Student cities: studying in Leeds

Student cities: studying in Leeds
Leeds is a compact city with areas of student housing clustered around its universities and plenty of parks, culture and nightlife.

Leeds has a down-to-earth, party city feel to it. It’s a compact place, with its universities located in a cluster of neighbouring areas of student housing and with a lot of socialising taking place at student unions.

But don’t conclude it’s all cheap nights out and bar floors sticky with spilled drinks. Leeds has a great deal of culture too and – should you want it – sophisticated nightlife in the heart of the city and around the Granary Wharf redevelopment.

It’s a city where a lot of students stay after graduating.

Headingley is the base of the Beckett Park campus for Leeds Beckett University. It’s long been a student neighbourhood and it’s not far from Woodhouse – a quieter area and the site of the University of Leeds.

Between Headingley and Woodhouse is Hyde Park. It’s been home to a few celebrity former students who have attended one or other of the city’s universities – Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson, singer Corinne Bailey Rae and Chris Pine, otherwise known as cinema’s latest James T. Kirk. And it’s also the home of the Brudenell Social Club, which is a haven for fans of indie music.

Free and cheap stuff to do in Leeds

Within the Hyde Park area is the park of the same name. On warm day it’s a good place to picnic with friends. Other top spots to lounge are the public park at the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, Roundhay Park, or Golden Acre Park at the end of the Meanwood Valley Trail.

You’re in heaven if you’re a tennis fan. There are 160 tennis courts in the city's parks.

But on a rainy day, you might want to visit one of two quirky cinemas. The Hyde Park Picture House and the Cottage Row Cinema in Headingley date back to the beginning of the twentieth century and share a retro vibe. Maybe after the film you could have a coffee at Dare Café or Popinas? They’re local eating places recommended by students for an evening brew and tasty brunches.

The Royal Armouries is free to get in and a must if you like displays of pistols and medieval jousting gear. Leeds is also a great place to see sculpture, with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Henry Moore Institute all within easy reach.

There are more than 30 festivals in Leeds throughout the year covering everything from established film makers and young film makers to fashion and books. Then there are 16 music festivals in and near to the city with themes ranging from rock, 80s, indie and brass to the Caribbean carnival that’s been going since 1967 and rivals the one at Notting Hill.

Light Night is a festival of exotic illuminations, night time street dance, music gigs and fire breathing. Thought Bubble is the UK’s largest celebration of ‘sequential art’, which we think means comic strips.


Leeds city centre contains the equivalent of a whopping five miles of shopping streets.

Its ultra-modern city centre mall is the Trinity Centre. The Corn Exchange is a lovely old Victorian building full of upmarket independent shops.

But the real star of retail – for students and any lover of a good buy – is Kirkgate Market, the largest indoor market in Europe. Underneath its monumental wrought iron arches and glass roof are thousands of items… cheap currant buns, Chinese dumplings, watermelons, second-hand clothes, the list goes on…


Leeds' nightlife is well regarded and takes in traditional pubs, café bars, punk and indie clubs, jazz venues and raves.

The Original Oak pub is a student favourite with a large beer garden; the Dry Dock bar is a converted barge outside Leeds Beckett University’s library. The Fenton bar has life drawing classes as well as a large range of drinks while the Shed Bar describes itself as a cocktail, whisky and rock ‘n’ roll bar although it’s not a music venue.

Fab Café is a kitsch, sci-fi themed DJ bar with décor that looks a bit like a bubble-gum pink version of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

The HiFi Club, three times winner of both Best Nightclub and Best Live Music Venue at the annual Leeds Bar & Club Awards, plays soul, funk, reggae, hip hop and disco. Other music haunts popular with students include O2 Academy, Nation of Shopkeepers, Brundell Social Club and Belgrave Music Hall.

For theatre goers there’s the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Carriageworks Theatre and Leeds Grand Theatre, which has an interior that leads up to its name.

And Leeds is getting quite a reputation as centre for hipster restaurants. At the cheaper but funky end of eating out in Leeds is its branch of Pieminister, which does a very nice Fungi Chicken (chicken and mushroom) pie and a Sag Pie Neer, full of peas, paneer cheese, spinach, potato, chilli and mango.

If you’re looking for work experience

The economy of Leeds is powered by law, accountancy, banking, insurance, venture capital, IT, food manufacturing, public administration, education, health, distribution, leisure, tourism and retail.

Universities in Leeds

Search for...

Degree Explorer

The Degree Explorer helps you plan for your future! Match your interests to university subjects and explore each recommendation to find out what suits you.

Get started

Teacher or parent?

Join our mailing list to receive monthly newsletters from our TARGETcareers and Inspiring Futures teams to help you support your school leavers in their career and university decision making.


Register today

Sign up to access to use your dashboard and receive extra advice in your inbox

Sign up