Library Services


Research Grid review

22 January 2024

Kristy Campbell, PhD Student, visits the Research Grid in the Science Library, one of UCL’s dedicated postgraduate student spaces.

Two users standing by the study pods in the Research Grid

It’s autumn, and our historic campus is clasped tightly in the rich earthy hues of London’s green spaces. The dusky duck-egg blue sky is lingering over monumental trees, while soggy leaves continue to decorate the soles of my shoes.

As a student and member of staff at UCL, I find that with the new term comes new responsibilities, new tasks, and often new communities too, so to achieve these I go in search of a novel study space from time to time. This term I discovered the Postgraduate Research Grid in the Science Library.

Climbing four flights of the wide wooden stairwell I finally stumbled upon the space. I tapped my card to enter the room. It was like gliding headfirst into a neatly deconstructed Mark Rothko painting; sooty shades of red and grey filled a vast and crisp canvas white facility, the myriad styles of desk and office equipment falling efficiently into blocks of workspaces around me.

As I travelled around the room, I passed rows of hot desks with students eagerly studying. Café-style seating, individual pods, desktop computers, and window-facing arrangements were all available to suit the particular needs of our postgraduate learners. Laptops and wires were scattered on tabletops, with books strewn either side, and keep-cups a-plenty. There was one particular spot that struck me, one I hadn’t encountered in other study spaces. It was long and triangular in shape, and slightly padded, marginally reclined, and accompanied by a tall elegant circular table. I sat there for an hour. In between thoughts I looked up from my laptop out of an enormous glistening window to find a sea of blue sky warming our building in the chilled autumn haze. 

Eventually, I walked on, where I came upon a kitchenette. The modest space was immaculate, not a crumb in sight. There was a tap with boiling water. The little cove also had a sort-of waiting area, secluded from the quiet chaos of the research space.

I discovered another room peeling off from the main study area, which appeared to be a resource or reference room, filled with beautifully organised books in a well-lit space. Additionally, there are meeting rooms available for booking, and spaces to be social or work in groups – because we all encounter learning in very different ways!

For those of you that like to plan ahead and set up study spaces for lengthy days, the Research Grid also has graduate lockers where you can safely store your belongings. These really added to the quality of my visit, feeling as though the students’ needs had been considered.

I noted on my trip that there were conveniently positioned lifts that made the Research Grid easily accessible from the ground up to the fourth floor.

A highlight of my visit was seeing how well used this space was; there were so many students populating this busy and somehow tranquil area. These individuals were seemingly enduring a similar trajectory to myself; it was a space where we could belong. I was also really taken by the natural lighting, and the high ceilings; it felt as though the space wanted us to grow, to excel, and to flourish. 

Visiting the Research Grid

The Research Grid is dedicated for the use of taught postgraduate students. You need your ID card to enter the Grid. 

Find your favourite study space

The UCL campus contains many study spots you might not be aware of. Use the Find your Favourite Library tool to find the library or study space for you. You can also view space availability on our webpages.