Manchester Off-campus living

50 things to do in 50 days

Reading Time: 11 minutes

For many of you, your chance to explore the city and the university has been put on hold while you self-isolate or study from home, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. We’ve got together a list of 50 online things to do, learn and explore to make you feel right at home here at Manchester.

You can follow along from home and see how many you can tick off in the next 50 days – you can get templates to use on our Instagram highlights @officialuom. We’ll also be sharing some competitions and bonus content over the next 50 days, so look out for those too!

  1. Visit the Science and Industry Museum: Explore the Science and Industry Museum from home. Learn about everything from Manchester’s first railways to the post-industrial creative boom with their online resources.

  2. Complete an online course: Try out an online course to discover a new hobby, learn a new language, or even gain skills that would be useful for your future career. We offer our MOOCs through Coursera and FutureLearn, but there’s plenty of other courses online if you have a look around.

  3. Take the blue plaque tour of campus: Have you heard of the blue plaque tour? There are over 228 blue plaques commemorating an important historical event, and many of these can be found around our campus grounds. If you can’t make it to campus, have a read of Lina’s blog where she takes us on her blue plaque tour of campus.

  4. Watch one of our Cockcroft Rutherford Lectures: The Cockcroft Rutherford lectures are an annual event where the University invites world-leading academics and alumni to explore their subject area in depth. You can rewatch all of our Cockcroft Rutherford lectures on our YouTube channel and hear from the likes of Professor Brian Cox, Dame Sally Davies and Professor Andre Geim to name a few.

  5. Meet our 25 nobel laureates: The University of Manchester has a rich academic history and we can lay claim to 25 Nobel laureates among our current and former staff and students. Notable mentions include Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr and Arthur Lewis to name a few, so why not read up on these amazing achievements and how the university has been world leading in areas like physics, chemistry, economic sciences and medicine.

  6. Sit on the bench with the Alan Turing statue: Turing was a pioneer in modern computing, mathematics and academia as a whole and a homosexual icon, this statue sits directly in-between University buildings and Canal Street. His placement here, alone on a bench, is perhaps symbolic of two parts of his life which are at last both celebrated. Find out the story of the statue and it’s history here.

  7. Explore the People’s History Museum: The People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future. They have loads of online exhibitions, workshops and resources you can explore from home.

  8. Listen to Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion: Extinction Rebellion is known globally for putting climate action at the forefront of media attention. This episode of our ‘Your Manchester Stories’ podcast sees co-founder Gail Bradbrook (BSc Chemistry 1993, PhD Chemistry 1997) talk about being a woman in science and how her time here cultivated her passion for activism.

  9. Learn about Emmeline Pankhurt and the suffragettes: Emmeline Pankhurst is best remembered for organizing the UK suffragette movement and helping women win the right to vote – and her life is woven into the fabric of the city and its revolutionary past. Visit the Emmeline Pankhurst statue in St Peter’s Square and learn all about Pankhurst and the suffragettes.

  10. Explore the Jodrell Bank Observatory: Jodrell Bank, which opened in 1957, is known as the birthplace of radio astronomy and is one of the earliest radio telescopes in the world. Their Science Learning at Home programme is a great way to learn more about the discoveries and stories of Jodrell Bank.

  11. Listen to Professor Brian Cox’s podcast: One of the top science podcasts, the show puts scientists and comedians together to take you on a hilarious journey into science. It’s hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Comedian Robin Ince, and you can listen on Spotify here.

  12. Take a UCIL course in Extraterrestrial Life: The University College for Interdisciplinary Learning introduces you to topics and ways of thinking, tackling the key questions facing society in the 21st century – for example, the digital revolution, globalisation and mental health. We’ve chosen one of our favourites for you to try, but there’s loads of choice from Understanding Mental Health to Creating a Sustainable World.

  13. Get involved with Stellify: Manchester is the only university in the UK to have social responsibility as a core goal. For our students, this means we take our commitment to social responsibility seriously. That’s why we provide all our students with opportunities to make a difference in the real world. Find out how you can get involved with Stellify – you could even win the Stellify Award!

  14. Explore the wonders of graphene: The University of Manchester is the home of graphene research – it was rediscovered, isolated and characterized in 2004 by UoM Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their research on the material. Read up on our research here!

  15. Watch one of our Star Lectures on YouTube: Are you looking for something more than your next Netflix box-set binge or Spotify ‘top 100’ playlist to help you through the lockdown? Then why not join some of the nation’s foremost scientists, thinkers, historians and social commentators for some informal lectures from the comfort of your own home. Watch the Lockdown Lectures here.

  16. Visit the Whitworth Art Gallery in person or online: The Whitworth Art Gallery launched an online programme so that you can explore their collections, exhibitions, and research without even leaving your sofa.

