Where to Work on your Thesis in London

London is a huge, sometimes daunting city that people from all over the world call home. Students in particular—whether born and bred in London, journeying from the further reaches of the UK or from other countries—find themselves in this vast metropolis to take advantage of the many exceptional universities (like the London School of Economics, SOAS, Imperial College London and Goldsmiths, along with many more), along with cultural attractions, entertainment and great food.

But with its damp weather and occasionally surly locals, London can be a difficult place to live, especially if you’re a PhD or Masters candidate working on a thesis through a miserable winter. So where do you turn when you just need to get out of the house and study, and the tables at the British Library are all taken? Here are some tips.

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Crisis Skylight Cafe

66 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT, United Kingdom

This is perhaps the ideal place for students to work. Close to the shopping and nightlife of Shoreditch, it’s a not-for-profit café run by a homeless charity. Their menu changes daily in response to the cheapest seasonal produce, and it’s among the cheapest food you’ll find in London—perfect for a student wallet. You can set up camp at a table near one of their huge windows and feast on their nutritious fare while working away at your thesis. Crisis benefits earlybirds, though—they’re open 8–3 on weekdays only. Plus, if you ever find yourself in Oxford, they have a location there as well.

Best for students at:

  • Queen Mary University of London
  • London Metropolitan University
  • GCU London

Nearest tube stops:

  • Liverpool St
  • Aldgate
  • Aldgate East
  • Whitechapel
  • Shoreditch High Street

Timberyard

61–67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW, United Kingdom
7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, Seven Dials, WC2H 9DL

This place is perfect for the tea connoisseur—every different cup served comes with an individual countdown timer so you don’t over-brew it. Both locations have Wi-Fi and comfy chairs, warm lighting and cosy yet modern décor. It’s not cheap but it does encourage long stays (both locations are open till 8pm most days).

Old Street location best for students at:

  • The University of the Arts
  • The University of Law, Moorgate
  • City University

Nearest Tube stops:

  • Moorgate
  • Old Street
  • Barbican

Seven Dials location best for students at:

  • King’s College, London
  • London School of Economics

Nearest tube stops:

  • Covent Garden
  • Leicester Square

Where to Work on your Thesis in London

Look Mum, No Hands

49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX
125-127 Mare Street, E8 3RH

While this is actually a cycling café, everyone’s welcome, even if you don’t arrive on two wheels. Great for night owls, both branches of LMNH are open until 10pm and are properly set up for freelancers, with free Wi-Fi and lots of plug points, tables and benches. Not a great place for reading—the lighting can be a bit dim in the evening—but certainly a good place for getting a lot of writing done on your laptop alongside freelancers, other students and entrepreneurs.

Mare Street location best for students at:

  • Loughborough University in London
  • University of the Arts London
  • Metropolitan University London

Nearest tube stops:

  • London Fields
  • Cambridge Heath

For universities and tube stops near the Old Street location, refer to Timberyard.

The Barbican Centre

With fast free Wi-Fi, the foyer of the Barbican Centre is a great place to work. There’s a café with seating and lots of inspiration to be found. If you’re taking a break from writing your thesis, there will often be a free art installation, performance or exhibition taking place.

For nearby universities and tube stops, refer to Timberyard.

YumChaa

35-37 Parkways Camden Town, NW1 7PN
1 Granary Square, Kings Cross N1C 4AA
9/11 Tottenham Street, W1T 2AQ
45 Berwick Street, W1F 8SF

YumChaa is a small but growing chain of independent teahouses with a delightful array of tea and cakes. The Camden Parkways location gets plenty of natural light, with its glass atrium ceiling; while the Soho locations get very busy, there is a downstairs area with much less traffic.

Camden Town and King’s Cross locations best for students at:

  • Birkbeck, University of London
  • University of the Arts
  • University College London
  • Regent’s Business School

Nearest tube stops:

  • Camden Town
  • Mornington Crescent
  • King’s Cross

Soho locations best for students at:

  • University of Westminster
  • University of London

Nearest tube stops:

  • Goodge St
  • Holborn
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Oxford Circus

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timmorris/3103896345

For a map of these locations, just click the button below.

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