A definitive guide to every Durham study space and what it says about you working there

Who can actually function in the chaos of the Billy B Level 1?


Despite the respite of a few weeks home for Christmas and, most importantly away from the library, second term has started and inevitably it means you’re back to dragging yourself to the Billy B.

But what does it say about you whether you work on the Level 1 or Level 3. What about the engineering and law students who inevitably go to the TLC. Have you been going to the wrong study space all along?

To help you procrastinate further before you actually have to start working, we’ve reviewed all of Durham Uni’s study spaces to determine what kind of person you are by the study space you decide to go to.


The TLC is hands down the most modern study space in Durham – which is purely aimed for convenient and motivating study sessions.

Yet, when I went in, it felt like the contrary. Filled with various cliques of people gossiping, phrases such as “What happened last night?” or “Ohhhh he’s soo cute” will pop up every now and again.

But possibly the most common behaviour you are going to find is the battle of what subject you do. Engineering, law and STEM students, in their various cliques will exude their sense of superiority and will definitely stare at the unfortunate soul who has to sit next to them to do work.

Possible quotes to listen out for include “Oh do you do engineering?” or “I have so much work” (while spending the whole day procrastinating by repeatedly queueing for mediocre sandwiches at Zing Kitchen, finding out whether the sparkling water taps actually work, or chatting in their equally annoying groups).

Billy B Level 1

Ahh the Billy B, the pinnacle of study spaces. Its reputation really doesn’t do it justice. Filled to the brim with students from all walks of life and degrees, it’s meant to be the place where you will gain the most motivation for work. Some might even say it’s a classic.

However, let’s be honest, Level 1 is a bit like walking into a pub on a Friday night with every student trying to chat louder than the person next to them. Still, you may find the occasional one who sits among the chaos, silently on the grind, or perhaps, the chat is actually about the content of the essay you’re about to hand in. Bloody unlikely though.

So, what kind of person is a Level 1 Billy B goer? You’ve got two types, the one who’s just the casual study machine, who gets their head down within the chaos of Level 1 Billy B, or you’re the one participating in the chaos, who just goes to the library to give off the illusion that you’re working. The latter seeks a bit of self-gratification and comfort in the fact that they’ve attended the Billy B at all and spends most of it in the Café.

Billy B Levels 2-4

Unlike the unfortunate soul who gets called out on Durfess, the rest of the Durham student community understands that the further up the Billy B you go, the quieter it becomes, to the extent that you can’t even open a packet of crisps at Level 4. The silent conditions create the perfect environment to finish that essay you’ve been avoiding for the past week.

But this creates a certain type of character. This person loves to get angry about the smallest detail possible, such as the fact that you’ve decided to open a packet of crisps. They will rage quit the moment one word is spoken and vent on Overheard or Durfess. This type of person loves a good rant, and will probably be the neighbour who sends in the noise complaint while living on Hawthorn Terrace (i.e. party central). Some are justified though, especially the one worn out third year working on their dissertation at 11 in the evening.

For more very serious Billy B related analysis, enjoy this.

Palace Green

While the Billy B is the Durham cult classic of study spaces, the Barker Research Library (known to me as Palace Green) would be the real classic. As the oldest venue on the scene, it exudes class, prestige, and a sense of elitism. It is a little difficult to find as it’s located within the museum of Archaeology, but after following a few signs, you’ll be greeted with a wall of shelved books, tables and an almost uncomfortable silence. Moreover, you won’t have that silly fresher opening the aforementioned crisps in there, which creates and matches the perfect conditions for essay writing, as seen in Level 4 Billy B.

That being said, every single time I go, I’ve either been denied by the staff, or been greeted with no space to sit in. So, to me, the kind of person who studies at Palace Green is simply a maniac, or possibly a machine. This kind of person clearly gets up at 7am every morning, walks over to Palace Green and claims the seat for the rest of the day. This person probably dedicates their whole life to their degree and exudes a sense of eliteness. Hopefully, one day, I will finally have the chance to have a seat there.

Students’ Union

For all the slating this place gets for its out of place exterior, the Students’ Union itself or its alleged bureaucracy by some, this place is pretty decent as a study space. While the booths and tables within the very halls of this institution are usually taken, there still exists plenty of seating in the café or the bar itself.

The only issue I really have is the fact that there are no charging spaces, which is frankly BS when it’s being re-advertised as a study space. Other SUs mainly turn into clubs, and I bet they still have charging ports.

So, the kind of person who comes to the Students’ Union to study is one who is either fully engaged in Durham student politics or one who practically lives for Dunelm. I’d do better but you really do have a mix of people who come here. But, what everyone has in common here is the fact that they can look past the “arguably hideous exterior” and the politics and just disassociate.

Hild Bede Primary Education Library

Some of you may not even have heard about this place, but as a previous resident of Cuth’s Parson’s Field, I can attest that this is a great location. Located at Hild Bede, overlooking the River Wear, this place would be perfect for a summer’s day where straight after a long day at the library, you can take part in some Racecourse football, rugby or cricket.

Within the library itself, the kind of person you find are third years living in Gilesgate who will again, rage quit from the noise. Last year I was there with a friend of mine, where we chatted about the exam we were about to take, discussing how an essay would be written, when suddenly the girl next to us, in the talking area of the library raised her voice and said: “Would you please keep it down?!” We looked at each other sheepishly and pulled the same awkward face. Well a bit of silly fresh behaviour for you.

See here for more about Gilesgate. Is it really becoming the new Viaduct?

Paddy and Scott’s (and the Marriott)

Paddy and Scott’s, located within the confines of the Marriott, exudes the extremities of posh. This place provides a sense of comfort, especially as every single seat has at least some form of back support. With great deals on coffee and a surprising amount of charging space, there is honestly nothing bad I can say about Paddy and Scott’s.

You either have the quirky Cuth’s folk who live in Parson’s Field and nearby, or you have the stereotypical posh girl who loves coffee with alternative milk. Within the café itself, prepare to hear “That boy is soo cute” or “I hate my life, my Macbook is frozen again”. Occasionally, you may also find the subject boaster, who will only talk about how tough their degree is, *ahem* law Students. But at the very least, everyone who goes there will acknowledge the fact that it is after all, a café, so the chat would be justified.

Palatine Café

Now for our last contender, this one’s a bit of a dark horse. Located in the modern confines of the Palatine building next to the library, you’ll find an array of tables, a cafeteria with smells of delicious and scrumptious food (Bailey colleges take note) and a coffee shop at the end.

This person who studies here however, exudes big dick energy. Sitting by the café where plenty of professors go to either gives away the fact that you’re keen, or that you just simply don’t care. Bonus points to anyone who sits there in the worst state of your life, don’t worry, you’re beautiful on the inside.

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Just a silly fresh ranking my Durham preconceptions out of 10