  17. See street art in the Northern Quarter: Manchester’s Northern Quarter isn’t just a hipster hot-spot, it’s an eclectic, fun and welcoming area of the city centre that all visitors should explore – particularly for it’s impressive street art. You can attend a walking tour of the area’s street art highlights with Skyliner, and if you can’t make it they have a podcast talking to tour guide Hayley Flynn about the history of the Northern Quarter and the importance of street art.

  18. Explore Manchester Art Gallery: Manchester Art Gallery is best known for its important, representative collection of work by nineteenth-century British artists, particularly the Pre-Raphaelites. Head to their website to join online events and conversations and view their current collections.

  19. Make a Manchester playlist: Manchester is well-known for its star-studded musical heritage, and Manchester’s artists and musicians ave helped turned this ambitious city in the northwest into a musical powerhouse. Why not head over to Spotify and create your very own Manchester playlist and share the sounds of our city?

  20. Discover the poetry of Lemn Sissay on our city walls: Mancunian poet and Chancellor of the University, Lemn Sissay, has painted the city and campus in his words. Lemn Sissay has been turning commissioned poems into landmarks across the city, with four pieces up on our city walls. Take a look at the works yourself and plan a poetry tour when you’re back on campus.

  21. Find your favourite Manchester delicacy:  From Manchester Tart to Bury Black pudding, Manchester has a varied and interesting culinary history. Whether you decide to try out some recipes or add a couple to your online shop why not find your favourite Manchester dish?

  22. Discover some new podcasts (or record your own):  Listening to podcasts is a great way to be entertained, learn something new or hear opinions from others on topics you’re interested in. Use this time to discover some new podcasts; here’s a list of the most popular to get you started. You could even record your own podcast with your housemates or friends – it’s a great way to explore topics you’re interested in, share knowledge and opinions and pass some time while you’re at home!

  23. Take an online art class: Whether you’re learning a new skill or just having some fun, taking an online art class is a great way to pass time at home. When choosing the right art class for you, take into account your current skill level – beginner, intermediate or advanced – and consider whether you’ll need art supplies and how much this may cost. Skillshare have some good classes to get you started and they’re all free to attend!

  24. Join a Students’ Union society: There really is something for everyone at Manchester, with 400 different societies to choose from! Joining a society is a great way to meet new people and make the most out of your time at university, so why not take a look at all the different societies you could get involved with.

  25. Try out Sporticipate: Sporticipate is a great way to try something new for free!  All sessions are aimed at complete beginners and all are run on Zoom. From yoga to HIIT, there’s a huge range of sports for you to try out. Keep updated with news on sessions here.

  26. Cook a speciality dish for your housemates or family: A great way to bond with your housemates and get everyone together for an evening of culinary delights, why not try cooking your favourite meal? If you’re a bit of a novice in the kitchen don’t worry, you could try out one of these store-cupboard recipes and impress your friends and family with a foodie night in.

  27. Try a morning yoga class: Whether you’re a complete beginner or you’ve been practicing for years, now could be the time to fit a morning yoga class into your routine. Make it a daily habit and you’ll notice a wide variety of changes to your body and mind as you’re energised and ready for the day, with proven stress-releiving benefits the more you get into it. Sporticipate is currently running a Tuesday morning yoga class which is free for students.

  28. Host a virtual online quiz with friends: They were all the rage at the start of lockdown, but online quizzes are making a comeback and are the perfect way to catch up with family and friends back home, have some fun and break up evenings of studying. To get started, we love this article from Wired on ‘How to create a virtual pub quiz that’s actually good (and fun)‘ – it’s a sure fire way to add some excitement back into your calendar.

  29. Volunteer in your local community: Times like this show just how important volunteers and communities coming together can be. Why not use this time to find help out in your community and even become a volunteer from home. Check out the University’s Volunteer Hub to discover live opportunities and record any volunteering hours you complete.

  30. Get to know Manchester MuseumManchester Museum is the UK’s leading university museum and a proud part of The University of Manchester. You can also explore their online collections and learn something new.

  31. Learn a new language: Now is your opportunity to learn a new language! It’s not just for holidays and ordering drinks – having a good grasp of a second language is also an in-demand work skill. There are some creative ways to learn and we’d recommend downloading the Duolingo app to get started.

  32. Explore The Portico Library online: The Portico Library & Gallery opened in 1806 as a Library and Newsroom and continues to be an active centre of culture for the people of Manchester and beyond. The Library consists of a remarkable 19th century collection of approx 25,000 books, housed in its original splendid Grade II* listed building. Learn about the library and explore it’s full catalogue, articles and range of activities to do at home online.

  33. See the online exhibition from the National Football Museum: Whether you’re a diehard football fan or not, it’s hard to avoid the sport in the city! The museum is based in the Urbis building in Manchester city centre, and preserves, conserves and displays important collections of football memorabilia. Head to the website to view their current collections and engage with them from home.

