Ranking the best study spaces in Durham

We are getting to that time in term when the stress starts to set in and the essay deadlines are rapidly approaching. You’ve had your fun in Jimmy’s, Klute has seen you on one too many Sunday and now it’s time to knuckle down. Luckily, Durham has many study spaces on offer and I am going to be ranking the best ones for you.


1.   The Billy B

Open 24/7 during term time, with Small Island Coffee open Monday to Friday 08:00-22:00 and 10:00-18:00 on Saturday and Sunday.

Coming in at number one, it had to be the infamous Billy B. This multi-level study space offers lots of different options:

Level 2: The level that you walk into when you enter the library and a good gauge of whether you have dragged yourself out of bed in time to get a seat that day. Most of this level is good for serious quiet study but beware of those tempting solo desks that line the windows up to the stairs. They look great, but you will be disturbed by everyone’s conversations as they leave after a long day of procrastinating.

Level 1: The book nooks on this level are God-tier study spaces if you can grab them before they are claimed, but as group study is allowed in this area there will always be a risk of getting absolutely nothing done. However, if you do fancy being distracted, sitting facing the staircase ensures you can judge everyone coming and going, as well as their library outfits.

Level 3: In my opinion, the best floor of the Billy B. No collaborative working, none of the walk-through, corridor-like feel of level two and without the threat of death that comes with sitting on level four. The only downside is that everyone else seems to like it too, so a prompt arrival is needed once summative season hits.

Level 4: I must admit that I am writing from a place of ignorance here, as I have never stepped foot on level four. Though technically open to everyone, this level is claimed by final years who will not hesitate to slate you on Overheard if you talk, type, eat, breath or exist too loudly up there.


2.  The TLC (Teaching and Learning Centre)

Open Monday to Sunday 06:00-22:00, with Zing Kitchen open Monday to Friday 08:00-17:00.

The TLC comes in at number two as it does offer a variety of study options, but I have had to walk out having failed to find a seat one too many times.

This popular study space offers a good mixture of private and collaborative working spaces, as well as lots of room in Zing Kitchen if you are just wanting a chat. The atmosphere is more chilled out than the Billy B, but it also stays fairly quiet so you can get some proper work done.


3.  Palace Green

Open Monday to Friday 10:00-17:00. No food and drink allowed.

The limited opening hours and intense crackdown on water bottles bring Palace Green down in the rankings, but if you want to feel your most ‘dark academic’ self then this is the place. Located near Durham Cathedral, this library has a lovely studious atmosphere as you sit surrounded by the old books. The upper floor provides a bird’s eye view of everyone else working to entertain you when you get bored of your essay, while it is also close enough to town for easy abdication to a coffee shop.

Due to the delicate nature of some of the collections in this library, you cannot eat or drink in the building. This is not a rule to be messed with, as staff members do patrol and will rightfully call you out. There are also not that many seats, but in general it is quite quiet so you will usually be able to find somewhere to work.


4.  Leazes Road Study Space, School of Education

Monday to Friday 08:30-18:00. Lidded drinks are allowed, but no food.

This is a good option for those living in the Gilesgate area, for when the Billy B just seems too far. While it is probably not worth the trip unless you do live nearby or have a lecture in the School of Education, it can be a good place to get a bit of work done if you do find yourself in the area.


5.  The Student Union

Monday to Friday 08:00-23:00, Saturday 09:00-23:00 and Sunday 13:00-23:00. The Kingsgate Bar and Café is open Monday to Friday 08:00-23:00, Saturday and Sunday 16:00-23:00.

Ah, the SU, who would not want to study in such a gorgeous piece of architecture? I find the temperature is never consistent throughout the place, with some places chilly and others tropical, which represents what the SU is at its heart: a mixed bag.

The Kingsgate café has a great view of Kingsgate bridge which can be lovely, however, you are always at risk of being kicked out by a society event. Another option is the Riverside Bar and Café, which has recently been repurposed into a student lounge. It is certainly a nice place to meet friends, but the top hits playlist and desks placed too close to the snooker tables for comfort make it only really suitable for light work.

If you can get to one of the blue booths before they are all taken then congratulations, you should get an automatic first for that achievement.  


Honorary mention: The Sharp Library, Durham Cathedral

Open Monday and Tuesday 10:00-16:00.

Perhaps the most interesting study space in this article and one that I have only discovered through my research for writing it. Inside Durham Cathedral is The Sharp Library which is available for use by Durham University students. You can also borrow books using your campus card. I can’t personally review this one, but I am planning to go on a trip to check it out.

Featured image by: Pixabay on Pexels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Our YouTube Channel