School of Geography

Student life in London

Based in the creative and culturally diverse area of east London, we are located at Queen Mary’s friendly, self-contained Mile End campus – one of the largest in the capital. Our students get to enjoy the delights of this trendy part of London: whether you’re heading to the fashionable bars of Shoreditch, browsing independent designer stalls at Spitalfields Market, relaxing in the tranquillity of Victoria Park or enjoying a curry on the world-famous Brick Lane, you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

Not only do you get to experience the capital’s rich culture and eclectic social scene, you will also have access to an unparalleled array of academic resources with a wealth of world renowned libraries, museums and research institutes on your doorstep. With a population of 8.6m and more than 100 languages spoken, the people of London represent cultures from every corner of the earth. This is reflected in London’s huge range of festivals, restaurants, religions and community groups.

Click on the video below to hear what our students have to say about the different aspects of university life, including social activities, the advantages of the local area and what they get up to on a typical day

Living in London

Our Student Village on the Mile End campus provides a safe and convenient home for students.

London doesn’t need to be an expensive city to live in. Living in east London actually means you benefit from avoiding the higher rates that come with central London living costs. At QMUL, you can benefit from our residential campus set beside the beautiful Regent’s Canal, overlooking Mile End Park. With a relaxing atmosphere and plenty of greenery and attractive outdoor space, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a bustling capital city. For information about our student accommodation and other housing options, please contact Housing Services

Our Mile End campus is home to the Student Village, offering a safe and secure accommodation just five minutes from the City of London and 15 minutes from the West End’s night life and employment opportunities. The campus is surrounded by some of London’s hidden gems: you can easily turn down a residential street and find a hidden garden square, contemporary artwork or an atmospheric Victorian pub serving good food. Living in the East End means that you’ll always find something new to discover. 

Shopping and eating out

Whitechapel has a long-established historic local market where students can pick up fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and more.

East London’s eateries boast an array of cuisine from around the globe. The multicultural makeup of the local community means authentic food is the order of the day, with passionate chefs serving up Bangladeshi-spiced curries, skewers of Turkish grilled meats, sticky Chinese Peking duck, and feisty Mexican and fiery Thai delicacies. And nothing is more East End than a menu filled with pie, mash, ‘liquor’ and eels! With places heaving with hearty burgers and plates of pasta, there’s fierce competition for your tastebuds as lunchtime and early evening deals are aplenty. You can dine in east London whatever your budget and get a good meal. 

No other London borough offers such a choice of vibrant and contrasting markets as Tower Hamlets. From Brick Lane to Columbia Road, from Roman Road to Whitechapel, bargains and surprises can be found in abundance at these bustling local markets. If you’re a foodie looking for something an extra bit special without breaking the bank, why not try one of London's street food stalls? Additionally, there are plenty of supermarkets around campus including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Lidl for your weekly shopping. 

Arts and culture 

East London has a rich history and culture, and there are many places to get a flavour of it. From the theatres to the museums, there’s something for everyone when you want to soak in some culture and open your mind. Whatever the weather, you’ll always have something to do. 

  • The beautifully renovated Genesis cinema in Stepney Green shows blockbusters and independent films.
    For more than a century, the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern art masters such as Pablo Picasso to contemporaries such as Lucian Freud. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions and artist commissions, this is a place of inspiration.
  • The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green houses the national childhood collection, with exhibitions featuring dolls’ houses, dolls, puppets, toys and games, children’s clothes and furniture.
  • The Museum of London Docklands is a fascinating and unusual museum exploring London’s connections with the rest of the world through an epic 2000-year story of trade, expansion and immigration.
  • Our local independent cinema, Genesis, shows blockbusters and arthouse films in a renovated 19th century building. It’s also a great place to chill out with a café, bar and treats including popcorn, pick ‘n’ mix and cocktails.
  • Built in 1901, the Hackney Empire is a grade II listed building and has a strong tradition of developing new plays, new talent and musicals. It specialises in interesting, offbeat musicals and one of the finest pantomimes in London.
  • The Geffrye Museum is a much-loved gem in the lively and creative Hoxton area - historically a centre for furniture-making and market gardening. Set in 18th-century almshouses and surrounded by gardens, it is often described as an oasis in the heart of the city. 

Music and nightlife

When it comes to nightlife, east London is where it’s at. From lively pubs to bars and clubs, our incredible collection of music and drinking establishments is unrivalled in the UK. Below are just some examples of where our students like to go out: 

  • In Shoreditch you'll never run out of things to see and explore.
    Drapers Bar & Kitchen is run by the Queen Mary Students’ Union, and is a relaxed and easy-going environment where students can take a break and socialise with friends on campus. There are regular events on during the week from club nights to quizzes and film nights.
  • A trendy and quirky bar, Apples and Pears on Brick Lane is a cocktail bar with an underground music policy and a hip setting for the young crowds.
  • XOYO in Shoreditch offers a unique events space where you can enjoy live acts, art exhibitions and some of the best musical experiences in London. Many high-profile DJs and dance music acts have played at the venue.
  • The Book Club is a popular, laid back, lived-in basement bar that originally helped Hoxton earn its hip title. It may not sound like a place for an exciting night out, but behind the sedate name is one of the most consistently creative bars in London.
  • Located underneath railway arches in Shoreditch, Cargo is at the centre of east London’s clubbing scene. The live music listings reveal everything from psychedelic rock to jazz, and hip-hop to electronic pop.
  • For some of the best new comedians in town, visit the Comedy Café in Shoreditch every Saturday, where you can stay on and party the night away.

Sports and fitness

Sport was a huge part of life in east London even prior to the 2012 Olympics in Stratford, and the legacy continues to live on in the local area. Whatever sport you’re into, you’ll find players, trainers and clubs able to meet your interests. East London is full of gyms, swimming pools, courts and clubs which let you get involved in all kinds of sports including angling, horse riding, go-karting, white water rafting and ice skating to name a few.

  • Experience sports, events and iconic venues at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
    The Copper Box Arena is one of London’s most flexible indoor venues where you can get in shape in the gym, work out in group exercise classes, take part in activities in the state-of-the-art sports hall, or just enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat in the café.
  • The London Aquatics Centre offers a wide-ranging programme of activities including lane swimming, diving, swimming and diving lessons and other aquatic disciplines.
  • If you’re into two-wheeled thrills then you will find it at the unrivalled Lee Valley VeloPark: with track cycling, road racing, BMX or mountain biking, the choice is yours.
  • Our Students’ Union run the sport and fitness centre Qmotion at our Mile End Campus. The facilities have been designed to accommodate a range of activities from group exercise classes through to performance training with qualified personal trainers and coaches who can help you achieve your goals. Additionally, there are over 60 sports teams at QMUL so you have plenty of opportunities within Club Sport to represent your university. Club Sport teams offer competition at various levels, ranging from national to local leagues.