  34. Explore Rock Against Racism exhibition at Oldham Gallery: During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Rock Against Racism (RAR) movement confronted racist ideology in the streets, parks and town halls of Britain. Here, Syd Shelton photographed some of the fans of reggae and punk bands through his camera lens. You can now enjoy an online version of Oldham Gallery’s Rock Against Racism exhibition by clicking here.

  35. Discover Anthony Burgess on Tape online: The Anthony Burgess Foundation is offering a special glimpse into the audio archive, comprising of 1,094 cassettes and 87 reel-to-reel tapes.The recordings run to over a thousand hours, and include interviews with the media, public lectures, private telephone conversations, piano playing and poetry reading at home, domestic discussions, and sometimes street noises and birdsong – check it out here.

  36. Try out a new hobby: If you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut and you definitely don’t want to spend time watching yet another series, perhaps it’s time to find a new hobby? It can be difficult to find new things that you could be passionate about, but now’s the time to pick up a new hobby and try something new!

  37. Register with a GP: It’s important to register with a local GP if you’ve just moved to Manchester. You can find your nearest GP by searching your postcode on the NHS website.

  38. Register to vote: If you split your time between two addresses, for example if you’re a student, you can register to vote at both addresses as long as they’re not both in the same election area. Make sure you’re registered and remember to vote in both places if you wish to! For more information, click here.

  39. Set up your home workspace: You’re spending more time than ever studying, socialising and entertaining from home, so it’s super important your environment is one that’s productive. Try having a spring clean, set up a nice workspace away from your bed or living are if you can, and make the space your own!

  40. Get a plant for your room: One sure-fire way to brighten up your living space is by getting a plant (or two!). They’re scientifically proven to help boost your mood and you’ll appreciate bringing a bit of the outdoors in. You can get pretty cheap plants at supermarkets if you’re on a budget, or head to your local garden centre to pick one out.

  41. Spot the giant monsters around the city for Halloween: Look out, look up, beware. The monsters are back in town! Giant monsters take over Manchester’s rooftops and buildings. Created by artists Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas from Designs in Air, the monsters will be on display at seven locations across the city from 26 October to 1 November. Spot them when you’re out and about in the city or read all about them here.

  42. Go for a walk around the local park: Take a walk on the wild side and explore some of Manchester’s beautiful parks. Getting outdoors not only boosts your mood, but you can get some exercise in and take a well-needed break from your flat or halls. Take a look at this list of some of the city’s best parks, or take a look around your local area to find your favourite green spaces.

  43. Discover the free online resources from Manchester Libraries: The University Libraries aren’t the only ones you can explore, and across the city libraries are hosting events and providing resources you can access. Take a look at the Manchester Libraries webpage or, if you’re not here in Manchester, explore your local libraries to see what’s on offer.

  44. Take a virtual cooking lesson: Now’s the perfect time for people to brush up on their kitchen skills or learn something new. Don’t feel disheartened about being ‘stuck’ indoors; use this time to learn top knife skills or become the master baker in your house! We love this article of some of the top virtual cooking lessons you can access from home, but keep an eye out for local restaurants running them too.

  45. Learn to meditate: To a beginner, meditation might initially feel a little alien, perhaps even daunting, but that’s okay. People have been meditating for around 3,000 years and it’s a great way to improve your mental wellbeing. You can try meditation through apps like Headspace, which offers a free 10-day beginner’s pack to get you started in mindfulness.

  46. Find a gig you want to go to in the future:  We all need something to look forward to, so check out Manchester Academy‘s current listings and book onto a socially distanced gig. They’re taking booking through to next year for something to look forward to, but if you can’t get a ticket, why not host your own gig or festival from home? Line up your favourite setlist from festivals of the past and host your own music party at home

  47. Book a careers appointment: Booking a one-to-one careers guidance appointment with the Careers Service gives you the chance to discuss your career ideas and plans with a Careers Consultant. All appointments are currently via Zoom as are other group sessions. So, whether you’re unsure what you’d like to do after university, or you need some advice for your CV, specific applications or interviews, the Careers Service are here to help.

  48. Attend Black Gold Arts Festival 2020 online: Black Gold Arts at Contact Theatre brings together established and emerging artists of colour from dance, theatre, film and live and performance art, with new work, critically acclaimed pieces, and some stuff just for fun. The Festival runs from October 23rd – 25th and you can view the programme here.

  49. Complete the Social Justice challenge: The Social Justice Challenge introduces you to ways of thinking about social justice and invites you to explore themes like: race, migration, homelessness, mental health and higher education. It only takes around an hour to complete and it’s available in the My Communities section of Blackboard. 

  50. Try a week of going plastic-free: he world produces more than 380 million tonnes of plastic every year, and this can take up to 500 years to decompose. So is it possible to kick the habit? More and more people are cutting down on the amount of plastic they use, and the Friends of the Earth have a great guide to cutting down on plastic use at home.