Spaces at the Social Science Library

Rows of desks with purple separators

In line with government guidance, you must wear a face covering in library reading rooms, unless you are exempt. Find out more about staying safe in our spaces and other service updates.

The Social Science Library offers over 400 study spaces, including two discussion rooms, an Information Skills Training room, individual study carrels, graduate study rooms and a range of open plan seating.  

Wi-Fi access is available throughout the library.

General seating

Open plan study areas

Open plan seating is located on the south and east sides of the library, with a total of 120 seats. In addition to Wi-Fi, Ethernet internet access is available.

The main study area on the east side also contains 2 height-adjustable desks, 3 standing desks and 5 ergonomic chairs. There are 2 ergonomic chairs in the study area on the south/southwest side of the library. 

Comfortable seating area

There are 8 blue comfortable chairs on the west side of the library next to the Reader PCs.

Partitioned areas

The study area at the back (north) of the library by the Discussion & Working Paper section is a partitioned seating area for quiet individual study. There is a laptop-free zone with 18 partitioned seats (including 2 ergonomic chairs) outside the Central Graduate Study Room. We ask that readers do not use a laptop or a device with an external keyboard at these seats. Tablets and other devices with silent keyboards may still be used. The seats in this area are clearly labelled.  

There is 1 fixed-height standing desk at the end of the partitioned searing area outside the East Graduate Study Room, and 1 in the quiet study area on the west side of the library, outside the Q-Step teaching lab. 

Study carrels

The SSL has 10 soundproofed study carrels. These are small study rooms located next to the Print & Copy Room in the central area of the library. We also recommend the individual desks on the west side of the library as a quiet space at a distance from the busy entrance to the Manor Road Building. The study carrels that are for general use operate on a first-come, first served basis. 


Please observe the following when using the study carrels:

  • The carrels are for everyone: please do not ‘claim’ them by leaving your possessions for long periods.
  • The carrels are for quiet academic work only.
  • No Skype or phone conversations (use of voice-controlled assistive technology is permitted). Mobile phones and other equipment must be on silent.
  • No food or drink, except bottled water & drinks in KeepCups.

Graduate study rooms

The SSL has 3 quiet study rooms available to all readers.

The Central Graduate Study Room is a Quiet Zone where brief, low-volume conversations are permitted. The room contains two electronic height-adjustable desks and one manual height-adjustable desk.

The East Graduate Study Room is a Silent Zone. The room contains a standing desk and an electronic height-adjustable desk.

Oxford Q-Step Centre Teaching Lab

The West Graduate Study Room is now known as the ‘Oxford Q-Step Centre Teaching Lab’. The room is used for teaching Quantitative Methods to undergraduate students from 1pm – 6.15pm every weekday of the teaching term (Weeks 1 – 8). Outside these hours the room is accessible to all readers. Undergraduate students who attend Q-Step sessions and who wish to practice on these PCs may use the room on request: ask a member of library staff.

Tutors from other departments and centres in the Social Sciences Division can book the lab for teaching, when it is not being used for undergraduate teaching. 

Discussion rooms

The SSL offers two discussion rooms and an Information Skills Training Room for academics and students to book. Discussion rooms can be booked in person at the library desk or online.  

Marker pens, board rubbers and remote controls for the projectors can be borrowed from the issue desk.  

Large Discussion Room

The Large Discussion Room uses a boardroom layout. It seats 10 people, and has a white board, power sockets and three ethernet points, a television and video/DVD player, an LCD projector and a screen. Book the large discussion room.

Small Discussion Room

The Small Discussion Room has a boardroom layout. It seats 4 people, and has a white board, power sockets, 3 Ethernet points, an LCD projector and a screen. Book the small discussion room.

Information Skills Training Room

This room offers 10 PCs, a trainer's PC, an LCD projector and a screen. When not in use for a class or training session, this room is a Silent Zone. 

Take a break!

The Manor Road Building Cafe is on the first floor of the Manor Road Building. It is open Monday to Friday, 8am – 3pm. During term-time, cooked breakfast is available 9am – 10.30am; lunch 12pm – 2pm; and hot drinks, cakes and snacks all day. Check the poster outside the cafe for details of closing times in vacation. A hot meal costs around £4 – £5.

Vending machines for drinks and snacks are available 24/7 on the first floor, in between the café and the quiet common room. Hot drinks from the vending machine cost around 80p. Free drinking water is available from the water cooler located behind building reception by the main entrance.