I don’t know about you, but when it comes to exam season or even nearing the end of any semester, I find it nearly (basically) impossible to find a place to study (especially on campus). Hence, why I’m only uploading this blog post now 🙂 #sorrynotsorry
Here are my favourite study places that I found while doing my Masters.
*Before I continue, know that I like quiet and sterile environments (emphasis on the quiet) so if you don’t like quiet places to study (like libraries), this article is definitely not for you. However! I do make some suggestions in the end that are a ‘something for everyone’ type of thing. Let me know if I’ve missed anything in the comments below! After all, exam season is over… so no one will steal your study spots now 😂
1. Main Library
Okay, so this might be cliché but the main library was my absolute favourite place to study during the year. There are six floors where you can study (including the basement), and each floor tended to host different years (at least I thought so and found that pretty funny). I always stuck to the fourth and fifth floor: fifth because it’s meant to be for post-grads though we know you undergrads always joined us 😉 and fourth because the views from fourth are incredible (photo below).
I always sat in the same place because this was my view on a daily basis. In the winter, those mountains were snow-covered. In the spring (as you can see), they’re lusciously green and you get a full-on view of the meadows. When the cherry blossoms come out, it’s a site to see. I loved this spot.
For the record, this photo was taken from the south west corner of the fourth floor which overlooks that mountain range and the meadows. Definitely the place to be in my opinion!
Real reasons why I like the main library: it’s quiet, everyone is studying (great motivator), it’s right on campus, and you often run into friends who are doing the same exact thing that you’re doing (cramming their brains with loads of academic knowledge… or memes lol) which only motivates you further. Main library is definitely my number one.
2. Central Library
A lot of people get confused when I say, “I’m going to Central Library,” because they always respond with, “Main library?” — No. Central Library:
Central Library is a city library, meaning it’s supported and funded by the city of Edinburgh. As such, you would need to create an account with them to access any of their resources — but don’t worry! It’s all absolutely free, and as a student, it doesn’t get better than that.
I always found myself in the Reference Library (top floor) because I loved the archaic feel of the bookshelves, the natural lighting that filtered in through the massive glass windows, and of course, the beautiful dome-like structure at the top that you could always glance up at if you needed a little inspiration (or just a break from studying). This was my absolute favourite place whenever the Main Library was full. The only downside: while Main Library is open 24 hours, Central Library is only open 10am to 8pm Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 5pm Thursday to Saturday, and it’s always closed on Sundays; so if you have major assignments that require a little more time than that, Main Library would be your best bet.
Otherwise, this library is the absolute best. It only falls second because of the hours!
Additionally, this library has three other floors that you can study on. The photos above are from the top-floor Reference Library but in the basement, there’s a music library (where you can practice instruments if you book one of their acoustic rooms) and below that is a really modern study area, which I didn’t photograph because I’m never really there 🙂 but feel free to check it out and post some photos! I’m sure a few people would be interested!
I wouldn’t be a true MSP student if I didn’t mention the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (aka the ECCI).
If you’re an MSc student in Marine Systems and Policies, Carbon Innovation, or Carbon Management (am I missing any?) you have access to this building 24/7 (just use your student card, enter your PIN, and press #), which saves you quite often if you’re scrambling to meet deadlines.
My favourite place in the ECCI to study though:
The ECCI café. I am all about natural lighting and this building gets the best of it. The café faces south, so all day long — if there is any sun — you get loads of it, all day, during all daylight hours. It’s one of my favourite places to study. Sunlight is important and so is lighting. To me, this café was perfect for that. And the most important part: need a coffee? Need some sugar? The café serves food up until 5pm and you can snack on some of the best double chocolate cookies. Take it from me, they’re grand.
Opening times: 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday (unless you’re an ECCI or Drummond St resident)
4. David Hume Tower
Whenever it started nearing the end of a semester, and especially during exam season, the Main Library and sometimes even Central Library were full to the brim, all day, everyday. For this reason, the school provides alternative study spaces in the David Hume Tower basement (pictured below).
Though I preferred the top three options above over David Hume Tower, if I ever needed a place to study that was close to central and still on campus, this is where I would go. There are multiple classrooms open on this floor (basement) available for quiet study and a lot of people come here too. Additionally, there is ALSO a café here (yum) so you can get your caffeine or sugar fix quick. If you’re lucky (and early enough) you can even score a plushy couch seat. I rate this one as number 4.
5. Other non-quiet places like Teviot and cafés
Okay, so since not everyone likes quiet places to study that are super conducive (in my opinion) to productive studying (lol), here are a few places that I know my friends would study at and loved going to.
5.1. Teviot, Library Bar
Teviot is located right on central campus as well, and it has an actual bar inside that is full of books; hence, the library bar. It’s got constant music playing but it isn’t so loud that it’s unbearable and a lot of my friends came here to study. If you’re hungry, you can always grab a burger at the bar (or a pint.. whatever you fancy).
The exterior looks like this (you can’t miss it):
5.2. Brew Lab
Brew Lab is located right next to Old College and a looooot of people come here to study. It’s a really chill atmosphere with music playing in the background and always a freshly brewed cup of coffee (not to mention delicious pastries available fresh at the counter). If you’re into cafés and want to be close to campus, this is the place for you. Super cool atmosphere. Super chill. Check it out or let me know what you think in the comments below!
5.3. Black Medicine Coffee
Unfortunately, when making my rounds to photograph these places, Black Medicine Coffee’s sidewalks were under construction, but as their sign states: they went to sell you things lol so they opened their door on the north side.
Black Medicine is another cool joint located basically across the street from Brew Lab. They boast delicious smoothies and a few vegan desserts that will definitely help fuel your brain cells. Like Brew Lab, this is a great place to study and check out as they are (a) close to campus, (b) aren’t too quiet if you’re not the silent type, and (c) have a really chill atmosphere with coffee and pastries ready at the go. I highly recommend this place if you’re not a library person! Or just come in and try their pastries lol their million dollar shortbread and brownies are mmmmmmm delicious.
EXTRA: (6.) Tim Horton’s
Because I’m Canadian 🇨🇦, I have to mention this lol: TIM HORTON’S. Tim Horton’s is the trademark Canadian coffee place and if you’re Canadian and missing a little bit of home, hop on an off-peak train to Glasgow for 13 GBP round-trip and spend the day at the nearest Tim Horton’s (there’s one right beside Central Station and one just five minutes from Queen Street Station). For anyone who isn’t Canadian but wants to check it out, Timmies is legitimately the most Canadian coffee chain ever. It has timbits (the dough from donut holes), donuts, bagels, sandwiches, freshly brewed coffee AT ALL TIMES (lol this was what made them famous), and of course, frozen drinks like iced cappuccinos and smoothies 😍 I highly recommend this place if you’re feeling like getting out of Edinburgh and trying something new (and delicious).
— I had to put that there. I had to.
– – –
And that, my friends, are my top five (more like eight) study places in Edinburgh (central campus). My top three are definitely selected because of their lighting, scenery, and the silence that they offer. If you’re into those types of study environments, then those are great for you. If you’re more into background noise and a little more life, check out the bars and cafés I mentioned and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
HOWEVER, this is a very short list. There are great places to study in the Business Building (next to the Main library) and great places at Kings Buildings (Hudson Beare building is definitely my favourite — great colours and lighting).
But I’m probably missing a ton.
Did I miss your favourite spot?
If you feel like sharing your secrets, tell me about your favourite spots to study in the comments below and I’ll be sure to check them out while working on my dissertation!
For everyone else, good luck with the rest of your exams. YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!!! And have a great summer everyone ❤️