London is undoubtedly one of the greatest cities of the world and the best way to experience it is as a student. The great advantage of studying in London over other cities in Britain is the complete freedom of action it allows. You can live the student life that can usually be experienced at campus universities but without the constraints of campus life. The list of pubs, clubs, bars, theatres, and sporting teams goes on and on. London is an obvious choice, but why King’s?
Campus with a view
Location again is important – the Strand campus is right in the heart of the city on the banks of the River Thames, next to the spectacular Somerset House (which houses the law department) and is opposite the Indian High Commission. From the higher floors in the building you can see the Houses of Parliament in one direction and Canary Wharf in the other. This is the view you get from the student bar, surely one of the greatest views that any watering hole has to offer. There are four other campuses – Guy’s, Waterloo, St Thomas’, and Denmark Hill. For accommodation, there are student halls dotted all around London, from apartments on the south bank opposite King’s, to halls around Russell Square, to residences further a field in the quieter Hampstead.
Location is not enough to convince anyone to study here – academic prowess is vital. Going by the League Tables, King’s is behind its rival University College London (UCL). However, it is worth checking subjects positions, because King’s, with some subjects, consistently ranks in the top five in the country. The fact is that King’s, UCL, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College London are in a tier of universities that is second in reputation only to Oxbridge.
The system of teaching at King’s is far more informal than (I believe) it is in India. I am a history student and last year I had between five and six contact hours per week – the professors are there to guide, not instruct. Much of the learning is down to the individual. A lot of it will be at the spectacular Maughan Library, just down the road from the Strand campus. It is the old public records office, the ‘strong–box of the empire’, and contains the octagonal Round Reading Room, which was used for the filming of The Da Vinci Code.
While not studying, there is an infinite number of ways to spend your time, either in London itself or with the extra–curricular activities the university has to offer. Most sports can be played at King’s or for the University of London. The cricket standard is reasonably high, with winter nets at the Oval. If sport is not your thing, then there are lots of other options such as writing for King’s student newspaper, Roar, or for the London student newspaper, London Student.
A religious alternative
The university was originally set up as a religious alternative to the secular UCL by the Duke of Wellington in 1829. The Associate of King’s College, or AKC, is an additional, optional course comprising weekly lectures on aspects of theology followed by an exam at the end of the year based purely on the lectures. If you pass all three years, then you can use the words AKC after your name – the original degree given out by the university.
The required qualifications are an 85 per cent in the Indian School Leaving Certificate or a 75 per cent with a foundation/Access year or a year of undergraduate study. There are currently 258 Indian students at the university and the ones that I know echo my view that London is a fantastic place to study in. Following in the footsteps of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the first female Indian president of the Indian National Congress, Sarojini Naidu, will give you a strong, respectable degree and an experience of one of the greatest cities in the world.
The author is a student of history at the King’s College