At higher education, you will typically have more free time than you have at school. You predominantly spend this time independently learning, but you can also spend it taking part in extracurricular activities.

There are a wide variety of exciting opportunities that you can do alongside studying for your degree. Joining societies, taking part in sport or undertaking some voluntary or paid work are just some of the opportunities and activities you can spend your spare time doing. They are a great way to meet new people, make new friends and gain new skills.


Societies are a bit like an after-school club, where people with similar hobbies and preferences meet up and do activities around their shared interests. The University of York has over 200 student societies, ranging from subject-specific societies such as Psychology Society or Economics Society, all the way through to unique societies such as Dog Society and Pantomime Society.

All societies have a committee, which is a group of people who run the society. This includes a president, secretary, treasurer and a range of other positions which differs from society to society. They have elections where you can run a campaign to be on the committee.


Sports can play a big role in student life at university. Sport is accessible for everyone, and there are always events you can attend no matter your experience. The University of York has over 60 sports teams and clubs, ranging from football, netball and swimming stretching to sports such as archery, motorsports and skydiving. You can continue with a sport you do at the moment or pick up and try a new one.

Typically, there is a cost to take part in sport sessions and there is a membership fee. The University of York Students' Union (or YUSU) run the 'Give it a Go' scheme during the first few weeks of term, where session costs are at reduced rate or waivered so you can try out something new - this is also true of many societies.


Volunteering and fundraising are a great way to get involved with the York community and give back. At the University of York, there are regular projects which you can invest time into to watch the project grow and benefit the community. Alternatively, you can engage in exciting one off opportunities. There can be a lot of flexibility when it comes to volunteering that you can work in around your timetable.

Part-time work

When you are not in lectures or doing reading, you may choose to get a part-time job. At the University of York, there are some jobs available on campus, for example in YUSU bars or cafes. You may decide to go into the city and get a job working in a supermarket or restaurant. They're a great way to earn some extra money and it will give you a break from your studies.

Contact us

Leave a message in the Community Chat. If you'd rather email, the team are available Monday to Friday and will respond as quickly as possible.

Laura and Olivia, two our current student ambassadors, talk about volunteering and part-time work at the University of York.

Activity: design a society

To further introduce you to student life and the range of extracurricular activities available at university, we'd like you to design your own society. To help with this activity, we've provided you with bios from our three Graduate Ambassadors - Hollie, Emily and Daniel.

Your task: choose one of our Graduate Ambassadors and design a society for them to join based on their bios.

Read their bios carefully as they mention what their hobbies are, what skills they would like to gain from a society and what they like to do in their spare time. You may also want to go to the A-Z of Societies on the YUSU website to find a list of all our current societies to get some inspiration of the types of societies that exist.

Make sure you click through to read their full profiles.

I like to try new things and I love to get out of my comfort zone. I'd like a society that makes me feel like I am part of a team - I would like to work with others.

Hollie, Graduate Ambassador. Read Hollie's profile.

I really like meeting new people, and trying new things - even if it can sometimes seem a bit daunting! In the future, I would like to work with people, so being part of a society that helps me improve my communication skills is important to me!

Emily, Graduate Ambassador. Read Emily's profile.

I like to try activities that may be a bit different. They usually surprise me with how much I enjoy them! I would like a society where I get to develop a skill, either something new or a skill I already have.

Daniel, Graduate Ambassador. Read Daniel's profile.

You can be as creative as possible when it comes to showing off your society to the team. Dig out your arts and craft set to make a poster and take a picture of it to send to the team, or you could use a platform on your computer.

You should think about including the following:

  • name: simple name that's straight to the point
  • logo: a creative, eye-catching logo
  • description: explain what happens in your society
  • events: weekly or monthly competitions, trips to another country, socials
  • membership fee: if there is a cost, think about what members get for this joining fee
  • skill development: explain what skills you gain from joining your society and how you gain them.
Please send all submissions to, stating clearly your full name and what school you currently attend.

Hollie, Emily and Daniel will go through all your responses and will each select one society that has been designed for them, and the three winners will each be awarded a £50 Amazon voucher! We'll contact the winners via email and they'll feature in our weekly newsletter.

Contact us

Leave a message in the Community Chat. If you'd rather email, the team are available Monday to Friday and will respond as quickly as possible.