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Cheap coffee and plug-sockets galore: Edinburgh’s best study spaces

Cheap coffee and plug-sockets galore: Edinburgh’s best study spaces

At university, especially if you study in the School of SPS, a high percentage of your time will be occupied by independent study: reading papers, preparing for tutorials, reviewing lectures, writing essays, revising for exams. It is therefore really important to find study spaces where you feel comfortable and can be the most effective – in her latest post for the Students at SPS blog, Elia reveals her favourite study spaces.

After four years of studying in Edinburgh, I have come to favour certain study spaces available on campus. Whether that be in coffee shops, university classrooms, libraries, or university buildings, this guide provides a little insight into what I think are the best study spaces on campus.

The Main Library

Main Library
One of the Main Library’s group study pods

I would not be an Edinburgh University student if I did not mention the University’s Main Library, which has five floors and hundreds of study spaces.

Indeed, it does have a lot to offer: silent study spaces, groups meeting rooms, a postgraduate floor, study pods, computers, lockers and even a UCreate studio for all kind of creative work. One of the main benefits of this library is that it is located right in the centre of the George Square campus and open 24/7. Talk about convenience!

Its size also makes it a safe bet for studying because you are always sure to find a spot (although beware of exam season…).

Some of the reasons why I chose to study there regularly is also because of the amazing view of the Meadows. It helps me get as much sunlight as I can during the short days of winter, and to gaze at the beautiful cherry blossoms during the spring. On top of the beautiful sunsets, the library facilities also offer access to hot water. I usually bring my own coffee and tea at the library, to enjoy a break at a lesser cost.

The Law Library

The Law Library on the Old College Campus, just a short walk from George Square, is also an amazing location to study.

This mystique campus, tall shelves of old books and high ceilings attract students from all disciplines. Unfortunately, the library is not open 24/7; however, it does offer the possibility to verify space availability online, avoiding the disappointment of finding no seats. This library is much smaller than the Main Library, which means it might get filled up more quickly during exam season. However, this also makes it much more spacious and airy. I find that the larger desks and space make it a really comfortable place to study in.

The Wellbeing Centre

The Health & Wellbeing Centre, Central Campus
The Wellbeing Centre has some perfect hidden study spots

There is a hidden room at the top of the Wellbeing Centre which make an amazing study spot. It is very spacious, with large round tables and a view of McEwan Hall. Additionally, the tables right outside the glass windows render it a great lunch spot in the sun. The main advantage of this space is that it is fairly hidden so it is often quite empty. However, it closes at 5pm, which means that it is less adapted to long working days.

Right next door to the Wellbeing Centre, the Chaplaincy is also a very chill and similar place to study.

Coffee Shops

I really enjoy studying in cafes because there is a wide variety to choose from, and they always have a very cute vibe. There are a few things to consider when deciding to study at coffee shops: mainly that they might be a bit noisy, that you must check beforehand if laptops are allowed, and have a look if they have plugs.


Summerhall is definitely one of my favourite coffee shops to study in. They have large tables, plugs and delicious student-friendly cakes. Summerhall was actually Edinburgh’s old dissection institution. Nowadays it has been transformed into a creative space where you can find life drawing classes, art exhibitions, ceilidhs and a cinema. I really enjoy this cafe because it is very luminous, always packed with plants and flowers, and furnished from second-hand furniture. Additionally, they have an outdoor sitting area that is amazing for eating outside in the sun!

Black Medicine

Black Medicine on Nicolson Street (near Old College) is also a popular place, largely because it is very close to the university and has a lot of spaces to sit inside. They serve very good smoothies, coffees and scones!


And last but not least Teviot, which doubles up as the University’s Student Union. It’s one of my personal favourite places to study, and they have several rooms, bars and coffee spaces where you can study. My personal favourites are the New Amphion and the Library Bar. They serve cheap food, aimed at student budgets, which makes for great quick snacks and dinners. I find that the atmosphere is welcoming and wholesome, especially during Christmas when the fairy lights and Christmas tree are up!

I hope this has given you a good introduction into the wealth of study spaces that Edinburgh has to offer!

One comment

  1. Pingback: Productivity 101: Elia’s top time management tips – Students at SPS

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