by all those old books. The lighting is great, and being in Deansgate gives you great options for your lunch break (especially with the Christmas markets just opening). My favourite feature of this this study space are the ‘historical toilets’. The toilets are original, built in 1900 and they wouldn’t look out of place in the Ministry of Magic. A must see! 

2. Christie’s Bistro

This café is situated in the Whitworth building on the University of Manchester campus, but it’s a great spot for studying whichever university you go to. It’s small and cosy with books lining the walls, big comfy leather armchairs and delicious coffees and cakes to get you through those never-ending readings. It’s a great little escape from the hustle of campus but is still close enough to squeeze in some study time between lectures. 

3. The Whitworth Gallery Café

The café in the Whitworth Gallery is simply stunning. It’s made entirely of glass and looks onto Whitworth park, giving a bright, open and unique study environment. It is simply a gorgeous space to be in and provides plenty of opportunities for people watching or gazing over Whitworth park. There are plug sockets dotted around and wifi access through the eduroam network. As an added bonus the café’s food is delicious and fairly reasonable for its quality. If studying is getting too much you can do some productive procrastination and take a peruse around the gallery as well, which is free to explore.

4. Your local library


Checking out the local library to where you live is a great option, with Withington and Didsbury libraries being personal favourites of mine. Local libraries are generally quiet, have plug sockets everywhere and great lighting. The only downside is having to rely on an open unsecured wifi network, but if you’ve got all your books with you, I highly recommend checking out your local library. As a bonus, if studying gets all too much, slouch in the young teen areas which generally have very comfy bean bags and some cracking comics to distract you.

5. Central library

central library

This is an amazing place to study, especially the main reading room on the first floor. The reading room is circular, with a high domed ceiling and marble pillars throughout, it’s the grandest place in Manchester to study. You don’t need to be a member of the library to study here either, so it’s definitely worth checking out. There’s free wifi throughout the building so you can get online if you need to. It also offers one of the best means of a study break - just outside the reading room there’s the music section, complete with actual instruments that you can pick up and play, including a piano and a DJ mixing deck! As an added bonus it’s only a 10 minute walk from Oxford road, so if you need to get back on campus, you’re not too far away.

6. Zifferblat


This café is situated in the Northern Quarter and is probably one of the coolest places to study in Manchester. It’s based on the concept of paying for the time that you spend there, rather than paying for what you eat/drink. You pay 8p a minute that you’re there and for that you can eat and drink to your heart's content! The spread of cakes and biscuits is unbelievable, so you’ll be well fueled throughout your study time. It’s such a comfortable space and there is every kind of chair you could ever wish to sit on, sofas, hard back chairs, stools so you can find your perfect study spot. It’s worth mentioning that there are board games, daily newspapers and books around so if you need a little break, you won’t be short of things to do!

7. If you do decide to study in the library…explore every corner of it! 

Until recently I thought that the University of Manchester’s main University library was pretty dull. Then I discovered new sections that blew my mind! The law section of the library is unreal and feels like it’s come straight out of the1800’s. Had I not ventured further afield than usual, I’d have missed it. So, if all else fails and you decide to study at your University’s library, it really is worth having a browse through all the study spaces and rooms, you never know, you might find your new favourite study spot! 

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