How To Make the Most of Reading Week

student reading in the library
February 2024 by


As university students approach mid-semester, they might seem startled to see a whole week free of lectures and seminars. No, this isn’t a blip in your timetable! This is Reading Week.

Reading Week is a chance to catch up on any readings for upcoming modules and get ahead of presentations in advance. This week is also a great time to recharge after a busy start to semester one.

Find out more about Reading Week in the UK, including which university courses have a Reading Week, and tips about how to make the most of this period.

What is Reading Week?

Reading Week is a week in terms one and two where students don’t have to attend any lectures and instead can catch up on any university work and reading that’s been slowly building up in the background.

While some courses provide their students with specific work and a reading list to focus on during Reading Week, others simply encourage the cohort to get up to date with anything they might have missed in the first half of semester one.

There’s also a chance that coursework will be due to be submitted after this week, so Reading Week gives students a little extra time to work on any longer and more complicated module assignments.

When is Reading Week in the UK?

The dates of your Reading Week depend on your university. However, most UK universities schedule Reading Week in early November, and again in February of the following year.

Which courses have a Reading Week?

Given the name, Reading Week is mainly for subjects where reading is necessary in large amounts. This typically includes most humanities subjects. However, some Engineering courses also give students a Reading Week in certain universities.

How to make the most of Reading Week

The workload at university can sometimes feel daunting. Reading Week is an ideal opportunity to take a little breather and get on top of everything that’s been building up – free of the time constraints in your usual course timetable.

Follow these tips for how to make the most of your Reading Week:

  • Finish any incomplete work

    Falling behind in some of your university modules is inevitable, especially if you’re a Fresher. Use Reading Week to complete any required lectures and readings before essays are due and the exam period begins in January.

    Completing the work from the first half of semester one that you never got around to doing is also a great revision opportunity. Not only will it help you gauge just how much of the module you’ve understood so far, but it’ll also help you know exactly what to focus on in the second half of the semester.

  • Get started on presentations and assignments

    It’s common for course leaders to put presentations and essay deadlines shortly after Reading Week. Since university presentations and assignments require a lot of background research and preparation, using Reading Week to prepare for these assessments is essential.

    By doing the bulk of this prep this week, you can fully concentrate on the task at hand without having to juggle any new content alongside it.

  • Organise your notes

    Whether you’ve got a pile of hastily scribbled notes, several unnamed Google docs, or even a mix of the two, using Reading Week to organise your study notes is an easy way to get ahead of revision.

    There are a few ways to organise your lecture and seminar notes:

    • Write up your notes in a neater way, condensing the information into just the vital points
    • Create flashcards with short topic summaries
    • Put all your handwritten lecture notes into an online Word document – then back it up onto the Cloud

    By sorting through your study notes, you’ll also be refreshing your knowledge of the content you’ve already learned this semester – and where the gaps in your knowledge lie.

  • Clean your bedroom

    You know what they say! A tidy space is a tidy mind. During the chaos that is first semester, you might have let the cleaning slack a bit. And Reading Week is a great time to pick it back up.

    Spending a few hours cleaning, tidying and organising your student room will make your little corner of the flat feel a lot more inviting, and create a comfortable space that’s guaranteed to also increase productivity!

  • Give yourself one study-free day

    After a busy first half of the semester, students more than deserve a short break to recharge their batteries. Taking one study-free day in your Reading Week to temporarily switch off from the academic side of being a student will help refresh your mind – and give you the motivation to dive back in when the semester continues.

How to spend Reading Week with your university friends

With fewer people in lecture halls, chances are you’ll also find your student flat becomes a lot busier, as well. If you’re lucky enough to all get a Reading Week, there are a few ways you can spend the time catching up with housemates and course friends in your downtime:

  • Host a dinner party

    With conflicting course timetables, you might not get to eat with your housemates much. Use Reading Week to bring the whole flat together by hosting a dinner party. Homemade dinners are a lot cheaper than going out to eat, and a lot more social as well. And you don’t even need to be a pro chef to cook up something fancy.

    You could make a big winter warmer soup, host a Mexican fajita night, or even all chip in to make a mouthwatering Sunday Roast dinner. If there’s anyone who really shouldn’t be trusted in the kitchen, put them on booze duty… how hard can it be to buy a good bottle of wine?

  • Plan a movie night

    Who needs the cinema when you can do your very own movie night? Enjoy some of the latest Netflix releases or an oldie-but-a-goldie Rom-Com in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t have a TV, investing in a projector to screen your movie on a plain white wall is a cheap way to bring the cinema to you.

    Just don’t forget the popcorn, a tub of Celebrations, and tons of squishy cushions…

  • Create a house pub quiz

    Test how well your new friends really know you by making your own house pub quiz. Questions could be anything from embarrassing childhood stories, to hilarious anecdotes from Fresher’s Week! To really up the stakes, get everyone to put a couple of pounds into a pot – the winner has their pub money sorted for the rest of Reading Week!

  • Organise board games night

    Who says board games are just for family Christmases? The next time someone goes home, get them to bring back a selection of their favourite childhood games. Cluedo, Pictionary, The Game of Life; there’s no better way to see what your housemates are made of than when they have to admit bankruptcy mid Monopoly game!

    Getting out the board games can also be a great way to spend a few hours after hosting a house dinner party – especially if there’s drinking involved! If board games really aren’t your thing, you can never go wrong with a pack of cards, or a set of the university-favourite Cards Against Humanity…

  • Indulge in a Great University Bake-off

    If you often catch your flatmates raiding the flat biscuit tin, putting on a Bake-Off challenge is an easy way to always have cake in the house on your Reading Week. Challenge participants to make their most impressive batch of chocolate cookies, most showstopping sponge cake, or most mouth-watering pastries… the only thing left to decide is who gets to be the Mary Berry and judge them all!

Other fun ideas for Reading Week

Finished all your outstanding assignments? Learned a little too much about your housemates over a pub quiz? There are plenty more fun ideas for Reading Week at university that’ll get you out of the house – and the stuffy library!

  • Go home for the week

    Between Freshers’ Week and getting stuck into your course, it’s likely you might not have visited home in a while. Reading Week is the perfect time to make that visit you’ve been promising your parents since they first dropped you off in September – and properly catch up with your other family and friends from back home.

    Being home and out of the university bubble for a week will help you relax and wind down, especially since the final few days before Reading Week can get quite hectic with deadlines! The best part about going home for the week? Not having to cook for yourself for a bit…

  • Catch a flight

    There aren’t many instances when everyone will be off at the same time at university. So if you and your coursemates are sick of the British weather and fancy a change of scenery, why not look at cheap flights to somewhere in Europe? Even if your university doesn’t have an airport nearby, chances are there’ll be one just a short train ride away…

  • Explore the city

    It can be easy to just spend your days on campus and in your student accommodation, however, there’s also a whole university city or town just waiting to be explored… Spend the week checking out what’s been sitting on your doorstep, which is usually way more than just the main student bars and some of the better-known shops!

  • Visit friends at other universities

    Sometimes, the universe really is in your corner and your Reading Week perfectly lines up with your friends elsewhere. This cosmic alignment is the perfect opportunity to pay your best childhood pal a much-needed visit – and more importantly, decide just who got the better deal with their university accommodation!

There are lots of ways to use your Reading Week. Whether you’re finishing up assignments, trudging through the rest of your extensive reading list, or even taking the time to overhaul your lecture notes, remember it’s just as important to relax so you’re ready to get back stuck into the second half of semester one!



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